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Chapter VIII.: NEWS AT HOME. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 6 (Messrs. Vanderput and Snoek, The Loom and the Lugger Parts 1 & 2) 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1834). Vol. 6.
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NEWS AT HOME.
Heins consented, at the earnest request of his friend Jakob, to remain at Winkel for a few days, to superintend the necessary operations there, instead of returning southwards with his family. Jakob himself set out in search of labourers, and of wherewithal to pay them. His absence was considered necessary, as the suspicion had got abroad that he was somehow the cause of the mischief that had happened. Justice moved slow in Holland at that time; which did not usually signify, as Dutchmen also moved slow; but whether Jakob had become infused with liveliness by his intercourse with the French, or whether he had learned celerity by his enterprises at sea, he acted little like a Dutchman on the present occasion. While the magistrate was yet suffering from the fatigue of having been on horseback, and his advisers were weighing the amount of suspicion against Slyk, Slyk was gone —to return presently, of course; he would certainly return immediately, because he said so, and because his friend Heins said so, and because his daughter remained with her servant in full repose.
Heins believed this, and wrought patiently for a few days, being carefully tended in the intervals of his labours by Francesca, who lavished all her attentions upon him: for her father's sake, as she declared. He was so grieved that Heins should have been involved in any disaster through his means, that the least that could be done to console him was to make Heins as comfortable as possible. Jakob did not, however, return; and when he was fairly on the high seas, Jan had the conscience to let Heins know that the old rogue had set sail from the bay on the night of his departure, and was now on his way to collect some foreign debts, with the proceeds of which he would re-appear when the storm which was ready to burst upon him at home should have blown over. In much wrath, Heins took his passage home without a moment's delay, being accompanied by Francesca and her duenna; no place being now, as Heins admitted, so proper for her as her father's residence at Amsterdam.
On their arrival, her apparent surprise was as great as Heins's real consternation at finding Slyk's house shut up, the furniture gone, and no provision made for his daughter's residence. Francesca was not slow in finding a reason for this, and in conveying her opinion to Heins. Her father had concluded that, as Mr. Snoek's wife, she would not want any residence but his; and it would have been a great piece of extravagance to leave a handsome house and furniture to the care of servants, while the master was taking a foreign journey. Heins could not agree in this interpretation; but it was impossible to leave the lady and her duenna to take care of themselves in the midst of Amsterdam. He took them to the house of his partner, in order to commend them to Gertrude's care. Gertrude was at Saardam; but her brother offered to send for her; which proposal seemed very agreeable to Visscher, who was smoking his pipe with Vanderput at the time of the entrance of the somewhat forlorn party from Winkel.
Heins was not slow in assenting, desiring, if he could be spared from business, to be the messenger to Saardam the very next morning. In his own mind, he thought it but fair that, in return for liis enforced civility to a lady whom he did not care for, he should be favoured with the charge of her whom he was most anxious to please. Visscher, however, resented the idea of any one assuming that which he called his office; and Vanderput supported him, by intimating to his partner that his future brother-in-law was the proper person to fetch his sister home.
Francesca took upon herself to say how fully Mr. Snoek approved, as she also did, of the proposed connexion. It was but the day before that they had been agreeing on the absurdity of the prevalent opinion that M. Aymond would carry off the prize, just because Gertrude had a particularly religious turn. Mr. Snoek had eagerly assented to her opinion that any one who understood Gertrude might long have seen that she was thinking of a very different person from the pastor.
Heins was stung with rage and mortification on hearing this. If his attachment to Gertrude had been real, and worthy of her, any disappointment which he might now have testified would have been regarded with respect. As it was, the best thing he could do was to seize a pipe and surround himself with as dense a smoke as he could raise; a smoke which drove even Franhesca from the apartment.
The sense of this mortification was somewhat blunted by the occurrence of others. Visscher began a story of which Heins could not at first perceive the drift, about his return, once upon a time, from a winter expedition to Rotterdam. He had skaited from Leyden to Rotterdam for the purpose of skaiting back again; and when he returned, he found that the world had not stood still during his absence; but that tidings of loss and gain, and of many kinds of change awaited him.
“Just so,” he went on, “our friend Heins has been afloat himself, and setting the country afloat, and he comes back, taking for granted that all is as he left it.”
“And is it not?” asked Heins. “What has happened?”
“Only such a variation in the exchange with England as will frighten you, if you are no wiser than our Bank Directors. You should see their emissaries peering about on ‘change——”
Vanderput put a stop to this mode of exemplification of the state of commerce. He would allow no disrespectful mention in his presence of the body of which he was a member. It was the business of the reigning burgomasters to ascertain daily the course of exchange: but they could see an inch before their noses, as well as any bill broker on 'change, and left it to women and the superannuated to tremble at the sentence, that the exchange had turned against Holland.
“What becomes of our profits now?” said Heins. “Must we let them be swallowed up by the premium which I suppose bills on England now bear in the market?”
“Only your extraordinary profits. You are not going to be rich so soon as you dreamed you should be: but neither are you going to be impoverished.”
“By the variation in the exchange,” added Vanderput, gravely. “If Mr. Snoek is to be impoverished, it will be by other accidents.”
Before Heins had time to ask the meaning of this, Mr. Visscher went on.
“You should see the bustle of the exporters on our quays. There are Toll and Co., who so lately stood enviously watching the briskness of your doings, you remember, Mr. Snoek; their time is now come. You and your brethren imported at such a rate that you made bills on England scarce in the market. Toll and Co., of course, got such a premium on those which they held, as to be able to ship off many more kinds of goods than they could have ventured upon while they had to part with their bills at a discount. They have been lading ship after ship; and you may now have time to see them clear out; for I conclude you will not go on to import as you have done of late.”
“To be sure not,” said Vanderput. “Our profits en many articles are not such as to afford the premium on bills made necessary by the present scarcity. We must, for the present, confine our business to exporting only those articles which will afford the usual profits, after the premium is paid.”
Heins sighed deeply at the prospect of his grand schemes remaining in abeyance at the very time that he fancied he should be making all Amsterdam stare at the magnificence of his importations. The cool, sagacious Vanderput rebuked the sigh.
“You must have known,” he said, “that things would take this turn. If it answered well to us to import largely while bills were cheap, it must have answered in the same way to others; and the extent to which importation was consequently carried, must turn the balance, rendering it necessary for us to pay our excess of debt either by sending metal money, or by bidding against one another for bills. You must be quite as certain that the balance will turn again when these busy exporters have brought down bills to a discount in our exchange market.”
“Hear, all ye rulers who tremble on your thrones when the balance is not even!” cried Visscher. “All ye rulers, from the Keiser of the Russias to the worshipful burgomasters of Amsterdam!”
“Neither the Keiser you speak of, nor our burgomasters entertain the horror you suppose,” observed Vanderput. “They leave it to the legislators of Great Britain, France, and Spain to dread that either scale of a self-rectifying balance can kick the beam. They leave it to the children of their nation to be particularly happy when the exports of their merchants exceed the imports; —happy because they suppose the money owing to the country to be so much additional wealth; so much pure gain. The Russian Keiser knows too well the toil and outlay by which his subjects prepare their tallow and hides, to suppose that the money they fetch from abroad is more than an adequate exchange. He knows the wants of his people too well not to think that the commodities which are brought them from other countries are not worth more to them than any money that ever was coined. The reason why he is anxious to improve the commerce of his empire is, that its inhabitants may gather more and more wealth from abroad; and he looks on exportation only as a means to importation, as the desirable end.”
Heins was somewhat surprised at the confidence with which his partner spoke of the views of the mighty Keiser of a distant empire. Before he had time to ask whence he derived his information, Vanderput gravely turned to his melancholy partner, and told him that he wished, from his heart, that nothing worse betided Heins's fortunes than the temporary slackening of his trade. It was a pity that he had so trifled with his private funds as to indorse the bills drawn by Slyk, Geysbuk, and Cats on each other. Slyk, as he perceived, was gone; Geysbuk had failed; and as for Cats,—he had been made a mere tool. One or two careless indorsers, besides Heins, had become liable for the amounts of bills; and the banks which had been taken into the circle, had also suffered; but the largest bills had been indorsed first by Heins, who must now suffer severely for his credulity and carelessness.
Vanderput was probably of opinion that evil tidings are most easily borne when they come all at once; for he proceeded to say that as it was impossible for him, one of the head merchants of Amsterdam, to remain in connexion with a man who would be presently known as having been made the dupe of a swindler, through his own spirit of speculation, the firm of Vanderput and Snoek must be dissolved at the earliest practicable term. The want of confidence, he added, of which Heins had been guilty in entering into extensive schemes without the slightest hint to the partner of his father, and the steady friend of his family, would have constituted a sufficient reason for dissolving partnership, if the speculation had issued in complete success.
Heins began by making light of the matter, and proving how rich he should remain, even if all the claims of Slyk's creditors were established against him; but when it appealed that Vander-put was far from disputing his wealth, but only thought that it did not affect the question, he became desperate, and stormed more like an Italian than a Dutchman, as the travelled bill-broker declared. When Heins perceived, however, that his threats fell powerless on the imperturbable Vanderput, he assumed a more imposing mood, and dropped grand hints, as he left the apartment (which he threatened never tore-enter), of the mighty things that he would do when released from the thraldom of a partnership which had never accorded with his commercial principles any more than with his tastes.