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ENGLAND’S Great Happiness; OR, A DIALOGUE BETWEEN Content and Complaint. - John Ramsay McCulloch, A Select Collection of Early English Tracts on Commerce from the Originals of Mun, Roberts, North, and Others 
A Select Collection of Early English Tracts on Commerce from the Originals of Mun, Roberts, North, and Others, with a Preface and Index (London: Printed for the Political Economy Club, 1856).
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ENGLAND’S Great Happiness; OR, A DIALOGUE BETWEEN Content and Complaint.
The Author to his Book.
HOw do you do, Mr. Complaint?
Your Servant Sir, I’m glad to see you well: What News?
Why, all the talk is of the Blazing Star, and Whale that’s come to Colchester.
God grant they forbode no ill News, I’m afraid on’t. The French King they say is at Callice.
Well, what then, I hope he knows the way back to Paris.
Nay he need not come hither, here are enough already to eat us up, I profess there’s no trade, I don’t know what we shall do, there is not a penny stirring, and men break like mad, if these times hold we shall be all undone.
You Complainants are a sort of the worst condition’d people in the World, I won’t say ’tis impossible for God to please you, but I’m sure his Blessings of Peace and Plenty won’t.
Plenty say you! yes, here’s plenty enough of broken Merchants and Citizens.
True, one of them of a sort is too much, but yet I dare say there is more wealth in England at this time, than ever was at any before his Majesties Happy Restauration.
What then makes the Complaint?
Because such as you are hardly ever well when you are doing otherwise.
You talk strangely.
Well, I think ’tis so easie to make out, that while we are drinking a glass of Wine, I may convince, or put you to a non-plus.
Say’st thou so? Well I’le try, but instead of Wine let’s drink a dish of Coffee; for I profess whatsoe’re you think, I find them hard times.
Well, a match, but I suppose you go thither because ’tis the Complaining School, and you may be entertain’d with false jealousies an hour for a penny. Come Boy give me a dish of Tee, for I’m for something that heats and wets, and by its sweet taste give some reason to be contented.
For all this give me some Coffee.
Well, now let’s hear your Complaints, and we’l consider them one by one.
There are a great many at present, I’le only mention five, viz.
1. Carrying the Money out of the Nation.
2. People’s over high living.
3. The too many Foreigners.
4. The Enclosure of Commons.
5. The multitude of people that run into trade, and sell so cheap that one can’t live by another.
Are these your great Complaints? I can hardly forbear laughing, for these rightly considered are some of our main temporal advantages. A great encrease whereof would make us so rich as to be the envy of the whole world.
I should be glad if ’twere so, I pray let’s hear what you can say for the exportation of money. There’s law against it, and a great many wise men complain of the East India Company for that reason.
I must not gainsay Law; there was once a law to stint the making of Malt; but some of our Gentlemen are now of other minds, witness the Act for exportation of Beer, Ale, and Mum. The complaints against the East India Company, if they were for the Nation’s happiness, would they were encouraged, and let it go as our Parliament shall in their wisdom think fit, but some wise men think it best as ’tis, however ’tis our great advantage to export Money:Our great advantage to export money. For the aforesaid Company brings in a great many more goods than we consume, the over-plus whereof is exported: By which part I suppose none will dispute a profit. Wherefore whatsoever they bring in more, must be all exported, (we being already over stockt) which undoubtedly will enrich us according to its proportion. But this they cannot do without money. For I suppose them men that very well understand their own interest (by which I am apt to judge all) and do think that if they could sell that cloth in India for two and twenty Shillings, which costs them here twenty, and sell enough, they would never carry out one penny: for they pay no freight out, and two and and twenty Shillings if it be really two and twenty Shillings, will buy more goods than twenty shillings will do. But if the Indians will not buy our goods, they must have our money, or we must knock off that Trade which the Dutch will heartily thank you for, and give you a golden god to boot.
Ah but we consume abundance of their Commodities here.
It is more profitable for us to consume Callico, than other foreign linnen.Best of all, for the more Callico we use, the less other linnen, and that saves abundance of wealth by being to us (at first hand especially) much cheaper; and also pulling down the price of forreign linnen, I have heard some say almost half. But about this India trade you may see more at large by ingenious Mr. Mun; and a Letter call’d The East-India trade a most profitable trade to the Kingdom, printed 1677.
Norway trade a profitable trade.This is something, but what think you of the Norway-trade that takes away so many of our Crown pieces?
I think well of that too, for that kind of timber we cannot be without, and I suppose our land can be better imploy’d than in great groves of such like. It also employs a great shipping, and makes us build Houses, Ships, and Cases for Merchandise, at cheap rates, and if we might have a thousand Saw-Mills, for ought I know they might do us as much kindness as Engine Looms, and for all the talk of the short sighted Rabble, employ twice the people too.
You speak plain, but what think you of the French trade? which draws away our money by wholesale. Mr. Fortrey whom I have heard you speak well of, gives an account that they get sixteen hundred thousand pounds a year from us.
The French Trade a profitable Trade.’Tis a great sum, but perhaps were it put to vote in a wise Council, whether for that reason the trade should be left off, ’twould go in the negative. For Paper, Wine, Linnen, Castle-Sope, Brandy, Olives, Capers, Prunes, Kid-skins, Taffaties, and such like we cannot be without; and for the rest which you are pleas’d to stile Apes and Peacocks (although wise Solomon rankt them with Gold and Ivory) they set us all a-gog, and have encreas’d among us many considerable trades: witness, the vast multitudes of Broad and Narrow silk Weavers, Makers of Points, and white and black Laces, Hats, Fanns, Looking-Glasses, and other glasses as I’m told the best in the world, Paper, Fringes, and gilded Leather, which in a short time is like to be made as cheap here, as in Holland or any other place. Wine of several fruits, Sider, Saffron, Honey, Spirits, and such like: and some cause improvements by farther Manufacture, others we export with great profit, and have a great variety to satisfie all sorts of Markets,Variety of Wares for all markets a great advantageous. causing their Neighbours that sell the like, as Salt, Wine, Linnen, &ca. to sell as much cheaper with abundance other advantages. I must confess I had rather they’d use our goods than money, but if not, I would not lose the getting of ten pound, because I can’t get a hundred; and I don’t question but when the French gets more foreign trade, they’l give more liberty to the bringing in foreign goods. And I think you’l be ashamed to deny the Canary’s a little when Spain yields you so vast quantities. I’l suppose John a Nokes to be a Butcher, Dick a Styles an Exchange man, your self a Lawyer, will you buy no Meat or Ribbands, or your wife a fine Indian Gown or Fann, because they will not truck with you for Indentures, which they have no need of? I suppose no, but if you get money enough of others, you care not though you give it away in specie for these things: I think ’tis the same case.
’Tis well if it be as you say, but what think you of your next proposal?A general High Living a great improvement to arts. Our High Living.
He that spends more than he is able to pay for, is either fool or knave, or in great necessity; but I suppose not this to be the Nations case; for if it were we must owe more to other Nations than they to us, though we gave them all we have to boot, which if you think, most of the Merchants that have foreign Factories in the East or West Indies, Africk, Streights, Spain, Portugal, Baltick, East Countrys, Hanse-Towns, Scotland, Ireland, with France and Holland too, will condemn you. But our height puts us all upon an industry, makes every one strive to excel his fellow, and by their ignorance of one anothers quantities, make more than our markets will presently take off; which puts them to a new industry to find a foreign Vent, and then they must make more for that market; but still having some over-plus they stretch their wits farther, and are never satisfied till they ingross the trade of the Universe. And something is return’d in lieu of our exportations, which makes a further employment and emprovement.
If it won’t do this, why do you complain of France getting our money for their trifles? if it will, why should we not encrease it as high as ever it is possible? If we make six considerable Laces and export but one, I suppose for it we may bring in more money than the first cost of them all; which is far better than to import one and let our people sit idle for want of imployment.
The former great traders.The Venetian, Spaniard, Portugeeze, Dutch, and English have drove the great trade of the world, and fetcht the gold and silver: but when they had done, they eagerly carried it to France to buy their guegawes, and thereby made them always considerable: and I had rather get a thousand pound by lace and fringes, than nine hundred by the best broad-cloth that ever I yet saw.
That honest way that finds most employment and gets most money, is sure the best for any Nation, and this fine manufacture joyn’d to our shipping will perhaps make us the most potent the Sun shines on.
Take away all our supernecessary trades, and we shall have no more than Tankard-Bearers, and Plowmen; and our City of London will in short time be like an Irish Hut, or perhaps Carthage mentioned in Virgil Travestie.
If you have reason, here’s enough to satisfie: but if not, should I bring ten thousand undeniable arguments you’d still complain.
I meet but with very few of your mind: but I pray let’s hear your thoughts of the next proposal? which is, That ’tis our happiness to have abundance of Foreigners, for I’m sure the general cry is that they eat the bread out of our mouths, they sell their goods when we can’t, they work cheaper than we, live in holes, pay neither scot nor lot; and if we should have many more of them, sure we should have nothing to do.
You are never well full or fasting;Invitation of Foreigners a great advantage.you cry up the Dutch to be a brave people, rich, and full of Cities, that they swarm with people as Bee-hives with Bees; if a plague come, they are fill’d up presently and such like; yet they do all this by inviting all the World to come and live among them. You complain of Spain because their Inquisition is so high, they’l let no body live among them, and that’s a main cause of their weakness and poverty. You find fault because some of our people go to Ireland and the Plantations, and say we want people at home to fill our Cities and Countrie towns, and yet you’l allow none to come and fill up their rooms.The advantages of Multitudes. Will not a multitude of people strengthen us as well as the want of them weaken Spain? sure it will. Would you not be glad if the Duke of Lorrain should destroy as many Villages in France as are destroy’d in Alsatia, and thereby destroy 100000 people? I dare say the most part of you would. I pray then would it not do as well if an hundred thousand French would run away leaving their houses to drop, and fight against the French King, or at least work for money to pay taxes to them that will? I think you won’t gainsay it. In Sr. Walter Raleigh’s observations concerning the causes of the magnificency and opulency of Cities, ’twas the best policy that old Rome had, and by it they were brought to their height. Tamerlan the great was of the same mind, and Constantinople owes its greatness to the same contrivance. Would not Foreigners living here consume our corn, cattle, cloth, coals, and all kind of things we use? and would not that cause our lands to be better till’d, and our trades increas’d? would they not bring several new trades with them,Examples of profit by Forreigners. or help to encrease those we have? witness the Flemmings in the time of Edward the third, the Colonies of Colchester, Canterbury, and Norwich, the Silk-trade in Spittle-Fields, the Tapistrey-makers in Hatton Garden, Clerkenwel, and elsewhere, MrTodin the rare Pewterer in St. Martins Lane, the Husbandmen in the Fenns, and divers others, and doth not every Trades-man among them employ two or three English to attend them either in making tools, winding silk, or such like, besides buying all their materials here? Do you think the first rough materials of a piece of silk of six pound a yard costs twenty Shillings? is not the other five pound better earnt and spent here, than to give the whole six pound to France for’t? No man in England loves it better than I, and I love no Nation more than another, but for their vertues, or as they relate to the welfare of England: but some of our great complainers will spend a groat when they are not worth two pence, and work but two or three days in the week, therefore others out-do them.
Strangers pay neither scot nor lot, tis true, but ’tis because they are disturb’d, and are hardly suffer’d (or at least encourag’d) to take houses, but otherwise they’d quickly be like us, and the next generation would not be known from English.
You seldom hear of any disturbance they make in the State, for they are not all of one mind, and cannot agree if they would, they come for safety, quietness, and livelyhoods, for which and other good reasons, if the Parliament think fit,A hearty Wish. I could wish there would twenty thousand come in next year.
At this rate all the World would be invited hither.
Amen, say I; for then our King would be universal Monarch, and I’d never fear a prejudice either to Church or State if all were to be hang’d that should teach them causeless complaining principles.
Enough of this, but if you are for Enclosures the poor will complain of you, and curse you to the pit of Hell; and a great many of the rich will give you but little thanks.
All this signifies nothing;Enclosure and.one good reason prevails more with me than all their cries and curses, if they were ten fold: and I’m sure that God is a God of reason. As for the Gentry I respect them highly, but a great many are more rul’d by a vulgar error, and false maxims, than the dictates of their own reason. But if I thought it would not be much for the advantage both of Gentry and Commonalty I would not say a word more on’t.Its advantage. But I pray consider that inclos’d ground will sometimes yield treble to what common will, but if sow’d with Clover, Sant-foin or such like, sometimes six, eight, or tenfold, when Corn bears a good price, and ’tis for the Land’s advantage ’tis plow’d too, and after the Crop is off sow’d with Turnips or such like, and this with the help of good tillage and dung (which our good Husbandmen know now pretty well how to procure) done every year, when the other must lye wast one in three.
Horticulture a great advantage.A great deal will be turn’d into Orchards and Gardens, four or five acres of which sometimes maintains a family better, and employs more labourers than fifty acres of other shall do. Hops, Saffron, Liquorish, Onions, Potatoes, Madder, Artichocks, Aniseeds, and Coleseeds will thrive but ill in Common Fields, and I suppose none will denie an Acre of these to yield more money than so much Wheat: Whither goes it then? why, surely into the owners purse or labourers pockets.
For the cry that the poor will be starv’d, it is not worth a rush, for few of them make the benefit for lack of stock, and perhaps they spend as much time in looking after their titts, runts, and tupps, as would gain them by an indifferent Handy craft, twice the profit.
And how that parish that traded but for ten thousand pounds a year, and now for twenty thousand, should be more likely to famish, and twice or thrice the employment for the poor starve them, I confess is to me a paradox. Ever since old Tusser’s time, it has been observed that where there’s most common, there’s least good building and most poor.
Enclosure must needs encrease more great and small cattle, and an encrease of Hydes, Tallow, and Wool, with finer manufactures of them than formerly, can never either depopulate or impoverish.
I must confess that most men yield it to be most profitable. But is it lawful to take away that we have enjoy’d time out of mind? and we must not do evil that good may come on’t.
Whether it be lawful to enclose.I must confess this is your main argument, and I being neither Divine nor Lawyer perhaps may not give to it so good an answer as ten thousand wiser men can do. But ’tis well that I have prov’d it profitable: But I suppose this Island before it was inhabited to be all Common; which was something altered by the first Occupants, and encreas’d according to the good husbandry, populacy, and needs of the people, and why this prescription should not prevail as much as yours, I know not. It doth in America, and I believe all the world over. In China I hear there is not an Acre of Common Land.
I must confess I know no Statute that gives full power to enclose all the Common-Fields, in the Kingdom; but in my weak judgment there are several that do much encourage it. Especially when it is for the advantage of the whole; witness the two first Acts for enclosing the Fenns, and the 4 Jac. II. for part of Herefordshire, caus’d by the good husbandry of some of the inhabitants. And I think the 3 Edw. 6. & 3. will go a great way. And the inducement and ground of the Act call’d Trade encouraged 15 Car. 2. 7. runs thus verbatim.
The reasons for the Act call’d Trade encouraged.Forasmuch as the encouraging of Tillage ought to be in an especial manner regarded and endeavoured, and the surest and effectuallest means of promoting and advancing any trade, occupation or mystery, being by rendring it profitable to the users thereof, and great quantities of Land within this Kingdom for the present lying in a manner waste, and yielding little, which might thereby be improv’d to considerable profit and advantage (if sufficient encouragement were given for the laying out of cost and labour on the same) and thereby much more Corn produced, greater numbers of People, Horses, and Cattle employed, and other Land also rendered more valuable.
How far the inducements and grounds of Acts of Parliament run, I know not, but they shew their designs; and how this can be done better than by Enclosure, my ignorance won’t reach to; but I have prov’d it most advantageous to the owner, and I think wealth and a treble labour, will quickly encrease People, Horses, and other Cattle, the plenty whereof, of necessity must quickly make other Land more valuable.
If leave were given, all the barren land in England I suppose would soon be improv’d.
I believe you’l be asham’d to urge the 25. of Hen. 8. and 13. because the cheapness of our Corn, Cattle, Wool, Pigs, Geese, Hens, Chickens, and Eggs, are in a great part the ground of your complaint.
I chiefly aim at that we call Common Field-Land, where men claim a propriety, and can say, Thus many acres are mine; but for the other that lye always open, if the Lord of the Manor gets all in his own hand, or the Parishioners can agree, I wish ’twere all so serv’d, and I think there’s few with good reason can be against it.
As for the King’s Forests and Chaces, if they were imparkt, and kept to himself, I believe timber would thrive ne’r the worse, or the neighbouring corn, nor perhaps would there be a less breed of good Horses; But arguments are endless. Boy give me t’other dish of Tee.
I pray do nothing rashly, but drink first. Well suppose I grant that you have law and reason enough on your side: what will you do against the beggarly multitude, that will pull down your Fences, turn Cattel in, and spoil your Corn, or what other improvements you shall make in your new Enclosure? if you sue them you know the old Proverb, Sue a Beggar, &c. and they have nothing to lose, their punishment will ne’r make you satisfaction, and except you have a large purse, and courage too you may chance be tired.
’Tis true,A way to inclose in spite of the Rabble. this is a great impediment to the good work, but a great many have conquer’d it, and I believe had the former ages went the same way to work, which an ingenious Justice, and another of my good friends (whom you well know) have done, we should long e’r this have had more Milk and Honey. For instead of narrow Ditches and high banks, which might quickly be thrown down and fill’d with ease, they have made their Ditches, seven, eight, or ten foot wide, six foot deep, and carried away all that should make a hurtful bank, planted quick, and with Damms, stop water to fill up as high as they can or think necessary. By this means the Rabble want materials to refill, unless they’l bring it with them, or dig one ditch to fill another. But as what relates to Ryots, Trespasses, and other law tricks, the Countrey-Men I believe are wise enough.
This is a way indeed, surely this will do or nothing, but let them inclose or do in the fields what they will, what can you say for the multitude of Trades-men?
Say for them!Multitude of traders a great advantage. I have said enough in what I said just now of Foreigners: but however something more.
That man that gets most money over and above his expences, surely will be richest: so likewise will that trade: but suppose there were formerly twenty Linnen-Drapers, (or any other Traders) and they clear’d each five hundred pounds a year, it will amount to ten thousand pounds; but now there are forty Drapers, and by under-selling each other they clear each but four hundred pounds a year, this will make sixteen thousand pounds. I suppose this Company do plainly thrive: But should eighty get but three hundred pounds each, it would amount to four and twenty thousand pounds besides the employment of four times the Ships and Labourers, with the the like encrease of his Majesties Customs, and this is the case of most of our old trades, only besides the quantity of men, the particulars have most of them so much increas’d their quantities, that with less profit they every year spend more, and give their Children better portions.
Moreover there are a multitude of new Trades; and that variety of Arts should undo a Nation, I believe was never known in this world or in Utopia.
When you keep Bees, you are loth to suffer Drones among them. Good Bees are the seventeen Provinces, and you cry them up to the skies, and say that two or three years peace will make amends for all the Calamities they have endured this War: but the like Industry in England, added to a prodigious Plenty, will quite spoil us.
The advantages of many Traders.Do not some of our Trades-men spend one or two hundred pounds a year, whose parents never saw forty Shillings together of their own in their lives? Doth it not make the Capons and Custards go off at a good rate? Doth it not mightily encrease his Majesties revenue, by Customs, Excise, and Chimney-Money? Doth it not make a tax light, by having many Shoulders to bear the burden? And were it not for this, his Majestie must like Spain and Denmark, when he hath occasion to hire ships, from perhaps his ill-humour’d Neighbours. But God be thanked things are in a better case, and if I should live forty years longer, I hope to see London as big again, and all the Towns in England strive to imitate it.
Well, I’l trouble you no more at present, and confess that what you say seems to have a great deal of truth in’t; but I don’t know, people do complain.
And ever will;A disswasive from murmuring.but I prithee leave off this humour of murmuring, either disprove what I have said, or for shame blush to complain. Remember that you are a rational creature, don’t make your own and others lives uncomfortable by refusing to enjoy those Blessings Providence hath heap’d upon you: St. Paul with far less liv’d a happier life. What Comfort can his Majestie have, when for all his good Government, Care, and Protection, you reward him with a mess of Complaints? Don’t Judaize and complain more when you are fed with Manna and Quails, than when you fed on Leeks and Garlick. Murmur not like Corah and his Crew when your King is a Moses. You know that of 600000. that came from Ægypt, there went but two into the Land of Canaan. Most of the rest perished for this crime. When Moses beg’d any great Matter of God, he commemorated his former loving kindnesses, and O God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was of great concern in a Jews petition. ’Tis the remembrance of the French King’s Victories makes him go on with courage:The word impossible a great discourager of Arts. And would we but consider the great things we have done, it would perhaps make us believe nothing to be impossible either in Arms or Arts. Let’s bless God for all his mercies, and particularly for our good King, whose greatest Care hath been to keep us in peace, and procure us plenty, which I think will prove better arguments to gain any needful thing, than the irksom and causeless complaints of a thousand generations. The sum of all is this; If we have great Magazines for War,Signs of Wealth. and multitudes of brave Ships; If we have a Mint employ’d with more Gold and Silver than in a considerable time they can well coin; If it be an affront to cause one to drink in any worse mettle than Silver, if great part of our utensils be of the same: if our Trade be stretcht as far as any trade is known; if we have six times the Traders and most of their Shops and Ware-houses better furnisht than in the last Age; if we have abundance of more good debts abroad than credit from thence; if many of our poor Cotagers children be turn’d Merchants and substantial Traders; if our good Lands be made much better, and our bad have a six-fold improvement; if our houses be built like Palaces, over what they were in the last Age, and abound with plenty of costly furniture; and rich Jewels be very common; and our Servants excel in finery the Great ones of some Neighbour-Nations; if we have most part of the trade of the World, and our Cities are perhaps the greatest Magazines thereof; if after a destructive plague and consuming fire, we appear much more glorious; if we have an universal Peace, and our King in such renown that he is courted by all his Neighbours, and these only the marks of poverty, then I have been under a great mistake: But if it doth otherwise appear, as certainly it doth to all rational men. Then I may still go on with my maxime and say,
We have more wealth now, than ever we had at any time before the Restauration of his Sacred Majestie.
A Comparison.The Jews were never well setled till the time of Saul, and then Wealth flow’d in like water spilt upon the ground: you might see it coming, and it being a stranger they stood gazing and cry’d ahah! witness, David’s lamentation over Saul,2 Sam. 1. 24.He clothed them in Scarlet, and put ornaments of Gold upon their apparel. But in David’s own time it grew to a pretty handsom brook; but in Solomon’s time to a profound River. But then the custom of their Wealth took away the sense of it,Our now complaints. they cry’d that times were hard, there was nothing to be got, they were the old ones that got estates, he that would get one then, must have tug’d hard for’t; and that such like talk they had, is witness Solomon’s reproof, Say not thou, the former times were better than these, for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.
Just thus it hath been with England, Queen Elizabeth’s time was like Saul’s, when by taking a few Spanish Ships, and almost beginning a Navigation, made us cry ahah! In the time of King James and Charles, for want of Silver the Gold made a pretty handsom glistering, but now Gold doth much abound, and Silver is hard-any thing esteemed of. It flows in so often like a deep river, there is hardly any notice taken of it.
I must confess I can’t answer you, but surely that which every body saith, must needs be true.
Well if you are so wilful as not to be convinc’d, I’m sorry, but however this advantage to my self I’ll reap,A good resolution. I’l give God thanks for his great Blessings, and enjoy them while you sit murmuring and repining for what you don’t want, and like Midas starve in a monstrous plenty.
However consider what follows.
1 Cor. 10. 10.Neither murmur ye as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
Jude 11.Wo unto them, for they have perished in the gainsaying of Core.
12.These are spots in your Feasts of Charity.
16.And are murmurers and complainers, walking after their own lusts.
Exod. 16. 18.Your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord.
Phil. 2. 14.Do all things without murmurings.
Numb. 21. 5.And the people spake against God, and against Moses, wherefore have you brought us up out of Ægypt, to die in the Wilderness? For there is no Bread, neither is there any water, and our soul loatheth this light bread.
6.And the Lord sent Fiery Serpents among the people, and they bit the people, and much people of Israel dyed.
Ecclus. 29. 4.Many when a thing was lent them reckoned it to be found, and put them to trouble that helped them.
5.Till he hath received he will kiss a mans hand, and forhis Neighbours money he will speak submisly: but when he should repay, he will prolong the time and return words of grief,Rev. 22. 11.and COMPLAIN OF THE TIMES.
He that is filthy let him be filthy still.
Come Boy take money.
However dear Friend, farewel.