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Britannia Languens, or A Discourse of Trade - 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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Britannia Languens, or A Discourse of Trade
MY Original Design was to examine by what means our English Land-Rents, lately fallen, might be universally advanced; which I have principally pursued; but have found such a Concatenation and Sympathy between the interest of Land and Trade, and between these, and that of the Government; That I have been carried into all the Considerations you will meet with; a Task I little expected when I first began, and which I could never have supported with any Alacrity, but upon hope, that when it shall undeniably appear to every one, that these Interests are the same, there may follow that general Amity and mutual Assistance to each other, which render a Nation happy and secure.
Though my Intention be thus, Just and Innocent, yet I cannot but doubt what Approbation this Discourse may meet with from many of those who have a main suffrage in crying up a new Book; since it is upon a Subject much out of mode; so much, that the very naming it is a matter of Ridicule amongst many of our sprightly men: It is really of such a nature, that it hath not lead me to seek for Smiles, Dinners, or other more solid Gratifications, by flattering any predominant humours, Vices or Passions, or to make an Interest by espousing or canvasing any doubtful Points in Religion: As little can I hope from the Criticks, (I mean our great Masters in Expression:) Trade being a matter of business, and the business of the ordinary people, at least, equally with therest; I have not endeavoured to dress it up with Curiosity of Phrase, by conforming myself to the Laconick or Ciceronian way, studying for Metaphors, spruce words, or the renowned Antithesis; nor do I find these flowers will very aptly mingle with the Notions of Trade; which are so unfortunate, as to have little or no Cognation with Love and Honour, or those other common Themes of Wit which denominate a man a neat Author by the Elegancies they inspire him with: But this is not all, I am afraid you will think Trade is the very Antipodes to all good breeding, when I shall further tell you, that (had I been sufficiently qualified) it hath not permitted me to gratifie the Learned with any of the niceties or finismes of our most fashionable Studies; nay it hath obliged me to hazard the very enmity of others, by impeaching many private and oppressive Interests, whose Silver-Smiths may be highly provoked; and when I thought to qualifie any Resentments of that nature, by waving all Reflections on particular persons, I am now told, that perhaps my Caution this way may disgust others; whence I cannot but be sensible that these Papers want much of those endearments which render many of our Prints so acceptable; And being under these Apprehensions, I could not but have some Compassionate thoughts of my Book-Seller; who must look very melancholly, when some of his customers shall ask for the Ancient Forreign Histories and Poets, the new Philosophical Complements, and Books of Astrology, the Treatise of the Art of Memory, or Swimming; or such like Rarities; Others for the Monstrous Leviathan, Behemoth, and Garagantua: Others for the new French Romance, the Spick and Span new Play, and the new Satyrs; Others for the new Books of Cookery, (for we are arrived to a mighty judgment in eating:) Others for the Books of the World in the Moon, Terra Incog-nita, Lues Venerea, and Westminster Drollery, &c. But upon the sight of the Title Page of this, (because it is of Trade) shall condemn it as fit only to be read by Milleners and Exchangemen.
But recollecting, that we have yet a far greater number of others, under all Characters and Professions, who bear adue affection both to our Government and People, I have adventured upon making this Discourse publick; as not dispairing of their Vindication, being assured they will never think he hath deserved ill, who hath done no more than endeavour to advance and secure the common Interests of both; in which I should be always happy to be instrumental, but especially then, when the Nation is under present difficulties and eminent dangers; For then certainly it more imports every man to seek the Common Safety, than any the most tempting Additions to his own private Fortune. Should the Mariners in a Ship stand trifling and sporting, or contending for Offices, or other gain, on the Decks, whilst a gaping Leak in the Keel lets in the Ocean, we should think them little better than phrenetical; surely in such an Exigence every man on board ought to give his utmost assistance; he that hath no share in the Cargoe hath yet a life to lose, no man would then slink back to escape the dirt, or for fear he should be lookt on as a busie-body. How far the present Condition of our Trade will bear such a Simile, I shall submit to your Consideration upon what follows; wherein I have, not knowingly, mis-represented any thing, but with my utmost application endeavoured to discover and speak the truth of as much as I have thought fit for me to meddle with.
Yet I am not so very a Jockey, nor so arrant a Tradesman in writing, as to desire your implicite belief that all I am about to utter is without Imperfection. I am assured you will least expect it upon a Subject which hath the reputation of being so Comprehensive as this, and seems to require the ascertaining of so great a variety of Facts, that no man upon his single experience can pretend to know them; The consideration whereof might have deterred me from engaging in it, and may you from the perusal, were it not that some of these Facts, which make the Constitutions of Trade, and therefore the Causes of the rest, are notorious and capable of little Controversie, whence the rest being the effects may be easily calculated; a course used and allowed in all Arts and Sciences, and I conceive with more certainty on this Subject than on any other; from whence greater and more notableDiscoveries have been made, than by the most vigilant Disquisitions into all the Revolutions of Facts: Columbus found out the Indies in his Study; so did Archimedes the most stupendous Conclusions in the Mathematicks. It must be confessed many of those other Facts relating to Commerce, which are the effects, are of greater obscurity, most of them being Forreign, and are so numerous, that they branch into almost as many parts as there are humane Actions; yet of these, some are more obvious, and more important than others, whereof, as occasions offer, I have endeavoured to give you some accompt where I can speak with any good assurance; wherein, if you meet with any defect, you may please to attribute it to this, That I am neither Omniscient nor infallible; I have also the old excuse at hand, viz. Importunity of Friends, that common Midwife of Books, besides the frequent Interruptions I have really received by my own ordinary Affairs, which (’tis probable) has caused many abrupt breaks and misexpressions, which I have not had time to review and rectifie; hoping that I have however spoken Intelligibly; and professing, that I have as well considered and digested the deliberative and reasoning part as my Intellectuals will give leave: and if I do not fail in that shall be contented, since it must be admitted that I have written as becomes a man, who hath no better or more discerning faculty than that of his reason: I have no ambition to be accompted an Irrefragable, or Printed Author; being sensible the most Angelical Writers have had their failings, and that whosoever Publishes his thoughts in Print, breaks that (oftentimes profitable) reserve which cunning men affect, and exposes his quiet to the Malice and Impertinences of vulgar Reflections; which nothing but a sincere love to my Country, and the Consideration of its present Circumstances could oblige me to dispense with.
I shall be well satisfied if I have served the Public a little, or made a step towards it, which, at least, I hope I have done, if in a matter of high Consequence I have but stirred questions necessary to be cleared by abler heads; Experience hath been shown what admirable performances have ensued, when a weak Essay hath kindled a Common Emulation, for thencertainly must the brightness of Truth appear (discharged from that rust and foulness which time or corruption hath brought upon it) when the Intellectuals of men are carried into a rational ferment; this I take to be the true use, and most virtuous design of writing, and is all I desire, let those men wear Bays and Lawrel, and be hum’d, and clapt, who are fonder of such Trophies than
Your humble Servant,
IT hath been the Common Design and Business of Individual Men in England, as elsewhere, to obtain sufficient Revenues in Money to the end they may secure themselves from Necessities and Shifting, and live plentifully; And yet it may be undeniably and uncomfortably observed, That whilst every one hath eagerly pursued his private Interest, a kind of Common Consumption hath crawled upon us: Since our Land-Rents are generally much fallen, and our Home-Commodities sunk from their late Price and Value; our Poor are vastly increased, and the rest of our People generally more and more feel the Want of Money; This Disease having grown upon us in times of Peace, when no Forreigners have Exhausted us by War-like Depredations, may very justly amuse us; and the more, when at the same time, we observe that some of our Neighbour-Nations, lately our Equals, or much our inferiors, are become so prodigiously Rich and Powerful on a sudden, (I mean the French and Dutch:) Certainly these mighty Productions must have some great and vigorous Causes, which have been very furiously working of later years, and such as have not fallen under Common Observation: The Nations and Races of People are the same, and theCountries of England, France, and Holland, stand where they did, they are not removed an Inch; nor do the English seem to have lost their Understandings; they are as cunning in their private Contracts as ever, and appear nothing inferior to the French and Dutch in most parts of Literature; I question not but that they know all the Ancient Languages and Histories as well, that our Academicks are as subtile in all the Criticisms of Aristotle; that they have travelled as far into the most abstruse parts of his Logick, Physicks, and Metaphysicks; and yet have we still grown poorer and poorer; So have we excelled in divers necessary parts of Learning; We have had as Able, Eloquent, and Eminent Lawyers and Clergy-men as ever, and as Notable Physitians, and the Nation seems to have grown more Learned, and therefore Wiser than before, by the late vast increase of these Ranks of men.
The present Disadvantages we are under, are therefore commonly attributed to Accidents of divers kinds, as mens present particular Fancies dictate, in which the greatest part are contented to rest satisfied without farther enquiry, whilst they have some Prospects of Gain in the Imployments they are severally educated to; Some ascribe the fall of Rents to an over-great increase of Corn, by the ploughing up of Parks; Others to the modern Parsimony in Housekeeping, the lessening of Gentlemens Retinues, and leaving off the old laudable Custom of plentiful Suppers, which they suppose occasions a less Consumption of Victuals: others attribute this, and the want of Money in the Country, to the great resort of People to London, and quarrel at the New Buildings, as the Hives and Receptacles which draw them thither; others to the banking up of Treasures in the Coffers of some unknown Grandees, Church-men, Lawyers, or Citizens, of which they are highly confident, for else, they say, what is become of the money? then for the lateProgress and Trophies of the French, many look upon them as the meer effects of the Despotick or Arbitrary Power of that Monarchy or of the personal cunning of some men now living in France; I remember I heard one Gentleman say, that the French Genius was up, wherewith he gave himself and others good satisfaction: Others will have it, that the late Enemies of the French wanted Valor and Conduct, but that if the French had the English to contend with, their Glory would soon be laid in the Dust: For the Dutch, there are those who will argue their Riches and Populacy to proceed from the peculiar Industry of that Nation, and that such an Eternal Toil is not supportable by any other; Others, to their small Expense in Diet and Habit, others to particular Circumstances in the time and manner of their Defection from Spain; to their Register of Titles and Contracts, and their cheap and easie decision of Law-Suits.
Of all other things we seem to be most secure in the matter of Trade; we have many who taking themselves to be born or intitled to so much a year in Land, do consider Trade as no otherwise necessary in a Nation, than to support younger Brothers, and are ready to thrust all Publique Taxes upon Trade, that they may ease the Land; Others who pretend to enquire into it, hear the Customs are much risen of late years, and then rest satisfied that we have a mightier Trade than ever: We have also some Merchants and Shopkeepers who get Estates, and buy Land on a suddain, which is lookt upon as an Argument of a good Trade; We find their mighty and numerous Shops and Warehouses, full of goods, and do not hear them complain of Trade, Or that Land is brought to 14 or 16 years purchase, or that they buy at a much abated yearly value.
Some, indeed, justly apprehending a Disease in our Trade, by the decay of our Home Manufactures, andan excess of Forreign Importations, have judiciously expressed themselves in it; these Notions whilst in Embrio, have been ralleured by our Modern Drolls, in their new Manufacture of Plays.
There are others, who with more Design and Gravity, tell us, That the Notions and Improvements of Trade, are of a dangerous tendency, because they threaten part of the present Jurisdiction of our Spiritual Courts, and the gain of many Offices, by some requisite Toleration of Conscience, and other mittigations relating to Trade, and upon this Occasion the same Objectors proceed to argue the Improvements of Trade to be of as bad Consequence to the State, by filling the Nation with Trading-Religious Dissenters, or by a necessary moderating of the present Custom-Rates: They also insinuate, that we ought not to look for such a perfection of Trade under a Monarchical Government, but to dispose of our selves otherwise as we can; We have others that say, Trade is a misterious thing, and not intelligible in any part of it, without a long Apprentiship, and therefore wholly refer themselves to the Merchants and private Traders; Others that ’tis Mechanical, and not Gentleman-like.
But if it fall out that these are all mistaken Opinions, if Trade alone hath produced the afore-mentioned Effects in England, France, and Holland, If the rise and fall of Rents absolutely depend upon it; If Liberty and Property be made valuable by Trade only, and are not valuable or safe without it; If a Nation may be made strong or weak by the meer different Operations of Trade; If the Taxing or burthening of Trade must reduce all Land-Revenues, if the easing of Trade either in the particular Custom-Rates, or otherwise, will make the whole Revenue of the Customs greater, or else much enhance all other publick as well as private Revenues; If a mighty Trade be consistent with a Monarchical Government? (wherethere is Property and Liberty:) If it be a false and officious Scandal to this form of Government, to affirm the contrary, if England of all other Nations, be naturally most capable of the Advantages of Trade, but yet the Trade of England of late years hath been Consumptive; If the late Policies of our Neighbour-Nations have rendered our old established Methods of Trade insufficient, if we have divers late innovated Obstructions in our Trade, if this hath caused an over-ballance of Forreign Importations, If our National Industry hath been imployed to enrich Forreigners, if our own Treasures have been exhausted by our own Trade, and will soon be swept away in the present course of it, Nay, even notwithstanding our late Prohibition of French Goods, if the Objections against the enlarging and bettering of our Trade arise from private Interests, in contradiction to the Publique, or from Passion or Humour, and if this be intelligible to every man of sense, that will take the pains to enquire into it. Then certainly it must follow,
That it does much import all English Gentlemen, Owners of Land, and others, who take themselves to be sharers in the National Interest, to examine the past and present State of our Trade, and to seek for a legal Regulation of it; And that all private Interests destructive to our Trade ought to be relaxed, and given up for the future.
Private Interest is that many-headed Monster, I am chiefly to encounter with, in which if any particular person shall take himself to be concerned, I shall desire him to consider, whether his own Condition would not be more truly honourable and safe under more open Methods of Trade? I shall pray him to look into the nature of meer private Interest, which if he do, he must confess it the same Principle that leads men into Cheats, Thefts, and all those other base mercyless and execrable Villanies, which render the Actors Criminous, and odious by the Sufferings and Injuries they bring upon others.
Then if any man’s particular way of Gain be so prejudicial to Trade, as to occasion the continual Beggery of Thousands of his Countrymen, is not this more then equally mischievous to so many thousand Thefts? But what if this Beggery must unavoidably cause many thousand actual Thefts, nay Murders and Enormities of all kinds, and as it grows more Universal, must bring the Nation into an impotent and indefenseable weakness? Have we any amongst us that will be yet tenacious of such ways of Gain? Will they tell us that they are not punishable by any Laws in force? ’tis pity they are not. So there was a time when in Old Rome, there was no direct Law against Parricide: But that they may no longer shelter themselves under this Umbrage, it were highly necessary that Laws were made to control them, and to remove all Obstructions in our Trade.
That Trade is of this National Importance and Influence, and that the Trade of England in particular, hath been and continues under these Disadvantages, will, I think, sufficiently appear to any indifferent Reader, by the following Discourse; Of which having given the Reader a tast, by way of Introduction, I shall proceed to what I have undertaken, and shall begin with some Preliminaries, of which part are self-evident, and for those that are not (being not able to say all at once) refer the Reader to the following Sections.
Trade National or Private, Home or Forreign Treasures Imported by Trade, thence Land-Rents, Populacy increased, the Revenues of all Ranks of men depend upon Trade, People and Treasure make National Strength, particular Advantages in Treasure, the difference between Ancient and Modern Wars, Navigation supported by Trade, this necessary for the Security of an Island, and therein the farther scope of the whole.
TRade is either National or Private: The National Trade doth influence the Wealth and Strength of a whole Nation, and therefore is not the only Concern of Merchants.
Private Trade hath regard to the particular Wealth of the Trader, and doth so far differ in the scope and design of it from the National, that a private Trade may be very beneficial to the private Trader, but of hurtful, nay of very ruinous Consequence to the whole National; as will appear.
I shall speak of National Trade, which is properly divided into Home Trade, and Forreign Trade.
The Home Trade in every Nation hath dependence on the Forreign Trade: if a Nation hath no Gold or Silver-Mines within its own Territory, there is no practicable way of bringing Treasure into it (in times of Peace) but by Forreign Trade: And if such a Nation be not enriched by Imported Treasure, its Home Trade can only be managed by Exchange of Goods for Goods.
But if Treasure be Imported, then may its Home Trade be managed by buying and selling for money.
And from hence may the Lands in such a Nation come to yield a money Rent, which is the produce or profits of Land sold for money.
In which Case the price of Home Commodities, and consequently the yearly Rent of Lands in a Nation which hath populacy and property, will hold proportion with the quantity of the National Treasure; and will rise or fall as the Treasure does increase or diminish.
For where there is an increase of Treasure in a Nation which hath property, this will ordinarily diffuse amongst the people by the necessity and succession of Contracts; and then the people having universally more money than before, the Seller will not be so necessitous for money as before, and will have a greater choice of Chapmen, who will be more able and ready to buy.
These numbers of Chapmen will inevitably raise the Market one upon the other, as is demonstrable by common and undeniable Experience and Fact; And therefore I shall lay it as a ground in Commerce, That the plenty of Chapmen, who have plenty of money, will cause a higher and quicker Market for any desireable Commodity, especially if the Seller be not so necessitous for money as to be forced to snap at the first offer.
And that on the other side, where there be fewer Chapmen, who have less money, and the Sellers themselves are more necessitous, they must and will sell lower; This must inevitably happen in a Nation where there is little money.
For instance, if there were but 500l. Sterling in England, an Ox could hardly be worth a peny, nor could the Revenue of all England be 500l. per annum, or not above;
It follows then, that a Forreign Trade (by increasing the National Treasure) will advance home Markets, and the value of Lands in England.
I shall admit that if a Nation can be Victorious in War, and can plunder the Conquered, some Treasures may happen to be Imported this way; But certainly those who consider it, will rather desire to be enriched by Trade than by War, since in the Course of Trade, far mightier Treasures may be gotten with Peace, Innocence, Security, and Happiness to the People, who cannot be Victorious in War without Bloodsheds, Rapines, Violences, and Perpetrations of all kinds; they also must be subject to perpetual difficulties and hazards in the hardships and event of War, which will disturb or subvert the Home Trade, nor can the Treasure of a People so imployed circulate in the Markets to any advantagious degree; or should we have any such Bravoes or Knights Errant as would rather purchase Wealth by Fighting than by Industry, yet are these imaginary Conquests absolutely impracticable at this day without the assistance of Forreign Trade; as will be shewn.
But first upon the former grounds I shall add, that a Forreign Trade (if managed to the best advantage) will yet further advance the values of Lands, by necessitating a vast increase of people, since it must maintain great multitudes of people in the very business of Trade, which could not otherwise be supported, (as will also further appear): All which having the Rewards of their Labours in their hands, will still enlarge the choice of Chapmen to the Sellers, and there being so many more persons to be fed and cloathed, there must be a far greater home Consumption of all the products of Land.
And hence must arise a kind of Competition amongst the people who shall farm or purchase Land, when the Revenue of Land is certain, and grows higher daily, as the Treasure and People increase, which must cause Land to rise as well in the years’ purchase, as in the years’ value; nay, the very Earth must receive an inevitable Improvement by their Industrious numbers, whilst every one will be able and willing to possess and manure a greater or lesser part, according to his occasions; there is hardly any Land in England but may be improved to double the value, and very much to treble and more.
This necessary Improvement of Rent and Land is verified in the Forreign instance of Holland, and in such of our English Lands as lie near great and populous Corporations; And on the other side, we see that in Spain and Turkey, and also in such parts of England and Ireland, where there is little Trade, and fewer people, there lie great quantities of Land which yield little or no profit; and hence I conclude, That the Revenue and Value of Land will simpathize with the National Trade.
There are indeed certain Ranks of Men of honourable and necessary Imployments and Professions in every Nation, whose Revenues do not so immediately arise from Trade; such are Officers greater and less, Lawyers, Physicians, and such like.
But though these are not placed in the direct Channel of Trade, yet ’tis very plain they derive their Revenues from it; being supported in their Grandure and Gains at the cost of the Land-Holders and Traders; who will be more capable and willing to give them greater Gratuities and Fees, when their own pockets are fuller; and as the People, Trade, and Contracts do increase, there will be more Law-Suits and Diseases, and ordinarily more Fees and Gratuities, so will there be more Houses built, more Apparel made, and more Imployment of all sorts for Masons, Carpenters,Taylors, and men of all other middle and inferior Callings.
And from hence it also follows, That a Forreign Trade managed to the best advantage, will make a Nation vastly stronger than naturally it was, because money and people do ordinarily make National strength.
Money is necessary for the purchasing of many Provisions for War by Land or Sea, as Arms, Victuals, Ammunition, materials for Shipping and many others, which being gotten, yet neither Souldiers nor Sea-men will now adventure themselves at the mouths of Cannon and Musket without pay, whereof the further Consequence is that the Prince and Nation which hath the greatest Treasure, will finally have the Victory, and probably with little or no fighting.
For being enabled by their Treasure to keep themselves in a posture of War, they will oblige their Enemies to the like Expence, till their Enemies Treasures are exhausted, and then their Armies and also their Councils will dissipate.
This shews the difference between the ancient and present Course of War, for anciently the event of War was tried by frequent Battles, and generally succeeded as one Nation was Superior to the other in personal Strength and Roughness; But since the Wealth of the Indies came to be discovered and dispersed more and more, Wars are managed by much Treasure and little Fighting, and therefore with little hazard to the richer Nation.
And hence also doth it appear that in the present condition of the World, it is in a manner impossible for a Nation to gain Riches by Conquest and Plunder, unless it hath first store of Treasure at Home, which cannot otherwise be gotten than by Forreign Trade.
Also money will command the Service and Lives of any poorer and rougher Nation, It will purchase the Assistance of Forreign Princes, It will indear their great Ministers, open their Cabinets, engage true and close Correspondencies, and poison their Councils: It will pass unseen through Rampiers, Fortifications, and Guards, into Cities and Forts, and will surprize them without the tedious hazards of Seiges; It will purchase Governors and Generals, and like Lightning will consume the Heart of a poorer Nation, whilst its Countenance and Outside shall remain fresh.
So are people necessary to Guard the Treasures, and defend the Nation, who will be more or less true and serviceable to the National Interest, as they have a greater or lesser share in it; he that hath somewhat of his own, and lives Comfortably, will stoutly defend the Nation against Invaders; But if a People be poor and miserable, their Condition being uneasie, it will be indifferent to them who is Conqueror; nay they will hope for a better Condition by turning the Tables; so is it of dangerous Consequence that the People should become vitious, because it generally weakens their Bodies, Courages, or Faiths: In all which the excellency of a great and well regulated Forreign Trade may be discerned, since it will render the People Rich, and ordinarily Virtuous; as will also appear.
But Forreign Trade may bring a particular advantage to an Island by a great Navigation, without which its impossible for any Island long to defend it self against a Forreign Enemy potent in Shipping, for the Invaders circling an Island with their Ships, may sail from Place to Place, and Rob, Spoil, and Kill, before the Natives can, by long Land-Marches, apply their Courage and Land-Forces to resist them; which must necessarily distract and weary out the most valiant People on the Earth: this hath been evident by many Demonstrations in England, which hath been often Conquered by Forreigners for want of a sufficient Naval Force, particularly by the Romans, nay by the Saxons, Danes, and Normans; but hath more often repulsed Forreigners, whilst we have been most powerful at Sea; and therefore the constant Policies of this Kingdom have long aspired too, and enjoyed a Soveraignty of the Sea, and kept a narrow and jealous watch on Neighbour-Nations, lest they should aggrandize their Naval Strengths.
The several kinds of Forreign Trade, of trading with Home or Forreign Navigation, some general Application.
IT will be then proper to consider how a Forreign Trade may be driven to most Advantage for the increase of National Treasure, People, and Navigation.
A Forreign Trade may be driven by a Nation with Forreign Navigation, or with Home Navigation.
A Forreign Trade driven with Forreign Navigation, is when a Nation sells its Commodities at Home to such Forreigners as come thither to Buy and Export them.
This sort of Forreign-Trade may enrich a Nation with Treasure more or less, as the Commodities so sold are of greater or lesser quantity and value.
But it is very plain, that if the Natives had Exported the same Commodities to the same Forreigners in Shipping of their own, the same Commodities would have yielded a greater Rate in the Forreign Ports, because the Natives must have been also paid for the Carriage; which by so much would have increased the National Gain; wherefore it is more advantagious for a Nation to Export its own Commodities by Navigation of its own.
But it will not follow, that ’tis therefore necessary or fit to confine all Exportations to Home Navigation by Penal Laws, especially in England, as will be shewn.
Nor does it follow that a Nation which doth Export its own Commodities, shall be alwayes richer than another that sells at home; for the Commodities of one Nation sold at home may yield ten times more money at home than the Commodities exported by the other shall yield abroad, and therefore must make it ten times richer.
This may be verified in the Trade of France; whose Commodities sold at home to the Dutch, English, and others, for many years past, have brought vast quantities of money into France, perhaps more than all the Neighbour Nations have gotten by their exported Commodities, by which means, and no other, France is become the Terrour of the World, as I shall more particularly and fully shew.
A beneficial Forreign Trade, with home Navigation, may be said to be of two sorts.
The one consists in the meer Exportation of home Commodities into Forreign Nations where they may be vended, of which I have spoken before.
The other, in Trading and Huxtering from Port to Port.
The benefit of Trading or Huxtering from Port to Port consists in buying Commodities cheaper in one Forreign Port, and selling them dearer in some others; in which case the Nation Trading ordinarily gets more or less, in proportion, as the Merchants buy for less and sell for more, and as the Stock and Navigation imployed in this sort of Trade is more or less.
The Dutch being to buy much of their Victuals, Cloaths, and other necessaries from abroad, and having little Commodities of their own to Export, put themselves upon this Trading from Port to Port; which Trade they have improved to that degree, that they are become, as it were, the Common Carriers of the World, imploying near 30000 Trading-Vessels, (including those which belong to their Fishery.) In this way of Trade have this Industrious People yearly bought up vast quantities of French Manufactures and Commodities, and uttered them again for present profit in other parts of the World, not foreseeing those dangers they have been bringing upon themselves and all Europe.
The English have never attained to near so Universal Manufacture as the French, or so general a huxtering Trade as the Dutch; But yet until this last Age had a greater proportion of each then the Dutch or French; their Trade hath chiefly consisted in the Exportation of their own Commodities, and Manufactures made of their own home Materials; of which that of our Wooll being the Principal, was long thought and really still is, or might be, the greatest and richest in the World; This, with our exported Tin, Lead, Iron, Allome, Fish, and other valuable things, brought in a sufficient quantity of Forreign Commodities to serve our National Occasions, Pomp and Ornament, and left an Annual Increase of Imported Treasure, which in length of time had much enriched the Nation, though our neat Annual Gain by Forreign Trade did never bring in much above 250000l. or 300000 per annum increase of Treasure, one year with another (taking any number of 20 years together) as may be reasonably collected by what will follow; nor was that a Contemptible Gain (as the Trade of this part of the World formerly stood) since it had rendred this Kingdom as Rich and Happy at home, and as formidable abroad, as any in Europe.
Of Forreign Trade consisting in Exportation, of the advantages of home Manufactures, and Manufactures, incidently other home Trades, and Imployments are considered; and which of them enrich a Nation; of the Fishing-Trade, and the annual exporting of Corn.
THe National Gain, by Forreign Trade, consisting either in vending home Commodities to Forreigners, or in Trading from Port to Port; It may be fit to be considered how these branches of Trade may be improved to the utmost.
Home Commodities vendible and exportable to Forreigners, are either such as are Capable of little or no Manufacture, as Coals, &c.
Or else such as may be manufactured, which may be called the Principles or Materials of Manufacture; such are Wooll, Silk, Flax, Hemp, Tin, Iron, Skins, Corn, and others.
Most materials of Manufacture are of small value whilst raw and unwrought, at least in Comparison of the Manufacture, since by Manufacture they may be made of five, ten, or twenty times their first value, according to the Workmanship; which is proved by the Woollen, Silk and Linnen Manufactures, and almost infinite others; wherefore if a Nation hath naturally any Materials of Manufacture, it is far more advantagious to Export them in Manufacture, rather than the raw Materials, because the Manufacture is so much more valuable, and will make a return of five, ten, or twenty times more Treasure to the Nation than the raw Materials.
Besides, it is most dangerous to Export the Materials of Manufacture, since it may transfer the Manufacture it self into some Neighbour Nation, and with it the incident Riches and Populacy: by which means a Neighbour-Nation may become five, ten, or twenty times richer and stronger than that Nation which doth Export its Materials, and those innocent Materials may in a short time return in the shape of armed Men and Ships, to the Terror and Confusion of an unwise and lazy People.
But if Forreigners will vend their raw Materials of Manufacture, it is necessary, or highly convenient for a Nation to Import them, and put them into Manufacture at home; after which, this Manufacture may be either exported and sold for much more than the Materials cost, or being used at home, will prevent the necessity of Importing the like from abroad, by which the Nation will save to the value of the Manufacture: Thus do the French and Dutch manufacture Forreign Silk, Spanish and English Wooll, and many other Forreign Materials, which they Export and sell again with prodigious advantage.
The sorts of Manufacture are so various, and almost infinite, that there is no People so great or numerous but may be universally imployed by it; There are many which relate to Eating and Drinking, many more to Apparel of all sorts, Furniture of Houses, Equipage, Navigation, War, Literature and Science, unnecessary, but acceptable Toyes, to gratifie the humors and follies of Men, Women, and Children, under all which generals, there are so many species of Manufactures, that the very naming of them would make a Volume; some are of simple Materials, some of mixt.
The Labours of the People bestowed this way, must necessarily glomerate the Riches of the World, and must render any Nation a prodigy of Wealth; for whilst vast numbers of Manufacturers are thus continually improving the value of some Commodity or other, they work for the Nation where they live as well as for themselves; If 100000 Manufacturers get 6l. per annum a piece, the Nation must gain or save 600000l. per annum by their Labours, (supposing the Materials to be meliorated only to the value of their Wages;) If the number of the Manufacturers be greater, or if the same number gain more a piece, then is the National gain still greater and greater in proportion: All which is too evident in the present instance of France, and the contrary of that of Spain, which although supplied with the Wealth of the Indies, is, for want of home Manufactures, the poorest and weakest of all Nations, and the most dispeopled.
For by Manufactures, a Nation may support many hundred thousands of Families, besides the meer Tillers of Lands and Keepers of Cattel, which increase of people shall live well, without being a clog and vexation to the Landholders, and shall be highly beneficial to the rest of the Natives in times of Peace, as otherwise they will not be; and as the people increase, so may the kinds and quantities of Manufacture; the very Women and Children may ordinarily get good Livelihoods in Manufacture.
Hence must follow a sweet Harmony in a Nation which hath property, when every one’s Hand and Head is employed, and when there comes a reciprocation of advantage to the Landholders, and all others, as necessarily there must; And as Manufacture seems a kind of debt to the laborious part of the people, who by nature are intitled to live; so it is the highest of all Charities; as it is most substantial and universal; What signifies the distribution of a little broken meat amongst a few Wretches, in Comparison of the support of hundreds of thousands of Families? And lastly, it is attended with the promised Rewards of Charity, viz. Plenty, Glory, and Prosperity to a whole Nation.
This, and what hath been said in the last Section, may administer occasion to consider what sorts of Trades, Imployments, and Professions do add to the Riches of a Nation, and what not.
It is evident that all sorts of home Manufactures must advance or save the National Wealth, the like may be said of those who are imployed in the Fishing-Trade, so may the Trade and Profession of a Merchant add to the National Riches.
There are another sort of home-Traders, who live meerly by buying cheaper and selling dearer at home, such are Retailers of all sorts in the City and Country, whom we call Shopkeepers; of which a convenient number are necessary in every Nation to keep open Marts and Markets for the vending of Commodities; These may advance their private Stocks and Estates by buying cheaper and selling dearer, but cannot (meerly by this way of Trade) add a peny to the National Riches, so that it may truly be said of one poor Manufacturer, that he adds more in a year to the Wealth of the Nation than all such Retailers and Shop-keepers in England.
And if these Shop-keepers deal over-much in Consumptive Forreign Wares, they may assist in the beggary of the Nation; so may the Trade of a Merchant export and exhaust the National Riches, if he trade over-much in meer Consumptive Importations.
And therefore though the gain of the persons imployed be one main end and design of all Trades and Imployments, and in that respect they are all alike; Yet they differ in this; That in some of them the persons imployed do immediately or ultimately gain money from Forreigners; But in the other, they gain from the people, and from one another.
Of the last sort, are all Imployments relating to the Law and Physick, so are Offices of all kinds (which I do not say to insinuate any of these Imployments to be useless in a Nation, or to diminish from that due respect which ought to be given to Men of Place.) There is no question but they are highly necessary for the Regulation of the Body-Politick, and the Body-Natural; so are the Clergy for the Information of Mens Consciences; and therefore in every Nation convenient numbers of the people ought to be set apart for these purposes; But as far as they are Imployments, and intended for private gain, ’tis plain they add no Treasure to the Nation, but only enable the persons so imployed to share and heap up the Treasures already Imported; The like may be said of all other ways of living by meer Literature and the Pen, and some inferior In-land Imployments mentioned before; It must therefore be of dangerous Consequence if the Trade of a Nation run into over-much Shop-keeping, or if too many of the people withdrawing themselves from Manufactures, and the beneficial parts of Trade, should throng themselves into the Clergy, Law, Physick, Literature, and such other Professions as bring no increase of National Riches; And the rather, because these Imployments and Professions are narrow, and can support but a few Families in a Nation with convenience; so that it may endanger Depopulation, and by their numbers will prejudice one another; Whereas Manufacture and a great Forreign Trade, will admit of and oblige an increase of people even to infinity: And the more the Manufacturers increase, they will the more enrich one another, and the rest of the people; It may then be proper to inquire how the Manufactures of a Nation may be increased and improved.
This may be done either by enlarging former Manufactures, or by introducing new ones.
New Manufactures must be first taught, and then encouraged, and if made of Forreign Materials, the Materials must be Imported, after which, as the people find the sweet of their Labours, it is not to be questioned but that they will throng into the Imployment; they that want Bread, Cloathes, and other necessary Comforts, will be glad to obtain them honestly; Thus our King Edward the Third (a Wise and Victorious Prince) invited over the Flemmings to teach his Subjects the Woollen Manufacture; And thus have the French Policies invited over the most Exquisite Manufacturers into France from all parts of the World; these with their Schollars were first imployed at the Charge of the Government; but the Manufactures soon afterwards diffused into the gross Body of the people.
Without these primary Encouragements and Superintendence of the Government, it will be hard to nourish up any new Manufacture, or to enlarge any old ones, at least, suddenly, to any great degree.
See Mr. Smith of Improvements, pa. 268, 269, 270, computes the whole profit of this Fishery to be ten millions sterling per annum, in a manner, all gained by other Nations.Amongst the Exportations, the Fishing-Trade ought not to be forgotton, since according to modern Calculations, the meer Fishing-Trade for Herring and Cod on the Coasts of England and Scotland imploys above 8000 Dutch Ships or Vessels, 200000 of their Sea-men, and Fishers; And the Herrings and Cod sold by the Dutch in Forreign Countries, do bring an Annual profit of about 5000000l. per annum Sterling to that Nation: besides which, ’tis accounted that there are at least 250000 people more imployed and maintained at Home about this particular Navigation, making of Fishing-Nets, and the curing, ordering, and preparing of the Fish, &c. besides the Island, Newfound-Land, and Greenland, fishings of very great advantage.
But the ordinary Exportation of Corn out of the Annual increase, hath been accounted most dangerous, and of all others the most unprofitable, because of the possibility of a dearth; which besides the hardships of it, will give opportunity to Forreigners of drawing away vast Treasures in a trice.
But if a Nation doth store up Corn in cheap years, the people will be secure against a Dearth, and yet when Corn is excessive dear in Neighbour-Nations, may then take their time to furnish them, and by that means will make much greater Advantages than by ordinary Exportation; And for this reason have the modern Policies of some wise Nations in Trade, contrived and erected publick Storehouses or Conservatories for Corn.
I shall conclude with the words of Sir Walter Rawleigh, in his excellent Observations upon Trade, presented to King James. “Amsterdam is never without 700000 quarters of Corn, a dearth in England, France, Italy, or Portugal, is truly observed to enrich Holland for seven years after; For example, the last Dearth six years past, the Hamburghers, Embdeners, and Hollanders, out of their Storehouses furnished this Kingdom, and from Southampton, Excester, and Bristol only, in a year and half, carried away near 200000l. Then what great quantities of Corn did they Transport from round about the Kingdom? from every Port-Town, from the City of London, and other Cities? it cannot be esteemed less than two Millions: to the great decay and impoverishment of the People, discredit to the Merchants, dishonour of the Land, &c.”
Suppose then a Dearth or Scarcity of Corn happen once in twenty or thirty years, the Annual Labours of the People in the produce of the exported Corn are lost; ’tis also a bulky Commodity, and makes but a small yearly return, and the Forreign price and vent of it is very casual, and incertain, for which Reasons, of latter years, the ordinary exporting of Corn is used only by some poor Nations, who have little other Trade: ’tis said the French King hath Ordered publick Stores and Conservatories of Corn.
Of Forreign Trade from Port to Port, the Nature and Advantage of it, differs from meer Carriage, and meer Importation; the necessity of a Home Storehouse: The ordinary Exporting of Money or Bullion, of dangerous consequence; how to be avoided: The Fishing-Trade, and Trade from Port to Port, are the Nursery and Support of Sea-men, and Sea-towns; The Condition of Ours; The National Advantages of England for all sorts of Trade, yet hath the least share.
SInce the Trade from Port to Port will cause a great Navigation, and also bring in very much Treasure, and therefore if it be added to the Trade of Exportation, must render a Nation the Miracle of Riches and Power; I shall next consider what this Trade from Port to Port really consists in, and by what methods it may be driven most advantagiously to a Nation.
A Trade from Port to Port may be most properly so called, when a Merchant of one Nation buying Goods in another, the Property becomes his, and he carries them to a third Forreign Market on his own account; thus the Dutch buy up, Export and sell the French Manufactures and Commodities; But if a Dutch-man carry French Goods to be sold in a Forreign Market, on a French-man’s account, taking a certain Rate for the Hire of his Ship; this is not properly a Trade from Port to Port, but is meer Carriage; which sort of Imployment (though it may seem least reputable) may increase the National Treasure, as the Navigation used in it is more or less, and may imploy many Sea-men.
A Trade from Port to Port doth also differ from meer Importation, which is, when the Merchant does Import Consumptive Commodities, which are spent at Home, in which case, if the importations are excessive, it may truly be called The Disease of Trade, since it must cause an Exportation of the National Stock of Treasure, and thereby may soon ruine a Nation, as will be shewn; But so cannot a Trade from Port to Port, truly so called, because the Goods bought being sold or bartered off, at other Forreign Ports, must be ultimately converted into more and more money, and thereby increase the home Treasure.
This Trading from Port to Port, does not wholly consist in the Carriage of a Commodity from one Port directly to another; nor can be so driven to any great, or ordinary Advantage; for the Merchants thus Imployed, must either Trade little, or else must glut the Ports they go to with an over-great quantity of Goods of the same kind; and therefore for the full improvement of a Trade from Port to Port, it is generally necessary, That the Merchants should first unlade at Home, which will inevitably render a Nation so Trading a compleat and mighty Storehouse of all Forreign Manufactures and Commodities; and then from this infinite Miscellany of Goods (as the Merchants observe their time for a Market and the Ports they go to) they may freight their Ships with such sortible Commodities andCargoes as are proper and vendible to advantage;See Sir William Temple’s Book of the Dutch Cap. of Trade, pag. 210, 232. Thus are the Dutch Provinces become the mighty Storehouse of the World; the Plenties of the World do grow and increase in other Countries, but there are the Stores, and thence do their Merchants furnish themselves for all sorts of Voyages; “Thus they Transport the Merchandizes of France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Turky, the East and West Indies to the East and North-East Countries of Pomerland, Sprusland, Muscovy, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Liefland, Swedeland, Germany; and the Merchandizes of the last mentioned Kingdoms they transport into the Southern and Western Nations,” as Sir Walter Raileigh long since noted, nor is a Trade from Port to Port practicable, or can be improved to any considerable or valuable degree, unless the Nation be made an universal Storehouse.
In the Trade from Port to Port there must be some kinds of Original Exportation, because the Merchant cannot purchase Forreign Goods in a Forreign Port for nothing.
And one would think it should hardly be a question, whether in this way of Trade it be most profitable to a Nation to Export Manufacture, or other home Commodities, or Money, or Bullion.
Stat. restraining the Exportation of Money and Bullion are 9 E. 3. Cap. 1. 2 H. 4. 5th 5 R. 2. 2 H. 6. 6th 4 H. 7. 23. 19 H. 7. 5.But of late years many of our Merchants very much contend for a Liberty to Export Money or Bullion as advantagious to the Trade of the Nation, and have gotten an Act of Parliament to Legitimate the exporting of Bullion, contrary to many other former Statutes, and now Bullion and Money also are become our usual exportable Commodities.
The Exportation of Bullion Licensed by a short Clause of 15 Car. 2, Cap. 7. intituled Trade Incouraged.But I shall oppose the ordinary Exporting of Money or Bullion in Trade, especially as the Constitution of our Trade now is, for the Reasons following:
First, I shall admit that the exporting of Treasure in the Trade from Port to Port may increase Treasure, provided that the Merchant makes wise Bargains, and his Ships return safe, neither of which is altogether certain; But supposing the Merchant be both so wise and fortunate, yet ’tis very plain that in this way of Trade the Merchant cannot bring more new Treasure to the Nation than the Merchant by his judicious and prosperous dealing and Voyage can Add to the Original Sum he carried out.
But had the Merchant taken off and exported to the same value in home Manufacture or Commodity, ’tis as plain that the very vending or bartering of that Manufacture or Commodity, would have been a farther Gain to the Nation, to the full value of the Manufacture or Commodity exported; since the Manufacture or home Commodity sold would finally resolve into Treasure, nay, though the Merchant gain but little or nothing in this case, yet the Nation must be a Gainer to the value of the Manufacture or other Commodity exported.
As suppose a Dutch or English Ship go with exported Treasure to France, where the Merchant buys French Wine for 1000l. which afterwards he carries into the Sound, and there sells it for 1300l. the Merchant hath brought but 300l. new Treasure or Credit to the Nation; But had the Merchant Exported Herrings or home Manufacture, and by Sale or Barter of his Fish or Manufacture had purchased the same quantity of Wines, which afterwards he sold for 1300l. the Nation must presently have a new Addition of Treasure or Credit for the whole 1300l. In which last Case the Nation gets a new 1000l. by the labours of the Fishers or Manufacturers, besides the 300l. got by the Merchant; if the Merchant had got nothing, yet the Nation had gained 1000l.
Secondly, In this last Case great numbers of Manufacturers, Fishers, &c. are kept and well maintained at Home, whereas the ordinary Exportation of Money must make them idle and useless; whereof the further Consequence is, that the ordinary Exportation of Money must inevitably depopulate a Nation, if it be of any great extent of Territory; so must the Exportation of Bullion be attended with the same mischiefs for the same reasons: The Exportation of Bullion does also open a way for the Exporting of Coined Treasure, without any hazards of Seizure, by melting down the most valuable Coin into Bullion.
But I expect to be told that Hamburgh and Holland, &c. do allow of and use the Exportation of Treasure.
To which I answer, That there is no parallel between such Countries as these and England; For these are little Territories, much consisting of Merchants, their Agents, Factors, and dependents, who live by meer Merchandize, that the rest of the people being but few (in Comparison of what are necessary to people so great and fertile a Nation as England) may be supported with much fewer and lesser Manufactures and home Employments; and therefore that the Exporting of Treasure must be less dangerous, and perhaps may be the more necessary there, because by the fewness of people, and consequential restraint of Manufactures, their Merchants may be confined in the bulk and variety of home Commodities to Export.
If it be said that no Nation can be so stored with home Commodities, as to answer all Forreign Ports and Markets, and therefore that it may be sometimes necessary to Export Treasure in every trading Nation; This perhaps may be true in some degree; But this is another question; and in the mean time it remains that it is most profitable to a Nation to Export home Commodities (where it may be done) rather than Money or Bullion, and therefore that the Merchants ought to be restrained from it as much as it is possible.
Then as to the other question, how far it may be necessary in a Nation to Export Money in Trade, It must depend upon the greater or lesser Improvement of the National Trade.
For as a Nation hath a more universal Manufacture and Fishery, more Drinks, Fruits, Curiosities, and Delicacies of its own, its Merchants will be more and more enabled to Fraight themselves outwards with home Commodities; These mighty Stores of home Commodities can only be had in great fertile and populous Nations.
But suppose a Nation be not, or cannot be so fully stored with home Commodities as to Answer all Forreign Markets, yet its Merchants first Exporting home Commodities to Ports where they are Vendible, may by a Barter, Sale, or Exchange of these, and an eternal Succession of Voyages and Contracts, make the Nation where they live a Storehouse to Perfection; and will then have the choice of all Merchandizes on the Earth to Export; and therefore may ordinarily and beneficially Trade to any Forreign Port without exporting Treasure; And if they may, they will, because else they will loose the benefit of the Market for the goods they may re-Export; Thus even the Dutch originally Exporting Herring, Cod, Earthen Wares, Woollen Cloth, Linnen, and of late Silks, and other home Commodities, and having by the Barter or Sale of these compleated their home Storehouse, can ordinarily buy at Foreign Markets, without Exporting Treasure; By this means are the Dutch enabled to Trade as they do to Swedeland, Liefeland, and Norway, where by selling or bartering of their own and Forreign Commodities, they provide themselves with the materials of Pitch, Tar, Hemp and Flax, necessary for Navigation, and with Timber, and other Commodities, for their use at Home, and Trade abroad, whilst the same Commodities cost the English some 100000l. per annum, since the decay of our Cloth-Trade into those Ports; which kind of Trade is doubtless advantagious to some Merchants (else they would not continue it;) But does help to drain the Nation of its Treasure.
I do not say the Dutch never Export Treasure, but that by reason of their Forreign Storehouse, they are under no such ordinary necessity to do it; and in fact Export little or none to many other Countries, where the English Trade with much: whereof I shall have occasion to say more.
I shall conclude, that where the Home and Forreign Trade of a great and populous Nation is duly Regulated, and sufficiently Improved, there will be little necessity to Export Treasure.
To which I shall add, That the Exporting of Treasure in a Nation, having ill methods of Trade, must be yet more dangerous, because it facilitates meer Importation, and in England is chiefly serviceable to it, as will appear.
If a Trade from Port to Port be Improved to any great degree, it must necessarily very much increase the National Treasure, and numbers of people, especially Sea-men.
If 20000 Trading Vessels add 300l. per annum a piece to the National Stock yearly, the yearly National Gain must amount to 6000000l. per annum, and so in any greater or lesser proportion, as the Navigation or Gain is greater or less; of which we have a plain Example in the Dutch, who in about Ninety or 100 years time have arrived to a wonderful Wealth and Strength by it, though they have been always forced to buy much of their Victuals and Materials of Clothing, all their Materials of Shipping, and many other chargeable Necessaries from Forreigners, which must be a prodigious Annual Expence.
A Fishing-Trade is one great and certain Nursery of Sea-men, and brings Wealth and Comfort to Sea-Towns; But a Flourishing Trade from Port to Port will make better and more Sea-men, inrich Sea-towns more, and will Imploy very considerable numbers of people at Land, in Building, Manufacturing, Repairing, and other ordering of the Shipping, Tackle, and Goods Imported and Exported, besides the Merchants and their more immediate Dependants; Thus do we see the Towns upon our opposite Shores abound in Riches and People, whilst our own Sea-towns languish more and more.
And from hence it may appear, that for the utmost advance of this Trade, it is necessary there should be very much Shipping in a Nation, multitudes of Seamen, great Stocks continually imployed in Merchandize, great numbers of Merchants, and lastly safe Ports and Harbours.
I shall end this with some retrospect to the last Section, by observing, that no Nation in the World is naturally so adapted for a mighty Trade of all sorts as England.
First, Because it hath more excellent Native Commodities than any one Nation in the World, as Copper, Lead, Iron, Tin, Allome, Copperas, Saffron, Fell, the mighty Commodity of Wooll, Corn, convertible into Beer, and Transportable, besides near 100 others, which are capable of near 1000 sorts of Manufactures, as Sir Walter Rawleigh observes.
That it is one of the most Fertile of Kingdoms, and therefore out of its own Stores might support almost infinite numbers of people both for Manufactures at home, and Trade abroad, especially as the Island might be improved.
That it hath more and safer Ports and Harbours than almost all the Nations in Europe put together.
That it is better scituated for the Northern, Eastern, Southern and Western Trades than any other Nation.
That the Herring and Cod, with which the Dutch drive so mighty a Trade, are caught in our English Seas, upon our own Coasts and Shores, and may be managed with more ease and advantage by the English, than by any other Nation.
And to conclude, That our People are strong and able for Work at Home, generous and adventurous abroad, and such as all the rest of the World have most coveted to commerce with, and naturally as ingenious, industrious, and willing to labour as any part of Mankind, so long as they can have a reasonable fruit of their Labours, which hath been evidenced by many former undeniable Experiences.
Notwithstanding all which Advantages, England hath had very few considerable Manufactures, some of which are lost, and the rest decaying; nor have we any considerable remaining Trade from Port to Port, or Fishing-Trade, of which there are doubtless some Reasons and Causes very fit to be understood and regulated, since the Wealth, Strength, Happiness and Safety of England immediately depend upon it; I shall therefore in the three next ensuing Sections give an Account of such particular Obstructions in our Trade, as have fallen under my notice.
That our Home and Forreign Market is Incumbered, and prejudiced by extraordinary and unequal Charges, and Cloggs in our Merchandize above what are in our Neighbour-Nations, viz. In the building and furniture of our Ships, Victuals, Sea-mens Wages, Customs, Interest-Money, &c. with the Consequences in our Manufactures and Forreign Trade; more particularly of the decay of our Woollen Manufacture: our Exportations now confined to our Importations and Imported Treasure, how to be enlarged, our casual dependence on the Trade of Spain.
SUpposing this or any other Nation had all the aforesaid Grounds of Trade, viz. All sorts of Home and Forreign Materials of Manufacture, sufficient numbers of People, and those instructed in Manufacture, supposing them never so industrious, that there were no want of Ships, Sea-men, or Stocks of Money, Ports or Plenties at home, yet there is another thing necessary, which is a good and quick Vent and Market for Commodities; without which all Manufactures will decay and expire, all other Exportations must fail, and the Trade from Port to Port can be no longer practicable or valuable.
For if the Manufacturer cannot sell his Manufacture, he hath laboured to his great loss; so if a Merchant buy Goods at one Forreign Port which he cannot sell at another Forreign Port, he hath at least lost his Voyage, and the Charge of it; so if the Market be not absolutely closed up, yet if it be prejudiced and spoiled to any great degree, the Merchant or Manufacturer will either discontinue presently, or will Trade less and less, and will fling up speedily if the Market doth not mend; for if men of Trade cannot sell for reasonable profit, but will be forced to live much worse and poorer than other men of the like degree and estate in the same Nation, they will not continue long in so unprofitable a Toil.
The Home and Forreign Market bear such a Simpathy one with the other, that Obstructions in the Market at home, may arise from Obstructions in the Forreign Market, as well as immediately from Causes at home.
For if the Forreign Market for Exportable Commodities fail in any degree, there must be a less and worse Vent and Market at home for these Commodities; if the Forreign Market come to take off a lesser quantity yearly than before, or at a lesser price, the Natives must sell a lesser quantity, and at a lesser price, to their Exporters and Merchants, who will not buy more than they can Vend again, nor so dear that they cannot vend them with sufficient profit.
Now the course of our English Forreign Merchandize hath begotten an Obstruction in the Forreign Market, because our Merchants are liable to greater Charges in their way of Trade than the Merchants of our Neighbour Nations.
For all necessary Charge of the Merchant in his course of Trade is super-added to the Original Cost of his Commodity, so that the Merchant, upon sale of the Commodity Exported, is under an Obligation to pay himself his Charge, and yet to sell so, that he may make himself a reasonable gainer besides.
Then if a Forreign Merchant bring the same Manufacture or Commodity to the same Forreign Port with less charge, he will be able to under-sell the English-Merchant as much as his charge is less, and yet shall get reasonable profit.
And if the Merchants of other Nations be able to sell for less, they will, nay perhaps must, (supposing that they drive an open Trade, and upon their distinct Stock) for then being incapable of combining to Impose prizes, and desiring a quick Market (which is the life of Trade,) they will be worked down by the Forreign Buyers to take as moderate profit for their Goods as they can afford them at.
The Consequence of this is, that the English Merchant must either forbear Exporting, or else must sink his prizes on the English Manufacturers, whereby the English Manufactures must be stifled or discouraged.
’Tis true, That if a Nation hath some rich and necessary Material and Manufacture within it self, exclusive to other Nations, it hath the Monopoly of this Manufacture to the rest of the World, and therefore cannot be under-sold, but may vend it so as to pay all extraordinary Charges with sufficient gain to the Manufacturer and Merchant; which was heretofore the Case of England in the Woollen Manufacture.
But if a Manufacture or Commodity be common to England and Holland, or England and France, and the Hollanders or French can bring this Manufacture or Commodity cheaper to a third Forreign Port than the English, the Hollanders or French under-selling the English, will beat the English out of the Manufacture; It is accompted that the odds of two per cent. nay of one per cent. will produce this advantage.
An inequality of Charge on Merchandize must also influence the Trade from Port to Port; For if the English and Dutch Merchant coming to the same Port with the same Forreign Commodity, the Dutch can ordinarily under-sell the English; it must also be of the same Consequence in this Port of Trade.
This happens to be the Case between the English and Dutch, the Dutch being upon their defection from Spain, driven into great Exigencies, and therefore becoming studious and emulous how to advance their Trade, have contrived all imaginable ways how to Trade cheap, whose Example other Neighbouring-States and Kingdoms have followed in a great degree, and the French amongst the rest, whilst the English do not only proceed in their former more chargeable methods of Trade, but have clogged their Navigation and Merchants more and more, whereof I shall give some Instances, and shall leave the Computation of the odds to the Reader.
First, The Dutch have found and long used such a way of building their ordinary Trading Ships and Vessels, that they will sail with eight or ten men, when an English built Ship of about the same Burthen shall not sail without near thirty men, so that the English Merchant must ordinarily be at more Charge for Wages and Victuals by two Thirds than the Dutch.
Secondly, The English Customs for Forreign Goods Imported and Re-exported (though half the Customs paid are returned upon Re-exportation) are near twenty times greater than the Dutch Customs, and for some home Commodities Exported, if not for all, are greater than the Dutch or French Customs, which does work a further Charge on the English Merchants. For,
Thirdly, By this means our English Merchants are ordinarily forced to keep near a fourth part of their Stocks dead at home to answer Customs, so that a Dutch Merchant may drive the same Trade with a much less Stock.
Fourthly, The late Act of Navigation, and the Act of 14 Car. 2. Cap. 11. confining the English Trade to Shipping built with English Timber (which is now exceeding scarce and dear.) The Dutch, French, Danes, Hamburghers, &c. can have Ship-Timber in Germany, France and Denmark, for less than half the price of ours. So by means of the same Acts of Navigation, have the Dutch and French their Cordage, Masts, Sails, Tackle, Pitch and Tar, (being all necessary and chargeable Ingredients of Navigation) very much cheaper than the English, so that the Hollanders, or French, or Danes, nay, almost any other of our Neighbours, can build and apparel a Ship, or fit up and repair, at a less charge by half than the English can do; the reason of this is more at large Discoursed by Mr. Roger Cooke in his late Ingenious Treatises Of Trade.
18 Car. 2. Cap. 2. & 20 Car. 2. Cap.And Fifthly, By means of the late Irish Acts against Importation of Cattel the Dutch and French can and do Victual their Ships cheaper with Irish Victuals than the English can do in England, whereas before, England could Victual cheaper than any Nation in Europe.
Note, no Interest is allowed in France.Sixthly, The English pay 6 per Cent. Interest for Money, and the Dutch but 3 per Cent. or less, which is to our English Merchants of a strange ill Consequence, if we consider our extraordinary Charges in Victuals Wages, Shipping, and the money kept dead to answer Customs, besides the Interest of the Stock actually imployed in Merchandize and Wares; for the Interest, with Interest upon Interest running up continually, does still increase the Charge and Clogg upon our Merchants, but especially must disable us to make England a Storehouse of Forreign Goods, since although they should be bought and Imported as cheap as in Holland, they must yet become dearer for Re-exportation by the odds in the Interest; if the Annual Interest per Cent. were the same, yet the odds in the Stock imployed would produce a vast odds in the Interest.
Seventhly, The Act of Navigation obliging us to sail with ¼ of our English Sea-men (of which we have but a few in Comparison of the Dutch, who have at least ten times more than we) hath given occasion to our Seamen to raise their Wages: To all which may be added our present Charge of Passes, supposing that any Forreign Nation can Trade without Passes, or procure them for less money: the like may be said of our late Charge of Ballastage, &c.
Nay the Dutch are so curious, that for more cheapness and convenience, they build Ships of divers makes, sorts of Timber, and manner of Tackling, for almost every Trade: whereas the English build or use but one sort, and that the most chargeable.
Suppose then, that the English and Dutch should both Manufacture Silk, Linnen, Woollen, &c. and that an English and Dutch Merchant buying up these Manufactures at the same Rate at Home, should Export them to a third Port where they are Vendible, ’tis plain that the Dutch Merchant being at less charge by at least two thirds for Wages and Victuals, at less charge for Customs or Port-Duties, at a less charge by half in building and fitting up his Ship, and being so much eased in the Interest of money, and other the said particulars, may under-sell the English Merchant a great many times 2 per Cent.
Sir Walter Rawleigh, in his time, observes, That if an English and Holland Ship of 200 Tun a piece be at Dantzick, the Hollander should serve the Merchant cheaper by 100l. than the English, being sailed with nine or ten Mariners, but ours with thirty, yet our English Carpenters keep their old way of building to this day, and know no other.But much more will he be able to under-sell the English Merchant in the Trade from Port to Port, because of the excessive height of our Customs for Goods Imported and Re-exported, or if an English Merchant go directly from one Port to another, he will still lie under the other inequalities of Charge.
Nor are the English for the same Reason capable of any Imployment in meer Carriage for any Forreigners, unless, perhaps, during the Convulsions of a War amongst other Nations.
And for the same Reasons the English can never drive any considerable Fishing-Trade, though we pay no Custom for Fish.
This cheapness of the Dutch, and other Forreign Navigation and Trading, doth not only give advantage and preference to their own Manufactures, but to the Manufactures of all other Nations where there is an open, free and reasonable Market; as suppose the Dutch buy French, German, or Italian Manufactures as cheap as the English Merchant can buy the like Manufactures in England, he may be able to under-sell the English Merchant and Manufacture in a third Port, with gain to himself.
And hence it is that the Dutch, and other Forreign cheap Navigation, hath given rise and growth to the French, Dutch, German, Italian, and other Forreign Manufactures; which, with the difficulties on our Trade at home, hath worked us out of near all our Manufactures, except what remains to us of our Cloathing-Trade.
So the cheapness of the Dutch, and other Forreign Navigation and Trading, hath in a manner beaten us out of all the Trade from Port to Port, and Fishing-Trade; the English retaining little from Port to Port, but the East-India Trade, for Callicoes, Pepper, &c. a Trade which continues upon a particular reason, distinct from all the rest, as I shall also shew in the next Section.
And upon the former Reasons, and others mentioned in this and the two next Sections, we must expect that the Dutch and French may in a short time destroy our remaining Woollen Manufacture; the Dutch taking advantage of our mis-management of our Cloth-Trade, of which I shall give a further account, found ways of getting our fine Wooll, which mixing with fine Spanish, and by that mixture making a cheaper and more serviceable fine Cloth than with all Spanish, have been long high our Competitors in the Trade of fine Cloth, and have near actually beaten us out in the Northern Eastland and German Trades, and share with us in the Turky-Trade, both Dutch and French getting what quantities they please of our long and middling-Wooll out of England and Ireland (which they now have cheaper than the English Clothiers from Ireland) do mix it with French, Polonia, or other Forreign Woolls, (which are two thirds cheaper than ours) and therewith make vast quantities of coarse Cloths, Druggets and Stuffs, which being acceptable and Merchandizable, they Export to Spain, Portugal, Germany, and most other Parts.
Their Competition in the Cloathing-Trade, joined with some Polonian, Silesian, German, and other later Manufactures of coarse Woolls, have already sunk our Forreign Market and Vent; this hath sunk the price of our raw Wooll, as necessarily it must, and as their Manufactures increase, and ours does expire, the French and Dutch must have our Wooll for what they please; and if they cannot have it at their own Rate at one of our Ports, they will go to another, and our necessitous People having their Wooll in their hands, will sell almost at any Rate; which is so far the Case in Ireland already, that is there openly Exported at 6 or 7s. the Tod; and then if we compute what a Tod of Wooll may stand the French or Dutch in, considering their cheap mixtures of French, Polonish, and other course Woolls, we may very suddenly expect to have our English Woolls at about 4s. the Tod; for if the English Clothier gives more for his Materials than the French or Dutch, he cannot live: It is now in most parts of England at about 12s. or 13s. the Tod, in some places at 10s. where of late years it was 30 and 40s. the Tod.
The French and Dutch have long maligned this English Manufacture, and have now made a mighty progress towards its extirpation, and therein of the great support of our English Nation; (doubtless the Wooll-Sacks were placed in our House of Parliament to give us a precaution of it:) The Dutch of late have been somewhat checked in the Turky-Trade by the War; but the French are more vigilant and vigorous in the increase and vent of their Woollen Manufacture than ever; and the Dutch are now at Peace again.
I know some alledge, that these Nations may support their present Woollen Manufacture without our Wooll, which our own English Clothiers, on their own experience, deny; They say that a mixture of fine English, and fine Spanish, makes a Cloth so much cheaper and more serviceable than of all fine Spanish, That it must needs beat out any Forreign Manufacture made of all fine Spanish, (which is always near twice as dear as our finest English Wooll) and therefore have the English and Dutch near subverted the Venetian Cloth-Trade in Turkey; On the other side, They say that the German, Polonia, Silesian, and French, are so coarse of themselves, that although they may be wrought into an ill sort of Composition, perhaps fit for Sailors, or such like; yet it is not Merchandizable; but in mixture with English or Irish; good dressing and dying will make very vendible and serviceable Stuffs, Druggets, and coarse Cloths.
Nor is there any shadow of reason to believe otherwise, considering how Ravenous the French and Dutch have been after our Wooll, since they set up their Woollen Manufactures; why have they and their Agents been lurking on our Coasts and in our Creeks to filch it away for so many years? why have they given treble as much for it as for Polonia or French? shall we think the Dutch and French such Fools and mad-men as to make so laborious and dear a Purchase of an unnecessary Commodity? We are told of some fine Sclavonian Woolls which the Dutch make use of, but withall that they are not comparable to ours; nor of any considerable bulk; and are assured by those who should best understand it, that no Nation but England hath a sufficient store of Wooll to drive a Forreign Trade of any Consequence.
There is no question, but that if we did manufacture all our Wooll, we might again near Monopolize the Merchandize and Forreign Trade of Woollen-Cloathing, though perhaps some Forreign Manufactures of coarse Woolls might be kept up for the use of the ordinary poorer people at Home; at least it must be admitted, that if we did manufacture all our English and Irish Wooll, it would find vent in the World, since it is now all manufactured in England, France and Holland, and doth find vent in the aforesaid mixtures; by which the bulk of the Manufacture must be much increased.
Then if the question be how we shall arrive to the sole Manufacture of our own English and Irish Wooll, it must appear upon what hath been said, that the only safe Expedient must be by easing our Navigation and Trade equally with Forreigners, in which Case having so much advantage in the Materials, we could not fail of an answerable success in the Manufacture; long Experience hath demonstrated that the meer prohibiting of the Exportation of Wooll is but a Cobweb, the Dutch and French being constantly supplied with what quanties they please to have, and ever will be, as long as their advantages in Trade will enable them to give more for our Woolls than our English and Irish Natives: for so long the Interests of our People will teach them ways to Elude or Baffle the Prohibition; For this reason our late Act of 12 Car. 2. Cap. 22. which makes it Felony to Export Wooll, hath nothing remedied the mischief. Upon what hath been said, I may further add, That those who think to better our Trade in general by the forceable subversion of the Dutch Trade and Navigation, are as much mistaken; since the Hamburgers, and other Trading States, the French, and other Kingdoms, who have eased their Merchandize and Navigation, would then take the place of the Dutch, and would share the Trade, and exclude the English, unless our Trade were equally eased.
I shall conclude this Section with this farther Observation, That for the opening of a sufficient Forreign Vent and Market for our Home Commodities, whether Manufactures, Fish, or others; it is not only necessary to remove all unequal cloggs on meer Exportations, but also those on Imported Goods; because that whilst the English Merchant, by the Charges on Imported Goods, is ordinarily disabled to Trade from Port to Port, the value of our English Exportations must be in a manner confined to the value of the Goods Imported, and consumed at Home, and the Treasure we Import in specie yearly.
Whereas were the cloggs on our Imported Goods taken off, we might yearly vend of our own Home Commodities to the value of all the Forreign Goods we should then Import and Re-export, to serve the Occasions of all other Nations, (for these we might purchase by Barter or Sale of our own) whereby our Exported Home Commodities would then amount to much more, probably to more than ten times the value they now do yearly; All which in the course of Trade from Port to Port would resolve into more and more Treasure and Riches of all sorts.
And therefore, let the Treasure now Imported in specie be more or less, ’tis evident, that were our Merchants enabled to Trade from Port to Port, as the Dutch and others can and do, as our Manufactures, and other Home Commodities, Exported yearly, would be vastly more in quantity and value, so would the Treasure Imported yearly.
Secondly, The Exportation of English home Commodity is yet farther confined, when instead of home Commodity to answer the Imported Goods and Treasure, we Export so much Treasure as we do; In which Case if the Treasure Exported be more than is Imported yearly, this Kingdom must insensibly be beggered by meer Trade.
This may be feared to be our Case, because there are very few Forreign Nations (I think none worth the naming but Spain) where our Merchants can ordinarily sell our Commodity for ready money, or with so much advantage, that they can afford to return with the price received, but will be obliged to better their Adventures by laying out the money again on Consumptive Forreign Goods, or else apply it to satisfie Forreign Debts by Bills of Exchange; This many of our Spanish Traders do, so that our Merchants Import much less Treasure than they receive; and it may not be improper to be added here, that whilst the virtue of our whole Trade (as now managed) does still depend so much on that with Spain, our Support is very single and casual, and the Consequence must be fatal, should the Spaniard be rendred either unable or unwilling to Trade longer with us; our Case is already thus far worse than it was, that Spain is grown poor and weak, and the Dutch and French share and grow upon us in this Trade.
Other Cloggs on our Trade, viz. The late Acts of Navigation, which, with the other difficulties, have begot Monopolies; made our Navigation yet dearer, so Forreign Materials of Manufacture cause meer Importations, hinder our Forreign vent of Victuals, obliges a sudden Consumption of our remaining Ship-Timber, particular dangers and consequences thereof; Our Navigation cannot be increased whilst we are restrained in Trade: The Exhausting of our Treasure must subvert our Navigation: The advantages of Forreigners, of Trading by Companies, and the different Nature of ours, more particularly of our African and East-India Companies and Trade: divers ill Consequences of Joint-Stocks; therein more of Monopolies. Long Land Carriages to London; the Market there delayed. Odds in Interest-Money must prejudice our Manufactures: private Interest observed. Our affectation of Forreign Commodities: the prejudice of obstructing the vent of Manufactures. Our Manufacturers liable to be imposed upon by our Merchants, and by Ingrossers, a disadvantage by the Restitution of half Customs on the Re-exportation.
IT being natural, That the continuance of one inconvenience should beget many others, it hath so fallen out in England.
Our Natives discerning the odds of Charge between our own and Forreign Navigation, and being therefore tempted to Trade in Forreign Ships, or to deal with Forreign Importers, (which threatned the subversion of our English Navigation, and the Importing Trade of our English Merchants) instead of Regulating our Navigation, the late Act of Navigation was made, whereby, and by other Acts,12 Car. 2. ca. 18. 13 Car. 2 c. 14. 14 Car. 2. ca. 11. 15 Car. 2. c. 7. our English Exportations are expressly or virtually confined to our own English built Shipping, so is the Importation of Forreign Goods, or else to the Forreign Natives of whose growths or productions they are; which restraint hath begotten, or (jointly with the other cloggs on our Forreign Merchandize) hath heightned, these farther Inconveniences.
First, It hath given a Monopoly to our own Merchants upon our Manufacturers and People, for our own exportable Manufactures and Commodities.
Secondly, It hath given a Monopoly to our own Merchants upon all the people of England, for Goods Imported.
Thirdly, The said Act of Navigation obliging the English to buy Imported Goods only at those Ports, or of those Natives, of whose growths and productions they are, hath given Monopolies to all Forreigners on the English for Goods of their respective growths and productions;See Mr. Coke’s Third Treatise of Trade.the Danes (for instance) taking advantage of it, very much raised their Prizes and Customs upon us, for Pitch, Tar, and Timber, forcing us to pay near double what we did, and to pay them in money, where we used to barter with them for Commodity; the like may be said of the French, those of the Canary-Islands, and others, particularly the Leiflanders, for raw Hemp and Flax; at the best we are but at mercy.
Fourthly, this Act hath made our Navigation yet more chargeable than before, because the aforesaid Forreign Materials of Pitch, Tar, raw Hemp and Flax are thereby made very much the dearer; It doth also render English Ship-Timber still dearer and dearer, which must more and more disable and discourage us in the building of Ships for Trade, and gives a great and dangerous advantage to our Neighbours in the building of Ships of War so much cheaper than we.
Fifthly, This dearness of Shipping must the more prejudice the vent of our Manufactures made of our own Materials, and disable us in the Trade from Port to Port, for the Reasons in the last Section.
Sixthly, The same dearness of Shipping, with the other unequal charges on our Forreign Merchandize, must render all Forreign materials of Manufacture imported much dearer in England than in other Neighbour-Nations, (such are Hemp, Flax, Silk, and many others of great consequence) and then our Manufacturers buying the Materials dearer, are obliged to sell their Manufactures dearer, which must hinder their vent at home as well as their Exportation abroad, and consequently the rise and growth of all our Manufactures made of Forreign Materials, and accordingly we see our Manufactures of Linnen, Cables, Sails, Sea-Nets, and Silk of all sorts, are some of them in a manner lost, the rest much decayed; which I the rather mention, that this, and what I say elsewhere, may take off some ignorant and unreasonable Reproaches against the English Manufacturers, for not selling some Manufactures so cheap as in other Nations, since they are necessitated to it by these and some other difficulties upon them, which I shall take notice of in this and the next Section, as I shall have occasion.
Seventhly, This restraint to our dear English Navigation, and Charges on our Merchandize, does by Consequence tend to introduce the Disease of Trade, consisting in meer Importation; for as our Manufactures expire, there is a farther occasion of Importing Forreign Manufactures, especially if on this, and other Accounts, they may be sold cheaper here than our own: And hence it is, that we have a prodigious increase of Imported Linnens, Silks, &c. and that we are of late forced to buy much more of our Cables, Cordage, Sails, and divers other Manufactures from the Dutch, French, Germans, &c. than formerly we did; in all which our Merchants must be greater gainers for a time, because our occasions for Forreign Goods being greater, they Import and sell the more at home; and from more and greater Sales must get the more money of our Natives, and the rather, because of their Monopoly on the rest of the people for Imported Goods, which does enable them to sell so at home, as to reimburse themselves all their Charges, with extraordinary profit.
Eighthly, The said Restraint excluding great numbers of Forreign Ships from our Ports must hinder the vending of great proportions of our Beef, Pork, Corn, Beer, Clothing, and other Necessaries.
Ninthly, The dearness of the English Timber, arising from the scarcity of it, the said Act doth oblige us to a kind of impossibility, there being not Timber enough in England to support any considerable Navigation, at least for any continuance of time; which small remnant of Timber we are forced to spend so fast in the building or repairing of ordinary Vessels, that we shall soon see the end of it, and then in any great Exigence we must seek out for Forreign Timber to build Ships of War, for which the Timber now remaining might be reserved.
Tenthly, Whereas the increase and support of Navigation depends on the ordinary Imployment of Ships and Sea-men in Trade, of which far the greatest numbers are to be maintained in the Fishing-Trade, and Trade from Port to Port, the English being, by the Acts of Navigation, and other difficulties, disabled from those Trades, can never increase their Navigation, and upon a small increase of Shipping must be over-clogg’d.
Eleventhly,See Mr. Coke’s Treatises Of Trade, this largely and most rationally discoursed. The Act of Navigation giving Forreigners election either to sell their Goods to the English at home, or to Import them into England, is so far from incouraging our Navigation, that it hath put it into the choice of Forreigners whether theirs or our Shipping shall be imployed, which, with the dearness of ours, hath already increased the Navigation of our Neighbours, but hath reduced ours.
And lastly, As the dearness of our Navigation and course of Merchandize established by this Act does run us into an Excess of Importations, our Treasures must be exhausted, and then the remnant of our Shipping must be becalmed, and our Sea-men will leave us, as they already do, which I shall more particularly observe in the following Sections.
In the mean time it must be apparent, that if we had disposed our selves to a cheaper way of building and sailing our Trading-Ships (being as practicable here as in Holland) and had eased our Merchandize and Trade to an equal degree, these, and all other the aforesaid Mischiefs, had been prevented, and we might have supported a more swelling and beneficial Navigation than that of the United Provinces; who are so far from making use of any Expedient of this Nature, that they allow Free Commerce to all Forreigners, and their Ships; nor can the like Expedient be found in any Nation on the Earth, who have or aspire to a great Navigation or Trade; ’Tis confessed the like Act was made by the Rump, but ’twas on the occasion of their Dutch War, and intended (as ’tis said) to exclude the Dutch from the benefit of our Trade and Ports; however it were, we are not to learn the Rump might be mistaken in their Calculations.
If the people of a Nation have free Liberty to sell at home to all Merchants, they must necessarily have the utmost choice of Chapmen for Manufactures and home Commodities, and by consequence the best and utmost Market and Vent as far as the Stocks, Treasures, Industry, Navigations and Occasions of the World will bear, and it is known that the most thrifty Merchants, and near Livers, and those that Trade most universally, and with the greatest Stocks, and cheapest, are ordinarily able to buy dearest, and sell cheapest; and if our Natives were un-confined, they would have Liberty to deal with any Forreigners on the Earth thus qualified; But our Natives being restrained to our own Merchants, and their own National Stock in Merchandize; let the particular Stocks of our Merchants be never so small, let them Trade never so dear, or so little, let them live never so high and costly, yet our Natives Manufactures and others must pay for all, by selling cheaper to our Merchants, and buying of them dearer; for the Merchants are in a capacity to buy so and sell so at home, as to satisfie themselves, and maintain the Equipage they live in, with much overplus.
But our Clothiers, and some others, have complained, that they are yet farther confined in their choice of Chapmen, since of the English Merchants they are confined to the Trading Companies and their stocks; which does first give me occasion to consider the Constitutions of our English Forreign Trading-Companies, and of what consequence they are in Trade.
This I shall do (as I think it will appear) without any partiality, protesting that I bear no malice or personal ill will against any Company, or Member of any Company, in England, but on the contrary, have an high esteem for as many of these and other Merchants as I am acquainted with, having found them very worthy men, and such as much desire the general Good, and therefore hope they will close with the Common Interest in what relates to themselves.
Particular men have too long flattered themselves with a corrupt opinion, that they may gain by the common loss, and that it will hold out their times, which I do not say with any particular Reflection on these, or any other Traders; being the ordinary maxim or prudential of our cunning men of all kinds.
Of the first and more ancient sort are our Regulated Companies, or such as are so called, such are the Turky, Hamburgh, Muscovy, and Eastland Companies, whose Incorporations have been always accompted Legal, being intended for the better Regulation of some particular Forreign Trades, and for the raising and support of Common Charges, and for those purposes are enabled to act by Committees.
The Members of these Companies trading on their distinct stocks, seem to leave the same choice of Chapmen to our Manufacturers, wherefore I cannot observe but that such Companies might consist with a Flourishing Trade, if according to their appellations they be really Regulated, (that is) provided all English-men (according to their Right) be left at liberty to become Members, and Trade, upon Terms that are not oppressive. Secondly, That these Companies be not permitted to make such By-Laws for their private ends, as may prove advantagious to the Members of the Company, but prejudicial to the Nation; a thing very practicable, as suppose they should prolong their times of buying our home Commodities, or confine the Market to some such particular places at home as may be convenient for themselves, but injurious to our Manufacturers, or other Natives, or should Trade to few Ports where they can have extraordinary Rates and Terms, when they might Trade to more, and consequently vend more Commodity; or should endeavour to set the Dice on Forreigners, by Arbitrary prizes, or otherwise, whereby Forreigners may be disaffected with our Commerce; experience hath shown that private interest hath carryed some of them into such or the like irregularities, it would be too long to instance in particulars, I shall only say, that those of the last sort made Forreigners the more Impatient till they had set up their woollen Manufactures.
The present East-India Pattent, granted 13 July 1660. That to the Affrican Company since.Our East-India and Affrican Companies are of another kind, and of a latter creation, having gotten Pattents of the Sole Trade of great part of the World exclusive to the rest of his Majesties Subjects, which they manage upon Joynt-stocks; of which I shall shew the generall ordinary consequences, and then examine how far they are applicable to the particular Cases of these Companies.
First, in the nature of such Companies they must be as injurious as may be to all home-Manufactures made of our own materialls, and the vent of our other exports, because by trading on a Joynt-stock they make but one buyer, and therefore have a Monopoly for all exportable goods proper only for the Forreign Nations within their pattents, and must contract the choice of Chapmen for all other goods proper for these and other Countrys; now the confining of the Market and choice of Chapmen in any degree is dangerous and prejudiciall to Trade, and in a larger sence may be called a Monopoly, but it is far more mischievous when the Election is totally lost, for then those who have the Monopoly may, and therefore will, buy at their own prizes.
Secondly, for the same reason they must be yet more injurious to home-Manufactures made of forreign materialls; for first, they will sell the materialls as dear, and then buy the Manufacture as cheap as they please; which must subvert any Manufacture in a trice, especially if made of forreign materials bought cheaper by forreign Manufacturers; suppose then the East-India Company by their Commodity of Money, should so far divert the market as to beat out the Turky Company in the trade of Raw-Silks, at what rates would our Silk-weavers buy raw-silks? or will it be said a Company on a Joynt-stock, will so much value the National interest as to sell as low as the Commodity is sold for in other Nations? or if it will be said, who will believe it? was ever any such thing done either by the English, Dutch, or East-India Companies? did they ever yet endeavour to beat out one another in trade by low selling? No, this is never the effect of choice; were a third East-India Company in France on a Joynt-stock, they would hold up the prizes; the advantage got to a Nation by underselling is the effect of necessity, or high convenience; when the Sellers being infinite, some of them are ready, and all long for dispatch and a new adventure, whereby they work down one another to as low a prize as the Commodity can be afforded at; of all which we have an undenyable example in the present Affrican Company, who were no sooner Constituted, but they raised the price of imported red-wood, which before was sold at 26. and 28l. per Tun, to 80l. per Tun, which must make our exported dyed Cloaths of all sorts so much the dearer; and being an intolerable rate, put our Dyers upon finding out the use of Saunders, which they still continue; and as a farther confirmation of this, and what I said before, I shall add, that after the Erection of this Company, all goods proper for that Trade only sunk at least 15l. per Cent. nor would the 10th part of the same goods be vended to the said Company as there was before, to our Merchants driving an open Trade.
Thirdly, For the same reason such a Company must be as injurious to the Trade from port to port; For having also a Monopoly in selling, they may and will impose Arbitrary prizes on the buyers, and then the Merchants or Re-exporters who buy goods so dear, must be undersold by any other Nation which drives a free and open Trade to the same place from whence they are Imported; this is self-evident, and therefore I should not instance in Fact, but that I have it on good Authority; that even in the East-India Trade, which is Alledged to be out of the common Rules of Trade, whilst the Trade was open, viz. In the years 54, 55, and 56, our Merchants sold the Indian Commodities so low, that they furnished more parts of Europe then since we have done, nay, Holland and Amsterdam it self; and that this very much sunk the Actions of the Dutch East-India Company: a thing which stands with reason; and which therefore recommends an open Trade to India, if it may be so driven with long continuance, whereof I shall farther consider.
Fourthly, These Companies having also Monopolies on these Forreign Natives with whom they Trade, may set Arbitrary prizes upon them, for our home-Manufactures exported; and will get more, by selling a little very dear, then by selling much more at moderate profit: and though the Joynt-stock imployed be not sufficient to manage the Trade any thing near the full advantage, yet those interested in it will have reason to be satisfyed with the returns they make, since in proportion to the Stock, they may be very great; and for the same reason, may be well contented to Trade to a few Ports where they can have great rates.
5ly, The industry, courage and ingenuity of all the rest of the Natives (by which as much as by stock all Trade is improved) are shut out, which must not only be a prejudice to the Trade in general, but is a hardship put on the rest, who by their birth-rights are equally intituled to all Trade; upon all which accompts, the Legality of sole importing, sole buying, and sole vending, hath been formerly brought in question, and denyed in our greatest Judicatures;Stat. 21. Jacob. 3. 12. Hen. 7. cap. 6th. 3. Jac. cap. 6th.and should it be generally admitted, by the same reason, the rest of our Forreign Trade might be inclosed to two or three more Companys, and then we should have but three or four Chapmen or Shops for all Exported and Imported Commodities; nay the whole might be granted or reserved to one Company, or one man: in any of which Cases what would become of property? Such is the Case of the general body of our Merchants already, that having in a manner lost the Eastland and Northern Trades, they are shut out of the Affrican, Indian, and Persian, Chinese, and other mighty Trades within those Patents: since this out of the French trade, and therefore are thronged into the Streights, and other narrow remnants, and yet is this the usual preferment of most of the younger Sons of the Gentry of England.
Sixthly, Though our other Merchants on their single accompts export much treasure, yet cannot it so easily be done, or not in so great Quality, as by such a Company; whose Joint stock having a great credit, can take up as much ready money as they want; whereas those who will not trust a single trader with a 100l. in mony will trust him with 500l. worth of Commodity, as common experience shews: and ’tis affirmed, that during our trade in 54. and 55. we exported more Commodities, viz. cloth, and other things, then since we have done.
To this is Objected, that the East-India trade so far differs from others, that it cannot be supported, or not with so much advantage and security, (which I admit to be all one) without a Joynt stock, which if true, there is no doubt but it ought to be so managed. This then is one great Question, in the mean time I hear nothing of this so much as alledged for the Affrican Company: the reasons given, depend upon pretended Facts in India, viz. the necessity of great common charges in gratifying and corresponding with the Indian Princes, and keeping Forts and Forces for the defence of our Factories there, which they say could never be supported but out of a Joynt stock in Trade.
To which others answer, 1st. that it may be true, great common charges are necessary, & much greater then our Company are at, but that common charges may be rais’d by a regulated company on Goods imploy’d in Trade, or on other parts of the Traders Estates, if the Company are Impower’d to make Levies, which is no more then every Parish are enabled to do for Church-Poor and other things: and that ’tis the same thing for a man to be assubjected to Levies out of that part of his distinct stock which is not in trade, as ’tis to make good any publick charge or loss out of his Joynt-stock.
Or Secondly, they say, that if this Trade be taken into the protection of the Government, it will have the Joint stock of the Kingdom to secure it, the same by which we are all secured: they offer what we were able to do in our open Trade in 1654. 55. and 56. But as a demonstration, urge the example of the Portuguese, who in an open Trade (I do not mean in an Anarchy nor without conduct and order) made near or full as great a progress in this Trade as the Dutch, whilest their Government gave sufficient assistance, which they say, also answers what hath been objected from the supposed disorder of our Trade in those parts, should it lye open, and the capacity the Natives would be then in, of setting the dice upon the English: and as a further answer to this they say, the same thing may be objected against all other open Trade in the World.
But then those for our Company, object the example of the Dutch, who being a Nation so wise in Trade, successfully manage the East-India Trade by a Company on a Joint stock; which being matter of fact, is beyond all the Argument in the World.
To which is answered, that this Example proves that a Company in a Joint stock may make a great progress in it, but does not disprove the like, or a greater progress under a regulated or open Trade.
2ly. That on the first constitution of this Company, and ever since, the Dutch, had most of the Trade, from Port to Port, and carriage throughout the rest of the World; and therefore might with less disadvantage to the rest of the Dutch Merchants inclose this to a Company.
See the present state of the low Countrys, Printed in 69. Written by M. A. Fellow of the Royal Society p. 154, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.3ly. That that Company was occasioned by the distinct Bands or voluntary Associations of Merchants in the several Provinces, who first undertook this Trade, which being soon after the Union, and the Provinces having Originally seperate rights, the said Associations had not so good a correspondence as was necessary, which could never fall out under a regulated Company of one Nation.
See Mandelsloe’s Travels, p. 285.4ly. That the constitution of this Company being intended for a present Reconciliation of these interests, was Originally but for 21. Years, and was afterwards continued, because the Company growing so rich and powerfull both abroad and at home, the Members were generally chosen States, and therefore above any attacque at home from the rest.
5ly. That as the Dutch Company is constituted, and have managed this Trade, it hath redownded to almost, if not fully to as general an advantage, as if managed by an open or regulated Trade: in which they say our Company is much defective; & that supposing a Joint stock necessary, or highly convenient, yet if we might manage ours to more National advantage, it were but fit it should be done.
To prove this might be done, those for a more open Trade urge, that our now East-India patent contains near or fully one third part of the World, and therefore must have many hundreds,Note the Affrican Companys Patent contains from the Streights Mouth to the Cape of good Hope. if not thousands of parts, that whereas their priviledge begins at the Cape of good Hope, it is from thence above 4000 Miles, upon the Coast of Affrick to the Red Sea, in all which they do not Trade to one Port, and very little, if any thing, in the Red Sea; which they say might be done to considerable advantage, and much more to Persia, then we now do; That in India, our Company do not Trade to above 20. or 30. Ports, nor vend our Woollen Manufactures at above 3. or 4. Ports, and there very dear, who sell again much dearer, and to Ingrossers, which hinders the vent: that in China, or Japan,Printed in (77.) pag. 21. they have no Trade at all, ‘where (to use the words of the Author of the Book in defence of the Company,) in all likelyhood more considerable quantities of our Woollen Manufactures might be vended, and from thence, in return thereof, Gold, Silver, and Copper, might be brought to supply at least, in a great measure, the Trade in other parts of India, without carrying so much out of Europe: But these Trades (he says) are not so easily gained as some fancy, great hazards of considerable stocks must be run, &c.’
Whereas, they say were a greater share of the industry and vigour of the Nation now pent up, and greater stocks now worse imployed, or idle, let into this Trade, we might hope for a great Trade to the Ports now of no use to the Company, for that in fact the Dutch Company Trade to all Ports in India, China, Japan, &c. and drive a mighty Trade to Persia with the Commodities of those Countreys, viz. Spice of all sorts, &c.
2dly. They say by this our want of a sufficient Commerce in India there is a very small Navigation imployed in this mighty Trade, of what might be, being not above 20. or 30. Ships to and from India in a direct course, and in India so inconsiderable that it is not worth the noting: That for this reason, and because we there vend so little Commodity, our Company does Trade with vast quantities of exported Treasure, insomuch that upon search of the Custome books of the Port of London only, it appeared by the Entrys, that the Gold and Silver exported for India by the said Company from the 2d. of March 1673, to the 11th. of March 1674, amounted to 500. sixty odd thousand pounds Sterling; besides what might be entred in the out-ports, and without entry privately exported, which those that understand this Trade will not think a little: the Author of the aforesaid Pamphlet confesses, that from the end of the Year 1674, to the beginning of the Year 1675, was exported to India about 400000l. more, in which perhaps we have reason to be suspitious of his modesty: (It were a Nationall work to search the entrys for this and the other Years succeeding) that ’tis the exporting of this Money that endears our Company to the Indian Princes, and buys their protection, who otherwise might destroy them if they would, our Company, having not above 2 or 300 people in their fort St. George, including Factors and Agents of all sorts, and at Bombey fewer.
Whereas, that on the other side the Portuguese whilst they had the Trade of the Indys, though under no Company, supported a vast Navigation there to serve the occasions of those mighty Empires and their own; that since the Dutch have supplanted the Portuguese; they have yet a greater, having there thousands of Ships Trading from Port to Port in the Indies, Persia, &c. Besides 50, or 60, (if need be) more Men of War, and keep great Armies in pay: That they have gotten many spacious Countrys, Islands, and Populous Citys of their own, whereof Batavia is near as big and rich as Amsterdam; besides divers Tributary Kingdoms, whom they have forced into a profitable complyance, and were it not for fear of the English power at home, could dayly ruin us at their pleasure; that by the greatness of their Trade in these parts, they gain so considerably, that they can fraight home their great Fleets with the most valuable Commodities in the Indies; being the result of their industry in those parts, not of their exported Money.
3ly. That the Subscribers to our East-India Stock were originally but few, and the Stock but small, that divers of the shares being now bought in and consolidated into particular hands, there are not above 60. or 80. persons or thereabouts considerably concerned in the Joynt stock; that although the Stock be not near sufficient to manage even the present Trade, and therefore could admit of more Depositums of Money, which would let in a greater number of our people, the Company to prevent the necessity of it, do take up 4 or 500000l. at Interest at 5 per Cent. which by their dear Sales at home yields them 20 or 30 per Cent. or more; that as the Trade redounds to the benefit of few at home, so to as few in India, the Companies, Factories and imployments being few, and most lye divided amongst men of mean condition, who will depend solely on the Company, being originally Hospitall Boys or such like, and all others restrained to Traffick, Frequent or haunt the Indies, or places within their Pattent, by a Clause therein, under penaltys of Imprisonment, Seizures and Confiscations, frequently and severely exerted by the Company, how legally I leave to be examined: That upon this accompt, even those few Seamen or others whom they permit to deal for themselves, can make little profit, being charged with great Mulcts, made payable to the Company at their discretion for all the Commodities they export or import.
Whereas the original Stock of the Dutch company was 600000l. and this in the year 1602.See Mandelsloes Travils 285. State of the Low Countrys 159. 160. In 1608. the Dutch East-India Stock was made up near 3 Millions Sterling, besides great dividends. Present State of the United Provinces pa 163 our East-India Stock actually paid 1660 was but 368000l. the Trade so ill, that in 1665. our effects were sold at 70 per Cent. and farther Subscriptions refused: but the act of 15 Car. 2 Licencing the Exporting of Bullion and forreign Coyne, and the Company betaking themselves to this Commodity, hath occasioned the support of this Trade to the present degree. and the Number of the Sharers in the Dutch Company of all sorts, and of those considerably concerned, are vastly more, than in our English Company, proved by their Ordinary Councils or Chambers of Curators of this their Company in each Province; besides their Superiour Assemblies, amounting to great Numbers, all which are but Deputies of far greater Numbers; that besides their Navigation Trade, Judicature, and War in the Indies, let in Multitudes of others, into very profitable imployments, so that in effect they make up another potent Government, for the aid of their Nation in all exigencies.
I have been the more copious on this particular Subject, first, because of the apprehensions or pretences of some, that our stupendious advantage in this Trade gives us a kinde of National security, so that no sooner can others mention any defect in our Trade, but they are presently told of our Trade to the Indies, the wealth of the Indies, and our Navigation to and in the Indies.
And yet I shall admit, though with little reputation to the rest, that our East-India Trade, such as it is, seems the most flourishing branch of the whole, and therefore that the Gentlemen concerned in this Company have evidenced their conduct in the present way of Trade.
2ly. I shall not much contest but that the Indian Commodities consumed at home, and re-exported, may (as the rest of our Trade is now managed) prevent the exportation of near as much money to our Neighbouring Nations, viz. by the use of Callicoes instead of other Linnens, by a Barter of these and the rest of our Indian Commodities in France and other parts for other Consumptive goods; in which there is an advantage, because the less money we part with to our Neighbours, they will be in the less capacity to hurt us, but this does not prove the Indian goods re-exported bring in the Treasure exported to India, since the whole, or a great share of it may be, and is by the circulation of forreign contracts, finally resolved into other consumptive Importations; of so dangerous a consequence it is to export money.
But suppose the Indian goods, re-exported, bring us in more Treasure, yet is it evident from such Facts as I have mentioned before as are admitted by the Company, and such as are indisputable, that this part of our Trade (which before 1654. was managed by the like Company) was never improved to any great or considerable degree, in comparison of the progress made by all other Nations which have undertaken it: whereof there must be causes and reasons highly necessary to be examined and regulated; I shall add, that for those other Facts relating to the present debate which seem of less notoriety, they are such, as to my knowledge were affirmed by many credible witnesses, and by them intended to be proved before a Committee of the House of Commons, upon the occasion of a Petition there formerly exhibited by the Clothyers, but having attended several days, were never heard, because the Parliament was engaged in other things, and afterwards Prorogued; but I doubt not they are all ready to attest the same and more before that Judicature; which I say, that it may not be thought that I have lightly or officiously reported any of the aforesaid allegations to the same Judicature, I shall leave it to be determined by what expedients to enlarge this Trade, being in a matter of this Importance contented to have opened some questions and Facts relating to it: I am so free from any malice to the Company, or any man so much as concerned in it or envying their gains, that for a more easy Composure of things, I hartily wish there may be found some more beneficiall Nationall and comprehensive way of Managing this Trade by a Joynt stock, that thereby the present Interests of the Gent. of this Company may be secured, nay and improved; if this cannot be done, then submit it to farther consideration how just and reasonable it is that these Gent. should have compensation for what they shall really lose by the Dissolution of the Company.
I shall conclude this with remarking, First, that the Dutch East India Company Trading on a Joynt-stock, and therefore with as much disadvantage to their re-exporting Merchants as the English, hath been a means to preserve us this Limb of Trade from Port to Port in Callicoes, Pepper, &c. and probably the rather because our Trading in Money hath so far debosh’d the Indian Market, that the Dutch are not over-ready to deal for these Commodities, and therefore principally apply themselves to their richer Spice Trade, whereof they have the Monopoly.
This restraint of our Market to our own Merchants and Companies, hath yet brought a farther mischief upon our Manufactures, because our Companies being seated in London, our Natives are forced to bring their Manufactures thither by Land Carriages, some of which are so long that they are as chargeable as a Voyage to Spain or Turky, Quantity for Quantity; all which is superadded to the originall charge of the Manufacture; our Clothiers have also complained, that when they have brought their Cloaths to London, they have been frequently and long delayed before they have been able to vend them; which whether it hath proceeded from any correspondence or Intelligence between the Companies, their Committees or Agents, their want of Stocks or universall Trade, or from the dearness of our course of Merchandize, and the consequentiall obstructions in the forreign Market, or from all together, I shall not positively undertake to say: But certain it is that in this case our Clothiers for want of a quick Market lose the Interest of so much of their Stocks as lyes dead, which also is super-added to the first cost of their Manufacture; but yet being made necessitous by delay, and confined to the London Market, are forced to sell cheap: and then are the poor Manufacturers most miserable, when on the one hand the charges they are at oblige them to sell dear, but yet are confined in their just demands.
It may be remembered here that the odds in Interest of Money between England and Holland, and England and France, (where none is allowed to be taken under the highest penaltys) must as much prejudice our Manufactures as our forreign Trade, by the unequall charge it brings on our Manufacturers, which charge is still increased as they are longer delayed.
The freedom of the Market being of so great importance; it must also follow, that the like Cloggs and incumbrances put upon the Trades of Ware-house keeping and Shop-keeping, must have ill effects on the National Trade, because these Trades make up the publick Marts and Markets, as hath been said.
From the Contents of this and the last Section it may be observed, that is not only necessary to ease the course of Merchandise, but to remove all other Cloggs and restraints on the home Market; for though our Merchants should be able to Trade as cheap as forreigners, yet if it should lye in their disposition to impose on the rest of the people, (whether Manufacturers, Shop-keepers or others) the Merchants might gain much more then now they do, but our Manufacturers and other Natives might be still sufferers in some degree; ’tis too apparent that our English Clothiers have made so ill Markets at London, that they have lived poorly and got little or nothing, whilst the Merchants have lived splendidly and laid up money, the like may be said of others.
And here it may be farther observed how predominant private interest hath been amongst us, and how finely it hath spun the thread; our Land-holders have thought to ease themselves by thrusting great part of the publick Charges upon Trade, the Merchants in Exchange have gotten Monopolies on the Land-holders, and people for all goods exported and imported; and of these some Companies trading on Joint Stocks have got Monopolies exclusive to the rest; but at the same time we have given all forreign Nations Monopolies on the English, in all which we have been eagerly seeking to get advantages on one another, but have laid our selves open to Forreigners; who (whilst we scramble for the present wealth in the Nation) take it out of our fingers at their pleasure.
To which may be added as a farther obstruction to the growth of our Manufactures, that our people have gotten a vain and imoderate affection and use of forreign Manufactures and Comodities; which must necessarily sink the Market at home for our own of the same kind; for the same quantity of home Commodity wanting of its former vent, must stagnate and lye on the owners hands, who either will not be able to sell it at any rate, or must sell it much the cheaper.
This deadness and cheapness of any Manufacture, on this or any other occasion, will have a very ill Consequence; for it must presently sink the Manufacturers wages and discourage the Master of the Work; and then in case the Market doth not mend in some reasonable time, they will withdraw both their labour and Stock.
Nay this, or little better, must be the ordinary fate of all our Manufactures, by the meer want of a Forreign vent; for as any of our Manufactures which supply our National use, draws in more and more of our people till the Manufacture becomes too bulkey to receive a full vent at home, it must then equally stagnate on the hands of all that are concerned in it; at least render them necessitous, and endanger the Manufacture: the increase of imported raw-silk from Turky in barter for our Cloath, occasioned the increase of our Silk Manufacture; what is now like to become of it may be seen.
Before I go to the next Section, I shall yet observe these farther inconveniences from the aforesaid constitutions and course of our Forreign Merchandize.
First, That our Manufacturers being confined to buy of our own Merchants and Companies, are not only subject to buy Forreign materials of Manufacture at such prizes as they can and will please to afford them, but must be contented to buy worse materials than other nations make use of, in case our Merchants for their own gain, or by negligence of their Factors, import worse.
2dly, That Forreign materials of manufacture being thus straitly Imported into England, gives our Traders frequent opportunity to ingrosse Imported Commodities, (both materialls of Manufacture and others,) and thereby to impose 3 times the currant price in other Nations upon our Manufacturers or other buyers, which must not only disable our Manufactures, but hinder re-exportation; this ingrossing Trade is the daily design of a sort of Cunning men amongst us; which with stealing Customes, and importing and vending Prohibited goods, are the ordinary methods of getting an Estate on a suddain.
3dly, The seeming ease we have by a restitution of half Customes upon re-exportation, is so far from being really such, that it not only leaves the great disproportion and charge mentioned in the last Section, but in Cases where our imported materials of Manufacture are re-exported, bring a further unequall charge on our English Manufacturers; because that when re-exported and sold, the Forreign buyers are eased of about half the duties paid, especially if sold so near as Holland or France; of what consequence then must this be in the Silk-Manufacture? (Supposing Holland or France could no be otherwise provided of Raw Silk) and so in others, but more particularly in our Imported Dying Stuffs, and Raw Sugars from the West Indyes, which are materialls peculiar to the English; but by this disadvantage in re-exportation are now mostly Manufactured by Forreigners; of which I shall have occasion to say more, upon Consideration of our present Plantation-Trade, in the mean time, upon what hath been already said, and what I shall adde in the next Section, let any man Judge how causelessely our poor people are taxed with dear Selling their Manufactures, with Sloath and other inconsiderate Reproaches by such as live at ease.
Forreigners eased in Trade; Other clogs and difficulties upon ours; Want of populacy, incidently of extream prizes of victuals, and how the duration of Land-Rents may be secured, our people restrained from Manufactures; the Abuse of the Act of 43 Eliz. 2. Act of 5 Eliz. cap. 4. Meer prohibitions of no value. Freedomes and pre-emtions of Corporations, with the consequences: Free-Schools and Scholar-like Imployments: Forreign Protestants hindered from transporting hither; want of Toleration of Protestants Dissenters; the objections briefly considered: Elections in Corporations. Monopolyes of New Manufactures: delay and charge in some Law-Suits. Tyths of Hemp, Flax, and Fish, more of Customes, and incidently of Taxes.
FRom the foregoing Sections, it appears how dangerous it is to clog Trade. It is like putting a pound weight at the end of a pole, which is heavier then 20 times so much placed at the hand, for so a small impost or difficulty on Trade shall work down all Land revenues more then the sums actually paid: Nay Land-Rents will rise under greater Taxes, where home and Forreign Trade is left open and free, as experience hath shown in Holland and elsewhere.
2dly. That the charges and Clogs on Trade are to be estimated tolerable or inconvenient by Comparison, as they are more or less than the charges on Trade in other Nations, and therefore, That it is of high importance to watch the pollicies of other Nations in Trade; if other Nations Trade with as much disadvantage to their Natives as the English, they never can out-strip us; But if they ease and facilitate their Trade at home and abroad, So must we, else they will beat us out.
What then are we to expect whilest our neighbouring Forreigners continue to have the aforesaid advantages upon us in course of Forreign Merchandize, when also the home-vent of their Manufactures is not confined to the Merchants of one Nation, nor Companyes of one Town, when their Manufacturers are not obliged to the charge of long Land-carriages, nor opprest with delays, but can sell when and where they please, and to all Merchants Aliens, as well as to their own, and therefore have an unlimitted and most profitable market.
The odds in Populacy must also produce the like odds in Manufacture; plenty of people must also cause cheapnesse of wages: which will cause the cheapnesse of the Manufacture; in a scarcity of people wages must be dearer, which must cause the dearnesse of the Manufacture; But this populacy I speak of, must not be understood of those people which the Extent of Territory makes necessary for the meer tilling of the ground, keeping of Cattle, &c. for in this sence there is no doubt but the grand Seigniors or Spanish Dominions are more populous then Holland; The populacy I intend and which only can be serviceable to Manufacture, are those exuberant numbers which cannot find Imployment in husbandry, nor otherwise but in Trade;See Sir William Temples Book of the United provinces, Ch. 6.in which sence France and the United Provinces are most populous; their Trade and people have grown up together, having nourished one another; the like may be said of some parts of Germany and Italy.
But on the other side England never was so populous as it might have been,The peopling of Ireland here intended was to supply the losse by the Irish Massacre being computed at about 150000 persons besides what the growing plentys of Ireland have invited over dayly. and undenyably must now be far lesse populous then ever, having so lately peopled our vast American Plantations and Ireland; the decay of our Manufactures hath much depopulated our Inland Corporations of the Villages Adjacent; the decay of our Fishing Trade our Sea-Towns; I know this want of people is hardly credible with many who see no farther then their own ease and gain; they will tell us, we have so many people already that we know not what to do with them; which is true, and so they have in Spain, where their Villages are in a manner forsaken, and many of their great Cities and Towns lie half empty; most of their ordinary people having no employment at home, are gone to America, those that remain chiefly consisting in Gentlemen, Lawyers, Officers and Shopkeepers, with their necessary men of husbandry and servants: I must not omit Priests and beggars, since to the honour and comfort of Spain they make about a fourth or fifth part of the whole; there little or no support for other ranks of men: how near this we are in England let any man judge, or how soon we shall come to it through the decay of our Manufactures; What an uproar have we already in an English Parish if a poor young couple happen to marry, or a man with Children chance to get into a house? how they are tossed from Justice to Justice,Stat 39 Eliz. 4th 7. Jacob. 4.14 Car. 2.12. and from pillar to post, by vertue of the several Acts for settlement of poor? And what joy there is when these clogs are removed? which acts and prosecutions regularly and daily force many out of the Nation, and in effect banish them by Act of Parliament; ’Tis like, that besides the Inquisition, the proud Spaniards had some such expedients as these to be rid of this kinde of lumber; they would be now glad of those laborious drudges to encounter the populous French.
Being upon this Subject I cannot omit to observe, the bad consequences of some others of our late Laws, made to raise the prizes of Victualls, which doubtless were projected for the raising Land Rents, viz. the Acts for Transportation of Corn, and the Acts against the Importing Irish and Scotch Cattle, which had they the full effects intended, must much assist both in depopulating the Nation, and Subverting our remaining Manufactures; For if the Manufacturer buys his Victualls at excessive rates, at what rates must he sell his Manufacture, or how shall he live? especially in a time when his Manufactures fall upon his hands daily? but this will mainly dissatisfy some, who will have no Manufacture or Trade, if the price of the Victualls must not be excessive, for then say they, how can the vallue of Lands be raised? to which I answer, First, that the products of Lands do not wholly consist in Victualls, and that much Land is to be applied to many other as profitable, and (perhaps more profitable ways) than for meer Victualls, especially in a Nation abounding in Trade and People; for this I shall refer to our Copious Books of Husbandry, which then may do us much good, but little or none before.
Secondly, That though Victualls be not at a very excessive price, yet if there be a quick and great market at a midling price, it will raise and hold up the vallue of Lands, as experience hath proved of late years.
But Thirdly, it is impossible the vallue of Lands can be much raised by the meer raising of the price of Victualls, especially in a Nation but thin of people; nor would such a Revenue endure or be tollerable; perhaps the Spanish Dons did once raise the prizes of Victualls, or suppose they should do it now, what weighty effect would it have, unless to drive all the rest of the Spaniards into America; But that which will most certainly and durably raise the Revenue of Land must be the encrease of Treasure and Trading people; suppose the people of England were trebled, ’tis plain that the Land must yield treble the produce in meer Victualls, else the people must starve; but these people will not starve, especially trading people, nor will they live needily or scarcely, if they can help it, and will therefore set themselves and others to the improving of all corners of Land in the Nation, till our Lands produce more then treble the Victualls they now do, a thing very practicable, and then supposing Victualls as cheap and cheaper then now, Land will ordinarily be treble its present vallue, especially if we consider how much may be then applyed to raise Hemp, Flax, and other necessary and profitable things, with the increase of Wool,By the Maps of England it is found to contain 29568000 Acres besides that which is allowed for High-ways, all the United Provinces are hardly so big as Yorkshire. Hides, Tallow, &c. And as the people increase, so will the vallue of the Land: there is no doubt but England upon the utmost improvement might maintain 6 times its present number of people, nay 10 times, with an indifferent use of that mighty plenty of Fish our own Sea affords us; there is as little doubt but upon a great increase of people and money, Victualls will be rather too dear, and that Laws may be then requisite to restrain the price.
Such was the ancient populacy of England, that we had formerly Statutes made in restraint of the exportation of Corn, our Flesh also found vent, though our people kept Lents, Ember-weeks, and Fasting days; wherein they fed on Fish and white meats, and yet we read of Famines in those days; whereas now we finde it necessary to export all the Corn we can, we eat very little Fish, and have made Acts against the importation of Forreign Cattle (which by the way gave a Monopoly to a few English and Welch breeding Counties on all the rest of the Nation,) and yet we thought our markets over-clogged.
But England is not only prejudiced by the paucity of people, but we have another rank of Statutes which hinder very many of those we have from applying themselves to Manufacture: one is the Stat. of 43th Eliz. cap. 2. which according to the intention of it seems necessary now when we have such a vast increase of poor; but such is the Arbitrary latitude given by the Act to Over-seers and Justices, that many of our Laborious people well able to work, by clamour or favour get Parish maintenances, choosing rather to live lazily by this means, assisted with some pilfering.
Then we have the Stat. of 5th Eliz. cap. 4. which (though it gratifies the blinde avarice of some of our Corporation men) is more prejudicial, by restraining our people to work in Manufacture, unless they have served an Apprentiship full seaven years, which is so long a term of drudgery and slavery before they can reap any fruit of their labors, that Parents are deterred from putting their Children Apprentices to Manufacture; nor will many of our Youths or young men be brought to it especially the most apt and docile, and those of ripeness of years, of which many would be more perfect in 3 or 4 years then others in 10, and therefore they betake themselves to other more easy and ready Imployments, or else live Idle.
The same Act does very strangely provide that no man shall take an Apprentice for Woollen Manufacture in any Town Corporate, unlesse such Apprentice be his Son, or the Father or Mother of such Apprentice have the clear yearly vallue of 40s. Inheritance, nor in any Market-Town or Village unlesse he be his Son, or his Father or Mother have the clear yearly value of 3l. Inheritance, which clause apparently shuts out at least 5 parts of the people in 6, from the Woollen Manufacture; and by consequence tends to the depopulation of our Inland Towns, the increase of Rogues, Vagabonds and poor; These difficulties on Trade begot the Act of the 43. Eliz. and many others of the like nature, and thereby much work for our Justices.
Which by the way may give occasion to observe how vain it is to make Acts against Rogues, Vagabonds, or Poor, nay against thefts or Murthers, how little the Houses of Correction, Whipping-posts, Pillories, or Gallows can prevail, whilst our other Constitutions drive our People into necessities, nor any prohibitory or penal Law, ever have the intended effect, unless the Grounds and Causes of the mischiefs be removed; of which I shall say more when I come to speak of our late Prohibition of French Goods. Amongst the restraints on our English Trade, the inclosure of Trade to the Freemen of Corporations and Guilds, may be deservedly mentioned as one.
This Priviledge is claimed by most, or all of our ancient Corporations, and might be well intended at first by the Donors, but as now used is very prejudicial; for the Power of admitting Free-men being generally lodged in a Councel or Committee of a few Free-men, any Forreigner (and such they call all those who are not Sons or Apprentices of seven years standing to a Free-man in the same Town) must buy his Freedom before he can exercise any open Trade there; for which these Free-men are left at liberty to demand as great and arbitrary Price as they please, or if they will, may wholly refuse; whence it commonly follows, that most Beginners in Manufacture, and other Trades, being Forreigners, and having but small Stocks, can never obtain Freedom, and without it are burthened and plagued with by-Laws, Penalties, Distresses, and Seizures; nay, if a Man be exquisite in his Trade, he shall hardly get a Freedom for Money, in a Corporation where there are more free of the same Trade, for then he is lookt on as a dangerous person, and likely to eat the bread out of their mouths, (as they phrase it) in which they will gratifie, and influence one another, being the common cause, and can easily do it: The fewer Free-men there are in a Trade, they think the rest may get the more; and thus are most of our ancient Corporations and Guilds become oppressive Oligarchies, excluding or discouraging the English Subjects from Trading in our greatest and best situated Towns, where the Markets are; and which are therefore the most proper and ready Seats for Manufacture, and other Commerce: For this, and the Act of the 5th of Eliz. our Corporation-men have only this to say, That care ought to be taken, that none but persons skilful should exercise any Trade, which is true; but the Law of necessity, common sense, and experience, provides sufficiently for this, since an unskilful Artificer or Trader will not find imployment, and therefore must receive due punishment by his own Ignorance: ’Tis confessed, Manufactures may be made deceitfully, which may disgrace and prejudice our vent abroad; but this fraud is an Act of Skill, which cannot be discovered or prevented, without the daily scrutinies of Judicious Persons; for which our other former Statutes have already made some provision, but defective; it were to be wished, there was a constant Judicature of Men knowing in Trade in every County to supervise the sufficiency of Manufactures: In the mean time this Argument for the support of the Act of the 5th of Eliz. and Freedoms must appear very fallacious, since both the Act and the Freedoms serve only to exclude the English Subjects, and of those many of the most skilful, from Trade, and by inclosing Manufactures to a few, hinder their growth, and make them far dearer.
A farther inconvenience of these Freedoms is, That the pre-emption of our Manufactures, and Imported Goods, in most of our inferiour Corporations and Cities, as well as in London, is in a manner inclosed to the Number and Stocks of the Free-men, and is very much subject to their pleasures, by reason of their union and correspondence in Counsels: So that he who would escape the long Land-Carriages to London, and London Companies, must fall into the hands of these other Free-men; these Free-men have generally so brave a time of it, that they can live in ease and plenty, (every Shop resembling an Office) whilst the laborious part of our Traders are ready to perish; which Priviledges could not have survived the Statute of 21 Jac. against Monopolies, but that they are saved by a special Proviso in that Statute; so civil were the Burgesses of Corporations at that time.
Our Trade being thus clogged, and the very Avenues to Manufactures so much narrowed and choaked up, it doth not a little help to the subverting of our Manufactures, and other Trade, that the Passages to other Preferments are made so open and easie, at present I mean all those that depend upon Literature, in which our Youth are led from step to step by all manner of Incouragements; First, by the multitude of our late endowed Free Schools, where every ordinary Man’s Son is taught Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, for a small matter; and then is above Manufacture: Then we have two mighty endowed Universities, where there will, at least, be hope of preferment, let the throng be never so thick; and thence they have farther and more comfortable prospects; and in the mean time live easie, at little or no charge, as Servitors, or on small Stipends, till they become Scholars of Houses, &c. others of these Free-School-Boys grow Pen-men of all sorts; and all these are a sort of Gentlemen-like ways of living, which intitle them to be called Masters, which gives a main temptation both to parents and Children; who on the other hand, see the contemptible and miserable condition of our poor Clothworkers, and other ordinary Artificers, who at the best are called Mechanick Fellows; and what is yet farther mischievous is, that our Youth thus educated, never reading any thing of Manufacture, Exportation, or Importation, in Homer or Virgil, or their Colledge Notes, and being from thence carried to other Studies, which have no cognation with Trade, can ordinarily have no sensation of the advantages of it; like a Bowl which hath a rub at hand, the farther they go, the more they are divided from it; whence it hath unfortunately ensued, that our Men of Learning are either generally silent in this matter, or else, being inclin’d to think it the sole concern of the dirty and servile part of the People, speak of it with contempt, and some with reflection; by whom most others being influenced, we are still pretending to be more accurate in Logick and Philosophy, (which howsoever otherwise useful, do not add two-pence a year to the Riches of the Nation) we continue to squeeze all the sapless Papers and Fragments of Antiquity; we grow mighty well acquainted with the old Heathen Gods, Towns, and People; we prize our selves in fruitless Curiosities; we turn our Lice and Fleas into Bulls and Pigs by our Magnifying-glasses; we are searching for the World in the Moon with our Telescopes; we send to weigh the Air on the top of Teneriffe; we invent Pacing Saddles, and Gimcracks of all sorts; all which are voted Ingenuities, whilst the Notions of Trade are turned into Ridicule, or much out of fashion.
In all which we are very short of the Policies of our Neighbours, the French, Dutch, and other trading and wise Nations; who on the one hand have no Laws or Constitutions to restrain or exclude their People from Manufacture, nor to Ferret them away; and on the other, do consider Trade as an Honorary and almost Sacred thing, and do highly esteem and cherish their Manufacturers, as well as their other necessary Traders.
Now should these restraints and discouragements on our own People and Trade be removed, it would doubtless much advantage our Trade in some time; but would not bring us so sudden an increase of People, Manufactures, Ships, and Riches, as is highly requisite for the carrying on of a mighty Trade, or perhaps for our National security; nor can these so suddenly be had, but from other parts of the World, where they are moving; Men, Ships, or Riches, do not grow on the Trees, nor yet drop out of the Clouds.
But we have such another rank of Laws against Forreigners,Besides the Common Law these Statutes, 1 R. 3. 9. 21 H. 8. 16. 22 H. 8. 13. 32 H. 8. 16. 25 H. 8. 9. 14 H. 8. 3. 4 H. 7. 23. and many others of former date, to which are added 12 Car. 2. 16. 14 Car. 2. 11. and 15 Car. 2. 7. that we are not to hope Forreigners will come hither; I mean those which disable Forreigners from trading in England; therefore we must first have a Law of general Naturalization of Protestant-Forreigners, though to the displeasure of many of our own self-interested ignorant Traders, nor will that do, without a Repeal of the Act of the 5th Eliz. Cap. 4. and a compleat Regulation of our Trade; for neither Manufacturers or Merchants will remove from their own Countries hither to sit idle; nor will all this bring us over any great Numbers, without some Toleration of their Consciences, no not of Forreign Protestants, who differ much from us in several Points which they think material; all which is demonstrated in Fact by the success of His Majesties Proclamation at the beginning of our last Dutch War; by which Forreigners, then under the utmost terrors, were invited to the Liberties and Plenties of England; but we see few or none of them came or stay’d with us on this incouragement: In this the Dutch have a further advantage upon us, since they allow free Ports, free Trade,See Sir William Temples Book of the Dutch, Chap. the 6th. and all other National Freedoms to Forreigners; whereby their People of all sorts, their Navigation and Stocks in Trade, have increased continually.
So are the most considerable French Ports Free, (unless for Goods prohibited, as in Holland some are;) no sooner was Dunkirke in the Hands of the French King, but he made it a Free Port; so hath he invited all Forreign Artificers into France, by granting them as great, or greater Freedoms than his own Subjects enjoy.
There are yet others of our Laws, which must prejudice our Trade of all sorts, and give a farther advantage to the Dutch and French, I mean those which inflict Penalties on Protestant Dissenters; not only because they may hinder the transplanting of Forreign Protestant Artificers or Merchants, but because they disable many of those we have in England already, from carrying on any manner of Trades; and if so, then in effect they are not People, since they cannot answer the ends of People, but are rather the Trunks and Signs of Men in a Nation, their Industries and ingenuities being lock’d up; Suppose two or 300000 of our own People disabled, it may be presumed more than a Million per Annum loss to the Nation; what then may be our loss by the shutting out a far greater number? perhaps ten times the number of Forreign Protestants, and those of the richest, the most mercantile, and the best Manufacturers of Europe.
That this is the Case of dissenting Protestants in England, must be very plain to those who shall consider the Statute of 20l. a month, and those Volumes of other Statutes made before and since the King came in against Non-Conformists; most of which were intended against Papists, and occasioned by former Popish Treasons, but reach all Protestant Dissenters, who, besides the bare Penalties, are liable to the daily charge and trouble of Informations, Actions, and Indictments in our Courts of Law, and as many or more Libels and Presentments in our Spiritual Courts; our Constables, Church-wardens, and Grand-Juries are upon their Oaths constantly bound to accuse them; if they omit, ’tis at every other Mans pleasure to inform, and some or other will not fail of it; thus are Dissenters brought into the hands of the Officers of both Courts, whose duty it is to prosecute; these may delay for a time, whilst they are paid for their favours, or until notice be taken of it, but no longer, and then must follow a Seizure of Dissenters Persons or Estates, or both; Besides all which, particular Justices of the Peace are by several late Statutes authorized and obliged to Convent, Convict, and make Levies; which sufferings being accompanied with a continual Anxiety of mind, our Protestant Dissenters cannot possibly apply themselves or their Stocks to Manufacture or other Trade.
Whilst on the other hand, both the Dutch and French,See Sir William Temple, Chap. of Religion. and most other of our neighbouring Nations, any thing famous for Trade, allow Liberty of Conscience to Protestant Dissenters, at least to such a degree, as to enable them to trade: Which is all that the Interest of Trade requires; ’tis true, that now of late we have heard the French King hath given some greater discountenance to Protestants than heretofore, (whether to gratifie the Romish Clergy, who may be otherwise very useful to his present designs, and whom he daily and visibly endears by all signal demonstrations of favour, (if we may believe our Gazets) or for what other reason, I shall not undertake to say) however not so, as to disable the French Protestants from Trade.
What farther hardships he may put upon French Protestants, or other his Trading Subjects, in case they shall have no other Asylum or Shelter to repair to, time may shew.
This being the case in the matter of Toleration between us and these our subtile and potent Neighbours, the Question is, what is to be done? A long Surfeit of experience hath demonstrated, that the Penal Laws, though accumulated and imbittered to as great a degree as hath been desired, are not a sufficient expedient to reduce Protestant Dissenters. To propose any thing which shall subvert our present Church of England, is that which I shall not do; conceiving it for the honour and safety of the Nation to support a flourishing National Church, and that the present Protestant Church of England hath in all respects the best Title to it.
On the other side, to rest under our present Disadvantages by the want of a convenient Toleration of Dissenting Protestants, must disable us from making that sudden, and full improvement of our Trade, as otherwise we might, and as perhaps may be found necessary for our support against those Forreigners who already do, and daily will more exceed us in Treasures and People, if they shall let in, and we continue to shut out, so mighty a share of each.
Here then there seems a difficulty, which deserves and requires our utmost prudentials to clear, by a Toleration of Protestant Dissenters, consistent with the preservation of our present Church of England in all its Rights; I am perswaded none of the Generous Dignitaries, or Members of our Church, would oppose such a Toleration; some there have been, who could never think themselves happy, unless others were miserable, and have loved Cruelty for Cruelty’s sake; the most infamous for this was Phalaris, who was at last brought to roar in his own Brazen Bull; nor is this a time for Men to gratifie their humours or passions this way, if it may prove perilous towards the whole; rather let our Hearts melt with a tender and charitable Commiseration to these our Fellow-Country-men, who by their Birth-right are intitled to Magna Charta equally with our selves, but are incapacitated to enjoy the advantages of it, meerly for Conscience, when by no other overt Act they have forfeited their Hereditary Claims, when their sufferings undeniably demonstrate they are no Hypocrites, and therefore that they suffer for what they cannot help; let us observe, that God never planted or propagated his Truth by Temporal Power, that he was in the small Voice, not in the Thunder, or the Whirl-wind: Let us consider the original meekness of Christians, whose Anathema’s against Dissenters were only accompanied with Admonishments, and meer Excommunications, without any Writ to take the Body, or make Levies on Mens Estates; Let us remember that we have flung off the Yoke of Papal Tyranny, founded on a pretended infallible conclusive Church Authority, superinduced upon Christians by a Conspiracy of Romish Priests, as subservient to their Ambition, Pride, Ease, and Luxury; that if persecution were then wholly unwarrantable, it is now far more incoherent. When our present Church professes it self fallible, both our Church, and all Protestant Religion it self, are derived from no other Principle than the Fallibility of all Churches, at least in their Decrees; when our first most famous Protestant Doctors carried on the Reformation in opposition to their National Churches and Laws, such were Luther, Calvin, Beza, and many others abroad,Mr. Fox. and our Martyrs at home, whose Glorious Sufferings are celebrated by one of our own former and most Learned and Pious Divines, as the chief Gemms which truly beautifie our present Church: Let it never be said, that the Interests or Temperaments of our present Church are inconsistent with our National Wealth,Happiness, and Security, or obstruct our progress towards them; this would give too great an advantage to her publick and private Enemies: Let us industriously amass all the just Considerations we can to facilitate these great ends, by some Toleration of Protestant Dissenters, being it is so important, I say of Protestant Dissenters, because these having no forreign dependance on the Pope, have reason to be endeared and knit up to the National Interest by the common protection and security of their Estates and Families, equally with the rest: As for the Popish Party, I am confident that after so many late accurate Treatises, and Authentick Narratives, of the dangerous Principles, and horrid treasonable Practises, of the Priests, and others of the same Party, none will think it necessary, or possible, that I should add one syllable to prove that Party unfit for a Toleration.
Such being the high Motives to make us wish for a Toleration of Protestant Dissenters, I shall, with all deference to Authority, and without any of those passionate reflections which usually incumber this debate, briefly endeavour to examine the dangers objected, which are,
First, an apprehension of a necessary great increase of Dissenters, and this (as some will have it) to such a degree, as to swallow up the present Church; a very strange supposition for those who have Scripture and Antiquity on their side: On the contrary, it may be justly hoped, that the Church of England may then reconcile all those whom Penalties cannot reduce; and the rather, because when the Penalties are gone, all Parties must resort to reasoning and sanctity, which are the proper and only means of making Impressions on Mens Understandings and Consciences; Penalties may bring in Atheists and Hypocrites, but can never work a real change in any Mans opinion, unless when the sufferings of Dissenters proselyte others, (being a kind of Argument of the truth of what is so asserted, at least amongst the vulgar or middle sort;) our present Protestant Church of England must therefore have an advantage this way; and yet on the other side, will retain that of being vindicated by the Government, in as much as all publick Divine Service in the Parish Churches will remain in the form now used in our present Church, and all Church preferments inclosed to the Clergy of the same Church;Dr. Heylin observes, that after the Toleration of Protestants in France, the other Party in Religion having the countenance of the State, and the Prescription and Possession of so many years to confirm the same, is in as prosperous a condition, both for Power and Patrimony, as any that acknowledgeth the Authority of the Popes of Rome. Geogr. 176.which Priviledges, being consistent with a Toleration, may continue secured to our Church by our present Penal Laws in force for that purpose, with an addition of such others as may be thought necessary; whence it will follow; first, that it will be more for the ease and convenience, nay and Interest of the Laicks to conform, rather than to seek farther for Dissenting Conventicles, whose Ministers they must help to maintain; which Convenience, with the Countenance of Authority given to the National Church, is a great matter, since it will bring in all those, who being good Christians in the main, are yet little affected with the Points in difference, which are the generality, as may be seen by their equal resort to the Parish Churches before and since His Majesties Restoration. But secondly, it will then be yet more the interest and advantage of all Clergy-men to conform, by the great and Honourable preferments they may this way hope for, which they cannot otherwise obtain.
The other grand Objection against a Toleration of Protestants, is the danger of the Temporal Government; which seems yet stranger than the other, if we consult our Reasons, which must tell us, that Men at ease will be better satisfied than when in pain; that Men who are kept innocently and profitably busie, who by their Industry can live well, support their Families, and gain Estates, will be less apt to study, or do mischief to the Publick than those, who being disabled from all such Imployments, are daily goaded with penal Laws, a condition which perhaps may be thought more grievous in England than the like hardships in Turky and Muscovy, where all suffer alike, when in England our Protestant Dissenters hear much of Magna Charta, and see others enjoy the full fruit of it, but are precluded themselves, and this for meer difference in Religious belief. But why should I labour to evince that which Experience hath demonstrated; we have the great Instance of France, and the like in the Kingdom of Poland, in Holland, Switzerland, Hamburg, and other parts of Germany; All which Nations have been at peace, at least about Religion, ever since the Tolerations given, as some of them could never be before, particularly France: which must appear to proceed from the pacifique virtue of Toleration, not from the coercive power of Standing Forces, or despotick Monarchy, as some would have it, because that of Poland is regulated, and the rest are Republicks. ’Tis notorious that before the French Toleration many of that National Church had or pretended to have as fearful Apprehensions of the effects of it; but we see what Councils did prevail even amongst the Popish Party, and what hath followed? We find France the most powerful of Nations, and the French King so confident of his Protestants, that he long intrusted his mighty Armies, in the hands of Monsieur Turenne, a Protestant till near his death: On the other side we have the Example of Spain, whose execrable and inexorable Cruelties towards dissenters hath mainly Assisted in the present poverty and weakness of that Nation: We may then conclude that Persecution is a stale piece of policy, which perhaps might have born a debate in Harry the 8th’s time, but is now tryed to our hands: And let any man judg whether the French or Spanish Church be now most flourishing, or most likely to continue; the French Church and Church-men will certainly get ground with the French Victories, for which they are as much beholding to the French Protestants as to the rest. Let us not therefore be wholly insensible that the Church of England may fall under the worst circumstances of danger, otherwise than from Protestant Dissenters; as suppose England should ever be reduced to such a condition as to be no longer able to bear up against foreign Powers, what then would become of our present Church? what sort of men would then push into our Bishopricks, Deaneries, and other Church-Preferments? a Fatality which we ought therefore to provide against by a Union of Protestant interests and affections and increase of Traders, as far as safely we may; in which Foreigners are grown so nicely vigilant, that not long ago we might observe the policies of the great French King and the great Duke of Tuscany curiously Angling for the Jews; for when the French King had made Marseilles a free Port (which was about 12 years since) the Jews planted at Leghorn, induced by an offer of protection at Marseilles, and the sweeter situation of that place, resolved to transplant, which the Great Duke discovering, applyed his utmost endeavours to prevent it; which he did by making an Edict, That if any Christian bought a Jews house, it should be forfeit. In England a Jew cannot buy a house. I am no Advocate for Dissenters or Jews, but for the Common Interest of England, by which that of the Church of England must stand or fall. And being now speaking of somewhat that concerns Religion, there occur to my memory two plain Texts of Scripture, one is, that of two evils we are to choose the least, and another that a Kingdom divided cannot stand. I shall desire the Reader to couple these considerations with what I shall say in the following Sections concerning the present posture of this and our Neighbour Nations, and then he will not accuse me of having made an unnecessary digression.
Whilst we are calculating the best expedient to bring in forreign Protestant Artificers, and forreign Manufacturers, it is fit that notice should be taken of that Clause in the Act of 21 of King James chap. 3. which leaves the Inventers of new Manufactures at liberty to obtain Patents for Monopolies for one and twenty years, which Statute being in construction extended to all Manufactures already used by Foreigners that are not used here, hinders the introducing, or growth and perfection of any new forreign Manufactures, and makes it the business of our more observant Travellers to hauk after Monopolies.
There is no question but several other obstructions to the Trade of England might be observed, particularly that the carrying on of Elections in Corporations of latter years with so much drinking, is very prejudicial to our Manufactures; for men (upon this or any other occasion) being once debauched, hardly ever retrieve themselves, and are therefore lost to Manufacture and the Nation.
Our Fishers have complained that in several parts they are forced to pay Tyth for the Fish they catch on their own Coasts, in which the Dutch, and other Fishermen have the advantage to the value of the Fish, and must therefore disable our Trade of Fishery in those parts.
It hath also been noted that the payment of Tyth out of our Hemp and Flax, does as much disable the increase of Hemp and Flax in England, the rest being made so much the dearer to the owner, that it is not vendible, as otherwise it would be; and thereby prevent our great forreign Importation of Hemp and Flax. These being things of so great Importance to the Nation, may deserve a full Examination and remedy, whatsoever the particular interests of some Incumbents of Churches may suggest to the contrary.
Lastly, we have a farther complaint from the Traders of all sorts, of the tedious and chargeable proceedings in some Courts of Justice, occasioned by Writs of Error, and Suits in Chancery, in which last Court many are hung up for seven years and more, and are forced to expend much more than the money they justly sue for; Our little Courts, especially about London, are as destructive to poor Seamen, Manufacturers and other laborious people, where in a Suit for a disputable Groat, or meer malice, they are easily led in, or forced to spend three or four pound; if but thirty or forty shillings ’tis enough to ruine such poor wretches and their Families, which hath caused many thousands to perish in Goal, or fly from their Habitations and Countrey, since the erection of several new inferior Jurisdictions.
Here again we may look back and observe the mischievous effects of private and mistaken interests, pride and humor; which I shall not recapitulate, but should here conclude this Section; but that having mentioned the greatness of our Customs amongst the incumbrances on our Trade, I am willing to clear my self from insinuating or wishing any Diminution of His Majesties Revenue; nor would the moderation of the Customs work any such effect, (at least in the Judgments of wise men who have considered it) were the other obstructions on our Trade regulated; of this Sir Walter Raleigh took notice of very early in his Observations upon Trade, presented to King James, in these words.
‘Of this their smallness of Custom, (meaning in Holland, Hamburgh, &c.) inwards and outwards, we have daily experience; for if two English Ships, or two of any other Nation, be at Burdeaux, both laden with Wine of 300 Tun apiece, the one bound for Holland, or any other of the Petit States, the other for England; the Merchant shall pay above 900l. here, and other duties, when the other in Holland, or any other Petit State shall be cleared for 50l. and so in all other Wares and Merchandizes accordingly; which draws all Nations to traffick with them; and although it seems but small duties which they receive, yet the multitudes of all kind of Commodities and Coin that is brought there, and carryed out by themselves and others, is so great, that they receive more Customs and Duties to the State by the greatness of their Commerce in one year, than England doth in two years; for the 100th part of the Commodities are not spent in Holland, but vented into other Countries; which make all the Country-Merchants to buy and sell, and increase Ships and Mariners to transport them.
‘My travels and meaning is not, neither hath been, to diminish your Majesties Revenues, but exceedingly to increase them, &c.
‘All Nations may buy and sell freely in France, and there is free Custome outwards twice a year; at which times our Merchants do there make their sales of English Commodities, and do buy and lade their Bulk with French Commodities to serve for the whole year; and in Rochel in France, and in Brittain, free Custom all the year long; except some small Toll, which makes free Traffick, and makes them flourish.’
To this he adds an Instance in Genoua, formerly the Store-house of Italy: But after they had set a Custom of 16 per Cent. all Nations left trading with them; but that on the other side, the Duke of Florence, by setting a small Custom at Leghorn, had brought all the Trade thither: Thus did this great Man of his time express himself.
But admitting, that by the moderation of our Customs Rates, our present publick Revenue in Customs should be somewhat sunk; yet how easily might this Revenue be made good by a Land-Tax, or by some Excise upon Extravagancies, and Forreign consumptive Commodities spent at home, without the least prejudice to Trade? Thus do the Dutch raise far more than the Revenue of our Customs; and if by this means the private Revenue of our Land must universally rise, and the people better be enabled to pay any other Taxes, why should the Land-holders, or any on pretence of Service to His Majesty, oppose it? Suppose His Majesty had a Custome of 5s. in the Pound on all the English Treasure exported, would any Man for the sake of the Custom, and out of zeal to His Majesties Interest, promote the Exportation of all the English Treasure? How much this is the Case of the present English Customs, doth, and more largely will appear.
Certainly it was very unfortunate for England, That when Sir Walter Raleigh wrote these and other his excellent Observations on Trade, our Councels were under an earnest pursuit of the Plantation-Trade, on which great Customs were projected; for so it hath hapned, that whilst our Neighbour Nations have been vigilant to ease and facilitate their ways of Trade, the Trade of England hath continued under the former disadvantage, and is incumbred with new charges and difficulties of later years; all which in Conjunction have worked us out in all the Particulars mentioned before, and in divers others; and in recompence of these losses, our Plantation-Trade hath robbed and prevented us of some Millions of our Poople; amongst which very many being, or might have been Manufacturers, the Nation hath also lost many more Millions of Pounds in the loss of their Manufactures.
That a Nation may grow poor by Forreign Trade, viz. by an excess of meer Importations, illustrated by some Observations: this facilitated by exporting Money or Bullion; the fatal Consequences and Symptoms of a Consumptive Trade, decay of Manufactures, other ways of living over-stocked, fall of Rents, general Poverty, an increase of Criminals of all sorts, Depopulation; some Application to the present Case of England, and amongst others the occasion of the new Buildings about London; of Incontinency, Cunning, &c.
AS a Nation may grow Rich and Populous, and consequently strong by Forreign Trade; so may a Nation grow poor and dispeopled, and consequently weak by Forreign Trade; nor is there any possible or practicable way for the Treasure of a Nation in peace, to be exhausted and exported into another Nation to any considerable and sensible degree, but by Forreign Trade.
This must necessarily happen by the excess of meer Importation, viz. when the Commodities imported from abroad, and spent at home, do cost more than the National gain by Trade amounts to; as suppose such yearly Importations into England should cost two Millions, and the National gain by Exportations or otherwise should amount but to 1500000l. the Nation of England must yearly lose 500000l. of its Treasure by Trade, because so much must yearly be exported by the English Merchants to satisfie the over-ballance.
That the English Trade might fall into such a Consumption, is easily and highly credible.
For suppose the utmost neat gain of our former English Trade amounted to but 300000l. per An’ one year with another; then if the Exportations and beneficial Merchandize of England should become worse by 400000l. per An’ one year with another than before, the Nation of England must lose 100000l. per An’ of its National Treasure, though our yearly Importations be no more in value than before; whence it appears, that by this means the same Importations may become excessive.
So though our Exportations, and the beneficial part of our Merchandize, continue as valuable as before, yet if our yearly Consumptive Importations grow to be more in value by 400000l. per An’ than before, the Nation must also in this case lose 100000l. per An’ by Trade.
But what if both the beneficial part of the Trade grow worse, and also the Importations increase? Certainly this must cut deepest on the National Stock, and must soonest grind it out; for then if the beneficial part grow worse by 400000l. and the Importing part be increased 400000l. per An’ value, the Nation must then lose 500000l. per Annum; or suppose but to half those values in each, the Nation must lose 100000l. per Annum.
To accommodate these Hypotheses to England; first, we may conclude, that the beneficial part of our Trade hath grown much less and worse yearly, by reason of the unequal cloggs and difficulties on our Home and Forreign Trade.
And that on the other side our Importations must as necessarily be increased, both by the decay of our own former Manufactures at home, and by our modern gawd’ry and affectation of foreign Goods; and as our Trade from Port to Port hath become more impracticable to any advantage, the Exporters of our remaining Manufactures and other home-Commodities, must either come back empty, or else must freight themselves homewards with such consumptive foreign Commodities, as for Gawdry, Novelty, Cheapness, or Lyquorishness, will dazle, tempt and bewitch our People to buy them; in which course of Trade our Merchants may gain considerable proportions of our remaining Treasures as long as there is any in the Nation.
Nay, rather than sit idle, they will,See Mr. Mun of Foreign Trade, Chap. 12. p. 83, to 92. and that the over ballance of Trade in any particular Country, causes the Exchange to be high, so that the exporting of money shall save the Merchant 10l. per Cent or more, as the exchange is. and do freight themselves outwards with meer Ballast and Bills of Exchange (by which the Importation of foreign Bullion or money is prevented:) or if Bills of Exchange cannot reasonably be had (as they usually cannot to those Countries where we are overballanced in Trade) then they export Mony and Bullion, and buy and import Consumptive Goods which are spent at home; which kind of Trade deserves rather to be called Foreign Pedling, than Merchandise.
It may be remembred here, how much the beneficial part of our Trade may be prejudiced by the loss of 100000 of our Manufactures, and what odds the same loss may produce in our Importations, since if they get but 6l. per Ann. a peice, it must sink the former gain by Trade no less than 600000l. per Ann.
And on the other side, that if a Million of Families or Persons in a Nation, do one with the other consume to the value of 20s. a piece more, yearly in foreign Manufactures, Drinks, &c. than before, this must increase our Importations to the value of a Million per Ann. which I observe here to shew how imperceptibly an over-ballance of Importation may creep upon a Nation; and that the Reader may with the less difficulty conjecture at the late and present ballance of Trade in England.
It must also much assist this Importing Trade, if the Merchants shall export Mony, or Bullion; especially in such a Nation as England, where a Trade from Port to Port is not ordinarily practicable to any advantage: for in that Case the Goods Imported being spent at home, the Treasure Exported must be lost to the Nation; and as long as the English Merchant can have Bullion or Mony to Export, and can have a vent for his Importations at home, his private gain will never oblige him to complain of the want of Exportable home-Manufactures, or the Clogs upon Trade, especially in England, where our Merchants have such a Monopoly of those Importations on the rest of the People.
This Consumptive Importing Trade must be of very fatal Consequence in its Nature; for first, whilest the National Stock is greater, it will exhaust the Treasure almost insensibly; but as the Treasure grows less and less, it will work more palpably and grievously, because it will consume more and more of that little which remains.
And as the National Treasure comes to be more and more diminished, the People must generally have less and less, which must cause the price of all home-Commodities, and consequently Land-Rents to fall continually, the home Manufactures must be choaked and stifled by Importations, so that both the Farmers and Manufacturers must fling up; the values of their Stocks must be contracted, and will be eaten out by Rent, Wages and other standing charges before they are aware; men cannot provide against misfortunes which have unseen Causes: and as home-trade grows worse and worse, Industry it self must be tired and foiled, to the great amazement, as well as affliction of the People.
For at the same time Liberty and Property may remain inviolated, many Merchants shall grow rich and shall be well satisfied as long as there is Vanity and Money at home; so shall their Retailers and Salesmen of foreign Wares, such are Mercers, Lacemen, Linnen-Drapers, Exchange-men, Grocers, Vintners and most others; there may seem to be the same Navigation for a time, the Customs must also necessarily much increase as the Importations increase (especially in England where the Customs on Importations are so high) and by that means may cause a reputation and sound of Trade amongst many, when indeed such a swelling of the Customs does only denounce their growing poverty and ruine.
It may be these ranks of men, who stand not in the direct Channel of Trade, may seem to flourish for a time, as Officers, Lawyers, Physitians, and others: nay perhaps some Officers may have greater opportunities of gain during the first Convulsions of a growing Poverty; since the necessities of men obliging them to be more Criminous, it may for a while occasion greater and more frequent gratuities, and a more absolute subservience; so may many Lawyers get more than ever whilst mens Estates are rending to pieces, (as doubtless did some Bricklayers get Estates by the burning of the City). So perhaps sickly men whilst they can, may strain hard to secure the Faith and Care of their Physitians with as good Fees as before, so some Clergy-men. Scriveners and Pen-men of all sorts, Usurers and such others may seem to stem the torrent better than the Landholders and Manufacturers, whose Revenues immediately depend on the home-market, and who make up the gross body and strength of a Nation; many of these former rankes of men (being at ease themselves) may seem insensible of the Common Afflictions, but must be gradually involved with the rest.
And the sooner, because as men fling up their Farms and Manufactures, and others are discouraged, multitudes of those that want Imployments, observing what other sorts of men continue to live at some ease, will naturally and inevitably throng themselves into the like, viz. importing Merchandise, Retayling, Shopkeeping, the Law, Clergy, and Priesthood of all sorts, Offices, Scrivening, Solliciting, and Physick; by which these Imployments must be so over-clogged, that they will be hardly able to live by one another; vast numbers of others must betake themselves to Inn-keeping, Ale-keeping, Victualing, &c. and those who have little or no stocks or literature, and therefore cannot crowd themselves into some of these ways of Livelihood must lye on the Parish, or being higher or worse minded must fall to Cheating, Canting, Shifting, Perjury, Forgery, Whoredom, Sherking, Chipping, Coyning, Buffooning, Tumbling, Pimping, Pilfering, Robbery, &c. for their ordinary maintenances; the more honest or industrious will transport themselves into foreign parts, as soon as they have opportunity, rather than live miserable at home, especially if they have an Ireland and Plantations to go to; nor is it possible (as I conceive) for any Laws or Penalties effectually to restrain the swelling numbers of any of the former professions, but by opening the beneficial and Comprehensive Imployments of Manufactures, Farming, &c.; nor can the daily increase of Ale-houses, or of Frauds, Perjuries and Criminals of all sorts be otherwise corrected; no Statutes, nay, or Preaching, though never so learned or florid, can prevail with necessitous men.
But the increase of these former more Gentleman-like, Scholar-like, Retailing and Shopkeeping-Imployments, must yet bring a farther inconvenience, viz. a more general affectation of Finery and Gawdery, than before; for these being sedentary and easie professions, will not only admit of, but occasion greater curiosity in Apparel, Modes, and dresses than the active and laborious ways of living by Farming or Manufactures. And as this Gawdery grows more in use it will spread amongst the rest, and the People emulating one another, will be gawdy as long as they can, though never so poor; which must support and increase Foreign Importations, whilst every one is contending who shall have the finest Foreign Livery, so will People thus at leisure most naturally fall into the habits of drinking and other ill Courses.
Too many of these symptoms of a Consumptive Trade may be generally observed in England; of late years any man who had but an indifferent Stock might have set himself to Tillage, Grazing, Daiery, Cloathing, Fulling, &c. in almost any part of England, and might not only have maintained his Family plentifully, but as his Stock and Ingenuity were more or less, might have left an Estate behind him; it was not extraordinary for a man thus employed to get an Estate of 3, or 4000l. some 10, some 20, some 30000l. whereas now, and of these later years these home-imployments have been the usual Shipwracks of mens Stocks and Estates in most parts of England, or so dull and cold that men can hardly endure to live so meanly.
Our late Wealthy Yeomanry are impoverished, or much reduced in their stocks, a man shall hardly find three in a County able to rent 3, or 400l. per Ann. they are forced to sink their Rents on the Gentry continually, or else to fling up their Farms; much Land is fallen a fifth part, some a fourth part, some a third part, some to half of the late Rent, (unless in some few Countys in whose benefit the Irish Acts were made, and there Rents are not risen and are now like to fall low enough:) by which continual contracting of Rents the very earth seems to shrink and consume under us, and whilst many of our late opulent and mighty Gentry since the general decay of their Revenues have been striving to support the antient honour and dignity of their Families, they are become immerged and fettered in inextricable debts and securities; great numbers of our Clothiers and other Manufacturers are undone, or have given up; the rest remain under a languishing hope of better Markets: and multitudes of those people, whose Labours brought Mony, Trade and Comfort to our Corporations, are now become chargeable burthens: it being computed that our Poor are increased to near ten times their late number within this last twenty years, and that their maintenance doth cost the Nation 400000l. per Ann. constant Tax.
On the other side, the increase of those sorts of men, whose Imployments either may prejudice, or else can add no increase of Treasure to the Nation, is very visible: by which increase the inconveniencies must be still the greater; for where the foreign Trade of a Nation is so much driven in importations, the increase of Merchants will oblige an increase of Importation; so an increase of Retailers dealing in foreign Goods, will open a greater vent for Importations; suppose such a Retailer sells for 10l. per Cent. profit, the Nation must lose about nine pence for every peny he gets, what then shall the Nation lose by the Trade of a Merchant or Retailer, who by vending Foreign Wares shall get an Estate of 10, or 20000l. over and besides a profuse maintenance? Or what will it signifie to the Wealth or Glory of a Nation, or City, to have many such 10000l. men as these? Have we any reason to rejoyce in such a flourishing Trade? These Retailers and Shop-keepers, gleaning the Mony, from the People, hand it up to the Importers, who export this Commodity in Trade as occasion does require; and as our Manufactures have decayed, so have Shop-keepers of all sorts increased; our Cities and Corporations are stuffed with them more and more; there being at least ten times more in the Nation than were 20, or 30 years since.
Thus also have we multitudes of more Lawyers, Attorneys, Solicitors, Scriviners, and Pen-men of all sorts, than of late years we had; which occasions more Querks, Tricks, and Cheats in the Law.Author of the grounds and reasons of the contempt of the English Clergy. We have vastly more Scholars and Clergymen, which a late Author observing, thought it necessary to export Tunns of Divines instead of Manufacture: This does cause an universal competition for Benefices; of which the needy Laity taking advantage, make Simonaical presentations,pag. 141. and thence must follow perjury in Institutions, and thence seared Consciences; but of all other Imployments we have the greatest questing after Offices; Men will almost give any thing, say any thing, or do any thing for an Office; so that some Offices which were thought hardly worth the medling with of late years, will now yield near ten years purchase for one life, which competition hath also in a manner virtually repealed the Statute against buying and selling of Offices, and obliges those who buy trusts to sell trusts. We have also far more Physitians, men of Medicine and Quacks, especially Pox-Doctors than ever, so have we (with our poverty) far more Finery and Gawdery, more Daintyness, Delicacy and Luxury.
So have we a vast increase of Inn-keepers and Ale-keepers both in City and Country, by which the common-people are debauched, made impious, poor and effeminate: all which mischiefs do in union cause the vast increase of new Buildings in and about London; for most of the Offices are in London, or there to be gotten, there is also the ready access to Church-preferment, and the best and most easie Imployments for Lawyers, Solicitors, Scriviners, Physitians, and such others, and the rather, because the publick Taxes and Importing-trade drawing the mony up to London, it will there be stirring as long as we have any in the Nation; whilst the Country is left poorer and barer every day; and therefore besides these higher ranks of men, the ordinary People who used heretofore to begin upon Farming or Manufacture, hearing of mony in London, do post from the starving Country, and apply themselves to the selling of Ale, Brandy, Tobacco, Coffee, Brokery of all sorts, letting of Lodgings in or about London, and such like Imployments, which too commonly end in Bawdery and the Gallows, by which there is room made for new Comers and Tenants; I have heard it said, that Madrid is grown much bigger and more Populous of late years.
From these and other sorts of People, both in City and Country, we have more and more Criminals of all the sorts and species mentioned before; our Gaols are fuller and fuller, great numbers of which are yearly executed or transported; vast numbers of others have betaken themselves to voluntary exile from this their Native Country, in hopes of a better condition, rather than to endure certain poverty or persecution for Conscience at home; besides those gone into Ireland, and the Plantations, there are many thousands of Protestants gone from us into the Low Countries, into France, into Germany, and into Poland, where being Woollen Manufacturers, they have taught, and set up this Manufacsure, and thereby helped to work our ruine. These being of the most strong and able part of our People, leave their Wives and Children, and other impotent and lazy People at home.
And thus shall a Nation be inevitably dispeopled, as well as impoverished by a consumptive Trade; Nay, it shall hinder the ordinary increase of People by procreation, especially in a Nation where venereal sins are become general, habitual and shameless; for the People being poor, or vicious, or both, dare not, or care not to engage in the charge or virtuous Obligations of Marriage, (unless here and there where a man gets a Catch with a Wife which shall be equal to an Office,) but will rather use unlawful promiscuous Copulation, which breeds no Children, but infinite Claps and Poxes to the common weakning of Posterity, and present scandal of a Nation: (thus have our Women also lost their choice of Chapmen for Husbands:) how many of our most beautiful Women (which might have made good and vertuous Wives, and brought forth numbers of as beautiful Children,) are for want of convenient Matches tempted, or forced for a little mony, to sell their souls to the Devil, and their delicate bodies to lust and rottenness, nay to the Gallows, when proving with Child, the remains of their natural modesty, will not in their extremities permit them to call Witnesses of their shame, whilst the Gallants which beget them go free, and glory in their great performance.
All which mischiefs of a consumptive Trade are yet more fatal, because the growing vice and poverty which attends it, will generally bring a languor and difficulty on mens understandings; as men sink in their Estates, their Spirits and Thoughts will be lower and narrower, and their Minds clouded with anxieties and cares, this (with the common disability of making advantages upon Forreigners in the course of Trade) leads them into a kind of unhappy Cunning, consisting in the over-reaching of one another at home; and he will be accounted wise, who by any means can shift himself out of the common wants, nor will he think his own happiness small, (especially if his beginnings were low) when (like one standing on the Sands) he can behold the Shipwreck of others.
That a Consumptive Trade must render a Nation still weaker and weaker: How far the meer establishment of Absolute Power, or meer Liberty and Property, may alter the Case.
FRom what hath been said in the first Section and since, it must also follow, that a Consumptive Trade must render a Nation still weaker and weaker.
First, because it must still exhaust more and more of the National Riches, and sink the value of Mens Estates.
If the value of private Stocks or Revenues are contracted, Men will be less and less able to pay publick Taxes; it is impossible for those that have no Money to pay Money, or for those that have less to pay as much as those that have more; and less Taxes must then also be more grievous than greater were before; if a Man having 100l. per An’ or 100l. Stock, sink 40l. per Cent. of his Revenue or Stock, it is equal to any direct Tax of 40l. per Cent. and then if a Tax or publick Charge of 5 or 10l. be super-added, it is equal to a former Tax of 45 or 50l. per Cent.
It must also disable a Nation to continue the Charge of a War, because the quantity of Money diffused amongst the People will sooner be drawn out of the Home-Markets; and then they can no longer raise Taxes, and when the Taxes fail, what hope or dependance can there be in the courage of Officers, Soldiers, or Sea-men? or how shall the continual Supplies of Warlike Provisions of all sorts be purchased at home or abroad?
There are yet other Concomitants of a growing Poverty, which must render any Nation much the weaker, viz. discontents, uneasiness, and heart-burnings, which when begun, are easily fermented into Convulsions, by which a Nation may be disabled to exert even its remaining strength.
2. Perfidy and Treachery amongst all sorts; needy Men are readily tempted to make a Merchandize of their own Souls and other Mens Lives and Estates, and those who will betray one another for Money at home, will be equally wrought upon by forreign Money, and then may be brought to barter of both Princes and Countries; for being once corrupted, they must, like Women, for ever remain slavishly true to the Intrigue, lest the Gallant should tell, of which Histories give us many sad Examples.
But in a Nation where the value of Land, or Home-Commodities, are risen 40 per Cent. he that had 100l. Revenue or Stock, paying 40l. Tax, retains what he had; and if the National Treasure be much greater, it will support the charge of a War much longer, and can hardly ever be totally exhausted, where there is a considerable Annual Increase of Treasure by Forreign Trade: This exuberance of a National Treasure will also generally support and secure the Spirit and Fidelity of all sorts of Men.
It must therefore be of most dangerous consequence to a Nation impoverished by Trade, if any other neighbour-Nation hath at the same time grown much richer in Treasure, since in the case of a War it will produce the like inequality of Power; nay if any such richer Nation shall think fit to keep great Armies and Navies in pay, (though in times of Peace) so must the poorer Nation, or else be devoured at pleasure; and thus may a Nation, drained by the over-ballance of Trade, be beggered, and consequently overcome without fighting, as hath been intimated before.
So if a Nation grow generally more vitious, soft, effeminate, debauched, dispeopled, and undisciplined than before, it must be much weaker than before, wherein the danger must be much greater if any neighbour Nation grow far more warlike, more populous and better disciplined than before.
In which case the better situated, more useful, strong, plentiful, and blessed the Country so impoverished naturally is, and the more it doth abound in beautiful Buildings, Women, or other delicacies, it will the more forcibly provoke the Appetite of a stronger Nation to its Conquest, the mighty Hunters of the World are for the most desirable prey; so if a Nation thus weakned hath formerly been famous and redoubted for Arms and War; those who affect glory by Conquest, must have the greater Ambition to vassalize its People.
From what hath been said it must appear; first, That a Nation must be estimated weak or strong by comparison, with the strength or weakness of Neighbour Nations; if a Neighbour Nation grow ten times as strong as before, the Nation which only retains its usual and former strength is weak; but the Case must be yet worse, if whilst the one hath grown ten times stronger, the other hath grown much weaker.
2. That in the present state of the World a Nation cannot grow poor by a consumptive Trade with any Security.
In such a Case the meer absoluteness of a Monarchy would not prevent the approaching fatality, (which I add because Hobbs and others call it a strong Government) absolute Power may suddenly force away that Treasure which the People have, but cannot create any, nor can it carry on a War, or even support it self without continual vast expences; and then when the Treasure is drawn off into the hands of Officers and Soldiers, (who pay no Taxes) it will be found, that the People (who have it not) can no more make Brick without Straw in this Age, than heretofore; and will be naturally desirous to change their Masters upon hope to be treated with less rigor.
Nor on the other side will the meer preservation of a legal Liberty and Property secure a Nation thus impoverished, without a concurrent improvement of Trade, for the Reasons before given; the Blessings which usually attend these Freedoms wholly, or very much depend upon the Riches the People are possessed of.
It must be confessed these Freedoms make a necessary step towards the improvement of Trade; where an absolute Power is exerted, the conditions of Men are little better than that of Brutes, being continually lyable to Imprisonments, Death, and Confiscations, at the Pleasure of others; nay perhaps are worse, by the fears and terrors Men must be always under, even whilst they do not actually suffer; which will take away the edge and life of Industry, and will ruine or drive away the Merchants, and those who have Stocks in Manufacture, who neither will, nor can labour all their lives for Wealth under daily expectations of losing what they painfully get, which in this last Age hath obliged the French Monarchy to permit divers Immunities to their Manufacturers, and of late to their Fishers and other Maritime Traders, which have now gotten the reputation of established Laws; at least they are such as are satisfactory to the French Natives, who cannot have, nor are acquainted with better terms, and who are of themselves so numerous, that they stand in no need of Supplies of People from abroad; and therefore of no greater invitations of this nature to bring in Forreigners, and the rather, because their Trade is otherwise so much eased and incouraged (of which I shall have occasion to say more;) so have the great Dukes of Tuscany in this last Age been curiously vigilant to provide for the Freedom of Traders, both Domestick and Forreign: The Dutch, Venetians, Hamburghers, and other Trading States do yet farther secure the Liberties and Properties of their Natives, and others, under their several Jurisdictions, by fundamental and unalterable Constitutions.
Which being admitted, it doth not follow that a Nation which hath meer Liberty and Property, without other requisite incouragements, shall drive any great Trade; we have an Example in Genoa, at this day, a Republick, where, because they set a Custom of 16 per Cent. on Goods Imported, they lost their Trade of Forreign Merchandize to Leghorne, made a free Port by the Duke of Tuscany; what then may we hope for from the meer Liberty and Property of the English, when in England the Customs are generally higher, and our other difficulties on Trade are yet more grievous than the Customs? by the Accompt we have from our first Discoverers and Planters in America, most of these poor Nations had a Home-Liberty and Property.
Further presumptions of our late National Overballance in Trade; an Account from the Mint in November 75. and thence our former Ballance of Trade estimated.
AS a further Evidence that our National Trade hath been Consumptive, and that I may silence the prevarications of some whose private Interest or Passions (which are but the fermentations of their Interests) teach them to affirm the contrary, I shall take notice of the following Accompt taken and Printed in November 1675. for the clearing a Debate then before a Committee of Parliament, intituled as followeth.
An Account of all the Gold and Silver Coined in his Majesties Mint within the Tower of London, from thefirst of October 1599. being the forty first year of the Reign of Queen Eliz. to November 1675. being 76 years, divided into four parts; shewing how the Coin of this Kingdom did increase in the three first parts, proportionable to the increase of Trade and Navigation, and how much it hath decreased in the fourth part.
This prodigious decrease of Coin in the last eighteen years, does undeniably evidence a vast decay in our Trade: but since, even in these latter years, there hath been somewhat above 120000l. per An’ Coined, as appears by the Account, it doth seem to administer an Objection, that still there hath been some National gain by Trade, though much less than before.
But this does not follow, for if more Money hath been exported yearly during these last eighteen years than hath been Coined, the National Treasure must be diminished: Now if we have been over-ballanced, more Money must be exported; so that it will resolve into the former Question.
It is a vain thing to say, that the exportation of Money in Specie stands still prohibited; so is the exporting of Treasure prohibited in Spain under the highest Penalties; and yet because Spain is over-ballanced by consumptive Importations, Forreigners continually carry it away; so that were it not for their Mines, there would not have been the value of a Peny left in Spain many years since; nor can their Mines so answer this mighty drain by a consumptive Trade, but that the Treasures of Spain are drawn lower than in any Nation in Europe.
And therefore though the ordinary trading with exported Money is condemnable, as that which tends to the subversion of Manufacture and People, and facilitates meer Importation; yet I cannot recommend prohibitory Laws as a means to stop the exportation of Money, unless at the same time the Methods of Trade be regulated.
’Tis now become more practicable by the Liberty given for the Exportation of Bullion; for upon any great emergency, for Bullion, (as for instance) upon the going out of an East-India Fleet, Standard-Silver hath risen from 5s. the Ounce to 5s. 4d. the Ounce; which being about 10 per Cent. must not only hinder the Coining of Bullion, but must cause our weighty Coin to be melted into Bullion, and so exported as it hath been noted before.
And upon the like occasions ’tis observable, that Guinnies rise to 22s. apiece, & broad Gold to 24s. apiece, which does evince, that those who use that Trade do not confine themselves to Bullion.
So ’tis notorious to those who understand our Northern and Eastern Trades, and our Trade to France, the Canaries, Turkey, &c. that we yearly export great quantities of Treasure to those and other Countries, and that we do not stick at Coined Money, being closely put up in Packs of Goods or Barrels, or however may be made lawful and laudable Merchandize by melting; whence it is come to be so commonly asserted a Commodity; and then if we look back and observe how little hath been Coined in the 18 years since (57) being but 121026l. per An’, it must be highly credible, that we have exported much more Money yearly than we have Coined.
But to make the over-ballance yet more evident, it will be necessary to find out, if possible, what was the yearly Treasure the Nation gained by Forreign Trade, at any time in this last Age; and in the next place, how much our Exportations and beneficial part of our Trade have since failed, and our Importations increased in quantity and value.
The increase of Home-Treasure must either be in Coined Money, or in Plate, made up for Home-uses; for all Bullion imported must either be converted into one of these at home, or else be re-exported, and then ’tis not superadded to the National Home-Treasure.
Now if we look back to the Accompt from the Mint, we may conclude, that during those 76 years, our Trade did never add more to our Coin yearly than 407027l. 9s. 1½d. for any number of 20 years together; this being the utmost Medium comprized in the Accompt.
Plate Coined by the King at Oxon, and Parliament at London.And this being in the 18 years before (57,) was not all the meer product of the Trade of these very years, for ’tis well known that during those years we had good quantities of our own Plate Coined into Money, ’tis not possible for me to ascertain how much; but if it were a Million, it ought to be deducted out of the Medium of those years.
So during those 18 years, our Trade might yet add less to our Coined Money, viz. in case our Forreign Trade did then export any of our Coined Money, the like may be said of any other of the said 18 years or Mediums in the Accompt; and then must all the Money so exported be also deducted out of the Annual Gain of those years.
I believe none will expect that I should adjust the yearly quantity of Money exported by stealth in our Forreign Trade before (57,) I shall leave it to the consideration of the indifferent Reader upon what I shall add; but ’tis evident, that our Merchants did formerly use to export Money, by the prohibitory Statutes made on that occasion.
It may be also further evident, that the yearly quantity of Money so exported before 57 was considerable; for before the 76 years mentioned in the Accompt, we must have had some stock of Money in the Nation, which supposing to be but six Millions, then adding what more was Coined during the said 76 years, we must have had near 30 Millions of Coin in the Nation before 57, had none been exported; whereas no intelligent Man will say we had then half that Sum; which if doubted I shall have occasion to enforce further; and if this be admitted, the Consequence must be, that our Forreign Trade and occasions did even before 57 carry off near half as much Money as was yearly Coined; and then our National yearly Gain in Coined Treasure would not be near to the aforesaid full Mediums Coined, nor to above half the Mediums, (taking any number of years together.)
Nor can we reckon or allow of above 50000l. per Annum for increase of Home-Plate, during any of the said 18 years, considering that much Plate is always brought back to the Mint, or turned into Bullion, as other new Plate is made; and that at this allowance for Plate, in any twenty years time there would be a Million increase of Home-Plate in the Nation.
Upon the whole the Reader may observe what our utmost National Gain in increase of Treasure possibly might be, and upon the aforesaid grounds may deduct from any of the Mediums as he shall think reasonable, wherein I shall not pretend to confine him, though in my private Judgment I cannot estimate our utmost National increase of Treasure by Trade during any of the said 76 years to be above 250000l. per Annum, or thereabouts, for any twenty years together.
Considering which, if the indifferent Reader shall reflect on what hath been said in the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Sections, if he there find that our Trade hath been under such difficulties, as must necessarily work us out of all the parts of it, whilst our Neighbours are enabled to snatch it from us: If he there find undeniable Instances of it in some Particulars, he may for the same Reasons conclude the like in all others; and by Consequence that our National Trade long before this, became less beneficial than it was by 250000l. per Annum; it hath been always found most safe to be governed by the Causes and Reasons of things, but the concurrent impoverishment of our People, and other the Symptoms, Plague-sores, and Spots of a consumptive Trade do further evidence it.
It is confessed it would be of great use, if the odds in our past and present National Forreign Trade might be certainly stated; a difficult, if not impossible task: Since it requires an antient, as well as modern experience in Forreign Trade, and not of any one Trader only, but of so many as have traded into all Parts; of those that are curious, intelligent, and impartial, and have minded the publick Interest as well as their own; perhaps if a sufficient number of such as these did assemble, they might, upon debate, and with reference to their Books, bring the Compute very near the truth; but nothing of this hath been done of late; and whosoever shall promiscously consult our Traders apart, will find them various: Then for our Custom-Books old or new, though they might be useful for some things, yet they cannot ascertain us in the odds of the Forreign values of any Exported or Imported Goods, nor of the quantity of Imported prohibited or smuggled Goods, nor (as I conceive) of our former or present Fishing-Trade, (Fish paying no Custom) nor of the gain of Carriage, nor of the Trade from Port to Port; without which the certain odds in the Ballance cannot be calculated; and therefore for my own part I rest chiefly on what hath been said; believing myself secure whilst I keep my self to the rational part, which cannot be refuted but by Reason: Whereas I am apprehensive that should I descend to examine our Ballance of Trade by the particular effects of the foregoing Causes, these being matters of Fact, and very many, and most of them Forreign, and of less Notoriety, may be liable to Exceptions or Cavils of particular Men, as their different Sentiments or Interests may dictate; it being as easie to deny as affirm, and as hard for many Readers to determine the truth in these matters; whereby the sincerity of the Relator may be drawn into question; and at such times, when he shall have no opportunity to defend himself: and I am not insensible, that amongst so many Facts as the nature of this Subject hath forced me to mention, (whereof I must speak much upon the credit I give to others) ’tis impossible there may be some slips, even by the transcribing of Papers: Upon these Considerations, I had thoughts of laying aside part of the three next Sections as needless, and neglected somewhat of that Curiosity I intended, but being perused and approved by some Friends amongst the rest of these Papers, they have perswaded me to publish them as they are, upon apprehension that they will enforce what I have already said, though left so general, and will give the Reader a further useful light into the past and present nature and condition of our Trade and Nation: and since they do not bind up the Reader to precise Quantities and Values, can admit of little altercation; in which I have been the more ready to comply, upon hopes that I may awaken and spur on the virtuous emulation of others to a more compleat disquisition into the several branches of our Trade, and that the Reader will think me the more excusable in this and the rest I have undertaken, when he shall observe the present Subject so Copious, and so little laboured by other Writers, that I have no common Places or beaten Tracks to follow, as in other Studies.
This I assure the Reader, that amongst the following instances, or elsewhere, there are no wilfull or affected errors, and that I have not affirmed any thing which I do not know, but upon such Authority as I have reason to believe highly credible, and am confident that whatsoever mistakes in Fact the Curious may find out in what I have already said, or shall say, there are none such as do in the least impeach the force or reason of this Discourse, and then must be admitted immaterial.
To which I shall add, that by the following Essay, I do not pretend to that difficult work of adjusting the present Ballance of our Trade, but to evince, that the former Ballance of our Trade (as it may be computed from the aforesaid Accompt, from the Mint or otherwise) is grown consumptive in some degree; which I think will appear to the indifferent Readers satisfaction, upon consideration of some late decays and defalcations in our Trade, wherein I shall confine my self to such as have happened long after the beginning of the 76 years mentioned in the Accompt, from the Mint, many of them within 20 years last.
Particular decays in our Exportations, and the beneficial parts of our Trade; Instances in the decay of our Foreign-Trade for Woollen Clothing, in the several Countries and Ports we Traded to, in the sinking of the foreign price of this Manufacture, so of exported Wooll in our foreign victualling Trades for Flesh, Butter, Cheese, &c. in our Irish Trade, and Scotch Trade for almost all sorts of Commodities: Irish Wooll increased: The Expiration of the Irish Acts will not now revest that Trade, but prejudice us more, and in what: decays in our several former and late Fishing-Trades, in our Foreign-Trade for Stockings and Hats in our exports to the Canaries, in the Foreign-Price of our exported Tyn and Lead, and the Price and quantity of exported Pewter, in our Trade from Port to Port, our former and late prejudices in our Plantation-Trade, incidently of our Navigation and other things.
I Shall begin with our Exportations, and as I shall pass from one particular to another, in this and the next Section, shall desire the indifferent Reader to put such an estimation on our losses in Trade, as he shall think reasonable; and shall first instance in our Woollen Manufactures, as being our principal Commodity, and certainly of the most general and necessary use, (and therefore in its nature the best) in the World.
Before Edward the thirds time the Flemings Manufactured our Wooll, and had the Merchandize of it, which gave the original Foundation to the former Wealth and Popularity of the Netherlands.
Edw. 3. observing the great advantages the Flemings made of our Wooll, brought over some Flemish Manufacturers, who by degrees taught the Manufacture of Cloaths of all sorts, Worsted and divers others, particularly mentioned in our Statutes of former times: and as the English more applied themselves to it, and increased ours (as soon as they did) so did that of the Flemings decay.
For first, the English had the materials cheaper than the Flemings, not only by the odds in the carriage out of England, but because the raw Woolls afterwards exported were charged with great Customs and Duties to the King, as appears by the Acts and Writings of those times.
Secondly, Because the Manufacture was continually incouraged, and taken care of by Laws for that purpose, as also appears by our Statute-Book.
Thirdly, At that time we had none of the present Clogs on our Manufactures, which have either become so by the better Methods of Trade first contrived by the Dutch States, or have been grafted upon us by private or mistaken interests long since Edw. 3ds time. I do not find that there was any absolute Prohibition of exporting Wooll till the Statute of the 12th of His now Majesty, chap. 32. yet the example of our cunning Neighbours now tell us, that Prohibitions, accompanied with a due Improvement of Trade at home, are not to be condemned.
The Flemish Cloath-trade was long since so far reduced, that we had the sole Merchandize of it, yet it cannot be denyed but the Flemings kept up a Manufacture of a sort of Stuffs and Sayes, (but of no great bulk) the make whereof the English had not been taught, till the Duke of Alva about 100 years since by his Tyranny and Persecution for Conscience, drove away their Manufacturers, whom Queen Elixabeth like her wise Predecessor Edward the third entertained, seating them in Norwich, Colchester, and Canterbury, whereby these Manufactures became incorporated into the English, to the great advantage of those parts, and of the Nation in general: they also taught us the art of making Tapestry.
Before this the English exported great quantities of our Manufacture into Flanders, but doubtless more afterwards, for which we kept a rich Staple at Antwerp, the Dutch long after they became States were ignorant of this Manufacture, whom we therefore wholly supplied, exporting vast quantities of our Cloaths thither, most Whites, which were there dyed and dressed, and from these parts transmitted into the Southern and South-east Countries of Germany, and many other Nations: we had also the sole trade up the Elbe, and thereby to the North parts of Germany, Jutland and Holsteyne.
We had the sole Trade into Denmark, Norway, Swedeland and Liefland, and to the great Territory of Poland (through Dantzick) by our Eastland Company, formerly very flourishing, and called the Royal Company.
We had also the sole Trade to the vast Empire of Muscovy.
All which Trades are sunk to a small matter, the Dutch having set up mighty Woollen Manufactures of all sorts, and the Flemings renewed or enlarged theirs, our exports to those parts are very much reduced.
Our Hamburgh Company, by whom the North parts of Germany, Jutland and Holsteyne were supplied, do not vend near half what they did, the Dutch and other Manufactures having prevailed upon us in those parts, both for the Finest and Coarsest Cloaths: what we now export to Hamburgh are a sort of Cloaths of between 3, and 7s. a Yard, and of those not near the former quantity.
Then for our Eastland Trade it is sunk more, I have heard several Estimates, all near concurring with what I find in Mr. Coke’s third Treatise of Trade,Pag. 33, 34. dedicated to Prince Rupert, viz. That this Company only heretofore usually exported above 20000 Broad Cloaths, 60000 Kerseys, and 40000 Doubles yearly; but of late years not above 4000 Broad Cloths, 5000 Kerseys, and 2000 Doubles. To give this worthy Gentleman his due, he hath written more materially on the present subject than any man in this Age, in which he hath not only demonstrated his deep Judgment,Pag. 112. but his great sedulity and sincerity in the discovery of the truth, professing himself ready to make out whatsoever he hath reported, before any Judicature. There is too much reason and fact to warrant the great decay of this Eastland Trade, when the Dutch Manufacture is arrived to such a degree, besides which the Silesian and Polonian Manufactures of Coarse Woolls are mightily increased, so that at Dantzick, our late great staple, we now sell so little that ’tis not worth the naming; we now trade thither with Treasure, whence we used to Import much; the like may be said of other Ports this Company formerly traded to.
Then for Swedeland, the Natives have lately set up a Manufacture there of their Coarse Woolls, as well as Denmark, Liefland and Norway, are very much supplied by the Dutch, imposing greater Prices and Customs upon us for what they vend, and insisting to have Treasure of us, where before they bartered for Commodity.
To which I may add, That our late great Muscovy Trade is in a manner lost; the same Mr. Coke takes notice that the Dutch send 1500 Sail of Ships into the Sound in a year, and 40 to Muscovy, we do not send above seven into the Sound in a year, of which two are laden with woollen Manufactures, the other five with Ballast, (and are therefore to buy their foreign lading) and to Muscovy we hardly send two in three years; during the late War we have sent somewhat more.
This value of our exported Cloathing to France is avouched by our Antient Traders thither and so asserted in the Printed Book in (77) in defence of our East India Company.But what is yet more grievous, we import much Fine Cloath from the Dutch yearly, and till of late great quantities of Stuffs and Druggets from the French, which French Importation (only) amounted to the value of 150000l. per Annum, as Mr. Fortrey in his Book of Trade reports; how much of these, or other French Goods may be imported for the future, may be guessed from what I shall say in the last Section concerning the late Prohibition of French Goods; in the mean time it may be observed, how far our late Monopoly of the Woollen Manufacture is vanished.
We had also the sole Trade into Italy, in which the French and Dutch are also sharers, besides the Venetians, who Manufacture and vend much Cloath in those parts.Stat. 18, & 20 Car. 2.
Having given this Accompt of our direct and Consequential Losses by the Irish Acts, I expect to be Answered by some, That howsoever these Acts may have prejudiced us for the time past, they are now expired, and that by Consequence we shall now be let into all the advantages we had before the Acts made. This I shall examine before I go further, and with that Impartiality as I think becomes an Englishman, without being byassed by the Situation of my Lands: which if any man does, this Consequence must appear mistaken.
For first, The Manufacturers set up in Ireland, will still Continue to the same prejudice of ours; and ’tis highly probable (if not certain) that they will Improve, by the cheapness of their Provision and Wages.
Secondly, Having now long used to fatt their Cattle (with which they do not only continually Victual all sorts of Ships, but Forreign Towns, Armies and Nations, particularly the French, and those of the United Provinces, besides the Return they make by the Vent of their Hides and Tallowes) it is not to be Imagined that they will be so mad as to give up this far more profitable Trade.
Thirdly, They will breed, manufacture, and Export as much Wooll, Butter, Cheese, &c. as before.
Fourthly, These Exportations obliging them to Commerce with the French and Dutch, as before, it must be expected that they will generally still buy such Commodities as they want of the Dutch and French; and much the rather, because the Dutch and French, for Reasons before mentioned, can and will afford them much cheaper than the English.
What Advantages shall we then have by the expiring of the Irish Acts? ’tis confessed, that their Territory being large, most Fruitful, and now plentifully stored with Cattle, they may carry on their other Trades, and yet furnish us with abundant Stores of Cattle for our Money; which they already do, sending many of their Cattle near or altogether fatt: supposing them lean, yet will not this Nation get 3d. a year by it, but will be a yearly loser.
Mr. Smith cited before, reasonably computes other Nations gain, 10000000l. per annum by this Fishing Trade only, whereof the Dutch above 5000000l. Mr. Mun in 63. saith, It was found that all our Exported Fish, of all sorts, amounted to but 140000l. per annum, Pag. 184.
Perhaps more instances might be given of decayes in our Exportations of late Years, though it may be considered that we never had many Exportable Manufactures of very great bulk and value, nor in truth any but that of our Wooll; so that if we so much fail of our former gain in this Commodity, it must strike deep on our former Ballance; But much more if we also fail in so many other Exportations and Beneficial Trades.
And after these losses in our Exporting Trade, a further Estimate ought to be made of the decay in our Trade from Port to Port; for though the English never were, nor since the Dutch began to trade could be, considerably Masters of this kind of Trade; Yet may it be presumed, that whilst we kept the Monopoly of Cloth, our Merchants by the Barter and Vent of this Commodity had then more advantagious Opportunities of Buying and Selling Forreign Goods in Forreign Ports; and the rather, because it not only gave the English an extraordinary Reputation, but a real preference in those Parts they then principally Traded to; besides, the former Privileges the English long enjoyed in Muscovy, enabled them to so much of this kind of Trade as related to that Empire, which advantage we have lost by the resumption of those Priviledges, whereof I shall say more.
But perhaps I may be told, That all our before mentioned Defalcations in the beneficial parts of our Trade, have been made good by the Accession of the Plantation-Trade in the Reign of King James, (being within the Compass of the 76 Years mentioned in the Accompt from the Mint) and by the Increase of it since; and I the rather expect this Objection, because this Trade remaining inclosed to the Subjects of the Crown of England, who for Want of other Trade are thrust into it, it makes a great noise amongst us; I shall therefore speak more particularly to it, than yet I have, that I may leave no Holes for Starters.
It may be Alledged, and must be Confessed, That this Trade hath imployed a good number of Ships, and hath brought in great Customs; but nothing of this is to the present question, being only, Whether it hath advantaged the Nation in its Annual gain of Treasure; which I conceive this Trade hath not, if ballanced with the losses the Nation hath received by it.
All the Gain England can or ever could receive by this Trade, must be in the Return and Result of those Commodities we import from the Plantations, (viz. Sugars, Tobaccoes, Dying Stuffs, &c.) in Exchange for so much of our Butter, Cheese, Beer, Woollen Cloaths, Hats, Shoes, Iron-work, and other home-Commodities as we Export thither.
Now that the Labours of the same People in Fishing or Manufactures at home did, and would have produced a greater Profit to the Nation than these Plantation-Commodities, I think no man, considering what hath been said before, can so much as make a question. In fact our Fishing for White Herring and Cod was deserted for this Trade, and the Continual transplanting of multitudes of our Manufactures and other people, hath inevitably more and more sunk and disabled us in all Manufactures and home-Employments.
Then for the supposed advantage we have in the Vent of our home-Commodities to the Plantations, ’tis plain they are but our own People; and it must be undeniable, that had the same People stayed in England, they would have taken off a far greater Quantity; for whereas we now furnish them with some small part of their Victuals, we should then have supplyed them with All, viz. with Bread, Flesh, Fish, Roots, &c. which now we do not; and they would have taken off far more of our Butter, Cheese, Cloathing, Drink, and other home Commodities, when they had them at hand, and had been put to no other shifts.
But our infelicity is yet greater; for our Plantation-Trade (though at the best far less valuable to the Nation than the same People and their Labours at home) is yet grown much worse than it was 20 or 30 Years since, and must grow worse and worse Continually.
This must notoriously appear by what hath been said in this Section, when by means of the late Irish Acts,See before. and for other Reasons there mentioned, we are forced to Export unto, and furnish these our Plantations with so much less quantities of our own, and so much greater quantities of Forreign Goods than formerly and lately we did.
Besides which, by a further Improvidence we have lost other advantages in this Trade: Our Re-exporters being to receive back half the Customs (which in this Trade are very mighty) it hath followed, that the Dutch coming to be furnished with our Sugars and Dying Stuffs much cheaper than the English, (as being charged not with half the Customs) have been by that means able to set up and beat us out of the Forreign Trade of baked Sugars, of which they bake and vend above 20 times the quantity the English do; so do they now use far the greatest part of our Dying Stuffs, gaining near as much, if not more, by these Manufactures than the raw materials yield the English.
And though it be not so direct to the present question, I shall adde, That we have little reason to boast of our Navigation in this Trade, when it was the occasion of the loss of a more certain and beneficial Nursery of Seamen and Shipping in our Fishery, when at the same time the Strength and Business of the Nation have been so much contracted by the loss of our People, when our Planters of New England having gotten a Considerable Navigation of their own, do Trade from Port to Port in America, and have in a manner beaten us out of that kind of Imployment in those Parts; and when the Irish Shipping, together with the growing Plenties of Ireland and New England, threaten the like in the Trade of Exportation and Importation. To all which may be added, what we ought to expect in case the Dutch may retain and Cultivate Surinam as far as ’tis capable, since it will produce as good Sugars and Tobaccoes as any part of America, and as much as will serve the greatest part of the World, if not all.
Nay, these Plantations may be Considered as the true Grounds and Causes of all our present Mischiefs; for, had our Fishers been put on no other Employment, had those Millions of People which we have lost or been prevented of by the Plantations continued in England, the Government would long since have been under a necessity of Easing and regulating our Trade; the common Wants and Cryes of our People would infallibly have obliged it; but much of the Industry of the Nation being turned this way, and the Plantations affording room and hopes for Men of necessitous and uneasie Conditions, and our Lawes mentioned in the Seventh Section, posting them away, they have deserted the Nation Continually, and left us intricated and fettered in private Interests and destructive Constitutions of Trade. And thus, whilest we have been projecting the Increase of Customs, we have fed our selves with the Shadows of Trade, and suffered other Nations to run away with the Substance. I am assured, that the English at Jamaica are now near, if not fully treble what they were when Sir Thomas Muddiford was Governour there, and then they were at least 20000; whence some Conjecture may be made at the rest.
Instances in late Increases and Excesses of our Forreign Importations, and therein of the Decay of some other of our own Manufactures which supplyed our Home Uses, viz. in Linnens of all sorts, more dear fine Linnens used; incidently of the late and present Huswifery of English Women: In Ticking, in Imported Woollen Manufactures from Holland, France, and Ireland; In Cordage, Cables, Sayls and Sea-Nets; in Iron, in Brandy, in Wines of all sorts, these risen in price; the particular odds in our former and present Canary-Trade; in Coffee, in Earthen Ware, Pitch, Tarre, Hemp, Flax, and Forreign Timber bought dearer, and far more Timber Imported: In Imported Silks of all sorts; in Laces, and many other things, and thereupon our late French Overballance Considered. To which Added, our late losses by the French Capers, and Money Exported to France by our Travellers, &c. The National Overballance inferred, this cleared by a Deduction of our Trade, with Relation to the Dutch and French, and therein of their gradual Increase, and our Decay in Trade; Whence the Growth of the French and Dutch Revenues and Strengths observed; a farther Calculation of our late and present Overballance; incidently of some further Advantages in Trade Forreigners have upon us.
IN order to take a right Measure of the Overballance, it is observed in the Eighth Section, That if the beneficial part of our Trade become worse, and the Consumptive Importations increase, it will sooner induce an Overballance, and will cut deepest on the National Stock of Treasure.
Now it will much evidence the Increase of our Importations, if any of our own Manufactures which are of necessary Use at home, are lost, or impaired in any Considerable degree of later Years, because, the People must be then supplyed by the like Forreign Goods, to a greater degree than before.
I shall first instance in Linnen, lately a Considerable Manufacture in Cheshire, Lancashire, and the Parts adjacent; it was also the Huswifery of our English Ladies, Gentlewomen and other Women; which general Employment of our Women, (although most designed for the private Uses of Families) did keep very many Thousands of Linnen Looms at work in England, and did supply the greatest part of our National occasion for Houshold and Coarse Linnens of all sorts.
But all this Manufacture of Linnen in Cheshire, Lancashire, and elsewhere, is now in a manner expired; and the Huswifely Women of England now employ themselves in making an ill sort of Lace, which serves no National or Natural Necessity; most of the rest spend their times much worse, or are idle, bringing a Scandal on themselves and their Families; so that there is hadly a working Linnen Loom left in a County: which Idleness and Unprofitable living of our Women, gives the Dutch a farther great Advantage upon us, whose Women are mainly serviceable in Trade.
Suppose all the People in England one with another bestow 5l. a piece more in Forreign Linnen Yearly, than they used to do; what a Vast Summe must this amount to? And this being of so Universal Use, how soon may the Increase of this Importation alone turn the Ballance of the English Trade? There is hardly any Nation in Europe but hath a Manufacture of Linnen, at least for Home-Uses, except England; from Scotland we have much, and in Ireland it is a growing Manufacture much encouraged.
The Canary Wines are computed at about 13000 Pipes yearly, which at 20l. per Pipe, amounts to 260000l. per Annum; and that our Commodities Exported thither do amount to about 65000l. per Annum.Thus do we swallow and piss out inestimable Treasures, and contemn our own excellent and more wholsom Drinks, which might be improved to a much greater Perfection, both for our Use at home, and Trade abroad; and whilst every one is an Ambitious Pretender to a Critical Palate in Wine, and is ready to impeach the Guilty Drawers for Mixtures, Molossus, and Arsenick, we are contented to let our Brewers abuse our own Liquors as they please.
Of All others our late Overballance in the French Trade, hath been most Prodigious; and such have been the Arts to attain it, that it would require a particular Treatise by it self: But it will be necessary to what I have undertaken, to give some brief Accompt of it, and in what it did consist; and the rather, that something of the Variety of the French Exportable Manufactures and other Goods may Appear.In Anno (63) and (73). I shall begin with what Mr. Fortrey reports in his Book twice Printed, and Dedicated to his now Majesty, and therefore I presume of good Authority.
He tells us, That upon a Jealousie the French King had conceived of the Ballance of the English Trade, there was an Estimate thereof given in to the FrenchKing; whereby it appeared, that there was yearly Exported of French Goods by the English, to the value of 2500000l. viz.
1. In Velvets plain and wrought, Sattins plain and wrought, Cloth of Gold and Silver, Armosynes and other Merchandizes of Silk which are made at Lions, of a great value.
2. In Silk-Stuffs, Taffeties, Poudesoys, Armosyns, Clothes of Gold and Silver, Tabbies plain and wrought, Silk Ribbands and other such like Silk-Stuffs as are made at Tours.
3. In Silk Ribbands, Galloons, Laces, and Buttons of Silk, which are made at Paris, Rouen, Chaimant, S. Eslieres in Forests.
4. A great quantity of Serges, which are made at Chalons, Chartres, Estammes, and Rhemes; and great quantities of Serges made at Amiens, Crevecoeur, Blicourt, and other Towns in Picardy.
5. In Bever, Demicaster, and Felt-Hats, made in the City and Suburbs of Paris, besides many others made at Rouen, Lyons, and other places.
6. In Feathers, Belts, Girdles, Hatbands, Fans, Hoods, Masks, gilt and wrought Looking-Glasses, Cabinets, Watches, Pictures, Cases, Medals, Tablets, Bracelets, and other such like Ware.
7. In Pins, Needles, Box-Combs, Tortoiseshell-Combs, and such like.
8. In Perfumed and Trimmed Gloves, that are made at Paris, Rouen, Clendosme, Clermont, and other places.
9. In Papers of all sorts which are made at Auvergne, Poictou, Limosin, Champaigne, and Normandy.
10. In all sorts of Ironmongers Wares that are made in Forrests, Auvergne, and other places.
11. In Linnen Cloth that is made in Brittany, and Normandy, as well Course as Fine.
12. In Houshold-stuff, consisting of Beds, Mattresses, Coverlids, Hangings, Fringes of Silk, and other Furniture.
13. In Wines from Gascoigne, Mantois, and other places on the River of Loyer, and also from Burdeaux, Rochel, Nante, Rouen, and other places.
14. In Aqua-vitæ, Cyder, Vinegar, Verjuise, and such like.
15. In Saffron, Castle-Soap, Honey, Almonds, Olives, Capers, Prunes, and such like.
16. Besides 5 or 600 Vessels of Salt loaden at Maron, Rochel, Bovage, and the Isle of Oleron, and Isle of Rhee.
But that the Commodities Imported out of England into France, consisting chiefly of Woollen Cloathes, Serges, Knit Stockings, Lead, Pewter, Allom, Coals, and all else did not amount to above a Million yearly, which left the over-ballance 1600000l.
’Tis true, that since this there was an Estimate of the French Overballance taken in England by some English Merchants, from the Entries of the Port of London, by which it was computed, that the French Overballance amounted to about a Million; This was presented by our Merchants to our Lords Commissioners upon a Treaty of Commerce with France in (74.) (which came to no conclusion) and afterwards to the Parliament; which seems to impeach the Estimate of the French Overballance reported by Mr. Fortrey, as to the Quantum.
This I need not contend, since if the French Overballance had been no more than a Million, it was enough to impoverish us, considering our Importations from other Forreign Nations; But that I may not totally desert Mr. Fortrey, I shall take notice, that this English Computation was taken from the Entries of the Port of London only, from whence there may not be any so Just a calculation for all the rest of our Ports; and that the Entries do not comprehend any of those French Commodities which were prohibited by our former Laws, and are therefore Imported without Entry, which are accompted to amount to some Hundreds of thousand pounds yearly, perhaps near to another Million. But on the other side, that the French Entries must be certain as to the Exportations from France; that Mr. Fortrey would not be willing to falsify with His Majestie of England, nor the French Ministers with the French King, in a matter so important.
Nor is it to be thought that our Importations from France decreased in quantity or value since Mr. Fortrey wrote, to the time of the Prohibition, but rather increased; whereof our Merchants then gave an instance in Wines and Brandies, from the Entries of the Port of London, as followeth:
‘From Mich. 1663 to Mich. 1664. There was Imported into the Port of London 6828 Tuns of French Wine, and then the quantity of Brandy was so small and inconsiderable, that it deserves not to be noted.
‘From Mich. (67) to Mich. (69) There was imported into the Port of London in the said two years, 17000 Tuns of French Wine, and of Brandy about 3000 Tun.
‘From Mich. (72) to Mich. (74) Was Imported into the Port of London 22500 Tuns of French Wine.
‘From Mich. (71) to Mich. (73) Was Imported to London, 7315 Tuns of Brandy.
‘From Mich. (73) to Mich. (74) Was Imported to London, as near as can be computed, 5000 Tuns of Brandy, and every Tun of Brandy consuming about 5 Tuns of Wine, makes the quantity of 25000 Tuns of Wine.
This I the rather take notice of here, because from hence it doth also appear, that the Additional Impositions on French Wines and Brandies by our Parliament in (67) did not make the Importation of them less tolerable or practicable than before, and therefore were only Impositions on the English Subject.
Nay, the French have been able to raise the Prices of their Wines and Brandies upon us, even since (67) as the same Merchants represented. For,
‘In (67) Langoon Wine in France was not above 43 Crowns per Tun, clear aboard.
‘And all sorts of Clarrets are risen double the price, since the year (67).
So said the Merchants in the year (74) and whosoever will take the pains to look into the Custom-Books, will find a mighty Increase of Imported French Wine and Brandy since (74) to the time of the Prohibition; and that, for several years last past, our Importation of French Linnen, Silks, and other Commodities, have also continually grown upon us, whereof we have an infallible Evidence in the continual Rising of our Customs.
I have heard that the quantity of French Wines Imported in 1676 made about 36000 Tuns of Wine, and that about the years (50) (51) and (52) the quantity yearly Imported was about 3000 Tuns of Wine.
But on the other side, the French Policies have been as industrious to suppress our English Trade, upon which they have gradually imposed more and more Taxes, and at last so great, that it amounts to a Prohibition; as may be instanced in our Woollen Manufacture.
‘In the year 1632, the Duty on an English Broad Cloth Imported into France, was 6 Livres.
‘In Anno (44) it was raised to 9 Livres.
‘In Anno (54) to 30 Livres.
‘In Anno (64) to 40 Livres, and yet did the English continue to Export considerable quantities of our Woollen Cloathes into France.
‘But in Anno (67) being after Mr. Fortrey wrote,Mr. Fortrey first Printed his Book in (63). it was raised to 80 Livres, which is about 50 per Cent.
‘A piece of Serge in Anno (32) per 1 Livre.
‘In Anno (54) 5 Livres.
‘In (64) 6 Livres.
‘In (67) 12 Livres, which also amounting to about 50 per Cent. was equal or worse than an express Prohibition; so that all our Exportations of our home-Commodities to France in the year 1669, amounted but to 171021l. 6s. as it was Calculated from our own Entries (if my Copy be true.)
It will not be a Digression to shew how Industrious the French Polices have been to suppress our Trade to other Nations.
It is now about five years since that our Merchants,Mr. Mun of Forreign Trade pag. 149. Notes, ‘That all the great Losses we receive at Sea in our Shipping, either outward or homeward bound, ought to be considered in the Ballance; for the value of the one is to be Deducted from our Exportations; and the value of the other from our Importations. observing the Dutch & other Neighbour Nations to be in War, but ours in Peace; they had now golden hopes of driving a mightier Forreign Trade than ever; for which purpose they thought it convenient to buy many Dutch-built Ships, and somwhat the rather because they had lost many Ships in the late War: But the Act of Navigation standing in their way, they obtained His Majesties License for it.
But thereupon, there presently came out a French Edict for the seizing of all Ships bought in any Enemie’s Country, which did discourage many of our Merchants from buying any Ships, yet many were bought and escaped safe to our Ports; these and many English Ships our Merchants forthwith freighted and sent out, in prospect of a swelling Trade, and vast Returns of Treasure.
But immediately there came out swarms of French Capers, who seized on those Dutch-built ships, though they had all necessary Passes; and from thence, finding the sweetness of it, they fell to taking of our English-built Ships, on pretence they carried Enemies Goods, whereof they themselves would be the Judges, and did actually seize all sorts of English-built Ships, laden meerly on the account of English Merchants, they took meer English Coasters; nay, they retook many of our Ships which had been actually discharged in France; they plunder’d our Ships, and grievously beat and wounded our generous Seamen (who never before dream’t of any thing but the Sovereignty of the Sea) and killed many.
Then were our Ships carried into the French Ports, and our Merchants put to prove the property of their own Ships and Goods before French Judges, in the new erected French Admiralties, by a long and tedious proceeding; by which, and also in the French Court, and by the Treachery of their own Agents, they were put to vast Expences.
There were about 400 Sail of our Merchants Ships seized in this manner, many of which the French thought fit absolutely to condemn; and such as were released were kept, some three Months, some six Months, some twelve Months, and some longer, and then were Discharged with great Damage, by Plunder and Expence in France, besides the first Violences; and after all, lost the intended Fruit of their Voyages, of which, doubtless the French were very sensible: And what is yet worse, the French King making the utmost advantages of every thing, got Thousands of our Seamen by extraordinary Pay, to engage in his Service, to which he doth still indear them by Money, and all imaginable encouragements.
All which being done in times of Peace, could only be intended to impoverish and disable our Merchants Trade and Nation, notwithstanding their pretence of carrying Enemies Goods: this is evident as well from the said Edict, and from the Nature of the whole Transaction, as by another Edict set forth by the French King about the same time, giving Liberty of Trade to any Nation (without exception) that would take French Passes; for it being foreseen that the English would not take any, because of the English Claim to the Sovereignty of the Seas, it left other Nations then at enmity with France, at Liberty to take Passes, and by Consequence to Trade; who accordingly did, and traded without controul, particularly the Dutch: So did the Swedish Ships at the same time openly Trade to and from Holland, and other Countries then at enmity with France; without any Disturbance from the French Capers.
This might administer further Considerations; I shall only at present accommodate it to the Matter in question, being the Overballance of Trade; which must needs have been the higher upon us, as our Merchants received more Injuries and Losses of this Nature.
To this I shall add, that it is an incredible Sum of Money which our English Gentlemen and Travellers of all sorts spend yearly in France,Here may be added the vast Sums and Riches which already are, and Annually will be Transported by Papists to France, and other Parts; but principally to France. to learn unprofitable Apish affected French Fashions, and Modes in their Carriage, Talk, Cloaths, Eating and Drinking. It is below any of these English Mounsieurs to enquire into the Trade of France; This Expence is not near ballanced by the Expence of the French Travelling Gentry, or others in England; the French that come hither, being ordinarily such as come to get Estates by vending French Manufactures, Wines and other Commodities, Dancing, Cookery, &c. and when they are grown Rich, do generally Transport themselves, and their Estates into France, and so Spirit away our Wealth.
In the mean time, considering what the utmost gain of our Trade might be, during the 76 years mentioned in the Accompt from the Mint, it must be evident from what I have already said, that we have been Over-ballanced many 100000l. per Annum, of later years. The Particulars I have mentioned in this, and the last Section, being such as have happened, or worked more signally and vigorously upon us during the years mentioned in the said Accompt; which (that I may prevent Alterations) I shall endeavour to clear, by a brief Deduction of our Trade during the same 76 years, which I cannot do without some Relation to the French and Dutch Trades; of whose Rise and Growth, and their Consequential Increase of Strength and Power, I shall therefore also give some Accompt.
I shall begin with that of the English:
Before the Dutch were cemented into States, the English had far greater Advantages in Trade than any Neighbour Nation, by the greater Plenty of our more excellent Oak-Timber, Victuals, Numbers of Seamen,home-Materials of Manufacture, our great Woollen-Manufactures, our Fishery, and other our valuable Commodities mentioned before: Besides the German, Flemish, and French Trades. That of the Sound, and Streights, our Adventurous Merchants and Mariners in Edw. the Sixth’s time Discovered the North-East Passage by Sea to Muscovy, which Trade was before driven by the Merchants of the Hans-Towns a-cross the Baltick: Such was our good success, that by the great Commerce our Merchants brought, and by the Embassies and Applications of our succeeding Princes, especially Queen Elizabeth, the Czar granted them a Free Trade at his Port Archangel, (that is) without paying any Impost; which he would not grant to others: whereby the English became possessed of the whole Trade of a great Advantage; besides which, our Woollen-Manufactures were not a little improved in Bulk and Value, by means of those Flemmings or Walloons driven out by the Duke of Alva, and entertained by Queen Elizabeth; spoken of before.
In this Condition was our Trade when the Dutch United Provinces came to a Settlement, being about 90 Years since; the Dutch hereupon found themselves obliged to study all Imaginable wayes of Gain by Trade; For the People driven into these Provinces by the Spanish Tyranny and Persecution for Religion, were very Numerous, the Country very narrow, and yielding little of the Necessaries of life, and the Long and Continual Charge of their War with Spain very great; from which Necessity followed much Contrivance and Industry, and thence those Arts and easie Methods of Trade which have wrought so great Changes in most Parts of Europe, if not throughout the world.
First there followed these Alterations in the Trade of Europe; the Dutch fell into a mighty Trade or Employment of carrying and dealing from Port to Port, far beyond what was ever used in these Parts before; which Trade they engrossed, beating out the Antwerpians, English, and all others, Except in what related to Muscovy, (secured to the English by our Privileges there) and what related to Spain during the Wars with that Crown; the Portuguese, having before found out the way by Sea to the East-Indies, and having by that cheaper passage beat the Venetians out of that Trade, and planted mighty Factories and Forces in the Indies; the Dutch before, the Year 1600, being informed of the Riches of that Commerce by one Cornelius Houtman a Fugitive from the Portuguese, engaged in a Trade thither, and in the Year 1602, by the Authoity of their Union, established their East-India Company; who upon their original Fund, being 600000l. Sterling, made so great a progress in that Trade, that besides several Considerable Dividends before made, upon a Compute in the Year 1608, their Stock was increased to near Three Millions Sterling: and in this great Carriere very speedily supplanted the Portuguese in this Trade: their success was little less in the Fishing Trade for White Herrings, Ling and Codfish on the Coasts of England and Scotland, which they extended beyond what we ever did, incroaching daily on the English, being enabled thereto by their more easie Methods of Trade; and the English the more disabled by our Application to the Plantation-Trade in the time of King James, whereof the Wise Sir Walter Raleigh, by the occasion of his Travels, taking notice, about 60 years since gave a Caution of it to King James, shewing the Reasons, and proving that the Dutch then got 1372000l. per Annum Sterling by this Trade, by the Accompts he took at several Ports, (and yet he mentions not their Trade in the Streights, and but one Port in France, viz. Roan:) notwithstanding which the Dutch still getting advantages upon us, had near beaten us out before the end of King James his Reign; and soon after became Compleat Masters of it.
Thus was this our Fishing-Trade, of great and certain Profit, and of high Importance for the Support of our Navigation aad Coasts, supplanted; in the place of this, we had our Plantation-Trade, of which having spoken so much before, I shall say no more, than that it brought in great Customes: Yet, not forgetting, that King James succeeding Queen Elizabeth, (who to reduce the late portentous greatness of the Austrian Family, had supported the Dutch) made a Peace with Spain, which gave the English a particular Advantage in the Trade of Spain for a time, viz. till the Dutch made a Peace with that Crown; and since that hath continued a very beneficial Market for many of our Commodities, being there vended for ready-money: Our Trade to Muscovy remaining secured to us by our Privilege there, and our Clothing Trade by our Wooll, and the ignorance of other Nations in that Manufacture. We had a remaining Fishery at Groenland, Iseland, and Newfoundland; we continued some other Exports of lesser Note mentioned before; but the Woollen-Manufacture being our chief Jewel, we kept the Monopoly of it during the Reign of King James, and for the greatest part of the Reign of King Charles the First, and generally raised the prices; by all which, and for that our Imports were less than of late they have been, the Ballance of our Trade, during the Reigns of these Princes, was kept up to the degree, we may Compute it by the Accompt from the Mint, which though somewhat, was but a narrow scantling, considering how prodigiously the French and Dutch Trades were improved and grew up by us continually; yet have we since lost, or much Impaired all these principal Advantages in Trade, as I have already shewn.
Before I shew how these Limbs of our Trade became so much disabled, it will be necessary to observe what Influence the Dutch Trade had upon the French.
All the Exportable Commodities of any Note the French formerly, and till this last Age pretended to, were Corn, Wine, and Salt: whereof that of Corn was as Considerable as any; the other two being but sparingly Exported, at least in Comparison of what have been Vended of late Years: besides these, they had Skins, Tallow, and Woad, and some Fruits of little Consequence; which whole Trade could bring in no great matter.
But the Dutch being ravenous after Trade, and like Bees thrusting themselves into every Creek or Corner for Commodities to sell again, and barter away for Profit, presently gave a far mightier Vent to the French Wines, with which they not only plentifully supplyed most other Nations, but drank good store themselves, being their principal Home-Consumption; of Salt they took off yet greater quantities, not only for present Merchandize, but to use in their prodigious Fishery. As the Vent of these grew greater, more were provided in France; hence also did their Infant-Manufactures of Linnen, Silk, Paper, Brandy, and those Numbers of others enumerated by Mr. Fortrey, and doubtless many more, grow up to Gyants; the hungry French tasting the sweet of the Gain, did not fail to supply this busie People, though doubtless not without the Conduct of an extraordinary Wisdom; Since ’tis apparent, that the Dutch manner of Trading made the same Overtures to other Neighbour Nations;See before in Section the 7th Pag. the wise Sir Walter Raleigh observed how free and easie they had made their Commerce by lowering their Customes and Duties; they let in the French Protestants by a Toleration, and carefully Superintended the Increase of their Manufactures. Thus as the French Shop came to have more things of Delicacy and Variety, it drew in more Customers, and the English amongst the rest; and as a great part of Trade is driven in Fantastical Dresses, and Toys of many sorts, the French took care to provide an Abundance, with which they gulled the rest of the World: Hence were their Princes at first called Fashion-mongers; but they did not rest there, they soon became Portentous Tradesmen in the most solid and valuable Commodities in the World, and thence Lord Mayors of the Continent; doubtless the present French King thinks it his high Concern, and values himself upon it, of which we have an Evidence in his nice and early looking into his great Shop-Books or Entries, to find out the Ballance of his Trade with England, and by making his Shop easie in the Approach viz. by his increasing his free Ports, (for in truth, it would be a very strange Project of Gain, for a Tradesman to set a Toll on every man that comes in at his Door) the same appears by an hundred other instances.
Thus have the Dutch in a blind pursuit of their particular Interests, built up a Prodigie of Power, which (having of late propagated a great Navigation of its own, as I shall more particularly shew) is now so swelling, and of so Serpentine a Nature, that it is ready to devour those who first gave it life.
The yearly value of the late and present Exports from France, may be computed by what the English only took off, which supposing to be more moderate than Mr. Fortrey Reports, (which yet I do not admit) viz. but two Millions Sterling, what a vast yearly Sum must it amount to? Since there is great reason to think, and I speak upon the best Authority I can meet with, that the Dutch have taken off seven or eight times more yearly than the English; For besides the mighty quantities of Salt, Wine, and Brandy, which they themselves Consume, they Export vastly more of these, and All other French Commodities, to other Nations; the French Trade being indeed the principal foundation of most of the ordinary Dutch Trade from Port to Port.
Besides the Dutch, the Hamburghers, Lubeckers, Swedes, Danes, and most or all other Mercantile Nations in this Part of the World, do yearly Freight themselves at the French Ports, (which must be one reason, and perhaps as yet the principal, why the French Language is become so Universal:) whilest the French take very little Consumptive Commodity from these, nor yet from the Dutch or English, but East-India Spice, Callicoes, &c. a Trade which the French King hath also manifestly designed to engage in, by an Association and Contribution of Stock in France, and his Attempts to get footing in divers places of the East-Indies; some time will shew what his Success may be, or whether at a Lump, he hopes to unite the Dutch Trade and Strengths in those Parts to himself, by an Union of the Dutch Provinces and their Navigation to his present Empire; and whether then our English Factories there will be able to preserve themselves against daily Violations, and utter Extirpation. In the mean time upon what hath been said, let the Reader compute, how many Millions Sterling must already yearly enter into France, by the Annual Vent of so Prodigious a Store of Commodities; it must be much the better part of Twenty Millions. I find it affirmed by a small Piece lately Printed, Intituled, An Accompt of the French Usurpations upon England; which seems written by a man of good Judgment, That from the Northern Countries only, the French Wines now bring in 25 Millions of Florens; their Salt, 10 Millions of Florens; Brandy, 5 Millions; their Silks, Stuffs, Toyes, and Fripperies, 40 Millions of Florens more. What then do the French receive from all the other Regions of the World, for these, and other things?
All which hath been visible in the gradual Increase of the French Power, from the time the Dutch Provinces began to Trade. It must be admitted that both before and since the French Monarchy became Absolute (this being a great and populous Nation) was able to bring Considerable Armies into the Field; but they could get little or no ground by Arms on any of their Neighbours, or soon lost what they got: The People were abject and recreant, and more the Ridicule, than the terror of their Neighbours; the English and Spanish Treasures and Strengths were notoriously too big for them; the English Conquered them several times; the Spaniards more lately beat them out of Navarre, Naples, and Millan, and by their Faction in France, drove Henry the 3d. out of Paris, and most of his other best Cities, and afterwards not above 80 years since supported the Holy League with Arms and Money against Henry the 4th, under the Conduct of the Duke of Mayence; both which Princes fell by the hands of Priests; for the Spaniards were then the strongest side. This Superiority of the Spanish Power made all the Kings of France from Charles the 8th, to Lewis the 13th inclusive, glad to seek a Support from the English; and the more to endear themselves, got to be Knights of the Garter (except Francis the 2d. a King of one year, and no more) these were, Lewis the 12th, Francis the 1st, Henry the 2d, Charles the 9th, and the said Henry the 3d, and the 4th; if we go higher to Lewis the 11th, who next preceded Charles the 8th, we may Compute his Treasure and Grandure by a Reckoning found in the Chamber of Accompts at Paris,Heylin’s Geogr. 236.of 2s. for new Sleeves to his old Doublet, and three Half-pence for liquor to grease his Boots; ’Tis like he was the poorer, because he and the rest paid a kind of Tribute of 50000 Crowns per Annum to the King of England for 100 years together; before this, they were almost continually wasted by the English, till our Dissentions at home called our Forces away, leaving Charles the 7th, Predecessor of this Lewis the 11th, to take Possession of what he pleased, except Calais.
But soon after the French Ports were frequented by the Dutch Navigation, we find the State of France begin to alter;He began his Reign in the year 1589, and Reigned till 1610. Next Lewis 13th, who died 1642, and since, the present Lewis the 14th. the said Henry the 4th, having reduced the Holy League, grew a Mighty Prince, added la Bresse, Bearne, and Basse Navarre to the Crown, and enjoyed a 10 years Peace, though at last Murthered. Lewis the 13th. was yet more powerful; besides the Reduction of the Huguenots, and of above 300 Walled Towns then in their hands, he added or revested to that Crown, the Dukedoms of Barre, and Lorrain, and other acquests in Germany, Italy, the Belgick Provinces, and other parts of the Spanish Dominions; in which, and in Italy, he was able at once to maintain five Royal Armies in the Field; keeping no less than 120000 Men in Pay and Action for many years together, besides his Garrisons; and yet is the Power of France since vastly increased, whereof every man is or has reason to be sensible. I shall refer the particular Consideration of it till the last Section.
In the mean time, I shall only add what I find in Dr. Heylin’s Book of Geography, p. 238, (who being to give an Accompt of the Revenue of that Countrey) tells us, ‘That Lewis the 11th gathered one Million and an half of Crowns, Francis the 1st. brought them to three Millions; his Successor Henry the 2d. to six; Charles the 9th. to seven; Henry the 3d. to ten; Henry the 4th. from two to five Millions, Sterling.’ This he attributes meerly to the more Despotical Power, and greater Tyranny of the later Princes; and might be so in some measure: For in the time of Charles the 7th. whilst in War with the English, there was an Act by the Three French Estates, that the King might raise Money in case of Necessity; which Power, ’tis likely, was not at first used so immoderately as it was after: However we cannot think Henry the 4th could leap from two Millions to five Millions Sterling, without a great Importation of Treasure, which does not grow on the Peoples backs like Wooll; the advance of the French Trade and Treasure being the true Reason, we may believe the Revenue of Lewis the 13th. was raised to more than double this, viz. Ten Millions Sterling; and that since it is doubled again, viz. Twenty Millions, (as good Judges of it as I can meet with say, ’tis now above Twenty Millions Sterling) For the Treasures of the World being drawn into France, as into a Gulf, must answerably advance that King’s Revenue, and diminish the Treasures of other Nations; which ’tis probable is partly the Cause that the Price of most Commodities in Europe are sunk; since according to the former Maxims, if there be less Money in the hands of other Trading Nations than before, they must and will buy for less.
Having thus far pursued the Growth of the French Trade, and Power; I shall now return to the English, as they were invested with the several Trades before mentioned in the time of our two last Kings, viz. King James, and King Charles the First, and shall endeavour to shew, First, how we come to lose the Monopoly of the Woollen Manufacture; which was the Effect of many Concurring Causes; the Dutch were generally vigilant after all Trade, and particularly this, so much they shared with us long before, that they Dyed, Dressed, and Vended vast quantities of our white Cloaths Exported thither, by which they made an incredible Gain. Sir Walter Raleigh about 60 years since, in his Observations on Trade presented to King James, proves, England in 55 years, had lost 55 Millions of pounds by the Dutch Dyeing and Dressing our white Cloaths; But withal, the Dutch by their vast Navigation and Universal Trading, gave them a greater vent than we otherwise could do, unless by an equal Regulation of our Trade, the English had been made as Capable; without any thing of that, this course was taken; one Sir William Kokayne, and other Merchants, hoping to make an advantage to themselves, got a Patent for the Dyeing and Dressing of our Cloaths, with Power to hinder the Exportation of our white Cloaths; wherein we have our two usual Expedients in Trade, viz. a Restraint to a Company, and a Prohibition; by which our Vent was lessened, and the Dutch the more provoked to attempt this Manufacture at home; to which they had great encouragement by their Situation for the Trade of Germany; and the rather because our Hamburgh Company, who by their Patent have the sole Trade on that Coast, for about six or seven hundred Miles, kept but two Staples, viz. at Hamburgh and Dort, remote from each other, and from many of those Countries which they supplied: So as many of those who come to our Markets, must pass and repass, through several Principalities, with much Danger and Payments of Tolls and Taxes; and besides, we raised our Prices, and set such terms on the Buyers, that others as well as the Dutch, were much disaffected; whereupon an Opportunity was offered: For about the year 1636. Two hundred Families of our Manufacturers being about to forsake Norfolk and Suffolk, and Transport themselves to our Plantations, by reason of the then Persecution of Dissenters, the Dutch invited them into Holland, where the Dutch did not only entertain them, but in Leyden, Alkmaer, and other places, planted them Rent-free, and Excise-free, seven years. After these went more and more Colonies, which settled at Rotterdam, Middleburgh, and Flushing, where a fourth part of the Inhabitants are English, or of English Extraction: Besides vast numbers of English dispersed elsewhere in those Provinces.
The Dutch having gotten the Manufacturers, had half done their work; they wanted nothing but Wool, which if they might have on any tolerable Terms, their Advantages in the way of Trade, must enable them to out-doe us, this they Imported from Spain, England, and Ireland, and elsewhere, falling amain upon the Woollen Manufactures of all sorts; so that about the year 1640, they pretended to something of a Cloth Trade in Germany, and soon afterwards took occasion to supply our Eastland and Northern Markets more and more; especially with fine Cloth; getting ground upon us continually, they bought our Woolls dearer at first, but have gradually sunk the Prices; our Vigilant Neighbours, the French, started with them, or soon followed their Example, as did the Flemings, the Silesians, Polanders, and some others mentioned before; by all which, these and other Parts of the World were as much supplied with Coarse Cloths, Druggets, and Stuffs; but the Dutch would not rest here; Trade was their business, and they observed, the virtue of ours (such as we had) depended wholly on Accidents, and particularly that of Muscovy on our Privilege; which therefore they found ways to evacuate, by bestowing Money amongst the Grandees of that Court, and furnishing them with an Objection against our Merchants, as being Londoners, and therefore (as they insinuated) must be concerned as Actors in the horrid Murther of His late Sacred Majesty, which it was in vain for our Merchants to dispute, when the Judges were Fee’d on the other side; this powerful Metal (whereof the Dutch are never sparing on such occasions, and therein have a farther advantage upon us) had so radicated their Interests with the Boyars, that notwithstanding all Applications in an Honourable Embassy to the Great Czar from his now Sacred Majesty, by the Earl of Carlisle, our Privilege could never be regained.
Soon after this, there followed two things convenient to be taken notice of for the prevention of misapprehensions on either side; one was, that between the year (50) and (60) we had an Accidental Opportunity of increasing our Treasure with the loss of our People, viz. by the Stocking Ireland with Inhabitants and Cattle, after the Reduction of the Irish Rebels, and by furnishing it with all sorts of Goods and Necessaries, then much consumed or spoiled by the Wars and Disorders there; which on a sudden, brought us almost all the Treasures of Ireland; which supposing but a Million and an half, or but a Million, was considerable.
Another, which prevented us of as much Money as we thus got, if not of more, and doubtless exhausted us of some; In the year 1654. the late Usurper Oliver Cromwell (whose guilty fears made him Jealous of the English, and seek a support from France) did in Conjunction with France make a fatal War upon Spain; which, besides the seisure of our Spanish effects, and our vast Losses at Sea in that War, interrupted our Trade with Spain, and gave the Dutch better footing, but opened our French Trade; at once weakening the Ballance of our Trade, and the Ballance of all Europe.
Thus it was before the year 1660. But in regard our Imports were then of far less quantity and value than they were after, ’tis presumeable that our Trade might be yet beneficial, especially considering our then Irish Trade; but our Importations increasing, we find what Mr. Mun, a Principal English Merchant thought of it, by what he saith in his Book of Trade, Printed in (63). But,Pag. 61. as appears by the Preface, was Written some time before;As for Mr. Mun’s proposal to Export Money in Trade, I have spoken to it before; and besides, he recommends the Reduction of the Customs, and easing of Trade, which (if fully done) it might be then convenient. the words are these, “The whole Trade of the Realm for Exportations and Importations is now found to be about the yearly value of four Millions and a half of Pounds; It may be yet increased 200000l. more by the Importations and Consumption of Foreign Wares, by this means we know the King shall be a Gainer near 20000l. (viz. by the Customs;) but the Common-wealth would lose the whole 200000l. and the King shall be sure in the end to have the greatest loss, if he do not prevent such unthrifty courses as do impoverish his People.” By which words, I take it as very plain, that before he wrote, our Exportations and Importations were computed to stand even; which is the more enforced by the latter words, viz. “That the Commonwealth would lose the whole 200000l. the People be impoverished, and the King the greatest loser at last.To these and all the rest, add what losses have accrew’d by inclosing our African Trade to a Company and Joynt-Stock, and by the Act of 15 Car. 2. 7. Licensing the East India Company, and all others to Export Treasure and such other late losses, as being mentioned in the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, or 8th Sections, have been omitted in this and the last Section.
Our Overballance appears to me to be so much of late years, that it might be wondred how any of our late Treasures could yet remain amongst us, did we not also Consider that our Trade by degrees, in length of time, had before the year (60) brought a great Treasure into England, and that these our latest Prejudices and Losses have not been working upon us many years. But if the Overballance continue, it must soon sweep away what remains; which Mr. Fortrey Prophetically foretold in these words:
“Hereby it may appear how insensibly our Treasures must be exhausted, and our Nation Beggared, whilst we carelessly neglect our own Interests, and Strangers abroad are diligent to make their advantages upon us.
Sir William Temple, in his excellent Treatise of the Dutch,Pag. 231, 232, 234. does presage the like.
Having laid it as a Ground, That “Whatever the Exportation wants in value, to Ballance, the Importation must of necessity be made up with ready Money; he tells us, That by this we find out the Foundation of the Riches of Holland, as of their Trade, by Circumstances already rehearsed; for never any Countrey Traded so much, and consumed so little; they buy infinitely, but ’tis to sell again, either upon Improvement of the Commodity (viz. by Manufacture) or at a better Market: (viz. in the Trade from Port to Port.)
“By all this Accompt of their Trade and Riches, it will appear that some of our Maxims are not so certain, as they are Currant in our Common Politicks: As first, That the example and encouragement of Excess and luxury, if employed in the Consumption of Native Commodities, is of advantage to Trade; the Custom or humour of Luxury, and Expence cannot stop at certain bounds; what begins in Native, will proceed in Forreign Commodities; and though the example rise among idle Persons, yet the Imitation will run into all degrees, even of those, by whose Industry the Nation subsists: and besides, the more of our own we spend, the less we shall have to send abroad; and so it will come to pass that while we drive a vast Trade, yet by buying much more than we sell, we shall come to be poor.
“Whereas, when we drive a very smal Traffick abroad, yet by selling so much more than we bought, we were very Rich in proportion to our Neighbours. This appeared in Edward the Third’s time, when he maintained so mighty Wars in France, and carried our Victorious Arms into the heart of Spain, Whereas in the 28th year of that King’s Reign, the Value and Custom of all our Exported Commodities, amounted to 294184l. 17s. 2d. and that of our Imported, but 38970l. 03s. 06d.; so as there must have entred that year into the Kingdom, in Coin or Bullion, or else have grown a Debt to the Nation, 255214l. 13s. 08d. and yet we then carried out our Woolls unwrought, and brought in a great part of our Cloaths from Flanders.
Whence Two things may be remarked: First, That ’tis much in vain to increase the value of our Exports, if at the same time we increase our Imports to a yet greater value, being now (perhaps) an 100 times more than their then value.
Secondly, That although Edward the Third revived the Order of the Round Table, he did not perform his great Atchievements by the meer virtue of Knight Errantry; there is no doubt but our succeeding Princes were enabled to make their Conquests in France, by the advantages of our former Trade, then far more considerable than the French.
I shall only add, that this Consumption by our Importations, will not be prevented, but rather augmented by our late Prohibition of French Goods; as I shall demonstrate in the last Section.
That a Considerable part of our late Treasure is exhausted: Application to our Publick and Private Revenues: Objections Answered, viz. The Plenty of Money to be let on Securities, Stores of Money in London, Stocks in Merchandize, the Over-weightiness of our Coin, &c.
AFter what hath been said, it may seem little requisite to enquire whether Mr. Fortrey Prophesied a-right, when he foretold the Exhausting of our Treasure.
If the Diffusive Body of the People be much Poorer than before, they have much less Treasure than before; For Poverty is but the privation of Treasure. Now if the Question be whether the Nation be Poorer, it must be undeniable from all those Badges of Poverty I have mentioned before, if any of those particular Men who find themselves at ease, are yet unwilling to believe it, they may be further convinced from the universal Cries of the People, (at least from the Land-holders, remaining Manufacturers, and their Dependants who make up the gross and stanch Body of the Nation) they remember when it was otherwise, when there was a far greater plenty of Money in all our inferiour Cities, Corporations, and Villages; when our Farmers had their Rents before hand, and had Stocks for every Farm; when they and our Manufacturers got Estates, and when vast Taxes could be readily raised; and therefore are the most proper Judges of the odds, who feel the present Scarcity, and want of Money; they cannot conspire in a Falsity of this Nature, but in so general and near a Concern, The Voice of the People hath been taken to be like the Speech of God. Those that find their Stocks wasted, or much Contracted, their late Revenues sunk, their home-Commodities of much less value, their labours in Manufactures turn to less Profit, or to none at all, the poor and their Maintenances vastly increased, the Nation involved in Debts, Money very hard to be gotten or raised in the way of home-Trade, with other Common hardships, cannot be argued out of their Senses; Crede quod habes & habes, is no Logick in matters of Interest, but amongst Fools and Madmen; or let Men be never so good at perswading or believing, yet when their Estates and Stocks are thus sunk, they cannot answer the Publick Emergencies by Payment of as great Taxes as before.
I should not say more to prove our National Treasure is much diminished, (taking it to be indisputable; and being sensible, that the over-labouring a Truth, may bring it in question) but having something to offer, by which (as it seems to me) some nearer Conjecture may be made of the Quantity of Money thus exhausted, I shall present it to the Reader, desiring his Excuse, if he think it unnecessary.
So great was the Quantity of our late Harp and Cross Money, before the year (60) that according to the best Estimate I can make or meet with, it made about 10 or 15 per Cent. of our Common Money in tale in the Countrey, and more in London, which I do not take to be the meer Effect of our extraordinary Exports in Trade, for the years then last preceding, but partly of the Plate then lately Coined, and our Stocking Ireland; but more than either, from our far less yearly Imports of all kinds several years before 1660.
I must refer it to the Memory, or other Information of the Reader, whether he can comply with me in the aforesaid late quantity of our Harp and Cross Money; whatsoever it were, this Money being taken in to be recoined in the year (60) must, when recoined, produce the like Quantity of His Majestie’s Coin; besides which, according to the said Accompt in November (75) there had then been 2238997l. more Coined since His Majestie’s Restoration, and since the said Accompt, there hath been yet more Coyned; which supposing to be but 600000l. had the Money so Recoyned, and since Coyned with His now Majestie’s Impression, continued in the Nation, the new Money under His Majestie’s Impression, must have been much above Three Millions, I conceive near Four Millions; and then supposing we had Twelve Millions in the Nation, it would have been above 30 per Cent. of our currant Money in Tale, more, were our whole Treasure less than Twelve Millions.
Whereas we see at this day, that the new Money of His now Majestie’s Impression, does not amount to above 5 per Cent. of the currant Money in the Countrey, taking one Payment with another, (especially in such Counties as lye any thing remote from London) I think not so much.
’Tis true, that in London, where the Mint and Merchants are, there is some greater quantity of new money; and perhaps somewhat more of late than usually; because that by occasion of the late Forreign Wars, we have had somewhat a better Vent for our English Cloths, and a greater Exportation of our Annual produce of Corn: But yet in London it does not make near 30 per Cent. taking one Payment with another; nor I conceive, more than equal the quantity of our late Harp and Cross Money.
Now if the Money in His now Majesties Impression, be less in quantity than the Harp and Cross Money, it must follow, that notwithstanding all the Money since Coyned, we have less Money in the Nation than we had in (59;) if our present new Coyn but equal the Harp and Cross Money, it follows, that we have now no more Money than in (59). And in either Case, that as much of our new Coyn as amounts to the said whole 2238997l. and all the other Money Coyned since November (75) is also Exported: For though we may still have some Coyn of each of the succeeding years since (59;) yet if all of it put together amounts to no more than the quantity of the Harp and Cross Money we had in (59,) our Stock of Treasure cannot be more than it was in (59:) if less, then our present Stock is less.
And if Millions of our new Money, Coyned since (59) be gone, as, I take it, ’tis evident they are; we may reasonably Collect that as much or more of our old Coyn, is also Exported (by the old Coyn, I mean such as was Coyned in the Reigns of King James and King Charles the First, and before) of which we had lately a mighty Store, almost all of it valuable and unclipped, especially the Gold, whereof we had an abundance commonly passing in home-Trade and Payments, there is no reason why these Coyns, being as valuable or more, should not be as good a Commodity in Trade as the new.
And accordingly we may to our Comforts observe, that this late mighty Store of old Gold, is in a manner totally vanished, those few pieces which remain, being almost taken as Medals, never to be parted with.
If it be said that part of our old Gold is Coyned into Guinnies, this will not alter the Case, since our whole new Coyn is no more in proportion to the old, than before is noted.
So of our old Silver Coyn, there is very little remaining, but what is much Clipped, or worn; and therefore not valuable for Exportation. We have those yet alive who can remember what a flowing Treasure we had in all Parts of England, before we had any Harp and Cross Money, and are now sensible of the general scarcity and Want of it.
This does let in a further Presumption, that our new Coyn is diminished to a much greater degree, than it appears to be: For, suppose we have now but a moiety of all the old Coyn we had in the year (59), ’Tis plain, that a moiety of the Harp and Cross Money (had it remained) would now hold the same proportion to the old, as the whole did in (59), and so will a moiety of our new Coyned Money: and thus will it be in any lesser proportions.
If the new Coyn come to be less in proportion to the old, than it was before, it is an infallible evidence of the Diminution of our Treasure, because the old Coyn could not increase; But if the new Coyn come to be more in proportion to the old Coyn than before, this is no manner of Demonstration of the increase of Treasure, since the decrease of the old Coyn may produce this Odds.
Thus after the Consumption of our old Gold, we have more than twenty Guinneys to one Broad Piece; but I think no body will press it as an Argument of more Gold in the Nation than we lately had; so having lost so great a part of our valuable old Silver Coyn, ’tis no Wonder if our new Silver Coyn seems so much as it doth, especially about London; perhaps it hath been a kind of Providence that we have had so much Clipt and worn Money; since otherwise we might have had as little old Silver, as we have old Gold; and might have been reduced to our present Store of new Silver Coyn, as we are to our Guinneys, which might have afforded a weighty Argument of the increase of our Treasure.
Upon these Grounds, and upon the common Wants, Necessities, and Decays mentioned before, it may reasonably be concluded, That besides the loss of most of those Millions Coyned since His Majestie’s Restauration, we have lost many more Millions of the old Coyn in Silver and Gold; I shall leave the quantity to be computed by the indifferent Reader: Those who set out the said Accompt from the Mint, taking notice of the great consumption of our Treasure by reason of its being Exported, did by the same Paper, then estimate it to be reduced to about four or five Millions, and by the Nature of that Accompt, they seem no unfit Persons to make some competent Judgment of this Matter.
Whatsoever our Coyned Treasure was when this Accompt was made, ’twas plainly much less then, than it would have been, had none been Exported; and though it must be admitted, that our late Exportation of our Annual Corn, and what other advantages we had during the late War, may have somewhat helped us, yet we have reason to think it farther diminished now, especially considering our losses at Sea by the Dutch, and others, before we dis-engaged from the late War, and since by the French and Algiers Pirates, and the mony lately and daily exported by Papists departed hence; to which may be added what we must now further export by the expiration of the Irish Acts, and the dear buying of these goods we imported from France, already added to the former Overballance of our Importations.
Then let the Reader judg what we are to hope for in our private and publick Revenues, I shall only endeavour to put him into a method of conjecturing, leaving the compute to his greater ingenuity and leisure. Suppose we have now 5, 6, or 7 Millions of Treasure in the Nation; let him consider how much of this must constantly lye in the hands of Traders to attend the payment of Customs, and the buying up of our vast importations; how much always is, and must be actually collected in Taxes, and either lies in the Exchequer, or in the hands of Officers; and how much does, and always will lye dead in Banks and other private hands; and then, how much will at the same time (I say at the same time) be employed in the home-Markets to buy of the annual Produce of Lands; perhaps it will not be half of the Whole: Then recollecting that we have 29568000 Acres of Land in England, what Rent can they yield, one with the other. Admitting this whole Treasure at the same time stirring in the home-Markets, our whole Land-Revenues could not be much; all the help we have is, that we have many great wasts, which yielding little or nothing, a greater quantity of this floating money is applicable to the rest; and yet to our sorrow we have found that our rents are mightily sunk, which having not abated so much or speedily as was requisite, our Yeomanry are generally impoverish’t.
Then for our publick Revenue, ’tis as plain, it must be confined to the stock of Treasure be it greater or less. We have many who seem to resent the narrowness of his Majestie’s Revenue and Supplies, and are ready to expostulate why they should not be equal to the French King’s; let them consider what may possibly be paid out of our Land Revenues thus contracted, and constantly charged with the maintenance of our numerous poor; and besides, that the English having by the constitutions of the Government an undoubted liberty and property, are accustomed to live well, and their Representatives, being a part of themselves, in whose disposition it lies to give supplies or not, will have regard to their own and the peoples abilities; should they give extravagantly it would be like Diego’s Will, and must induce many of those sad consequences mentioned before; what then if we should be involved in any long Foreign War, or obliged to any great extraordinary publick Charge in time of Peace, whilst we remain under a consumptive Trade? which I intimate once more to show the necessity of improving our Trade.
I shall now answer some common Objections.
The most usual is, That there is now as much money to be let on good Securities in England, as there are Securities, or rather more; from whence some infer that there is as much, or more money than ever in England.
To this I answer, That on the contrary, it only proves the scarcity of Securities, and therein the poverty of the Nation; for personal Security for money being in a manner lost; all the floating money to be let out at interest is thrust upon Land-Securities; which (were they all good) would take off much less money than was let out at interest when both Land and Personal Securities stood: But, as the National Poverty hath subverted Personal Security, so hath it crept into the Land; for mens estates are already so entangled with Debts, that there is not one Land-Security in twenty that is good, as dear experience hath now taught us. Then, the Securities being grown so scarce and narrow, ’tis no wonder that there is now as much money to be let out as there are Securities, and more. Thus if a man had 1000l. in the Isle of Shetland, he would there hardly find any Security for it; which at this rate of arguing would prove the Isle of Shetland richer than the Isle of Great Britain.
And upon this occasion I shall add, That there is no possible way for restoring the Securities and Credits of England, but by restoring its Riches; no Register can do it, at least comparable to the other; we may Register our common Poverty, but nothing will make an ill man value his credit, or able to satisfie for a Cheat, but his own private wealth; nothing can make a man who is honestly inclined to do a foul thing, but Poverty and Necessity.
Another Objection, partly answered before, is, That there is still as much money in and about London, as ever; from whence they would argue as much money in the Nation as before.
I cannot admit this fact; if I did, the consequence is lame and frivolous; however, because there hath been such a pother made about the money in London, I shall give some further account of it.
I agree that there are considerable quantities of money always lodging in and about London, in some particular hands: But the reason is, because the King’s Revenue is paid in, and issued out, in and about London. There is also the Mint, and there do our principal Merchants live, who Trade with so much exported money or bullion, and keep money dead for the Customs. This is also the great Port for Forreign Importations; and the Country Retailers, who buy them there and vend them to the people, must send up their money to London: Upon which and the like occasions, ’tis thought near half the money in England is in London: The more is the pity; it were much better for the Nation that there were more home-Manufacture, with Forreign Stores of re-exportable Goods, and a less proportion of our money; and the rather because it stagnates for a time in the hands of Merchants, Banquers, and Scriveners; and facilities the culling, melting, and exportation. This being the great Sluce of our Treasure will necessarily draw it from all parts, as long as we have any in the Nation.
These Stores of money in London must rather evidence the poverty of the people, who being over ballanced by the money drawn out for Importations and Taxes, and therefore incapable of answering those payments by Bills or Returns to London; very much of our Taxes have been sent up in Carts and Waggons, and our Country Retailers continually send up money in specie by the Carriers; which must drein away that which remains, in a little time: Nor do those Stores of money much spread, or benefit the general body of Traders, even in London; who were never so poor or broke so fast (tho never so fine) as now. It is impossible that the occasions, vanities, or the remaining stock of the Kingdom can ever support such a prodigious Increase of Retailers and Shop-keepers as are in and about London, being near 100000 in number, when in Amsterdam there are not 5000.
Nor is it to be objected, That I have not computed our present Stores of Merchandize or Forreign Effects as part of the National wealth.
First, because the present question is about the actual fruit and produce of a National Trade in new Treasure; and not about the quantity of our Stores of Merchandize or Forreign Effects.
’Tis true, That if a Nation whose Trade is truly regulated, hath a great Store-house of Forreign Goods, as in Holland, or great Forreign effects, ’tis very possible and likely that these may produce new Treasure; and if they do, then is the National gain in Treasure to be computed, and not before.
For on the other side ’tis possible (even in a Nation that hath a due ballance of Trade) that such Stores and Effects may produce no Treasure; for the Forreign Stores being re-exported may be lost by the perils of the Sea, or Seisures of Princes or Pirates: we may remember the late seisures of the English, by the French Capers; the like casualties do attend Forreign Effects, for which we may also remember when our Effects were seized in Spain.
But Secondly, Supposing none of those Casualties, yet (as a National Trade may be managed) these stores and Effects shall produce no new Treasure to the Nation; as when these Forreign Goods and Stores are, and must be spent at home; and the Forreign Effects are continually by Bills of Exchange, applied to pay for those Forreign Goods; so if the Merchants are sometimes forced to Import and Coyn some Forreign Bullion yearly, but yet Export it, or the like quantity of Money or Bullion, the Nation gets nothing; and if more Treasure be Exported than is yearly Imported, the Nation loses: in which Case the stock so imployed in Trade doth prejudice the wealth of the Nation; since in the Whole it makes up a monstrous Engin for the Bulgeing out of its Treasure; and that this hath been the Case of our English Trade, is plain enough.
Nor can the Forreign Stock in such a Consumptive Trade be of any great value, since as some Effects are gotten by our Merchants in one Forreign Countrey, so are debts contracted in another, as long as our Merchants can have credit; and then perhaps our Forreign debts may be near the value of our Forreign Effects, and probably more; or however, cannot be thought equal to our former stock in Trade, when we were not over ballanced.
There are yet other objectors, who admitting much of our Treasure Exported, will excuse our Trade, and assign the cause of it in the over weightiness of our Coyn, and the undervaluing it in our Forreign Bills of Exchange, &c.
These are old inconsiderate fancies, sufficiently refuted before, yet I should be more particular in it, had not Mr. Mun in his Book of Trade taken the pains to clear this and the like objections by evident reason and instances, in six several Chapters, beginning at pa. 62. proving withal, that nothing but the Overballance of Trade can exhaust the National Treasure; to which therefore I refer the Reader.
People and Treasure the true Pillars of the National strength: The Odds in the different Vse and imployment of people. The absoluteness of the French Monarchy no cause of the present French Grandure: The late Application of the French Councils to the Increase of Trade, People, and Treasure; and the occasion thereof. The greater excellency of the Form of our English Government. The farther necessity of Improving our Trade from the Modern Treasures and Powers of the French; of their Naval force, the Algiers Pyracy; how the French design to engross all Maritime Commerce; our dangers from France; of the present condition of the Dutch: That our late Prohibition of French Goods will not disable that Monarchy, nor better our Trade; meer Prohibitions of no value: Our great advantages in Trade above France and Holland: That a speedy Regulation of our Trade, &c. would secure us against all Forreign Powers, and Dangers at home: Of Excises, and other Taxes. The certain Increase of his Majesties Revenue; hence, what occasion for a Parliament, &c.
FRom what hath been said, it is evident that National power is not Chimerical, but is founded on People and Treasures; and that, according to the different condition of these its true Pillars, it immediately grows more vigorous or languid; that sufficient stores of Treasure cannot otherwise be gotten, than by the industry of the people; and, That till they have it, they cannot pay.
People are therefore in truth the chiefest, most fundamental, and pretious commodity, out of which may be derived all sorts of Manufactures, Navigation, Riches, Conquests, and solid Dominion: This capital material, being of it self raw and indigested, is committed into the hands of the Supreme Authority; in whose prudence and disposition it is, to improve, manage, and fashion it to more or less advantage; if any individual Manufacturer should permit his raw materials to be Exported into Forreign Countreys, or should himself make great store of knots and felters in his Yarn, he would soon have a very slender, or difficult business of it: so great an odds there is in the different disposition of the ordinary industry of the people, that on the one hand, they may be thrust on in the pursuit of private interest, destructive to the publick, and be obliged like Cannibals to live by devouring one another, (by which they must continually and inevitably wound and weaken the publick:) when on the other, their ordinary labours, more aptly and industriously methodized, shall as unavoidably aggrandize that Government which protects them; and this without the Midwifery of those Arts, Shifts, and Projections, which otherwise may be found necessary for its more present Support.
More particularly it appears, That the present French power, which is now the admiration and terror of the World, hath no other foundation; and therefore is not derived from the meer despotick Form of that Government, as some would insinuate, but from a prudent Relaxation of the Rigor of it towards the persons and Stocks of the Trading part of that people; this Form of Government being in its nature the most incompatible with Trade, of all others; nor probably had Trade ever received any encouragement in France, but upon a necessity; this Monarchy being become absolute, was yet low, poor, and despicable; beset round about with Spanish Forces, Territories, and Allies, and poisoned with Spanish Pensions within, and therefore ready to become a Spanish Province: It was then that this Monarchy found absoluteness without sufficient Treasure was but a trifle: That Arbitrary power might force store of Blood and Tears from the people, but not of Money, unless they had it: It was then that the opening and growth of the Dutch Trade presented an expedient of drawing in greater quantities of the diffused Treasures of the World into France by a Machine of home-Manufactures, than the Spaniards could directly from their Mines; which therefore was embraced by the dying hands of this Monarchy, and supported and improved ever since by a Succession of understanding men: which apparently was not done by any peculiar virtue in this Form of Government, but by a necessary Abating of its inherent rapaciousness, which otherwise would have swallowed up every Sols of the stocks imployed in Manufactures and other Trade, and thereby would have driven away the people; as may be seen in the strong Governments of Turkey, Muscovy, Spain, and others.
The French Councils discerning where the true strength of Empire lay, were not so bewitch’t with the lusciousness of their Arbitrary power as to seek any such extreme execution of it; their policies have long gone another way, as may be infallibly collected from the effects, and by other lights: so long ago as Henry the Third’s time of France, Bernard de Gerrard Lord of Haillan, a great Politician in his time, presented an excellent piece to that King, intituled, The Estate and Success of the Affairs of France, thereby representing by what courses that Kingdom had been, or might be aggrandized or weakened; amongst others, he highly recommends the Support of the Populacy, beginning thus.Pag. 195. “The people are by Justice to be preserved in liberty, as well to Trade as to Labour, and to do every thing belonging to their degree; by these the Kingdom are maintained, and enriched in general, and particular; if they bear the charge of Tailles, so are they to be cherished, defended, and sustained by the Nobles, as formerly they were, and now ought to be, from the violences and oppressions of their Neighbours, and by the King and Justice from the insolence of the Nobles.” For so it was, that the Nobles or Gentry, being discharged of the Tailles, had given up the Constitution of Estates; for which, they had been indulged with a kind of despotick power, within their own particular Fiefs; from whose barbarities proceeded the greatest sufferings of the people; whereof this Author is not nice or sparing to give several instances too long to recite. I have troubled you with this citation, because this piece was by the Author Re-dedicated to Henry the Fourth, whom the Author tells in his Epistle, That his Predecessor Henry the 3d. used to read it with an Appetite, and yet the Author goes so far as to applaud the Antient Constitution of the Estates or Parliaments in France, affirming them to have been the mutual Succour,Pag. 207.Medicine, and Remedy both of the King and People in all their Calamities. If we come to the Reign of Lewis the 13th. under the Administration of Cardinal Richelieus, we may Judg how vigilant the French Councils were in his time, for the Increase of People and Trade, by two great Instances mentioned before: First in the Toleration of Protestants, after a Victorious Reduction of all their strengths by force of Arms: this mighty Prince and his wise Ministers overcame all resentments to advance and cement the glory of his Empire; so that ’tis observed by Dr. Heylin,Geo gr. 176. “That the Protestants never had the exercise of their Religion with so much freedom, as they had after the reducing of their Forts and Garrisons to this King’s obedience.Bernard de Gerrard of Finances. Secondly, by moderating of Customs and Port-duties on Merchandizes, which in the Reigns of his Predecessors had been raised and accumulated by about Twenty several Edicts; but in his time were in a manner taken off,See before Sect. 7th. as appears by what Sir Walter Raleigh Represented to King James about sixty years since, cited before; but if we would at once discover how far the French Politicks have inclined this way, we may observe them as they are Digested and Refined in the prodigious Book, so entitled, written, as appears, several years since, (the Authority of which piece, though already famous,French Politicks pag. 108, 109. I shall give a farther account of) where in the Chapter of Finances, it being first observed, “That a State is no further Powerful than proportionably to the Richness of its publick Treasury, and the greatness of the yearly Income that maintains it:” it is laid as a farther unalterable Maxime, “That the Fundamental Wealth of a State consists in the multitude of Subjects; for its Men that Till the Ground, produce Manufactures, that manage Trade, that go to War, that people Colonies, and in a word, that bring in Money. To make way in France for the multiplying of Men, divers courses are there dictated to oblige both Men and Women to Marry, viz. By Freedoms and Exemptions in Case they do, and have many Children, (now established by an Edict) and by Penalties in case they do not; whence it may be observed, what Estimate the French Politicks put upon Marriage.
In the Chapter of the 3d Estate thus,Pag. 67. “There cannot be too great a number of Husbandmen in France, by reason of the Fertility of the Countrey; and our Corn being Transported into Forreign Countries, we ought to make great Stores of it, and have as much as may be in a readiness, (which I am told is also so ordered by an Edict.)Pag. 68.Handicraftsmen and Artificers are no less useful; for besides that Manufactures do keep men at work, and engage them, they are the Cause that the Silk, the Wool, the Skins, the Flax, the Timber, and the other Commodities that grow in France are made Use of, and that Countrey People have the means to Barter these things, and put them off; especially being wrought into Wares, not made in Forreign Parts, we shall grow further Principal Manufacturers, as we already are of Hats for Spain, and Stuffs for all Europe; a Matter of exceeding great Consequence. All this quickens Trade, and makes Money pass to and fro, which promoteth the Publick, and therewith at once every one’s private advantage: There must be Merchants also, for without their Industry, the Artificers Shops would be Stores never emptied, the Granaries would remain full of Corn, and the Cellars of Wines, &c. In the Chapter of General Orders, Usury is thought fit to be Prohibited (which is accordingly suppressed by an Edict:) I shall leave it to Enquiry, whether most of the rest of these Politicks relating to matters at home, are not established by other Edicts; if the Reader would further observe, how curious the French Politicks are to provide for the Increase and true Use of Populacy, I shall refer him to the Thirteenth Chapter of this admirable Tract, directing the Education of Children, and when ’tis fit to Marry them; and to the Chapter of Commerce, or rather to the whole piece. By all I have said, it appears, that although the French Kings have assumed an Arbitrary Power, the French Politicks have not rested upon this as a Security, but for the Aggrandizing of that Monarchy, have found it necessary to relax and retire from the severity of this Power, and to resort to popular Principles: a Matter which may deserve the Consideration of our New Polititians the Hobbists, who place all the virtue of the French Government in its absoluteness: In the mean time I shall add, that notwithstanding what I have said, I do not pretend that the Condition of the French People, though made tolerable to the French, is comparable to the happiness of those whose greater Freedoms and Enjoyments are secured by Fundamental Laws and Constitutions: But this I shall observe, That whereas formerly, when this People were wretchedly poor, almost every small new Imposition begot an Insurrection in France, as the said De Gerrard takes notice, the French now pay twenty times greater Taxes, with much more Satisfaction, because they are enabled so to do; and besides can live far more plentifully than before, many of the Traders splendidly, and gain considerable Estates; To all which may be added another particular, in which the late French Politicks deviate from the usual Jealous Maxims of Arbitrary Government; which is a general care to instruct the Plebeians of all sorts, in the Discipline of Arms.
The late swelling Power of Spain after the Suppression of the Spanish Cortes or Estates derived from the accidental Discovery of the Indian Mines, and the present Power of France after the Suppression of the French Estates, from as accidental an Improvement of their Trade, have been the occasion that some, out of mistake, or design, have much applauded that Form of Government, when it must be Confessed that the same Indian Treasure and Trade, would have rendred the same Nations, under the continuance of the Estates, or England under its present Government, much stronger and more secure, and this, by the advantages in this Form of Government.
Despotick, or Arbitrary Monarchy, was for many Ages as great a Stranger in this Part of the World, as Republican Government; As the European Nations by degrees cast off the Roman Yoke, they had before their eyes the Example of their former Mistress, the Common-wealth of Rome, which became Vassalized to her own Servants, by the unlimited Power committed to Dictators and Generals; these assuming the Empire by force, and without title, were uncontrollable by Law, and therefore did not only gratifie their own Lusts and just Fears of being supplanted, by all manner of Cruelties, but their Masters the Soldiers also, by the Spoils of the Provinces; nay, and of Italy, and Rome itself; and yet were they very frequently killed, deposed and changed by the same force which set them up: To avoid the Mischiefs on each side, as the Members of this Empire resumed their National Rights, they universally cemented into a third Form of Government, much the same with ours; which, if we truly consider it, appears purposely, and wisely Calculated to prevent the Inconveniences of the other two, and yet to take in all that is excellent in either; For first, we have a fixt Royal Legal Sovereignty, which filling the seat of Majesty, frustrates the Ambitious hopes of others from stepping into it; Then we have the Constitution of Parliaments, by whose Intervention, Liberty and Property are preserved: Thus Revolutions and Oppressions at home are prevented. Then for the strength of this Government outwards upon Forreign Nations, it must in the Nature of it, equal, if not exceed any other, especially absolute Monarchy; not only because its greater freedoms capacitate the People to Trade with more advantage, as I shall yet more particularly shew, but because the same freedoms beget a kind of Generosity and Bravery even in the common sort, when Absoluteness of Government debases their Spirits, and reconciles them to the Ignominy of being beaten, at least till they acquire a kind of insolence by long Service in War, which can hardly be called Courage. All Experience hath warranted this odds between Freemen and Slaves; but there is yet a farther odds, when the Quarrel is National, especially if espoused both by the King and Parliament; for then the individual Animosities of the Whole being engaged, the People do not meerly fight for Pay, but out of Principle, and in defence of those greater Enjoyments they have at home, when the Vassals of Absolute Monarchy are driven on by the fear of their Despotical Power, which they would be glad to see subverted, and themselves delivered.
In an Absolute Monarchy, the Fate of the Whole depends upon the Prudence of the Monarch; be his Empire never so flourishing, he may by one temerarious Edict, or other Act, bring all into Confusion: How great must the Danger then be, when the wisest of Mortal men are often transported by Passions, and otherwise liable to Mistakes? The voluntary Councils of such a Monarch must gratifie his Power by Applauding or Complying with his Resolutions and Sentiments: But what if there come a weak Prince? against which there is no Security? Or suppose the King be left an Infant? then all goes to wrack: those Armies which were the support of the last Predecessor, wanting Business and Conduct, fall into Mutinies; all are working their Ambitious ends, many contending for the Tuition and Publick Administration; those that have it not, supplanting those that have, whereby the Government is endangered: all which was visible during the whole Infancy of the present French King, though he had a Mother, and so faithful and wise a Minister as Mazarine: The high Animosities of the French Princes and Nobles, carried them into continual Distractions and Civil Wars; so that had the English, or any other neighbour Nation, then been in a Condition to have supported the Male-contents, they might have Subverted the French Empire: which mischiefs are totally, or in a high measure avoided by the Constitution of Parliaments; without whose consent, Laws cannot be altered, or Publick Innovations made; and who by their course of Impeachments are a continual Check and Awe upon men of indirect and Ambitious designs: So that (according to the excellent Motto of our own Sacred Prince) it may be truly said of such a Monarchy, and its Parliaments, that they are to each other Decus & Tutamen; what would have become of the French Monarchy when their King John was Prisoner in England, had it not been for their Estates, or Parliaments? we have reason to believe, That were that Crown and Nation brought into great Exigencies and Distresses by any Forreign Power, they would be convened again, the Constitution being not there absolutely dissolved, as the said De Gerrard observes; nothing can be fatal to such a Government, but a disunion between the Prince and Parliament, and therefore a great part of the transcendent Policy of this our Form of Government consists in the high Obligations and means of a Union: the Prince being invested with the mighty Prerogatives of making War and Peace, Calling, Prorogueing and Dissolving Parliaments, and as many others as fill Volumes, hath such a Controll on the Parliament, that it is generally to be presumed, they will ever gratifie him in whatsoever is any way consistent with that Trust they are under; on the other side, the Parliament, being the great and High Council, and their Consent requisite to all new Taxes, whensoever the Prince on any emergency desires their Advice, or a Supply of Money, the People must necessarily have time to represent their true grievances to him, whose Princely favour and occasions, will then equally call upon him to redress what is really amiss; in which Commutation he must have a far greater advantage than any bare Tax he receives; since as it appears, the true strength of all Monarchies and Governments depend upon well-being Abilities, and Increase of the Populacy; which no other Prince hath Comparably so certain a means to understand and Improve, as he that hath a Parliament: To all which may be added, that mutual Affection which must naturally follow these Endearments, and which must render the Prince and Nation much the stronger, never to be hoped for in any other kind of Monarchy: There are yet farther Obligations to this Union between the Prince and People from a just sense of those fatalities which must follow a disunion; we need not resort farther than to the Fable where we have an Accompt of a quarrel between the several Limbs of the Body Natural, whereof the Consequence was, that every part grew presently Languid and Impotent, and ready to yield it self a Feast to the Ravens.
If then there be the utmost Advantages on the one side, and Mischiefs on the other, this is all humane Prudence can provide; God himself hath done no more in those Divine Institutions which he hath projected for the Support, Felicity, and Security of Mankind: against which, it hath never yet been accounted any Objection that they have ben violated; nor is it any against the form of our Government, that it hath fallen into some Convulsions; as long as Men are Men, there will be pravity and irregular Appetites amongst them, which in some Ages and Circumstances may be able to give greater Disturbances than in others; if in any Society of Men, unreasonable and destructive Propositions are insisted upon, or reasonable and necessary ones refused, disunions are inevitable: This I say in general, ’tis no part of my design to Rub up old Sores, nor will it, I presume, be expected I should embroil the present Subject by vindicating Sides or Parties; let the Consequences of former disunions be remembred.
But why should I dwell longer upon Arguments to evince the admirable Frame of our Government, when it is so unanswerably demonstrated by its former Splendid continuance for near 600 years? by the glory of our Princes, who, in Conjunction with their Parliaments, ever were, and thought themselves the greatest and happiest in Europe: by their stupendous Atchievements in War, and by the former ready Adherence, and large Contributions of our Parliaments, in what tended to the Advantage or Honour of England; we had no other form of Government in our Edward the Third, or Henry the Fifth’s time, who Successively found Supplies of English Treasure and Courage enough to Conquer France; our Queen Elizabeth since, baffled the Despotick, and then tremendous Monarchy of Spain, which continuing absolute, is (notwithstanding its vast extent of Territory) one of the weakest in Europe: had our Henry the Seventh entertained the Overtures of Columbus, or our Councils in the Reign of King James, or since the wise Observations of Sir Walter Raleigh, or followed the example of France, and other Neighbouring Nations, in easing and improving our Trade, there is no doubt but the English Treasures and Power had far surmounted both the Spanish and French at this day; It is notorious that the Subjects of the late Dukes of Burgundy, under the Constitutions of Estates, or Parliaments, for many succeeding Ages, drove a mighty Trade, which gave those Dukes a long Superiority over the Absolute French King’s, till the Dukedom became annexed to Spain,See Sir William Temple of the Dutch, cap. 1. and the Spaniards by their Persecution for Conscience, and Tyrannous Attempts after Arbitrary Government lost both the Trade and Traders, and Seven of the Provinces, whom they forced into a Republick.
Treasures are those Vehicles which carry out men of daring Spirits, mighty Thoughts and Abilities into the Conquests of Forreign Countries: there is no Nation but hath a breed of People naturally more fit for these great Performances than any other, who growing Generals or other Commanders at Land or Sea; or Intendants in the greatest Negotiations, might, this way, prove highly Serviceable to the Publick, and find business for Pen-men to write their Memoirs, as in France they do: whereas, by the want of a sufficient home-Treasure, the more Couragious sort must either be Hackneys to Forreigners, or degenerate into Hectors or Thieves at home, and are killed in Brawles, or are hanged for Murthers or Robberies. The more Deliberative generously regarding the common Exigencies, more than their own, may lie under the frowns of Fortune, and great Men, and be thought burthensom and dangerous: there are many other Disadvantages which follow a National Poverty, as hath been noted before, which ought not to be ascribed to this or that mere Form of Government, or temper of the People.
That a speedy and Compleat Regulation of our English Trade may yet further appear highly necessary, I shall briefly observe what have been the more Modern Effects of this mighty Trade in France.
This may too plainly be seen by the great performances of the French in these last Wars, in which, the French King hath been able to maintain above 250000 Men in Arms, whom he hath duly paid; and yet such have been his Treasures, That he hath not been obliged to put the event of the War to the push of a Battel; but wearies out his Enemies with Expence from year to year, and being able to lay up mighty Stores, can keep the Fields in the Winter, when his Adversaries, though as valiant People as any on the Earth, are fain to lye at home: Thus watching his Advantages, he hath Taken and Burnt many strong Towns, laid many Provinces wast, breathing out Death and Devastations as he goes. This he hath done in the face of the world, in a War with near 20 Princes and States, whose lamentable Sufferings, with the Cries of their People, have long pierced our ears; whilst the French King grows more Vigorous and Powerful, and his Armies grow better Disciplined continually, and hath at last reduced the Dutch and Spaniards to the Terms of a dishonourable Peace, by exposing their Allies to the French Power; which hath obliged the rest to a Complyance on his own Terms; and now he gives the Law to them All, keeping mighty Armies on foot to Invade whom he pleases: But that which is yet more Prodigious is, that even during this War, he hath been able to carry on the Building of his present great Fleet, consisting of about 200 Ships of War, plentifully Armed with Brass Guns, and accurately built for Service; he hath also furnished himself with abundant Naval Provisions of all sorts, at an immense Charge, every Ship having its distinct Stores and Storehouse, and therefore may be made ready on a suddain: At the same time, he hath imployed multitudes of Men in cutting of Canals through Rocks and Mountains, in making, cleansing, and securing Havens upon the Coasts opposite, or near to England (whither by degrees, in these two or three years past, he hath drawn down the greatest part of his Navy) and at the same time hath answered mighty Annual Pensions to the Swedes, and Swisses, (whose lives he buys with his Money:) besides all the other vast private Pensions, Gratuities and Aids he bestows in the Courts and Countreys of other Princes, (by which, perhaps he hath made as great Advantages as by his Arms:) and yet ’tis probable, that in all this he hath not exceeded the bounds of his ordinary Revenue.
That which most threatens the Trade of England, is his Naval Force, which none of his Predecessors ever had, and were checked if they pretended to it; Queen Elizabeth forbad Henry the 4th. of France (on a suddain called the Great) building great Ships, else she would fire them in his Harbours: Since which the French have desisted, till about the year 1664. as may appear by that excellent Treatise, intituled, A free Conference, Printed in 1667. by the special Appointment of the truly Honourable the Lord Arlington, where Pag. 49. we find these words, “Not above three years ago, France was hardly able to set out 20 Ships; (that is to say, Men of War) now they have 60 large Vessels ready furnished, and well Armed, and do apply their Industry in every part to Augment the number, &c. I shall forbear repeating some sharp Reflections which next follow.
And that the French King might want no Seamen of his own, and might at least share in the Gain of Navigation, he hath for several years past endeavoured by all Imaginable Encouragements to establish a mighty Navigation in France; so that for one Trading French Ship there was 20 or 30 years since, there are now 40. For this purpose he hath Propagated a Sea-Fishery, to a very great degree, which Improves daily to the prejudice of our remaining English Fishery; and besides, hath yearly educated Supernumerary Seamen on Board the French Trading Ships, at his own Charge; so that ’tis to be feared he will stand in little need of Forreign Seamen for his Ships of War; or if he do, the Dutch have Store, which perhaps he may have for his Money, as ’tis probable he may the Fleets of Swedeland, Portugal, and Algiers; these his Allies of Algiers, (as ’tis said,Note, most of that Fleet which the Algerines had (which was but small) was destroyed by the English at Cape Spartell, and Bugia, about eight years since; They have since Built 40 Men of War, from 20 to 50 Guns and upwards, besides Brigantines, Gallies, &c. by the assistance of his Money upon a general Redemption of French Slaves) are on a sudden gotten from 10 to above 40 Men of War; and as soon as our Applications in France had prevailed with the French to desist from taking our Ships, these Algiers Pyrats fell upon us, and have continually pick’t up our Merchantmen, and Vassalized our Seamen and other People ever since; they now do it before our faces, in our Channel, finding Harbour in the French opposite ports, which makes a great Addition to our late Losses; and, which is yet worse, hath so terrified our Seamen and Merchants, that many already think it necessary to trade in Dutch and French Bottoms, a Consequence which ’tis probable might be foreseen by some of our Neighbours, who wish we had neither Ships nor Seamen.
At the same time our Gazetts weekly tell us of great Squadrons of French Men of War, proudly ranging in all Quarters of the World, in the Mediterranean, in the East and West Indies, and in our own Seas, viewing the Strengths and Weaknesses, and Sounding and Commanding the Harbours of other Nations.
We find it said in the Free Conference, “That France is our Hereditary Enemy, and hath so often tryed what we are able to do against the enlarging of their Empire, who have graven it deep on their hearts, the injury of the Title, which to their shame England bears in all Public Treaties, and her Trophies in reference to that Crown; This very France hath no greater desire than to take the Dominion of the Sea from us, &c.
If we look into the before-mentioned French Politicks, they assure us of the same; of which piece, because I so often cite it; I shall first give the Reader some present Accompt; and farther, when I have done with it: “The English Preface tells us, the Author was a person bred up under Monsieur Colbert, and to shew his Abilities, writ this Treatise, and in Manuscript presented it to the French King, which was favourably received; but afterwards Vanity prompting him to publish it in Print, the King look’t upon him as one that had discovered his Secrets, and turning his favours into frowns, caused him to be Imprisoned in the Bastile, where he continued a long time, and afterwards was Banished, &c. ’tis like to some place where he should not be able to aver the same, or disclose more Secrets; what opportunities he might have of learning Secrets by his Attendance on Monsieur Colbert, whether he might over-hear the Debates and Results of the French Councils, or whether Casually, or by order he had a View of the Papers, and was but the servile Compiler, or bare Porter of this Scheme or Manual of Policies, I leave to be examined; a stupendious piece it is, which being written seven or eight years since, and presaging so great a part of what hath followed, gives so considerable an Authority to it self, that its Credit need not depend upon that of the Author of the Growth of Popery; who, as ’tis hinted in the English Preface, calls it the Measures of the French King’s Designs.
These Politicks having first delineated the Comprehensive and steddy Foundations of the French Monarchy,Pag 162, 163. as built upon Trade, Treasure, and Populacy at home, they then proceed to look abroad, and first they project the Ingrossing of all Commerce at Sea, and this at a lump, by imploying part of this Treasure in Building a Fleet of Men of War able to Command it, in which they say, “All things Conspire to give the French hopes of Success; the work however is such as must be leisurely carried on, and perfected by little and little, so great a Design continually AlarmingEurope, Asia, Africa, and America, Friends and Foes; a Precipitation of it would be its Ruine, Six or Ten years time might be Allotted for it: The King may keep 100 Gallies, and 100 Ships in the Mediterranean, and 200 Sail upon the Ocean, the more Vessels he shall have, the more enabled he will be to recover the Expence made about them: The Sea will yield Maintenance for the Sea, either by Commerce or War; There is Timber in France, there is Cordage, there are Sails, there is Iron and Brass, &c. When things have taken their Course, Seamen will be had in time, and the profit that will accrew will afford Store, and bring them in from all Parts of the World.
Pag. 165.“The Fleets with the King might keep upon the Ocean, would make him Master of all the Powers and Trade of the North; yea, though the Hollander and English should Unite against France, they could not avoid their Ruine in the end; for how could the one or the other make good their Commerce (which is all they have to trust to) if they were forced to keep great Armadoes to continue it? The Point of Britain is the Gate to enter into, and go out of the Channel: Fifty Ships of War at Brest, would keep this Gate fast shut, and they would not open it but by the King’s Command.—Thus there would need no War almost to be made for all these things, nor His Majestie’s Forces hazarded: It will be sufficient to give his Orders to Forreigners; nor will it be difficult to cut them out work in their own Countries, and by this means stay their Arms at home, and make them spend their strengths there; something of this in its place hereafter.
“His Majestie’s Power being thus strongly setled in each Sea, it will be easie to secure Commerce in France, and even draw the Merchants thither from all parts; I say secure Commerce; for till this be done, it will ever be incertain and dangerous.
It may not be improper to observe, with some reference to what hath been debated in the preceding Sections, what further Expedients the French Politicks dictate in this Chapter, for the securing of Commerce: Amongst others we there find this Caution: “It must be studiously prevented that Commerce introduce not into a State, Superfluity,Pag. 169.Excess, and Luxury, which are often followed with Ambition, Avarice, and a dangerous Corruption of Manners:Pag. 171. It is added, That it hath been a question offered to debate, whether Traffick in France should be managed by Subjects or Forreigners, to make a short decision; ’tis evident that Forreigners must be allowed to gain by our Merchandizes, if we would have them take them off, if we carry them into their Ports, we shall make less Sales; yet, That our Merchants may share in the profit, they may enter into Partnership with them, or be their Commissioners here, or Freight them themselves, provided they sell at somewhat cheaper Rates,See Sir William Temple of the Dutch, Pag. cited before, Sect. 12. and so be content with moderate Gain. Which passages I have cited to shew, That ’tis no part of their Politicks to increase Luxuries or Excess; nor to inclose their home and Forreign Market to their own Navigation or Merchants.
I have been thus long tracing the French Politicks, and our own unfortunate Methods in the matter of Trade, and this out of a hope to occasion the Restitution and Increase of ours; but have gone so far in the pursuit, that on a sudden I have step’t into a Scene of Horrors, by a necessary and inevitable Apprehension of the Dangers we are in, from the present French Powers; it is impossible for any man to close up the eye of his Reason, when he sees a Ghastly Troop of Ruins making their regular Approaches against his Prince and his Countrey, and therein threatening many Millions of poor Innocents, and of these some Millions, who hardly know their right hands from their left, with Butcheries and Violations of all kinds; in such a Case, Silence would be the greatest and foulest of Barbarities, and no better than an Apostacy from the sacred Duties of Allegiance and Self-Preservation.
Shall we flatter our selves with an opinion that the French have no inclination to turn their mighty Treasures, Land and Sea-Forces upon us? How poor, weak, incertain and dishonourable is such a Security? Are we so tenacious of every little pretence of Right at home, and so busie to get a Penny, and yet shall be content to enjoy our Lives and Estates by no better a Tenure than the discretion of the French?See The Buckler of State and Justice, Printed in (67) by the special Appointment of the Honourable the Lord Arlington. whose Councils are dark and inscrutable, and who by their late Invasion of Flanders, contrary to former Leagues and Sanctions, and the then Assurances of the French Ministers, have at least demonstrated, that they most intend what they least profess; Is England become so despicable a Spot, as not to be worth the Acquest? Is it not equal to Flanders, or the Island of Sicily? Is it not evident that the present French King aims at the Trade of the World, and particularly of the North? doth he not want Ports? will it not be more grateful to him to engross the Woollen Manufacture by securing the English Wooll, than to stand to our Courtesie? Hath not England most other valuable Materials, by which he might yet mightily enlarge the Trade of France? Can he hope to proceed in his Conquests on the Continent, whilest he leaves so dangerous an Enemy at his Rere? Doth he not know the Spirit of our People? Are our Talbots, and Bedfords forgotten? Did he not see us raise a considerable Army the other day to check his Progress? Is he not exasperated by our late Prohibition of French Goods, which touches him in the most tender Concern of his Trade? Doth he not think himself affronted in the face of the World? What can be so grateful to a Prince Ambitious of Glory, and to the French Nation in general, as to render those English, their Hewers of Wood, and Drawers of Water, who have so often Triumphed in France? Will they not endeavour to obliterate that Title England bears in her publick Treaties? Will not such an Acquist ennoble the name of the present French King, above all those of his Ancestors? What a mighty and useful Purchase will he have in a Seminary of able Men and Horses, whose value he hath reason to understand, and which he may then draw out into his Wars at his pleasure, what spacious Possessions and Commanderies would England and its Dominions afford to his French Officers, to whom it may be no little Temptation to have the deflowring and violating of our most beautiful Women, being such as the whole Earth cannot Parallel: A thousand other particulars might be accumulated, of which it is not the least that here would be a vast accession of Preferments for the numerous French Popish Clergy, and then what would become of ours? And shall we think the French Councils are insensible of these Advantages? Have they who have been nicely winnowing all the rest of their Neighbouring Countreys, forgotten ours? if we resort again to the French Politicks, we shall have no reason to think so; we see before what they design upon our Commerce, from thence they proceed to project Conquests at Land; The French Romances speak us nothing but Love and Honour, and in truth make a very pleasing divertisement; but their politicks denounce Subjugation and Vassallage: if we follow them from Countrey to Countrey, what they say of ours will appear more considerable; Pag. 153. thus they begin: “It were to be wisht that the King did add to his Kingdom all the Low Countries to the Rhine,—It would make him Master of the Northern Seas, &c. (what Progress the French King hath made towards this Conquest, and why he found himself obliged to desist for the present, need not be repeated, no doubt but the French bear it in Memory.)Pag. 154. “Secondly, it were convenient the King had Strasburgh to keep all Germany in quiet, &c. (Our Gazetts may inform us what Advances he hath made towards the reducing this great strength, and that he is now storing all his adjacent Magazines). “In the third place he had need to have the French Comte to lay a restraint upon the Swisses, &c. (This he hath since gotten). “In the fourth place, Millan is necessary in respect of Italy, &c. (Of this we have yet heard no more than that he hath been bargaining for a passage by Casall). “In the fifth place, Genoa;—Genoa would make the King Master of the Mediterranean Sea, &c.The Genoeses of late appear unwilling. Beginning Pag. 183. (This he hath so far proceeded in, that he hath obliged the Genoeses to harbour his Ships, and to almost what other Conditions he pleases. In the fifth Chapter, Dictating how France should act with Forreign Princes after a most exquisite Scrutiny into the ill adjusted Councils, and Luxuries of the Spanish Grandees,Pag. 186. ’tis said, “Their Forces are not to be feared, Sicily might easily make an Insurrection, &c. (We have seen what followed).Pag. 187. “Portugal is a perpetual Instrument for the weakening Spain, &c.Pag. 188. (So it hath remained.) “The Venetians and People of Italy are wise; to reduce them to our Intentions, we must work by down-right force, &c. The Pope will ever Consider France, because of the County of Avignon: The Hollanders will keep themselves to our Alliance as much as possibly they may,—They are rich. It were expedient the King did interpose in their Affairs,and that some divisions be sown amongst them:Pag. 189. (we see what hath ensued:) “The Swisses are Mercenaries, who will always serve the King for his Money: (so they have done ever since). The King of Denmark is a Prince whose State is but small, &c. Sweden will never break off from the Interests of France,Pag. 194. we ought to consider them as instruments which for our Money we may make Use of to divert the English or Holland Forces, when His Majesty makes any Enterprize which pleaseth them not, &c. (Success hath verified this, and may further:)Pag. 195. “The Friendship of the Turk is good for France, to be made Use of on occasion against the Emperor: (our Gazetts have informed us what Essays there have been; and at last the Turk was brought upon Muscovy, whereby the Swedish Army in Livonia was let loose upon the Confederates.)
Of All others, these Politicks speak most confidently of the Conquest of the English; they observe that “We have no Friends,—and are positive, “that a War of France for three or four years,Pag. 189. would ruine us: (which ’tis evident must be said out of a sense they have of their odds in National Treasure; for by the Import of the words and Context,Pag. 190. they cannot be spoken on supposition the French should attacque us unawares, (which God prevent): Hereupon it follows, “so it seems reasonable that we should make no Peace with them, viz. the English: but on Conditions of the greatest Advantage to us, unless the King think fit to defer the Execution of this Project for another time: To make sure and quick work, ’Tis farther thought fit that ways should be found to disable our Government by great Expences, and by Disunions and Convulsions; from which ’tis manifest, the French are well aware in what the virtue of our Government consists, and therefore know how to strike at the root: There are divers indirect Expedients proposed, which I shall forbear, being somewhat Prolix, and mixt with Contemptuous and Reflective Expressions:See before, Pag. It is enough to observe here from whence these French Politicks hope for their English Harvest, and that this is the work at home before intended to be cut out for us.
This great Prince hath thought fit hitherto to defer a formal War upon us, at least, under that Denomination; but whether he hath deferred the Project as these Politicks call it, may depend upon a Consideration of what he hath been visibly doing ever since; he hath been since building his Fleet, amassing his Naval Stores, Educating and Providing Seamen and Harbours, wasting and disabling those Neigbouring Empires and States, who being jealous of his Power, might otherwise have interposed in his Carriere, getting those great Passes and Strengths into his hands, by which they might have entred his Countrey; he hath been disciplining a victorious and mighty Army, and exhausting us by his Trade, with a great Addition of loss by his Capers; (the French are very curious at Cooking their Morsels before they eat them) and at last hath, as it were, forced a general Peace, even whilst he was Victorious, by which he is left at entire Liberty: of which Peace, whilst it was under Negotiation, and drawing to a Conclusion,The present Lord Chancellour in his Speech to both Houses Parliament, on the 23d of May, 1678. a wise and noble Lord of our time, gave this his sence to both our Houses of Parliament: “The influence such a Peace may have upon our affairs, is fitter for Meditation than discourse, only this is evident, that by the Preparations we have made for War, (viz. in the raising of our late Army, &c.) and by the Prohibition we have made of Trade, we have given no small Provocations to so mighty a King, who may be at leisure enough to resent them if he please; and therefore it will Import us so to strengthen ourselves both at home and abroad, that it may not be found a cheap and easie thing to put an Affront upon us. I need not inform any English Reader, what fatal Apprehensions the same Parliament had of the Consequences of such a Peace;The Gazett for Monday, Decemb. 29. gives us this Advertisement. Hamburgh, Dec. 22. The French have hired all the Vessels in this River, and the Weser, which used to go to France, and return with Wines, on which they mean to Transport great Quantities of Oats, and other Corn. (which they are therefore buying up in these Parts) to Calais, Dunkirk, and other Places on that Coast. they are in ordinary Memory; can we think this Fleet of Men of War is built to be employed in the Fishery, or to lye and rot in their Harbours? Can this Army profitably, or safely be supported Idle? Will he suffer them to be tainted with Luxury? Will he hazard Animosities or Factions amongst the numerous French Nobles (by whom this Army is Officer’d) the Mutinies of the Soldiers, or Insurrections of his own People? Will he not rather send these Armed Heards to graze in our sweet Meadows, and to gather him fresh Laurels out of our English Gardens?
It may reasonably add to our Fear, that we see the French King hath lately made so strict Alliances with Spain, and with Bavaria, by which he is farther secured from any Inroads from those Parts; and that we also find him so vigilant to prevent our Leaguing with the Dutch, and to come to some closer Conjunction with them himself; in which his Ministers use the utmost Arts, mixt with a sort of Menaces; I cannot but resort again to the French Politicks, where in the close of those Methods by which the French King may obtain an easie and intire Conquest of England, we find it farther dictated thus, “On the other hand, our League with the Hollanders should be renewed, and they put into a belief, that we should give them all the Trade still, because they have the knowledge of it, and are proper for it; whereas (as ’tis to be suggested) the French have no Inclination that way,Pag. 192. and Nature cannot be forced; they must be told that now they are come to the happy time for advancing their Affairs, and ruining their Competitors in the Sovereignty of the Northern Seas: we see these Politicks go through stitch in the business. And that upon the Whole they were very unfit to be Printed: no man who had so much Wit as to be the real Author, could have so little as to publish them; and the rather, because of Another Secret amongst the rest very improper to be divulged at that time, viz. a Projection how to suppress the Exercise of the Protestant Religion in France, as soon as it might be done with Security, in respect of what Assistance or Places of retirement, they might have from Neighbouring Protestants, and yet the Methods proposed are not by direct Severities, which may give us occasion to call to mind that discountenance of Protestants, we lately hear of in France; of what Extraction this piece is, I leave to be considered; only adding, that it seems incredible a private French-man out of the Mint of his own Brain, could foretel so great part of the French Actions for the years succeeding; That the style of it is Majisterial, much in the Imperative Mood, a sort of Expression we find in the Emperour Justinian’s Institutions, but little suitable to the Address of a Subject to a Sovereign; ’tis also visible how little labour he uses to evince the highest Conclusions and Maxims of State, which are mostly proposed single, as if agreed upon; should it be admitted the sole work of the supposed Author, the Consequence presses us more nearly, when we see private Frenchmen arrived to that ripeness of Policy, and in particular, know our Circumstances so well; What then are we to conjecture of the Capital French Councils? I am not so vain as to think so great a Prince as the French King, is wholly and meerly Governed by this, or any other Scheme of Politicks, he could doubtless take new measures, as subsequent Negotiations or Accidents, then unseen, have offered; but ’tis as little to be doubted, but there was a time when he sate down and considered the grand Materials of that mighty Tower which we already see mounted so high.
What Success the present Overtures of the French King will receive in Holland, a little time may shew; perhaps things are gone so far, that the Hollanders will not easily be flattered into an Opinion they shall be Sovereigns of the Sea: But whether they may close with him upon his Assurances of being Protected in a great degree of Freedoms and Trade, may be a question. They know the French King is a Considerate Prince, and must be sensible that they are his Porters, That their Countrey being naturally a bogg, can be no otherwise valuable to him than by supporting a Trade there, and keeping the People together: They may be told, that the French King having already so vast a Revenue, will stand in need of less Taxes from them than they already pay, and can live without picking their Bones; and so it may be, as long as he pleases; ’tis certain this People are exhausted by the War, and know the Strength, and will therefore fear the wrath of this mighty Borderer; the French Politicks say, that he will be able to ruine them and us in Conjunction, by disturbing our Commerce at Sea: He is now in a far better Capacity, by the Neighbouring Acquests at Land he hath since gotten: how soon therefore may he disable, or influence this People, should they become our Allies; and how necessary is it upon the Whole to trust to, and suddenly Improve our own Strengths? We see but the other day how they were forced to desert, and give up their late Allies, and are advised by the best of Councellors, not to lean too much on a broken Reed, lest it pierce our hands: This of all others, would be the most fatal, and certain Expedient of our Ruine.
For my own part, I am one of those many whose Life and Interests are imbarqued in the Publick, and who, upon a general Shipwrack, have no Prospect to get off in the Long-boat; but must expect to be swallowed up in the Common inundation, or if I survive, to die daily by a sence of my own misery, and the Sufferings of those that are as near and dear to me as my life. Self-preservation is a Principle to which God, Nature, and the Fundamental Constitutions of Humane Society require us to adhere; I do not project my own Security only, but that of my Countrey, and therefore hope none amongst us will be offended at it; if any be, let them examine with their own Consciences, and others judge, whether their designs are not very different; I make no doubt but that all the generous part, even of the great French Nation, will think I have done but my Duty; and that, should it ever lye in their Power to afflict or ease me, which God divert, I could not more certainly intitle my self to their favour, than by having once asserted the Interests of this my Native Country.
I shall add, that those our other formidable Neighbours the Dutch, having now made Peace with the French, remain the same Government and People, and under the same Constitutions and Capacities of outstripping us in Trade, as before; nay, of offending us, especially in Conjunction with France, whose Commodities they Buy and Barter off as before; their Necessities are such, that they will utter more than ever; unless, perhaps, for Politick Reasons restrained by some Act of their State.
And now having examined the Different Policies and Constitutions of Trade in France, the United Provinces, and England, with the different Operations of it, and the present Posture of things between us; It must appear, that in order to our future National Security, it is indispensably and speedily necessary to improve and regulate our Trade to the utmost.
And here I was about to conclude, but that several Persons have objected, that our Trade is sufficiently regulated by our late Prohibition of French Goods; this, by what I have said already, must appear a mistake: But that I may leave no umbrage for private Interest, I shall more particularly apply my self to clear it.
Perhaps this Prohibition hath somewhat prejudiced the Trade of France, and may for the next year, which yet I shall not admit.
But supposing this, yet it will not better the Trade of England (though it might tend to the Security of England should the prejudice it brings to the French Trade, be so great as to disable the French Monarchy,) But this it will not do, for which I shall give these Reasons.
First, upon the Question how much it may prejudice the French Trade, I shall observe that the Prohibition it self extends only to Wines, Brandy, Linnen, Salt, Silk, Paper, Vinegar and Manufactures made or mixed with Silk, Thread, Wooll, Hair, Gold, Silver, or Leather; Now if we look back in Mr. Fortreys Accompt, we shall find many other chargeable Commodities imported from France; ’tis true many of them were prohibited by former Laws, but then were, and still may be Imported as freely as before the late Prohibition: The Yearly value of these very Imported Commodities thus formerly Prohibited, have been usually computed at above 500000l. per Annum.
Secondly, ’Tis already found, and ’twill be more and more discovered every day that great quantities even of the Goods Prohibited by the late Act, are and will be Imported; For I shall again observe here, that meer Prohibitory Laws never did, or can answer the ends they were intended for, being made in restraint of the Effects, without removing the Causes, whilst it remains the Interest of Traders to elude the Prohibition: Nay, the Importation of French Goods is now become a far more gainful business than ever; for now the mighty Customs are taken off; which is so much clear gain to the Importers.
Therefore there is no doubt but that private Traders (whose business it is to increase their private Stocks) will Import if they can: Then let it be considered who they are who must make the Seisures; These are the Officers of Ports, viz. Searchers, Waiters, &c. upon whose integrity and Diligence all the virtue of this or any Prohibition does depend; Now how Indigent, Mercenary, and Negligent many of these are, we are not to learn; nor are we to expect their extraordinary Industry or Fidelity in this Case; because this Prohibitory Act gives them nothing for their pains; so they must spend their Money and Time in Seisures, and Suits, and all for nothing; besides, we have long Tracts of Coasts and Creeks in England, where hardly any Officers attend, or if they do, cannot hinder Clandestine Importations; the Insufficiency of meer Prohibitory Laws is verified by the Prohibited Exportation of Money out of Spain, Portugal, and England, Wooll out of Ireland, and England, and the Exuberant Importation of many sorts of Goods from France,See 3 Edw. c. 4. 1 Rich. 3d. 12. 5 Eliz. 7. and other Parts long since Prohibited by our former Statutes; and yet these Laws give sufficient incouragement to Informers.
Then if the Goods last Prohibited may be Imported, they will certainly find Vent. How few in England, if any, can positively Swear this or that is French Manufacture on the meer view? Nor are our People apt to Inform; and will be less, when it shall come to be the Common Interest of Traders to connive; Nay, our learned Wine-Drinkers will tell us, that the very Wines may be vended in mixtures, making Sack of White Wine and Malaga, Sherry of White Wine and Brandy, Rhenish of White Wine, Porto-Port of Clarets; these they say are ordinary Performances: But to prevent this trouble, our Vintners commonly sell French Wine as before.
Upon the Whole, I shall leave it to be computed how near a Million our French overballance may be, even during the Prohibition, not forgetting the Curtesie of our Merchants, who hearing of the Prohibition, Imported a Store of French Goods, to the value of about a Million.
Then considering the mighty Trade the French still drive with other Nations, the French Monarchy must be so far from being disabled by our late Prohibition, that we must expect it will grow more vigorous and formidable; and the rather because of the flowing Treasures already Imported, and Warlike Stores provided in France; so Politickly hath the French King managed the matter, that (except his Forreign Pensions) his Wars have Exported little Treasure, since it hath circulated back into France by the hands of his French Purveyors and Sutlers, and thence again passes to his Exchequer.
I shall now Consider, whether the late Prohibition may better our Trade, and how much; which is a question wholly distinct from the other, (though the violence of our common resentments against the French make it seem almost the same:) For it does not follow that every thing which will prejudice the Trade of one Nation, shall better the Trade of another: But this falls out to be so, or not, as other Nations are by their Constitutions in Trade more or less capable of Trade; for Example, If the French Trade should fail, it would not better the Spanish Trade, who by their high Customs and other Cloggs on Trade, are made incapable of it; nay it would hinder the Dutch Trade, because the Dutch Trade consists so much in Carriage, at least till the Dutch could be furnished with the same bulk of vendible Commodities from some other Nation; so would the ruine of the Dutch Trade from Port to Port injure the French Trade, till their own, or some other Neighbouring Navigation, could supply the Room of the Dutch.
Now if we look back to the Grounds and Reasons of the decay of our English Trade, we shall find them to be no other than our own ill Constitutions in Trade, which are not a whit remedied by the French Prohibition, and therefore will prevent any advantage we might perhaps otherwise receive from it.
Our Home and Forreign Markets remain obstructed as before, we retain the same chargeable Navigation in all the before mentioned particulars; we are over charged with Customs, and Interest Money; we are under the same disadvantages by our Act of Navigation, by the Monopolies of our Merchants, of our Trading Companies, and Freemen; nay of Forreigners upon us: Our Manufactures and other Exportations are now as much confined to the value of the Goods imported, as before; we have no more Manufactures, Merchants, or other People, no more Ships, or Stocks, in Home, or Forreign Trade, than before; no more National Riches than before; we have still the same Acts of 5 Eliz. 4. The same Acts against Protestant Dissenters: The Irish and Scotch Trades remain diverted, the same encouragements of Scholar-like Educations, and necessity of the Increase of Shop-keeping; we have the same Laws against the Naturalizing of Forreigners; against the introducing of Forreign Manufactures, Stocks, and Riches; the same debauched Elections, and all the other burthens on our Trade mentioned before, with the Consequential difficulties: There is the same Exportation of Wooll from Ireland, and England, and there remains the same Delicacy, Luxury, Drunkenness, and Debauchery.
The Consequence is, That the same Causes will have the same Effects; the growth of our Manufactures will be stifled at home, and their Forreign Vent will remain obstructed: The French and other Forreigners will supply the Forreign Market with their Manufactures as they did before; if our Prohibition hath any effect, it will cause the French to sell cheaper than they did, which will help them to beat us out more than ever. Which of our Manufactures can receive any greater Forreign Vent?
I expect ’twill be said our Woollen Manufacture, (for we have Hobson’s choice, and shall wear it threadbare with often naming,) this at the best may be a question; Nay, whether our Vent for it will not be less: France will receive no more of it, the Dutch and French still remain our prosperous Competitors in other Parts, all the other Forreign Woollen Manufactures are still supported and increased, by which the Forreign Markets are already over-clogged with it, whereof the same Causes remain: And now will Forreigners (which have been exhausted by the late Warr) be more hungry and vigilant in this and all other Trade than before: Besides, when the Prohibition of French Goods shall make Forreigners see we are under a greater necessity for their Commodities, we must also expect they will take advantage of the Monopoly given them by the Act of Navigation, as the French, Danes, and others have done, and will insist to have our sweet Commodity called Money, and reject our Woollen Manufactures; this they can have of our Neighbours the Dutch, and French, and perhaps cheaper, and as good, if not better; we already buy much of our Linnen at Hamburgh with Money.
If our poor Clothiers cannot help us out, I know not what will, for I hear of no new improving Manufactures in England, but that of Perriwiggs; then for our Trade from Port to Port, we have as melancholick a Prospect that way: The Prohibition will not better us to the value of a Scullars wages: The Dutch and other Forreigners for the reasons before given will run away with it as before, so will they shut us out of the Fishing Trade.
In the mean time our Merchants being confined in their Exportations from home, and disabled from the Trade from Port to Port, as much as before, they must resort to their present Commodities of Bullion, and Money, for ordinary Exportation; and must Import Consumptive Forreign Commodities to be spent at home as before, or else lye still.
Our late particular Overballance in the French Trade swelled so high, because the French Shop had so great variety of valuable Commodities, and somewhat cheaper, and was nigh hand; which was an ease and advantage to our Importers.
Now suppose they are forbid to go to this particular Shop, and will Religiously observe the Prohibition; yet they may and will furnish us with the same things from other Ports; they will bring us more Silks, Laces, and Baubles from Italy, Flanders, Holland, &c. More Linnens and Paper from Holland, Hamburgh, and Genoa, &c. And more Wines from Italy, Portugal, Germany, Spain, and Turky; from Germany more Brandies: There is hardly any of the French Commodities, but what may be had else-where; but with this odds, that they will cost dearer in any other Nations than in France, which by so much must increase our National charge in Importations; nay, we must expect that in this alteration of the course of our Trade, our Importers will find out new trifles and gewgaws for our silly people: How suddenly do we find all the Women and Children of any account in England, in Amber Necklaces? Which at the rate they are sold at, must cost England at least 100000l. And now we have a new Sawce called Catch-up, from East-India, sold at a Guiney a Bottle.
But should it be admitted, That our new Prohibitions would any thing correct our ballance of Trade; yet,
First, The Prohibition is to indure but a year and a little more.
Secondly, A general Prohibition of Goods, being looked on as a most injurious thing in all Nations, and a kind of Denuntiation of War, we must not think to perpetuate ours, unless we resolve to be always under a State of Enmity and War, with the French. Then, if this be thought highly inconvenient, what mighty Effects of our new Prohibition can we hope for in such a time?
Thirdly, Should this Prohibition somewhat correct the ballance of our Trade, yet if it does not perfectly restore the ballance, we shall be Annual losers by our Forreign Trade, and compleat the beggary of the Nation.
But fourthly, Should we suppose that it would restore the ballance; nay, that it should render the National Trade of England somewhat beneficial, yet it must be confessed, That a compleat Regulation of our Trade would render it prodigiously more beneficial, (perhaps more than all the Trade of Europe besides) considering how our advantages in Trade would reduce the Trade of our Neighbour Nations, as ours does improve.
Lastly, The meer restoring of the ballance of our Trade, nay, or a Trade which shall be but a little beneficial, must be very insecure to England, in the present posture of things, when some of our Neighbour Nations do already so much surmount us in Treasures and strengths acquired by Trade; and by the future course of their Trade must grow so much richer, and stronger daily. From the whole I conclude, That our new Prohibition is not a sufficient or satisfactory Regulation of our Trade, but leaves us open to many fatal and threatning Consequences.
The Reasons of the decay of our English Trade being understood, the Disease may be the more easily cured, and the Nation thereby secured, of this we need not to despair, provided the Medicines be speedily applied; which I shall endeavour to demonstrate; That after so many soure Herbs, I may leave a more Agreeable rellish with the Reader, and so conclude; in order to this, I shall first remember some of our Advantages in Trade.
We have a particular high advantage over France in the Nature of our Government; under which Liberty and Property are, by Law and publick Constitutions, secured, which must be a vast Incouragement to Trade and Traders, as is noted before.
Whereas the French Traders are daily liable to Taxes and Seisures at pleasure, which is as great a discouragement.
’Tis true, that the late Councils of France having been successively studious how to improve the French Trade, have exerted this Power very Judiciously towards Traders, yet are the Taxes high, and Arbitrary, and the Sufferings of the greatest part must make the rest uneasie.
And whatsoever freedoms of Liberty and Property the Dutch allow, the English have the advantage in the sweetness and healthiness of their Countrey, and in the extent of it, the Dutch Territory being very narrow, naturally loathsom, and most unhealthy, nor are the English liable to suddain Inroads and Depredations, as the Dutch are on the Continent; which odds will invite Forreigners to plant in England, rather than in the United Provinces.
But what is yet more, the English Ports are numerous, deep, safe, and open all the year; the Dutch Ports but few, dangerous in the Approach, unsafe within, and usually frozen three or four Months in the year, the French Ports much fewer, and but five or six that will carry Ships of any great Burthen, and those very far asunder.
England hath, or may have, all the most considerable and desireable materials of Manufacture of its own growth, except Silk: which is of a Prodigious Advantage, because the charge of Importing is saved, and its Manufactures may rest undisturbed by a War at Sea: whereas the Dutch have none, and the French fewer than we, particularly they want the excellent Material of Wooll, by which Millions of People at home may be most profitably Imployed.
England is the most fertile of Nations, and out of its own Stores, as it might be cultivated, might maintain almost infinite Numbers of People. The United Provinces of scanty of Provision, that they are forced to buy most or all their Meat and Drink of Forreigners, except Fish (by which as many might be supported in England); France (though fruitful) doth not yield near so much Cattle and Flesh-meat; which is most strengthning and grateful to all, especially Laborious men, and is necessary for Victualling of Ships.
Both in France and Holland are great Excises on most, or all, ordinary Meats and Drinks, in England on part of our Drink only, viz. That in Alehouses, and Publick Brewings, (I hope there never will be any such as shall burthen Trade.)
Our great Wasts, and void Lands, which are our present Grief and Scandal, may on the Regulation of our Trade, prove highly beneficial to us, since they will afford present room for a vast Increase of People, whether Forreign Planters, or others; in the United Provinces, or France, none such are to be found.
And lastly, England is far better situated for the Fishing Trade, and other Forreign Trade than either France, or the United Provinces, and its People are naturally far more Adventurous and Valiant than theirs, as Experience hath shewn, which makes no small odds upon National Contests, between Nations emulous in Trade, when they fight upon equal Terms of Treasure, and Warlike Preparations: and there is no question but our National Industry in Trade, would be also more Vigorous and Successful, were it put into suitable methods; but otherwise can no more Exert it self than a generous Courser in a Horse-Mill.
From all which it must be evident, that were our Trade eased as in Neighbour Nations, England would have the Superiority, since the same Causes must produce greater Effects in England, being invigorated with these our National Advantages, which no other Nation doth or can enjoy.
The present Power of the French King would infallibly much Contribute to it, which being arrived to such a swelling and tremendous height, does not only intimidate all men of Trade and Wealth in France, especially Protestants; but all the adjacent Provinces and People on the Continent, who either already groan under the insupportable Oppressions and Insolencies of the French, or are under deep and Continental Apprehensions of being wasted by his numerous Troops, grown Proud and Wanton with Success, and ready to make irresistable descents upon any private Order; in which these his Neighbours can never think themselves secure, because of his late sudden Invasion of Flanders: and would therefore flye to our English World, as a blessed and safe Asylum, were it put into a posture of being so. Then if the suddain Populacy, Treasures, Trade, and strength of the small Dutch Provinces, were the Effects of the then Spanish Tyranny in the Low-Countreys, what might we not hope for from far greater Confluences of the richest and most Mercantile and Industrious Protestants, or such as would be so, even from Holland and France, as well as from many other parts of Europe? whose Stocks being transported by Bills of Exchange, and their Manufactures with their Persons, and this on a suddain, would give the odds of Strength and Treasure to the English, who no longer need to trust to the fallible Security of Leagues, which are so often obstructed and broken by the humour or perfidie of particular men, or frustrated by incapacity and accidents: And therefore this patching and piecing a Strength together by Leagues, is the dependance of small and weak estates, such as those of Italy and Germany; where they are always tricking and betraying one another; yet at this time Leagues (though not to be wholly rested upon) may be of great, and good consequence to England.
Had the French Monarchy never over awed the rest of Europe, as it now does, it must be evident, that if our Trade had been regulated and eased equally with the Dutch, all those Merchants and People which have setled in Holland, would have planted here, where besides the former advantages, the extent of our Territory renders the Burthen of Taxes far easier on particular men than in Holland, where they are also at a much greater necessary charge for Garrisons on their Frontiers; nay the very Dutch would have forsaken those Provinces for England, or if any had remained, they would have been Carriers for the English, as they have been to the French, and will rather be so for the future, if our Shop were sufficiently furnished, because they will more willingly transfer the wealth of the World to a Countrey where they themselves may securely share in it, when they please, than to an Arbitrary Power, which may in a moment swallow it up, and oppress those that brought it to any the most barbarous degree; from all which, these things are most manifest: First, That nothing does or can so formidably threaten the Trade, and by Consequence the Monarchy of France, as the Modern Freedoms of the English, and some other Neighbouring Countreys. Secondly, That the English Freedoms are at this day so great an advantage to his most Sacred Majesty of England, that they are a Weapon left in his hands, with which, and a Concurrent Regulation of our Trade, he may with ease and assurance attain a Superiority over all the Monarchs and Powers of Europe put together; he will cut the Grass under their Feet, and draw away their Treasures and People, notwithstanding all the Policies can be used: no mere Prohibition can stop those whose Interests, quiet, and safety, shall oblige them to depart: In which, besides a sufficient Guard at Sea, (to use the words of the French Politicks) there would need almost no War to be made, nor His Majestie’s Forces hazarded. Thirdly, That for these Reasons it is most evident, that it doth highly import the French Monarchy, that the Freedoms of the English, and all others in these parts should be subverted and evacuated, of which, whether the French Councils, who have been so long and so curiously projecting the Grandure of that Monarchy, are insensible, I leave to be considered. Fourthly, ’Tis also as evident, that upon such a Regulation of our Trade His Majestie’s Revenue being (by some Excise added to the then smaller Customs, and other his present Funds) made but equal to what now it is, would infallibly swell higher and higher yearly, as Trade, People, and Treasures shall increase; if these shall become double, treble, or six fold what they now are, so would his Revenue: then what extraordinary Supplies in Parliament might he not expect, upon a National Emergence; nay, or for his own proper occasions, when by an increase of People, the Burthen upon particular men will be answerably eased, and by the increase of Treasure, and the advance of private Revenues and Stocks, these People should be enabled to give largely, and often; and this without any prejudice to their home-Trade, or Land-Rents, and therefore with such an Alacrity, as is agreeable to that true Honour and Affection they really bear him.
I need not observe how much it will be in His Majestie’s Power to secure the making up of his present Revenue by new Funds, should he graciously think fit to compute by a Moderation of the Customs; but since I have now, and before mentioned Excises, and have observed some men of Parts, almost to startle at the naming of a new Excise, I shall thus far explain and vindicate my self, and the proposal: First, I shall agree that such Excises as affect and over-burthen the beneficial parts of Trade, are of pernicious Consequence. Secondly, that an Universality of Excise is both inconvenient and unnecessary; But that there may be Excises Imposed on many Superfluities, and Excesses, in Meats, Drinks, or Equipages, or upon some imported Goods Consumed at home, which would be no prejudice to any kind of Trade; being no clog upon our Exports, or Re-exports; or perhaps, a very small Excise on ordinary Meats, Drinks, and Apparel, might be supportable: I do not propound all, but some of these, in this Course there will be this odds of advantage on the part of the King, That the Users, Wearers, and Consumers, being this way made chargeable, His Majesty would be less liable to be defrauded than in the Customs, which are perpetually smuggled, and then the Imported Goods openly Vended, and used; This, on the part of the People, That it will bring the like Obligations of charge on men of Visible and Invisible Stocks, in, or out of Trade, as on the Land-holders; and therefore I do not see any shadow of reason why Excises should appear such Bugbears in England, especially to Land-holders,See Sir W. Temple of the Dutch, Pag. any more than in Holland and in other Trading Nations, where the Publick Revenues are made to swell high by these small and almost insensible Payments. It is Confessed, that it will be highly fit to provide for a fair and easie Collection, and against the Extortions, Insolencies, and Abuses of Officers; for which we need to go no farther than to learn by what Methods they are collected and ascertained in Holland, if any shall misbehave themselves, we have a free recourse to the Law, as in Holland they have, but in France they have not, though perhaps now more than ever. Nor are Excises, or somewhat in the Nature of them, so new amongst us, if we regard the Ancient Tolls for things bought and sold in home-Markets; which, although they now seem small, were before the Discovery and Diffusion of the Indian Treasure Considerable, and originally belonging to the Crown, but since appropriated to private hands by Grants, or long usuages founded on Grants from the Crown, which having also given Exemptions to some Towns, we may presume them first intended for the ease of Manufacturers, of which the Government had an especial regard: having said this, if the Reader will reflect on All that I have said, he cannot think I have any design in beggaring the English Subjects by an invention of new Taxes; ’twas Sir Walter Raleigh’s Opinion, that the smaller and more numerous Payments of Custom, would rise far higher than before, which he Confirms with Fact; be they more or less, the National Wisdom is at Liberty to exert it self in further Levies, by Excise, Land-Tax, Poll, or otherwise as there shall be cause.
Having now written what I intended on the present Subject, the Nature of it may sufficiently assure the Reader, that I have not designed any peculiar Ends of my own: On the contrary it hath been a trouble, which I wish an abler hand had undertaken, and being for the Publick, may expect what usually ensues, when men engage upon the cutting new of Common Rivers, wherein they must have Contests with every one, who hath a Lands End abutting upon the Work, who will set a greater value upon six foot of Earth, than upon all the Good the Countrey, and therein themselves, and all their Posterity, might reap by the Accomplishment of the Business; in which they are generally so tenacious, that they ordinarily ruin the Undertaker, and thereby make great store of mirth for the Cunning men of the adjacent Villages. I am not insensible how many mens Animosities I have hazarded, by incountring their private Interests, or contrary Inclinations; a thing no way grateful to me, being not one of those (if any there be) that, out of any petulancy of humour, love Contention, or Innovations, or that would appear considerable by opposing something that is already thought so; or that delight in stirring Sediments, or raking into fedities; I affect quiet as much as any man, and account it my ordinary duty to give the least offence I can, even to the little ones. Nothing but a Consideration of our present Difficulties, and a hope to be Instrumental to the publick felicity, could have moved me an inch beyond these common Prudentials: to which I have yet conformed as far as I can; I have touched no man’s Person, and I presume I need not say I have forborn Reflections, in which I do not think any one obliged to me, being but what I have judged requisite for a Composure of things; it hath been absolutely necessary that I should represent our ill Constitutions in Trade, and some of the most important Consequences, that from a general apprehension of the Common Interest, there may ensue a National Union in those Methods which may be most for the Publick Advantage, and this upon the mighty Basis of our present form of Government, and under our present most gracious Prince, whose Glories I hope to see expanded by an exuberant increase of National Treasures, People, and Royal Revenues, and to such a degree, as that the days of our Queen Elizabeth shall appear but a faint Type, or dawning of the greater Lustre and Happiness of His now Majestie’s Reign: This is what I wish for, and have to my utmost endeavoured, and therein the real Advantage of all Ranks of Men in the Nation; If then these Excellent Ends appear obstructed by a sort of antient or Innovated Laws or Usages, who can speak of them, without much Resentment? In which, I hope, I am Excusable. These are the Spells by which our innocent People are inevitably lead into Courses destructive to the Publick.
How can our Merchants or Shop-keepers now avoid Trading in Forreign Consumptive Goods? Have they any sufficient Stores of Home-Manufactures? Can our Merchants Trade from Port to Port as the Dutch and others do? or must Men that are bred up to these Gentile professions, that are Men of Family, Industry, and Fortune, fling up, live lazily, or poorly? Who doth not know how many generous and intelligent Men are to be found amongst our Merchants and Shop-keepers of all sorts? Such as bear a true affection to their Country, and are an honour to the Nation, and such as wish for a Regulation of our Trade, and would be ready and capable to give all farther assistances, were they called to it? This I wish to see, being not so conceited, as to think I have said all that is material on this Subject; but on the contrary apprehend, That there are very few Paragraphs of what I have written, but may admit of farther Informations: In the mean time, from what hath been already said, it must be apparent to these and others, That as an open and free Trade would be far more profitable to the generality of Merchants, so would it be far more honourable to all; That the Consequential Increase of People and Wealth, would better support our great Increase of Shopkeepers, Lawyers, Solicitors, Pen-men, &c. (of which the present Numbers would then hardly be sufficient). That the benefices of our Clergy must receive an inevitable Improvement by it. And that our great and famous City of London (which is the Seat Royal, where our National Courts of Justice are, which is contiguous to our most secure Harbour for Ships, which hath the sweetest and most Commodious situation of any City in Europe, and is so vastly peopled already) must by these advantages, for ever, have the greatest resort and Trade of the Nation, (even under the utmost Improvments of our Trade) which must then be incomparably more than now: Besides, the vast advantage our Gentry would infallibly reap by the continual Rising of their Rents, even such of these as desire more business, or gain, will then have other and farther daily opportunities, by putting Stocks into Manufactures, or Forreign Trade, and projecting and solliciting the Improvement of either, or both. In Florence, the very Nobility and great Duke himself are Traders; hence might our Members of Parliament be continually prepared to make the most suitable Laws for the facilitating of Trade.
Lastly, Nothing can so effectually and certainly secure the peace of the Nation, as the Regulating of our Trade, since it will set all Mens heads and hands at work in all manner of Innocent and Profitable Imployments, and introduce a general satisfaction and Harmony.
Then, and never ’till then, shall we make up that invincible Phalanx, which must not only be terrible to all Forreign Nations, but to all Enemies of the Government at Home, when they find it supported by the solid Pillars of Trade and Treasure, and a Consequential swelling Populacy and Navigation; which will deter Men of sence from Treasonable Machinations, and of Fools there needs no fear: Whereas the defect of these Supports must continually administer temptation to all such as by reason of their particular circumstances, can hope for any greater advantage or security, by the general ruin. The Body Politick being in this like the Natural, more subject to new Distempers when it is infirm before, but when stanch in every part easily bears off the Corruption or Acidity of any malignant humours.
The Trade of the World hath long courted England, but never with so much importunity, or with so much advantage as now: This great Lady affecting Freedom and Security, hath no Inclination to continue under the Arbitrary Power of the French, nor the Uncertain fate of the Dutch; with these she hath resided only as a Sojourner, but is ready to espouse our Interest and Nation, and with her self to bestow upon us the Treasures of the World; but if we still continue inexorable and stubborn, things are grown to such a Crisis, That we may have reason to fear this is the last time of her asking, and that she may suddenly turn this Kindness into such a Fury as we shall not be able to withstand.
Shall we then embrace so advantagious Overtures, or shall we still proceed in our present Methods? I have heard it was a hard matter to reclaim the Irish from drawing with their Horses Tails; shall the Irish now beat us out of our Trade? Shall we continue rolling in Forreign Silks and Linnens? or be still sotting in Forreign Wines, whilest they pick our pockets? Shall we be Curious in Trifles, sneaking after our private interests? or like the blind Sodomites groping after our filthy Pleasures, whilest the Wrathful Angels of God stand at our elbows?See Josephus of the Siege and Destruction of Hierusalem. Shall we like the Reprobated Jews be under continual Decimations within, whilest our Enemies are at the Gates? Shall those of the High City, those of the Low City, and those in the Temple be picking out one anothers Eyes to facilitate the Aggressions of more powerful Forreigners? or shall we be hunting or grasping after false Shadows, and Imaginary Forms and Ideas, and neglect that most valuable substance which we have already in our Mouths, and which would turn into the most solid Nutriment, would we take the pains to chew it?
Which leads me to say, There is yet a farther Requisite to our happy procedure in the Whole, of greater importance than any other; viz. a general Humiliation of our selves towards God, accompanied with an abhorrence of our past Intemperances, Corrupt Passions, Pride, Avarice, Lusts, Prophaneness, mutual Oppressions, Perfidies, and other Impieties, with such a Christian Meekness, Charity, Purity, Truth, Holy Zeal and Resolution as may render us Capable of his Mercy and Protection; perhaps one false step at this time, may be more Irreparable than ever: ’tis certain we shall never be able to make a true one whilest we are under the displeasure of the Almighty.
It is as undeniable, that the Laws which obstruct our Trade, cannot be Repealed, or new ones requisite for its Improvement or Security be made, otherwise than by a Parliament: Whether therefore, upon this and other important Considerations, the Convening and Holding of a Parliament be not under God, (who does not workby Miracle) a necessary means to prevent the Ruine of this Nation, and how Long it may now with any security be deferred, is that, which I most humbly submit to the Determination of Authority.