Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECT. VI.: 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 - A Select Collection of Early English Tracts on Commerce from the Originals of Mun, Roberts, North, and Others
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SECT. VI.: 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 - 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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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.