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