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