Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECT. IX.: That a Consumptive Trade must render a Nation still weaker and weaker: How far the meer establishment of Absolute Power, or meer Liberty and Property, may alter the Case. - A Select Collection of Early English Tracts on Commerce from the Originals of Mun, Roberts, North, and Others
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SECT. IX.: That a Consumptive Trade must render a Nation still weaker and weaker: How far the meer establishment of Absolute Power, or meer Liberty and Property, may alter the Case. - 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 Consumptive Trade must render a Nation still weaker and weaker: How far the meer establishment of Absolute Power, or meer Liberty and Property, may alter the Case.
FRom what hath been said in the first Section and since, it must also follow, that a Consumptive Trade must render a Nation still weaker and weaker.
First, because it must still exhaust more and more of the National Riches, and sink the value of Mens Estates.
If the value of private Stocks or Revenues are contracted, Men will be less and less able to pay publick Taxes; it is impossible for those that have no Money to pay Money, or for those that have less to pay as much as those that have more; and less Taxes must then also be more grievous than greater were before; if a Man having 100l. per An’ or 100l. Stock, sink 40l. per Cent. of his Revenue or Stock, it is equal to any direct Tax of 40l. per Cent. and then if a Tax or publick Charge of 5 or 10l. be super-added, it is equal to a former Tax of 45 or 50l. per Cent.
It must also disable a Nation to continue the Charge of a War, because the quantity of Money diffused amongst the People will sooner be drawn out of the Home-Markets; and then they can no longer raise Taxes, and when the Taxes fail, what hope or dependance can there be in the courage of Officers, Soldiers, or Sea-men? or how shall the continual Supplies of Warlike Provisions of all sorts be purchased at home or abroad?
There are yet other Concomitants of a growing Poverty, which must render any Nation much the weaker, viz. discontents, uneasiness, and heart-burnings, which when begun, are easily fermented into Convulsions, by which a Nation may be disabled to exert even its remaining strength.
2. Perfidy and Treachery amongst all sorts; needy Men are readily tempted to make a Merchandize of their own Souls and other Mens Lives and Estates, and those who will betray one another for Money at home, will be equally wrought upon by forreign Money, and then may be brought to barter of both Princes and Countries; for being once corrupted, they must, like Women, for ever remain slavishly true to the Intrigue, lest the Gallant should tell, of which Histories give us many sad Examples.
But in a Nation where the value of Land, or Home-Commodities, are risen 40 per Cent. he that had 100l. Revenue or Stock, paying 40l. Tax, retains what he had; and if the National Treasure be much greater, it will support the charge of a War much longer, and can hardly ever be totally exhausted, where there is a considerable Annual Increase of Treasure by Forreign Trade: This exuberance of a National Treasure will also generally support and secure the Spirit and Fidelity of all sorts of Men.
It must therefore be of most dangerous consequence to a Nation impoverished by Trade, if any other neighbour-Nation hath at the same time grown much richer in Treasure, since in the case of a War it will produce the like inequality of Power; nay if any such richer Nation shall think fit to keep great Armies and Navies in pay, (though in times of Peace) so must the poorer Nation, or else be devoured at pleasure; and thus may a Nation, drained by the over-ballance of Trade, be beggered, and consequently overcome without fighting, as hath been intimated before.
So if a Nation grow generally more vitious, soft, effeminate, debauched, dispeopled, and undisciplined than before, it must be much weaker than before, wherein the danger must be much greater if any neighbour Nation grow far more warlike, more populous and better disciplined than before.
In which case the better situated, more useful, strong, plentiful, and blessed the Country so impoverished naturally is, and the more it doth abound in beautiful Buildings, Women, or other delicacies, it will the more forcibly provoke the Appetite of a stronger Nation to its Conquest, the mighty Hunters of the World are for the most desirable prey; so if a Nation thus weakned hath formerly been famous and redoubted for Arms and War; those who affect glory by Conquest, must have the greater Ambition to vassalize its People.
From what hath been said it must appear; first, That a Nation must be estimated weak or strong by comparison, with the strength or weakness of Neighbour Nations; if a Neighbour Nation grow ten times as strong as before, the Nation which only retains its usual and former strength is weak; but the Case must be yet worse, if whilst the one hath grown ten times stronger, the other hath grown much weaker.
2. That in the present state of the World a Nation cannot grow poor by a consumptive Trade with any Security.
In such a Case the meer absoluteness of a Monarchy would not prevent the approaching fatality, (which I add because Hobbs and others call it a strong Government) absolute Power may suddenly force away that Treasure which the People have, but cannot create any, nor can it carry on a War, or even support it self without continual vast expences; and then when the Treasure is drawn off into the hands of Officers and Soldiers, (who pay no Taxes) it will be found, that the People (who have it not) can no more make Brick without Straw in this Age, than heretofore; and will be naturally desirous to change their Masters upon hope to be treated with less rigor.
Nor on the other side will the meer preservation of a legal Liberty and Property secure a Nation thus impoverished, without a concurrent improvement of Trade, for the Reasons before given; the Blessings which usually attend these Freedoms wholly, or very much depend upon the Riches the People are possessed of.
It must be confessed these Freedoms make a necessary step towards the improvement of Trade; where an absolute Power is exerted, the conditions of Men are little better than that of Brutes, being continually lyable to Imprisonments, Death, and Confiscations, at the Pleasure of others; nay perhaps are worse, by the fears and terrors Men must be always under, even whilst they do not actually suffer; which will take away the edge and life of Industry, and will ruine or drive away the Merchants, and those who have Stocks in Manufacture, who neither will, nor can labour all their lives for Wealth under daily expectations of losing what they painfully get, which in this last Age hath obliged the French Monarchy to permit divers Immunities to their Manufacturers, and of late to their Fishers and other Maritime Traders, which have now gotten the reputation of established Laws; at least they are such as are satisfactory to the French Natives, who cannot have, nor are acquainted with better terms, and who are of themselves so numerous, that they stand in no need of Supplies of People from abroad; and therefore of no greater invitations of this nature to bring in Forreigners, and the rather, because their Trade is otherwise so much eased and incouraged (of which I shall have occasion to say more;) so have the great Dukes of Tuscany in this last Age been curiously vigilant to provide for the Freedom of Traders, both Domestick and Forreign: The Dutch, Venetians, Hamburghers, and other Trading States do yet farther secure the Liberties and Properties of their Natives, and others, under their several Jurisdictions, by fundamental and unalterable Constitutions.
Which being admitted, it doth not follow that a Nation which hath meer Liberty and Property, without other requisite incouragements, shall drive any great Trade; we have an Example in Genoa, at this day, a Republick, where, because they set a Custom of 16 per Cent. on Goods Imported, they lost their Trade of Forreign Merchandize to Leghorne, made a free Port by the Duke of Tuscany; what then may we hope for from the meer Liberty and Property of the English, when in England the Customs are generally higher, and our other difficulties on Trade are yet more grievous than the Customs? by the Accompt we have from our first Discoverers and Planters in America, most of these poor Nations had a Home-Liberty and Property.