Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECT. XIV.: People and Treasure the true Pillars of the National strength: The Odds in the different Vse and imployment of people. The absoluteness of the French Monarchy no cause of the present French Grandure: The late Application of the French Co - A Select Collection of Early English Tracts on Commerce from the Originals of Mun, Roberts, North, and Others
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SECT. XIV.: People and Treasure the true Pillars of the National strength: The Odds in the different Vse and imployment of people. The absoluteness of the French Monarchy no cause of the present French Grandure: The late Application of the French Co - 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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People and Treasure the true Pillars of the National strength: The Odds in the different Vse and imployment of people. The absoluteness of the French Monarchy no cause of the present French Grandure: The late Application of the French Councils to the Increase of Trade, People, and Treasure; and the occasion thereof. The greater excellency of the Form of our English Government. The farther necessity of Improving our Trade from the Modern Treasures and Powers of the French; of their Naval force, the Algiers Pyracy; how the French design to engross all Maritime Commerce; our dangers from France; of the present condition of the Dutch: That our late Prohibition of French Goods will not disable that Monarchy, nor better our Trade; meer Prohibitions of no value: Our great advantages in Trade above France and Holland: That a speedy Regulation of our Trade, &c. would secure us against all Forreign Powers, and Dangers at home: Of Excises, and other Taxes. The certain Increase of his Majesties Revenue; hence, what occasion for a Parliament, &c.
FRom what hath been said, it is evident that National power is not Chimerical, but is founded on People and Treasures; and that, according to the different condition of these its true Pillars, it immediately grows more vigorous or languid; that sufficient stores of Treasure cannot otherwise be gotten, than by the industry of the people; and, That till they have it, they cannot pay.
People are therefore in truth the chiefest, most fundamental, and pretious commodity, out of which may be derived all sorts of Manufactures, Navigation, Riches, Conquests, and solid Dominion: This capital material, being of it self raw and indigested, is committed into the hands of the Supreme Authority; in whose prudence and disposition it is, to improve, manage, and fashion it to more or less advantage; if any individual Manufacturer should permit his raw materials to be Exported into Forreign Countreys, or should himself make great store of knots and felters in his Yarn, he would soon have a very slender, or difficult business of it: so great an odds there is in the different disposition of the ordinary industry of the people, that on the one hand, they may be thrust on in the pursuit of private interest, destructive to the publick, and be obliged like Cannibals to live by devouring one another, (by which they must continually and inevitably wound and weaken the publick:) when on the other, their ordinary labours, more aptly and industriously methodized, shall as unavoidably aggrandize that Government which protects them; and this without the Midwifery of those Arts, Shifts, and Projections, which otherwise may be found necessary for its more present Support.
More particularly it appears, That the present French power, which is now the admiration and terror of the World, hath no other foundation; and therefore is not derived from the meer despotick Form of that Government, as some would insinuate, but from a prudent Relaxation of the Rigor of it towards the persons and Stocks of the Trading part of that people; this Form of Government being in its nature the most incompatible with Trade, of all others; nor probably had Trade ever received any encouragement in France, but upon a necessity; this Monarchy being become absolute, was yet low, poor, and despicable; beset round about with Spanish Forces, Territories, and Allies, and poisoned with Spanish Pensions within, and therefore ready to become a Spanish Province: It was then that this Monarchy found absoluteness without sufficient Treasure was but a trifle: That Arbitrary power might force store of Blood and Tears from the people, but not of Money, unless they had it: It was then that the opening and growth of the Dutch Trade presented an expedient of drawing in greater quantities of the diffused Treasures of the World into France by a Machine of home-Manufactures, than the Spaniards could directly from their Mines; which therefore was embraced by the dying hands of this Monarchy, and supported and improved ever since by a Succession of understanding men: which apparently was not done by any peculiar virtue in this Form of Government, but by a necessary Abating of its inherent rapaciousness, which otherwise would have swallowed up every Sols of the stocks imployed in Manufactures and other Trade, and thereby would have driven away the people; as may be seen in the strong Governments of Turkey, Muscovy, Spain, and others.
The French Councils discerning where the true strength of Empire lay, were not so bewitch’t with the lusciousness of their Arbitrary power as to seek any such extreme execution of it; their policies have long gone another way, as may be infallibly collected from the effects, and by other lights: so long ago as Henry the Third’s time of France, Bernard de Gerrard Lord of Haillan, a great Politician in his time, presented an excellent piece to that King, intituled, The Estate and Success of the Affairs of France, thereby representing by what courses that Kingdom had been, or might be aggrandized or weakened; amongst others, he highly recommends the Support of the Populacy, beginning thus.Pag. 195. “The people are by Justice to be preserved in liberty, as well to Trade as to Labour, and to do every thing belonging to their degree; by these the Kingdom are maintained, and enriched in general, and particular; if they bear the charge of Tailles, so are they to be cherished, defended, and sustained by the Nobles, as formerly they were, and now ought to be, from the violences and oppressions of their Neighbours, and by the King and Justice from the insolence of the Nobles.” For so it was, that the Nobles or Gentry, being discharged of the Tailles, had given up the Constitution of Estates; for which, they had been indulged with a kind of despotick power, within their own particular Fiefs; from whose barbarities proceeded the greatest sufferings of the people; whereof this Author is not nice or sparing to give several instances too long to recite. I have troubled you with this citation, because this piece was by the Author Re-dedicated to Henry the Fourth, whom the Author tells in his Epistle, That his Predecessor Henry the 3d. used to read it with an Appetite, and yet the Author goes so far as to applaud the Antient Constitution of the Estates or Parliaments in France, affirming them to have been the mutual Succour,Pag. 207.Medicine, and Remedy both of the King and People in all their Calamities. If we come to the Reign of Lewis the 13th. under the Administration of Cardinal Richelieus, we may Judg how vigilant the French Councils were in his time, for the Increase of People and Trade, by two great Instances mentioned before: First in the Toleration of Protestants, after a Victorious Reduction of all their strengths by force of Arms: this mighty Prince and his wise Ministers overcame all resentments to advance and cement the glory of his Empire; so that ’tis observed by Dr. Heylin,Geo gr. 176. “That the Protestants never had the exercise of their Religion with so much freedom, as they had after the reducing of their Forts and Garrisons to this King’s obedience.Bernard de Gerrard of Finances. Secondly, by moderating of Customs and Port-duties on Merchandizes, which in the Reigns of his Predecessors had been raised and accumulated by about Twenty several Edicts; but in his time were in a manner taken off,See before Sect. 7th. as appears by what Sir Walter Raleigh Represented to King James about sixty years since, cited before; but if we would at once discover how far the French Politicks have inclined this way, we may observe them as they are Digested and Refined in the prodigious Book, so entitled, written, as appears, several years since, (the Authority of which piece, though already famous,French Politicks pag. 108, 109. I shall give a farther account of) where in the Chapter of Finances, it being first observed, “That a State is no further Powerful than proportionably to the Richness of its publick Treasury, and the greatness of the yearly Income that maintains it:” it is laid as a farther unalterable Maxime, “That the Fundamental Wealth of a State consists in the multitude of Subjects; for its Men that Till the Ground, produce Manufactures, that manage Trade, that go to War, that people Colonies, and in a word, that bring in Money. To make way in France for the multiplying of Men, divers courses are there dictated to oblige both Men and Women to Marry, viz. By Freedoms and Exemptions in Case they do, and have many Children, (now established by an Edict) and by Penalties in case they do not; whence it may be observed, what Estimate the French Politicks put upon Marriage.
In the Chapter of the 3d Estate thus,Pag. 67. “There cannot be too great a number of Husbandmen in France, by reason of the Fertility of the Countrey; and our Corn being Transported into Forreign Countries, we ought to make great Stores of it, and have as much as may be in a readiness, (which I am told is also so ordered by an Edict.)Pag. 68.Handicraftsmen and Artificers are no less useful; for besides that Manufactures do keep men at work, and engage them, they are the Cause that the Silk, the Wool, the Skins, the Flax, the Timber, and the other Commodities that grow in France are made Use of, and that Countrey People have the means to Barter these things, and put them off; especially being wrought into Wares, not made in Forreign Parts, we shall grow further Principal Manufacturers, as we already are of Hats for Spain, and Stuffs for all Europe; a Matter of exceeding great Consequence. All this quickens Trade, and makes Money pass to and fro, which promoteth the Publick, and therewith at once every one’s private advantage: There must be Merchants also, for without their Industry, the Artificers Shops would be Stores never emptied, the Granaries would remain full of Corn, and the Cellars of Wines, &c. In the Chapter of General Orders, Usury is thought fit to be Prohibited (which is accordingly suppressed by an Edict:) I shall leave it to Enquiry, whether most of the rest of these Politicks relating to matters at home, are not established by other Edicts; if the Reader would further observe, how curious the French Politicks are to provide for the Increase and true Use of Populacy, I shall refer him to the Thirteenth Chapter of this admirable Tract, directing the Education of Children, and when ’tis fit to Marry them; and to the Chapter of Commerce, or rather to the whole piece. By all I have said, it appears, that although the French Kings have assumed an Arbitrary Power, the French Politicks have not rested upon this as a Security, but for the Aggrandizing of that Monarchy, have found it necessary to relax and retire from the severity of this Power, and to resort to popular Principles: a Matter which may deserve the Consideration of our New Polititians the Hobbists, who place all the virtue of the French Government in its absoluteness: In the mean time I shall add, that notwithstanding what I have said, I do not pretend that the Condition of the French People, though made tolerable to the French, is comparable to the happiness of those whose greater Freedoms and Enjoyments are secured by Fundamental Laws and Constitutions: But this I shall observe, That whereas formerly, when this People were wretchedly poor, almost every small new Imposition begot an Insurrection in France, as the said De Gerrard takes notice, the French now pay twenty times greater Taxes, with much more Satisfaction, because they are enabled so to do; and besides can live far more plentifully than before, many of the Traders splendidly, and gain considerable Estates; To all which may be added another particular, in which the late French Politicks deviate from the usual Jealous Maxims of Arbitrary Government; which is a general care to instruct the Plebeians of all sorts, in the Discipline of Arms.
The late swelling Power of Spain after the Suppression of the Spanish Cortes or Estates derived from the accidental Discovery of the Indian Mines, and the present Power of France after the Suppression of the French Estates, from as accidental an Improvement of their Trade, have been the occasion that some, out of mistake, or design, have much applauded that Form of Government, when it must be Confessed that the same Indian Treasure and Trade, would have rendred the same Nations, under the continuance of the Estates, or England under its present Government, much stronger and more secure, and this, by the advantages in this Form of Government.
Despotick, or Arbitrary Monarchy, was for many Ages as great a Stranger in this Part of the World, as Republican Government; As the European Nations by degrees cast off the Roman Yoke, they had before their eyes the Example of their former Mistress, the Common-wealth of Rome, which became Vassalized to her own Servants, by the unlimited Power committed to Dictators and Generals; these assuming the Empire by force, and without title, were uncontrollable by Law, and therefore did not only gratifie their own Lusts and just Fears of being supplanted, by all manner of Cruelties, but their Masters the Soldiers also, by the Spoils of the Provinces; nay, and of Italy, and Rome itself; and yet were they very frequently killed, deposed and changed by the same force which set them up: To avoid the Mischiefs on each side, as the Members of this Empire resumed their National Rights, they universally cemented into a third Form of Government, much the same with ours; which, if we truly consider it, appears purposely, and wisely Calculated to prevent the Inconveniences of the other two, and yet to take in all that is excellent in either; For first, we have a fixt Royal Legal Sovereignty, which filling the seat of Majesty, frustrates the Ambitious hopes of others from stepping into it; Then we have the Constitution of Parliaments, by whose Intervention, Liberty and Property are preserved: Thus Revolutions and Oppressions at home are prevented. Then for the strength of this Government outwards upon Forreign Nations, it must in the Nature of it, equal, if not exceed any other, especially absolute Monarchy; not only because its greater freedoms capacitate the People to Trade with more advantage, as I shall yet more particularly shew, but because the same freedoms beget a kind of Generosity and Bravery even in the common sort, when Absoluteness of Government debases their Spirits, and reconciles them to the Ignominy of being beaten, at least till they acquire a kind of insolence by long Service in War, which can hardly be called Courage. All Experience hath warranted this odds between Freemen and Slaves; but there is yet a farther odds, when the Quarrel is National, especially if espoused both by the King and Parliament; for then the individual Animosities of the Whole being engaged, the People do not meerly fight for Pay, but out of Principle, and in defence of those greater Enjoyments they have at home, when the Vassals of Absolute Monarchy are driven on by the fear of their Despotical Power, which they would be glad to see subverted, and themselves delivered.
In an Absolute Monarchy, the Fate of the Whole depends upon the Prudence of the Monarch; be his Empire never so flourishing, he may by one temerarious Edict, or other Act, bring all into Confusion: How great must the Danger then be, when the wisest of Mortal men are often transported by Passions, and otherwise liable to Mistakes? The voluntary Councils of such a Monarch must gratifie his Power by Applauding or Complying with his Resolutions and Sentiments: But what if there come a weak Prince? against which there is no Security? Or suppose the King be left an Infant? then all goes to wrack: those Armies which were the support of the last Predecessor, wanting Business and Conduct, fall into Mutinies; all are working their Ambitious ends, many contending for the Tuition and Publick Administration; those that have it not, supplanting those that have, whereby the Government is endangered: all which was visible during the whole Infancy of the present French King, though he had a Mother, and so faithful and wise a Minister as Mazarine: The high Animosities of the French Princes and Nobles, carried them into continual Distractions and Civil Wars; so that had the English, or any other neighbour Nation, then been in a Condition to have supported the Male-contents, they might have Subverted the French Empire: which mischiefs are totally, or in a high measure avoided by the Constitution of Parliaments; without whose consent, Laws cannot be altered, or Publick Innovations made; and who by their course of Impeachments are a continual Check and Awe upon men of indirect and Ambitious designs: So that (according to the excellent Motto of our own Sacred Prince) it may be truly said of such a Monarchy, and its Parliaments, that they are to each other Decus & Tutamen; what would have become of the French Monarchy when their King John was Prisoner in England, had it not been for their Estates, or Parliaments? we have reason to believe, That were that Crown and Nation brought into great Exigencies and Distresses by any Forreign Power, they would be convened again, the Constitution being not there absolutely dissolved, as the said De Gerrard observes; nothing can be fatal to such a Government, but a disunion between the Prince and Parliament, and therefore a great part of the transcendent Policy of this our Form of Government consists in the high Obligations and means of a Union: the Prince being invested with the mighty Prerogatives of making War and Peace, Calling, Prorogueing and Dissolving Parliaments, and as many others as fill Volumes, hath such a Controll on the Parliament, that it is generally to be presumed, they will ever gratifie him in whatsoever is any way consistent with that Trust they are under; on the other side, the Parliament, being the great and High Council, and their Consent requisite to all new Taxes, whensoever the Prince on any emergency desires their Advice, or a Supply of Money, the People must necessarily have time to represent their true grievances to him, whose Princely favour and occasions, will then equally call upon him to redress what is really amiss; in which Commutation he must have a far greater advantage than any bare Tax he receives; since as it appears, the true strength of all Monarchies and Governments depend upon well-being Abilities, and Increase of the Populacy; which no other Prince hath Comparably so certain a means to understand and Improve, as he that hath a Parliament: To all which may be added, that mutual Affection which must naturally follow these Endearments, and which must render the Prince and Nation much the stronger, never to be hoped for in any other kind of Monarchy: There are yet farther Obligations to this Union between the Prince and People from a just sense of those fatalities which must follow a disunion; we need not resort farther than to the Fable where we have an Accompt of a quarrel between the several Limbs of the Body Natural, whereof the Consequence was, that every part grew presently Languid and Impotent, and ready to yield it self a Feast to the Ravens.
If then there be the utmost Advantages on the one side, and Mischiefs on the other, this is all humane Prudence can provide; God himself hath done no more in those Divine Institutions which he hath projected for the Support, Felicity, and Security of Mankind: against which, it hath never yet been accounted any Objection that they have ben violated; nor is it any against the form of our Government, that it hath fallen into some Convulsions; as long as Men are Men, there will be pravity and irregular Appetites amongst them, which in some Ages and Circumstances may be able to give greater Disturbances than in others; if in any Society of Men, unreasonable and destructive Propositions are insisted upon, or reasonable and necessary ones refused, disunions are inevitable: This I say in general, ’tis no part of my design to Rub up old Sores, nor will it, I presume, be expected I should embroil the present Subject by vindicating Sides or Parties; let the Consequences of former disunions be remembred.
But why should I dwell longer upon Arguments to evince the admirable Frame of our Government, when it is so unanswerably demonstrated by its former Splendid continuance for near 600 years? by the glory of our Princes, who, in Conjunction with their Parliaments, ever were, and thought themselves the greatest and happiest in Europe: by their stupendous Atchievements in War, and by the former ready Adherence, and large Contributions of our Parliaments, in what tended to the Advantage or Honour of England; we had no other form of Government in our Edward the Third, or Henry the Fifth’s time, who Successively found Supplies of English Treasure and Courage enough to Conquer France; our Queen Elizabeth since, baffled the Despotick, and then tremendous Monarchy of Spain, which continuing absolute, is (notwithstanding its vast extent of Territory) one of the weakest in Europe: had our Henry the Seventh entertained the Overtures of Columbus, or our Councils in the Reign of King James, or since the wise Observations of Sir Walter Raleigh, or followed the example of France, and other Neighbouring Nations, in easing and improving our Trade, there is no doubt but the English Treasures and Power had far surmounted both the Spanish and French at this day; It is notorious that the Subjects of the late Dukes of Burgundy, under the Constitutions of Estates, or Parliaments, for many succeeding Ages, drove a mighty Trade, which gave those Dukes a long Superiority over the Absolute French King’s, till the Dukedom became annexed to Spain,See Sir William Temple of the Dutch, cap. 1. and the Spaniards by their Persecution for Conscience, and Tyrannous Attempts after Arbitrary Government lost both the Trade and Traders, and Seven of the Provinces, whom they forced into a Republick.
Treasures are those Vehicles which carry out men of daring Spirits, mighty Thoughts and Abilities into the Conquests of Forreign Countries: there is no Nation but hath a breed of People naturally more fit for these great Performances than any other, who growing Generals or other Commanders at Land or Sea; or Intendants in the greatest Negotiations, might, this way, prove highly Serviceable to the Publick, and find business for Pen-men to write their Memoirs, as in France they do: whereas, by the want of a sufficient home-Treasure, the more Couragious sort must either be Hackneys to Forreigners, or degenerate into Hectors or Thieves at home, and are killed in Brawles, or are hanged for Murthers or Robberies. The more Deliberative generously regarding the common Exigencies, more than their own, may lie under the frowns of Fortune, and great Men, and be thought burthensom and dangerous: there are many other Disadvantages which follow a National Poverty, as hath been noted before, which ought not to be ascribed to this or that mere Form of Government, or temper of the People.
That a speedy and Compleat Regulation of our English Trade may yet further appear highly necessary, I shall briefly observe what have been the more Modern Effects of this mighty Trade in France.
This may too plainly be seen by the great performances of the French in these last Wars, in which, the French King hath been able to maintain above 250000 Men in Arms, whom he hath duly paid; and yet such have been his Treasures, That he hath not been obliged to put the event of the War to the push of a Battel; but wearies out his Enemies with Expence from year to year, and being able to lay up mighty Stores, can keep the Fields in the Winter, when his Adversaries, though as valiant People as any on the Earth, are fain to lye at home: Thus watching his Advantages, he hath Taken and Burnt many strong Towns, laid many Provinces wast, breathing out Death and Devastations as he goes. This he hath done in the face of the world, in a War with near 20 Princes and States, whose lamentable Sufferings, with the Cries of their People, have long pierced our ears; whilst the French King grows more Vigorous and Powerful, and his Armies grow better Disciplined continually, and hath at last reduced the Dutch and Spaniards to the Terms of a dishonourable Peace, by exposing their Allies to the French Power; which hath obliged the rest to a Complyance on his own Terms; and now he gives the Law to them All, keeping mighty Armies on foot to Invade whom he pleases: But that which is yet more Prodigious is, that even during this War, he hath been able to carry on the Building of his present great Fleet, consisting of about 200 Ships of War, plentifully Armed with Brass Guns, and accurately built for Service; he hath also furnished himself with abundant Naval Provisions of all sorts, at an immense Charge, every Ship having its distinct Stores and Storehouse, and therefore may be made ready on a suddain: At the same time, he hath imployed multitudes of Men in cutting of Canals through Rocks and Mountains, in making, cleansing, and securing Havens upon the Coasts opposite, or near to England (whither by degrees, in these two or three years past, he hath drawn down the greatest part of his Navy) and at the same time hath answered mighty Annual Pensions to the Swedes, and Swisses, (whose lives he buys with his Money:) besides all the other vast private Pensions, Gratuities and Aids he bestows in the Courts and Countreys of other Princes, (by which, perhaps he hath made as great Advantages as by his Arms:) and yet ’tis probable, that in all this he hath not exceeded the bounds of his ordinary Revenue.
That which most threatens the Trade of England, is his Naval Force, which none of his Predecessors ever had, and were checked if they pretended to it; Queen Elizabeth forbad Henry the 4th. of France (on a suddain called the Great) building great Ships, else she would fire them in his Harbours: Since which the French have desisted, till about the year 1664. as may appear by that excellent Treatise, intituled, A free Conference, Printed in 1667. by the special Appointment of the truly Honourable the Lord Arlington, where Pag. 49. we find these words, “Not above three years ago, France was hardly able to set out 20 Ships; (that is to say, Men of War) now they have 60 large Vessels ready furnished, and well Armed, and do apply their Industry in every part to Augment the number, &c. I shall forbear repeating some sharp Reflections which next follow.
And that the French King might want no Seamen of his own, and might at least share in the Gain of Navigation, he hath for several years past endeavoured by all Imaginable Encouragements to establish a mighty Navigation in France; so that for one Trading French Ship there was 20 or 30 years since, there are now 40. For this purpose he hath Propagated a Sea-Fishery, to a very great degree, which Improves daily to the prejudice of our remaining English Fishery; and besides, hath yearly educated Supernumerary Seamen on Board the French Trading Ships, at his own Charge; so that ’tis to be feared he will stand in little need of Forreign Seamen for his Ships of War; or if he do, the Dutch have Store, which perhaps he may have for his Money, as ’tis probable he may the Fleets of Swedeland, Portugal, and Algiers; these his Allies of Algiers, (as ’tis said,Note, most of that Fleet which the Algerines had (which was but small) was destroyed by the English at Cape Spartell, and Bugia, about eight years since; They have since Built 40 Men of War, from 20 to 50 Guns and upwards, besides Brigantines, Gallies, &c. by the assistance of his Money upon a general Redemption of French Slaves) are on a sudden gotten from 10 to above 40 Men of War; and as soon as our Applications in France had prevailed with the French to desist from taking our Ships, these Algiers Pyrats fell upon us, and have continually pick’t up our Merchantmen, and Vassalized our Seamen and other People ever since; they now do it before our faces, in our Channel, finding Harbour in the French opposite ports, which makes a great Addition to our late Losses; and, which is yet worse, hath so terrified our Seamen and Merchants, that many already think it necessary to trade in Dutch and French Bottoms, a Consequence which ’tis probable might be foreseen by some of our Neighbours, who wish we had neither Ships nor Seamen.
At the same time our Gazetts weekly tell us of great Squadrons of French Men of War, proudly ranging in all Quarters of the World, in the Mediterranean, in the East and West Indies, and in our own Seas, viewing the Strengths and Weaknesses, and Sounding and Commanding the Harbours of other Nations.
We find it said in the Free Conference, “That France is our Hereditary Enemy, and hath so often tryed what we are able to do against the enlarging of their Empire, who have graven it deep on their hearts, the injury of the Title, which to their shame England bears in all Public Treaties, and her Trophies in reference to that Crown; This very France hath no greater desire than to take the Dominion of the Sea from us, &c.
If we look into the before-mentioned French Politicks, they assure us of the same; of which piece, because I so often cite it; I shall first give the Reader some present Accompt; and farther, when I have done with it: “The English Preface tells us, the Author was a person bred up under Monsieur Colbert, and to shew his Abilities, writ this Treatise, and in Manuscript presented it to the French King, which was favourably received; but afterwards Vanity prompting him to publish it in Print, the King look’t upon him as one that had discovered his Secrets, and turning his favours into frowns, caused him to be Imprisoned in the Bastile, where he continued a long time, and afterwards was Banished, &c. ’tis like to some place where he should not be able to aver the same, or disclose more Secrets; what opportunities he might have of learning Secrets by his Attendance on Monsieur Colbert, whether he might over-hear the Debates and Results of the French Councils, or whether Casually, or by order he had a View of the Papers, and was but the servile Compiler, or bare Porter of this Scheme or Manual of Policies, I leave to be examined; a stupendious piece it is, which being written seven or eight years since, and presaging so great a part of what hath followed, gives so considerable an Authority to it self, that its Credit need not depend upon that of the Author of the Growth of Popery; who, as ’tis hinted in the English Preface, calls it the Measures of the French King’s Designs.
These Politicks having first delineated the Comprehensive and steddy Foundations of the French Monarchy,Pag 162, 163. as built upon Trade, Treasure, and Populacy at home, they then proceed to look abroad, and first they project the Ingrossing of all Commerce at Sea, and this at a lump, by imploying part of this Treasure in Building a Fleet of Men of War able to Command it, in which they say, “All things Conspire to give the French hopes of Success; the work however is such as must be leisurely carried on, and perfected by little and little, so great a Design continually AlarmingEurope, Asia, Africa, and America, Friends and Foes; a Precipitation of it would be its Ruine, Six or Ten years time might be Allotted for it: The King may keep 100 Gallies, and 100 Ships in the Mediterranean, and 200 Sail upon the Ocean, the more Vessels he shall have, the more enabled he will be to recover the Expence made about them: The Sea will yield Maintenance for the Sea, either by Commerce or War; There is Timber in France, there is Cordage, there are Sails, there is Iron and Brass, &c. When things have taken their Course, Seamen will be had in time, and the profit that will accrew will afford Store, and bring them in from all Parts of the World.
Pag. 165.“The Fleets with the King might keep upon the Ocean, would make him Master of all the Powers and Trade of the North; yea, though the Hollander and English should Unite against France, they could not avoid their Ruine in the end; for how could the one or the other make good their Commerce (which is all they have to trust to) if they were forced to keep great Armadoes to continue it? The Point of Britain is the Gate to enter into, and go out of the Channel: Fifty Ships of War at Brest, would keep this Gate fast shut, and they would not open it but by the King’s Command.—Thus there would need no War almost to be made for all these things, nor His Majestie’s Forces hazarded: It will be sufficient to give his Orders to Forreigners; nor will it be difficult to cut them out work in their own Countries, and by this means stay their Arms at home, and make them spend their strengths there; something of this in its place hereafter.
“His Majestie’s Power being thus strongly setled in each Sea, it will be easie to secure Commerce in France, and even draw the Merchants thither from all parts; I say secure Commerce; for till this be done, it will ever be incertain and dangerous.
It may not be improper to observe, with some reference to what hath been debated in the preceding Sections, what further Expedients the French Politicks dictate in this Chapter, for the securing of Commerce: Amongst others we there find this Caution: “It must be studiously prevented that Commerce introduce not into a State, Superfluity,Pag. 169.Excess, and Luxury, which are often followed with Ambition, Avarice, and a dangerous Corruption of Manners:Pag. 171. It is added, That it hath been a question offered to debate, whether Traffick in France should be managed by Subjects or Forreigners, to make a short decision; ’tis evident that Forreigners must be allowed to gain by our Merchandizes, if we would have them take them off, if we carry them into their Ports, we shall make less Sales; yet, That our Merchants may share in the profit, they may enter into Partnership with them, or be their Commissioners here, or Freight them themselves, provided they sell at somewhat cheaper Rates,See Sir William Temple of the Dutch, Pag. cited before, Sect. 12. and so be content with moderate Gain. Which passages I have cited to shew, That ’tis no part of their Politicks to increase Luxuries or Excess; nor to inclose their home and Forreign Market to their own Navigation or Merchants.
I have been thus long tracing the French Politicks, and our own unfortunate Methods in the matter of Trade, and this out of a hope to occasion the Restitution and Increase of ours; but have gone so far in the pursuit, that on a sudden I have step’t into a Scene of Horrors, by a necessary and inevitable Apprehension of the Dangers we are in, from the present French Powers; it is impossible for any man to close up the eye of his Reason, when he sees a Ghastly Troop of Ruins making their regular Approaches against his Prince and his Countrey, and therein threatening many Millions of poor Innocents, and of these some Millions, who hardly know their right hands from their left, with Butcheries and Violations of all kinds; in such a Case, Silence would be the greatest and foulest of Barbarities, and no better than an Apostacy from the sacred Duties of Allegiance and Self-Preservation.
Shall we flatter our selves with an opinion that the French have no inclination to turn their mighty Treasures, Land and Sea-Forces upon us? How poor, weak, incertain and dishonourable is such a Security? Are we so tenacious of every little pretence of Right at home, and so busie to get a Penny, and yet shall be content to enjoy our Lives and Estates by no better a Tenure than the discretion of the French?See The Buckler of State and Justice, Printed in (67) by the special Appointment of the Honourable the Lord Arlington. whose Councils are dark and inscrutable, and who by their late Invasion of Flanders, contrary to former Leagues and Sanctions, and the then Assurances of the French Ministers, have at least demonstrated, that they most intend what they least profess; Is England become so despicable a Spot, as not to be worth the Acquest? Is it not equal to Flanders, or the Island of Sicily? Is it not evident that the present French King aims at the Trade of the World, and particularly of the North? doth he not want Ports? will it not be more grateful to him to engross the Woollen Manufacture by securing the English Wooll, than to stand to our Courtesie? Hath not England most other valuable Materials, by which he might yet mightily enlarge the Trade of France? Can he hope to proceed in his Conquests on the Continent, whilest he leaves so dangerous an Enemy at his Rere? Doth he not know the Spirit of our People? Are our Talbots, and Bedfords forgotten? Did he not see us raise a considerable Army the other day to check his Progress? Is he not exasperated by our late Prohibition of French Goods, which touches him in the most tender Concern of his Trade? Doth he not think himself affronted in the face of the World? What can be so grateful to a Prince Ambitious of Glory, and to the French Nation in general, as to render those English, their Hewers of Wood, and Drawers of Water, who have so often Triumphed in France? Will they not endeavour to obliterate that Title England bears in her publick Treaties? Will not such an Acquist ennoble the name of the present French King, above all those of his Ancestors? What a mighty and useful Purchase will he have in a Seminary of able Men and Horses, whose value he hath reason to understand, and which he may then draw out into his Wars at his pleasure, what spacious Possessions and Commanderies would England and its Dominions afford to his French Officers, to whom it may be no little Temptation to have the deflowring and violating of our most beautiful Women, being such as the whole Earth cannot Parallel: A thousand other particulars might be accumulated, of which it is not the least that here would be a vast accession of Preferments for the numerous French Popish Clergy, and then what would become of ours? And shall we think the French Councils are insensible of these Advantages? Have they who have been nicely winnowing all the rest of their Neighbouring Countreys, forgotten ours? if we resort again to the French Politicks, we shall have no reason to think so; we see before what they design upon our Commerce, from thence they proceed to project Conquests at Land; The French Romances speak us nothing but Love and Honour, and in truth make a very pleasing divertisement; but their politicks denounce Subjugation and Vassallage: if we follow them from Countrey to Countrey, what they say of ours will appear more considerable; Pag. 153. thus they begin: “It were to be wisht that the King did add to his Kingdom all the Low Countries to the Rhine,—It would make him Master of the Northern Seas, &c. (what Progress the French King hath made towards this Conquest, and why he found himself obliged to desist for the present, need not be repeated, no doubt but the French bear it in Memory.)Pag. 154. “Secondly, it were convenient the King had Strasburgh to keep all Germany in quiet, &c. (Our Gazetts may inform us what Advances he hath made towards the reducing this great strength, and that he is now storing all his adjacent Magazines). “In the third place he had need to have the French Comte to lay a restraint upon the Swisses, &c. (This he hath since gotten). “In the fourth place, Millan is necessary in respect of Italy, &c. (Of this we have yet heard no more than that he hath been bargaining for a passage by Casall). “In the fifth place, Genoa;—Genoa would make the King Master of the Mediterranean Sea, &c.The Genoeses of late appear unwilling. Beginning Pag. 183. (This he hath so far proceeded in, that he hath obliged the Genoeses to harbour his Ships, and to almost what other Conditions he pleases. In the fifth Chapter, Dictating how France should act with Forreign Princes after a most exquisite Scrutiny into the ill adjusted Councils, and Luxuries of the Spanish Grandees,Pag. 186. ’tis said, “Their Forces are not to be feared, Sicily might easily make an Insurrection, &c. (We have seen what followed).Pag. 187. “Portugal is a perpetual Instrument for the weakening Spain, &c.Pag. 188. (So it hath remained.) “The Venetians and People of Italy are wise; to reduce them to our Intentions, we must work by down-right force, &c. The Pope will ever Consider France, because of the County of Avignon: The Hollanders will keep themselves to our Alliance as much as possibly they may,—They are rich. It were expedient the King did interpose in their Affairs,and that some divisions be sown amongst them:Pag. 189. (we see what hath ensued:) “The Swisses are Mercenaries, who will always serve the King for his Money: (so they have done ever since). The King of Denmark is a Prince whose State is but small, &c. Sweden will never break off from the Interests of France,Pag. 194. we ought to consider them as instruments which for our Money we may make Use of to divert the English or Holland Forces, when His Majesty makes any Enterprize which pleaseth them not, &c. (Success hath verified this, and may further:)Pag. 195. “The Friendship of the Turk is good for France, to be made Use of on occasion against the Emperor: (our Gazetts have informed us what Essays there have been; and at last the Turk was brought upon Muscovy, whereby the Swedish Army in Livonia was let loose upon the Confederates.)
Of All others, these Politicks speak most confidently of the Conquest of the English; they observe that “We have no Friends,—and are positive, “that a War of France for three or four years,Pag. 189. would ruine us: (which ’tis evident must be said out of a sense they have of their odds in National Treasure; for by the Import of the words and Context,Pag. 190. they cannot be spoken on supposition the French should attacque us unawares, (which God prevent): Hereupon it follows, “so it seems reasonable that we should make no Peace with them, viz. the English: but on Conditions of the greatest Advantage to us, unless the King think fit to defer the Execution of this Project for another time: To make sure and quick work, ’Tis farther thought fit that ways should be found to disable our Government by great Expences, and by Disunions and Convulsions; from which ’tis manifest, the French are well aware in what the virtue of our Government consists, and therefore know how to strike at the root: There are divers indirect Expedients proposed, which I shall forbear, being somewhat Prolix, and mixt with Contemptuous and Reflective Expressions:See before, Pag. It is enough to observe here from whence these French Politicks hope for their English Harvest, and that this is the work at home before intended to be cut out for us.
This great Prince hath thought fit hitherto to defer a formal War upon us, at least, under that Denomination; but whether he hath deferred the Project as these Politicks call it, may depend upon a Consideration of what he hath been visibly doing ever since; he hath been since building his Fleet, amassing his Naval Stores, Educating and Providing Seamen and Harbours, wasting and disabling those Neigbouring Empires and States, who being jealous of his Power, might otherwise have interposed in his Carriere, getting those great Passes and Strengths into his hands, by which they might have entred his Countrey; he hath been disciplining a victorious and mighty Army, and exhausting us by his Trade, with a great Addition of loss by his Capers; (the French are very curious at Cooking their Morsels before they eat them) and at last hath, as it were, forced a general Peace, even whilst he was Victorious, by which he is left at entire Liberty: of which Peace, whilst it was under Negotiation, and drawing to a Conclusion,The present Lord Chancellour in his Speech to both Houses Parliament, on the 23d of May, 1678. a wise and noble Lord of our time, gave this his sence to both our Houses of Parliament: “The influence such a Peace may have upon our affairs, is fitter for Meditation than discourse, only this is evident, that by the Preparations we have made for War, (viz. in the raising of our late Army, &c.) and by the Prohibition we have made of Trade, we have given no small Provocations to so mighty a King, who may be at leisure enough to resent them if he please; and therefore it will Import us so to strengthen ourselves both at home and abroad, that it may not be found a cheap and easie thing to put an Affront upon us. I need not inform any English Reader, what fatal Apprehensions the same Parliament had of the Consequences of such a Peace;The Gazett for Monday, Decemb. 29. gives us this Advertisement. Hamburgh, Dec. 22. The French have hired all the Vessels in this River, and the Weser, which used to go to France, and return with Wines, on which they mean to Transport great Quantities of Oats, and other Corn. (which they are therefore buying up in these Parts) to Calais, Dunkirk, and other Places on that Coast. they are in ordinary Memory; can we think this Fleet of Men of War is built to be employed in the Fishery, or to lye and rot in their Harbours? Can this Army profitably, or safely be supported Idle? Will he suffer them to be tainted with Luxury? Will he hazard Animosities or Factions amongst the numerous French Nobles (by whom this Army is Officer’d) the Mutinies of the Soldiers, or Insurrections of his own People? Will he not rather send these Armed Heards to graze in our sweet Meadows, and to gather him fresh Laurels out of our English Gardens?
It may reasonably add to our Fear, that we see the French King hath lately made so strict Alliances with Spain, and with Bavaria, by which he is farther secured from any Inroads from those Parts; and that we also find him so vigilant to prevent our Leaguing with the Dutch, and to come to some closer Conjunction with them himself; in which his Ministers use the utmost Arts, mixt with a sort of Menaces; I cannot but resort again to the French Politicks, where in the close of those Methods by which the French King may obtain an easie and intire Conquest of England, we find it farther dictated thus, “On the other hand, our League with the Hollanders should be renewed, and they put into a belief, that we should give them all the Trade still, because they have the knowledge of it, and are proper for it; whereas (as ’tis to be suggested) the French have no Inclination that way,Pag. 192. and Nature cannot be forced; they must be told that now they are come to the happy time for advancing their Affairs, and ruining their Competitors in the Sovereignty of the Northern Seas: we see these Politicks go through stitch in the business. And that upon the Whole they were very unfit to be Printed: no man who had so much Wit as to be the real Author, could have so little as to publish them; and the rather, because of Another Secret amongst the rest very improper to be divulged at that time, viz. a Projection how to suppress the Exercise of the Protestant Religion in France, as soon as it might be done with Security, in respect of what Assistance or Places of retirement, they might have from Neighbouring Protestants, and yet the Methods proposed are not by direct Severities, which may give us occasion to call to mind that discountenance of Protestants, we lately hear of in France; of what Extraction this piece is, I leave to be considered; only adding, that it seems incredible a private French-man out of the Mint of his own Brain, could foretel so great part of the French Actions for the years succeeding; That the style of it is Majisterial, much in the Imperative Mood, a sort of Expression we find in the Emperour Justinian’s Institutions, but little suitable to the Address of a Subject to a Sovereign; ’tis also visible how little labour he uses to evince the highest Conclusions and Maxims of State, which are mostly proposed single, as if agreed upon; should it be admitted the sole work of the supposed Author, the Consequence presses us more nearly, when we see private Frenchmen arrived to that ripeness of Policy, and in particular, know our Circumstances so well; What then are we to conjecture of the Capital French Councils? I am not so vain as to think so great a Prince as the French King, is wholly and meerly Governed by this, or any other Scheme of Politicks, he could doubtless take new measures, as subsequent Negotiations or Accidents, then unseen, have offered; but ’tis as little to be doubted, but there was a time when he sate down and considered the grand Materials of that mighty Tower which we already see mounted so high.
What Success the present Overtures of the French King will receive in Holland, a little time may shew; perhaps things are gone so far, that the Hollanders will not easily be flattered into an Opinion they shall be Sovereigns of the Sea: But whether they may close with him upon his Assurances of being Protected in a great degree of Freedoms and Trade, may be a question. They know the French King is a Considerate Prince, and must be sensible that they are his Porters, That their Countrey being naturally a bogg, can be no otherwise valuable to him than by supporting a Trade there, and keeping the People together: They may be told, that the French King having already so vast a Revenue, will stand in need of less Taxes from them than they already pay, and can live without picking their Bones; and so it may be, as long as he pleases; ’tis certain this People are exhausted by the War, and know the Strength, and will therefore fear the wrath of this mighty Borderer; the French Politicks say, that he will be able to ruine them and us in Conjunction, by disturbing our Commerce at Sea: He is now in a far better Capacity, by the Neighbouring Acquests at Land he hath since gotten: how soon therefore may he disable, or influence this People, should they become our Allies; and how necessary is it upon the Whole to trust to, and suddenly Improve our own Strengths? We see but the other day how they were forced to desert, and give up their late Allies, and are advised by the best of Councellors, not to lean too much on a broken Reed, lest it pierce our hands: This of all others, would be the most fatal, and certain Expedient of our Ruine.
For my own part, I am one of those many whose Life and Interests are imbarqued in the Publick, and who, upon a general Shipwrack, have no Prospect to get off in the Long-boat; but must expect to be swallowed up in the Common inundation, or if I survive, to die daily by a sence of my own misery, and the Sufferings of those that are as near and dear to me as my life. Self-preservation is a Principle to which God, Nature, and the Fundamental Constitutions of Humane Society require us to adhere; I do not project my own Security only, but that of my Countrey, and therefore hope none amongst us will be offended at it; if any be, let them examine with their own Consciences, and others judge, whether their designs are not very different; I make no doubt but that all the generous part, even of the great French Nation, will think I have done but my Duty; and that, should it ever lye in their Power to afflict or ease me, which God divert, I could not more certainly intitle my self to their favour, than by having once asserted the Interests of this my Native Country.
I shall add, that those our other formidable Neighbours the Dutch, having now made Peace with the French, remain the same Government and People, and under the same Constitutions and Capacities of outstripping us in Trade, as before; nay, of offending us, especially in Conjunction with France, whose Commodities they Buy and Barter off as before; their Necessities are such, that they will utter more than ever; unless, perhaps, for Politick Reasons restrained by some Act of their State.
And now having examined the Different Policies and Constitutions of Trade in France, the United Provinces, and England, with the different Operations of it, and the present Posture of things between us; It must appear, that in order to our future National Security, it is indispensably and speedily necessary to improve and regulate our Trade to the utmost.
And here I was about to conclude, but that several Persons have objected, that our Trade is sufficiently regulated by our late Prohibition of French Goods; this, by what I have said already, must appear a mistake: But that I may leave no umbrage for private Interest, I shall more particularly apply my self to clear it.
Perhaps this Prohibition hath somewhat prejudiced the Trade of France, and may for the next year, which yet I shall not admit.
But supposing this, yet it will not better the Trade of England (though it might tend to the Security of England should the prejudice it brings to the French Trade, be so great as to disable the French Monarchy,) But this it will not do, for which I shall give these Reasons.
First, upon the Question how much it may prejudice the French Trade, I shall observe that the Prohibition it self extends only to Wines, Brandy, Linnen, Salt, Silk, Paper, Vinegar and Manufactures made or mixed with Silk, Thread, Wooll, Hair, Gold, Silver, or Leather; Now if we look back in Mr. Fortreys Accompt, we shall find many other chargeable Commodities imported from France; ’tis true many of them were prohibited by former Laws, but then were, and still may be Imported as freely as before the late Prohibition: The Yearly value of these very Imported Commodities thus formerly Prohibited, have been usually computed at above 500000l. per Annum.
Secondly, ’Tis already found, and ’twill be more and more discovered every day that great quantities even of the Goods Prohibited by the late Act, are and will be Imported; For I shall again observe here, that meer Prohibitory Laws never did, or can answer the ends they were intended for, being made in restraint of the Effects, without removing the Causes, whilst it remains the Interest of Traders to elude the Prohibition: Nay, the Importation of French Goods is now become a far more gainful business than ever; for now the mighty Customs are taken off; which is so much clear gain to the Importers.
Therefore there is no doubt but that private Traders (whose business it is to increase their private Stocks) will Import if they can: Then let it be considered who they are who must make the Seisures; These are the Officers of Ports, viz. Searchers, Waiters, &c. upon whose integrity and Diligence all the virtue of this or any Prohibition does depend; Now how Indigent, Mercenary, and Negligent many of these are, we are not to learn; nor are we to expect their extraordinary Industry or Fidelity in this Case; because this Prohibitory Act gives them nothing for their pains; so they must spend their Money and Time in Seisures, and Suits, and all for nothing; besides, we have long Tracts of Coasts and Creeks in England, where hardly any Officers attend, or if they do, cannot hinder Clandestine Importations; the Insufficiency of meer Prohibitory Laws is verified by the Prohibited Exportation of Money out of Spain, Portugal, and England, Wooll out of Ireland, and England, and the Exuberant Importation of many sorts of Goods from France,See 3 Edw. c. 4. 1 Rich. 3d. 12. 5 Eliz. 7. and other Parts long since Prohibited by our former Statutes; and yet these Laws give sufficient incouragement to Informers.
Then if the Goods last Prohibited may be Imported, they will certainly find Vent. How few in England, if any, can positively Swear this or that is French Manufacture on the meer view? Nor are our People apt to Inform; and will be less, when it shall come to be the Common Interest of Traders to connive; Nay, our learned Wine-Drinkers will tell us, that the very Wines may be vended in mixtures, making Sack of White Wine and Malaga, Sherry of White Wine and Brandy, Rhenish of White Wine, Porto-Port of Clarets; these they say are ordinary Performances: But to prevent this trouble, our Vintners commonly sell French Wine as before.
Upon the Whole, I shall leave it to be computed how near a Million our French overballance may be, even during the Prohibition, not forgetting the Curtesie of our Merchants, who hearing of the Prohibition, Imported a Store of French Goods, to the value of about a Million.
Then considering the mighty Trade the French still drive with other Nations, the French Monarchy must be so far from being disabled by our late Prohibition, that we must expect it will grow more vigorous and formidable; and the rather because of the flowing Treasures already Imported, and Warlike Stores provided in France; so Politickly hath the French King managed the matter, that (except his Forreign Pensions) his Wars have Exported little Treasure, since it hath circulated back into France by the hands of his French Purveyors and Sutlers, and thence again passes to his Exchequer.
I shall now Consider, whether the late Prohibition may better our Trade, and how much; which is a question wholly distinct from the other, (though the violence of our common resentments against the French make it seem almost the same:) For it does not follow that every thing which will prejudice the Trade of one Nation, shall better the Trade of another: But this falls out to be so, or not, as other Nations are by their Constitutions in Trade more or less capable of Trade; for Example, If the French Trade should fail, it would not better the Spanish Trade, who by their high Customs and other Cloggs on Trade, are made incapable of it; nay it would hinder the Dutch Trade, because the Dutch Trade consists so much in Carriage, at least till the Dutch could be furnished with the same bulk of vendible Commodities from some other Nation; so would the ruine of the Dutch Trade from Port to Port injure the French Trade, till their own, or some other Neighbouring Navigation, could supply the Room of the Dutch.
Now if we look back to the Grounds and Reasons of the decay of our English Trade, we shall find them to be no other than our own ill Constitutions in Trade, which are not a whit remedied by the French Prohibition, and therefore will prevent any advantage we might perhaps otherwise receive from it.
Our Home and Forreign Markets remain obstructed as before, we retain the same chargeable Navigation in all the before mentioned particulars; we are over charged with Customs, and Interest Money; we are under the same disadvantages by our Act of Navigation, by the Monopolies of our Merchants, of our Trading Companies, and Freemen; nay of Forreigners upon us: Our Manufactures and other Exportations are now as much confined to the value of the Goods imported, as before; we have no more Manufactures, Merchants, or other People, no more Ships, or Stocks, in Home, or Forreign Trade, than before; no more National Riches than before; we have still the same Acts of 5 Eliz. 4. The same Acts against Protestant Dissenters: The Irish and Scotch Trades remain diverted, the same encouragements of Scholar-like Educations, and necessity of the Increase of Shop-keeping; we have the same Laws against the Naturalizing of Forreigners; against the introducing of Forreign Manufactures, Stocks, and Riches; the same debauched Elections, and all the other burthens on our Trade mentioned before, with the Consequential difficulties: There is the same Exportation of Wooll from Ireland, and England, and there remains the same Delicacy, Luxury, Drunkenness, and Debauchery.
The Consequence is, That the same Causes will have the same Effects; the growth of our Manufactures will be stifled at home, and their Forreign Vent will remain obstructed: The French and other Forreigners will supply the Forreign Market with their Manufactures as they did before; if our Prohibition hath any effect, it will cause the French to sell cheaper than they did, which will help them to beat us out more than ever. Which of our Manufactures can receive any greater Forreign Vent?
I expect ’twill be said our Woollen Manufacture, (for we have Hobson’s choice, and shall wear it threadbare with often naming,) this at the best may be a question; Nay, whether our Vent for it will not be less: France will receive no more of it, the Dutch and French still remain our prosperous Competitors in other Parts, all the other Forreign Woollen Manufactures are still supported and increased, by which the Forreign Markets are already over-clogged with it, whereof the same Causes remain: And now will Forreigners (which have been exhausted by the late Warr) be more hungry and vigilant in this and all other Trade than before: Besides, when the Prohibition of French Goods shall make Forreigners see we are under a greater necessity for their Commodities, we must also expect they will take advantage of the Monopoly given them by the Act of Navigation, as the French, Danes, and others have done, and will insist to have our sweet Commodity called Money, and reject our Woollen Manufactures; this they can have of our Neighbours the Dutch, and French, and perhaps cheaper, and as good, if not better; we already buy much of our Linnen at Hamburgh with Money.
If our poor Clothiers cannot help us out, I know not what will, for I hear of no new improving Manufactures in England, but that of Perriwiggs; then for our Trade from Port to Port, we have as melancholick a Prospect that way: The Prohibition will not better us to the value of a Scullars wages: The Dutch and other Forreigners for the reasons before given will run away with it as before, so will they shut us out of the Fishing Trade.
In the mean time our Merchants being confined in their Exportations from home, and disabled from the Trade from Port to Port, as much as before, they must resort to their present Commodities of Bullion, and Money, for ordinary Exportation; and must Import Consumptive Forreign Commodities to be spent at home as before, or else lye still.
Our late particular Overballance in the French Trade swelled so high, because the French Shop had so great variety of valuable Commodities, and somewhat cheaper, and was nigh hand; which was an ease and advantage to our Importers.
Now suppose they are forbid to go to this particular Shop, and will Religiously observe the Prohibition; yet they may and will furnish us with the same things from other Ports; they will bring us more Silks, Laces, and Baubles from Italy, Flanders, Holland, &c. More Linnens and Paper from Holland, Hamburgh, and Genoa, &c. And more Wines from Italy, Portugal, Germany, Spain, and Turky; from Germany more Brandies: There is hardly any of the French Commodities, but what may be had else-where; but with this odds, that they will cost dearer in any other Nations than in France, which by so much must increase our National charge in Importations; nay, we must expect that in this alteration of the course of our Trade, our Importers will find out new trifles and gewgaws for our silly people: How suddenly do we find all the Women and Children of any account in England, in Amber Necklaces? Which at the rate they are sold at, must cost England at least 100000l. And now we have a new Sawce called Catch-up, from East-India, sold at a Guiney a Bottle.
But should it be admitted, That our new Prohibitions would any thing correct our ballance of Trade; yet,
First, The Prohibition is to indure but a year and a little more.
Secondly, A general Prohibition of Goods, being looked on as a most injurious thing in all Nations, and a kind of Denuntiation of War, we must not think to perpetuate ours, unless we resolve to be always under a State of Enmity and War, with the French. Then, if this be thought highly inconvenient, what mighty Effects of our new Prohibition can we hope for in such a time?
Thirdly, Should this Prohibition somewhat correct the ballance of our Trade, yet if it does not perfectly restore the ballance, we shall be Annual losers by our Forreign Trade, and compleat the beggary of the Nation.
But fourthly, Should we suppose that it would restore the ballance; nay, that it should render the National Trade of England somewhat beneficial, yet it must be confessed, That a compleat Regulation of our Trade would render it prodigiously more beneficial, (perhaps more than all the Trade of Europe besides) considering how our advantages in Trade would reduce the Trade of our Neighbour Nations, as ours does improve.
Lastly, The meer restoring of the ballance of our Trade, nay, or a Trade which shall be but a little beneficial, must be very insecure to England, in the present posture of things, when some of our Neighbour Nations do already so much surmount us in Treasures and strengths acquired by Trade; and by the future course of their Trade must grow so much richer, and stronger daily. From the whole I conclude, That our new Prohibition is not a sufficient or satisfactory Regulation of our Trade, but leaves us open to many fatal and threatning Consequences.
The Reasons of the decay of our English Trade being understood, the Disease may be the more easily cured, and the Nation thereby secured, of this we need not to despair, provided the Medicines be speedily applied; which I shall endeavour to demonstrate; That after so many soure Herbs, I may leave a more Agreeable rellish with the Reader, and so conclude; in order to this, I shall first remember some of our Advantages in Trade.
We have a particular high advantage over France in the Nature of our Government; under which Liberty and Property are, by Law and publick Constitutions, secured, which must be a vast Incouragement to Trade and Traders, as is noted before.
Whereas the French Traders are daily liable to Taxes and Seisures at pleasure, which is as great a discouragement.
’Tis true, that the late Councils of France having been successively studious how to improve the French Trade, have exerted this Power very Judiciously towards Traders, yet are the Taxes high, and Arbitrary, and the Sufferings of the greatest part must make the rest uneasie.
And whatsoever freedoms of Liberty and Property the Dutch allow, the English have the advantage in the sweetness and healthiness of their Countrey, and in the extent of it, the Dutch Territory being very narrow, naturally loathsom, and most unhealthy, nor are the English liable to suddain Inroads and Depredations, as the Dutch are on the Continent; which odds will invite Forreigners to plant in England, rather than in the United Provinces.
But what is yet more, the English Ports are numerous, deep, safe, and open all the year; the Dutch Ports but few, dangerous in the Approach, unsafe within, and usually frozen three or four Months in the year, the French Ports much fewer, and but five or six that will carry Ships of any great Burthen, and those very far asunder.
England hath, or may have, all the most considerable and desireable materials of Manufacture of its own growth, except Silk: which is of a Prodigious Advantage, because the charge of Importing is saved, and its Manufactures may rest undisturbed by a War at Sea: whereas the Dutch have none, and the French fewer than we, particularly they want the excellent Material of Wooll, by which Millions of People at home may be most profitably Imployed.
England is the most fertile of Nations, and out of its own Stores, as it might be cultivated, might maintain almost infinite Numbers of People. The United Provinces of scanty of Provision, that they are forced to buy most or all their Meat and Drink of Forreigners, except Fish (by which as many might be supported in England); France (though fruitful) doth not yield near so much Cattle and Flesh-meat; which is most strengthning and grateful to all, especially Laborious men, and is necessary for Victualling of Ships.
Both in France and Holland are great Excises on most, or all, ordinary Meats and Drinks, in England on part of our Drink only, viz. That in Alehouses, and Publick Brewings, (I hope there never will be any such as shall burthen Trade.)
Our great Wasts, and void Lands, which are our present Grief and Scandal, may on the Regulation of our Trade, prove highly beneficial to us, since they will afford present room for a vast Increase of People, whether Forreign Planters, or others; in the United Provinces, or France, none such are to be found.
And lastly, England is far better situated for the Fishing Trade, and other Forreign Trade than either France, or the United Provinces, and its People are naturally far more Adventurous and Valiant than theirs, as Experience hath shewn, which makes no small odds upon National Contests, between Nations emulous in Trade, when they fight upon equal Terms of Treasure, and Warlike Preparations: and there is no question but our National Industry in Trade, would be also more Vigorous and Successful, were it put into suitable methods; but otherwise can no more Exert it self than a generous Courser in a Horse-Mill.
From all which it must be evident, that were our Trade eased as in Neighbour Nations, England would have the Superiority, since the same Causes must produce greater Effects in England, being invigorated with these our National Advantages, which no other Nation doth or can enjoy.
The present Power of the French King would infallibly much Contribute to it, which being arrived to such a swelling and tremendous height, does not only intimidate all men of Trade and Wealth in France, especially Protestants; but all the adjacent Provinces and People on the Continent, who either already groan under the insupportable Oppressions and Insolencies of the French, or are under deep and Continental Apprehensions of being wasted by his numerous Troops, grown Proud and Wanton with Success, and ready to make irresistable descents upon any private Order; in which these his Neighbours can never think themselves secure, because of his late sudden Invasion of Flanders: and would therefore flye to our English World, as a blessed and safe Asylum, were it put into a posture of being so. Then if the suddain Populacy, Treasures, Trade, and strength of the small Dutch Provinces, were the Effects of the then Spanish Tyranny in the Low-Countreys, what might we not hope for from far greater Confluences of the richest and most Mercantile and Industrious Protestants, or such as would be so, even from Holland and France, as well as from many other parts of Europe? whose Stocks being transported by Bills of Exchange, and their Manufactures with their Persons, and this on a suddain, would give the odds of Strength and Treasure to the English, who no longer need to trust to the fallible Security of Leagues, which are so often obstructed and broken by the humour or perfidie of particular men, or frustrated by incapacity and accidents: And therefore this patching and piecing a Strength together by Leagues, is the dependance of small and weak estates, such as those of Italy and Germany; where they are always tricking and betraying one another; yet at this time Leagues (though not to be wholly rested upon) may be of great, and good consequence to England.
Had the French Monarchy never over awed the rest of Europe, as it now does, it must be evident, that if our Trade had been regulated and eased equally with the Dutch, all those Merchants and People which have setled in Holland, would have planted here, where besides the former advantages, the extent of our Territory renders the Burthen of Taxes far easier on particular men than in Holland, where they are also at a much greater necessary charge for Garrisons on their Frontiers; nay the very Dutch would have forsaken those Provinces for England, or if any had remained, they would have been Carriers for the English, as they have been to the French, and will rather be so for the future, if our Shop were sufficiently furnished, because they will more willingly transfer the wealth of the World to a Countrey where they themselves may securely share in it, when they please, than to an Arbitrary Power, which may in a moment swallow it up, and oppress those that brought it to any the most barbarous degree; from all which, these things are most manifest: First, That nothing does or can so formidably threaten the Trade, and by Consequence the Monarchy of France, as the Modern Freedoms of the English, and some other Neighbouring Countreys. Secondly, That the English Freedoms are at this day so great an advantage to his most Sacred Majesty of England, that they are a Weapon left in his hands, with which, and a Concurrent Regulation of our Trade, he may with ease and assurance attain a Superiority over all the Monarchs and Powers of Europe put together; he will cut the Grass under their Feet, and draw away their Treasures and People, notwithstanding all the Policies can be used: no mere Prohibition can stop those whose Interests, quiet, and safety, shall oblige them to depart: In which, besides a sufficient Guard at Sea, (to use the words of the French Politicks) there would need almost no War to be made, nor His Majestie’s Forces hazarded. Thirdly, That for these Reasons it is most evident, that it doth highly import the French Monarchy, that the Freedoms of the English, and all others in these parts should be subverted and evacuated, of which, whether the French Councils, who have been so long and so curiously projecting the Grandure of that Monarchy, are insensible, I leave to be considered. Fourthly, ’Tis also as evident, that upon such a Regulation of our Trade His Majestie’s Revenue being (by some Excise added to the then smaller Customs, and other his present Funds) made but equal to what now it is, would infallibly swell higher and higher yearly, as Trade, People, and Treasures shall increase; if these shall become double, treble, or six fold what they now are, so would his Revenue: then what extraordinary Supplies in Parliament might he not expect, upon a National Emergence; nay, or for his own proper occasions, when by an increase of People, the Burthen upon particular men will be answerably eased, and by the increase of Treasure, and the advance of private Revenues and Stocks, these People should be enabled to give largely, and often; and this without any prejudice to their home-Trade, or Land-Rents, and therefore with such an Alacrity, as is agreeable to that true Honour and Affection they really bear him.
I need not observe how much it will be in His Majestie’s Power to secure the making up of his present Revenue by new Funds, should he graciously think fit to compute by a Moderation of the Customs; but since I have now, and before mentioned Excises, and have observed some men of Parts, almost to startle at the naming of a new Excise, I shall thus far explain and vindicate my self, and the proposal: First, I shall agree that such Excises as affect and over-burthen the beneficial parts of Trade, are of pernicious Consequence. Secondly, that an Universality of Excise is both inconvenient and unnecessary; But that there may be Excises Imposed on many Superfluities, and Excesses, in Meats, Drinks, or Equipages, or upon some imported Goods Consumed at home, which would be no prejudice to any kind of Trade; being no clog upon our Exports, or Re-exports; or perhaps, a very small Excise on ordinary Meats, Drinks, and Apparel, might be supportable: I do not propound all, but some of these, in this Course there will be this odds of advantage on the part of the King, That the Users, Wearers, and Consumers, being this way made chargeable, His Majesty would be less liable to be defrauded than in the Customs, which are perpetually smuggled, and then the Imported Goods openly Vended, and used; This, on the part of the People, That it will bring the like Obligations of charge on men of Visible and Invisible Stocks, in, or out of Trade, as on the Land-holders; and therefore I do not see any shadow of reason why Excises should appear such Bugbears in England, especially to Land-holders,See Sir W. Temple of the Dutch, Pag. any more than in Holland and in other Trading Nations, where the Publick Revenues are made to swell high by these small and almost insensible Payments. It is Confessed, that it will be highly fit to provide for a fair and easie Collection, and against the Extortions, Insolencies, and Abuses of Officers; for which we need to go no farther than to learn by what Methods they are collected and ascertained in Holland, if any shall misbehave themselves, we have a free recourse to the Law, as in Holland they have, but in France they have not, though perhaps now more than ever. Nor are Excises, or somewhat in the Nature of them, so new amongst us, if we regard the Ancient Tolls for things bought and sold in home-Markets; which, although they now seem small, were before the Discovery and Diffusion of the Indian Treasure Considerable, and originally belonging to the Crown, but since appropriated to private hands by Grants, or long usuages founded on Grants from the Crown, which having also given Exemptions to some Towns, we may presume them first intended for the ease of Manufacturers, of which the Government had an especial regard: having said this, if the Reader will reflect on All that I have said, he cannot think I have any design in beggaring the English Subjects by an invention of new Taxes; ’twas Sir Walter Raleigh’s Opinion, that the smaller and more numerous Payments of Custom, would rise far higher than before, which he Confirms with Fact; be they more or less, the National Wisdom is at Liberty to exert it self in further Levies, by Excise, Land-Tax, Poll, or otherwise as there shall be cause.
Having now written what I intended on the present Subject, the Nature of it may sufficiently assure the Reader, that I have not designed any peculiar Ends of my own: On the contrary it hath been a trouble, which I wish an abler hand had undertaken, and being for the Publick, may expect what usually ensues, when men engage upon the cutting new of Common Rivers, wherein they must have Contests with every one, who hath a Lands End abutting upon the Work, who will set a greater value upon six foot of Earth, than upon all the Good the Countrey, and therein themselves, and all their Posterity, might reap by the Accomplishment of the Business; in which they are generally so tenacious, that they ordinarily ruin the Undertaker, and thereby make great store of mirth for the Cunning men of the adjacent Villages. I am not insensible how many mens Animosities I have hazarded, by incountring their private Interests, or contrary Inclinations; a thing no way grateful to me, being not one of those (if any there be) that, out of any petulancy of humour, love Contention, or Innovations, or that would appear considerable by opposing something that is already thought so; or that delight in stirring Sediments, or raking into fedities; I affect quiet as much as any man, and account it my ordinary duty to give the least offence I can, even to the little ones. Nothing but a Consideration of our present Difficulties, and a hope to be Instrumental to the publick felicity, could have moved me an inch beyond these common Prudentials: to which I have yet conformed as far as I can; I have touched no man’s Person, and I presume I need not say I have forborn Reflections, in which I do not think any one obliged to me, being but what I have judged requisite for a Composure of things; it hath been absolutely necessary that I should represent our ill Constitutions in Trade, and some of the most important Consequences, that from a general apprehension of the Common Interest, there may ensue a National Union in those Methods which may be most for the Publick Advantage, and this upon the mighty Basis of our present form of Government, and under our present most gracious Prince, whose Glories I hope to see expanded by an exuberant increase of National Treasures, People, and Royal Revenues, and to such a degree, as that the days of our Queen Elizabeth shall appear but a faint Type, or dawning of the greater Lustre and Happiness of His now Majestie’s Reign: This is what I wish for, and have to my utmost endeavoured, and therein the real Advantage of all Ranks of Men in the Nation; If then these Excellent Ends appear obstructed by a sort of antient or Innovated Laws or Usages, who can speak of them, without much Resentment? In which, I hope, I am Excusable. These are the Spells by which our innocent People are inevitably lead into Courses destructive to the Publick.
How can our Merchants or Shop-keepers now avoid Trading in Forreign Consumptive Goods? Have they any sufficient Stores of Home-Manufactures? Can our Merchants Trade from Port to Port as the Dutch and others do? or must Men that are bred up to these Gentile professions, that are Men of Family, Industry, and Fortune, fling up, live lazily, or poorly? Who doth not know how many generous and intelligent Men are to be found amongst our Merchants and Shop-keepers of all sorts? Such as bear a true affection to their Country, and are an honour to the Nation, and such as wish for a Regulation of our Trade, and would be ready and capable to give all farther assistances, were they called to it? This I wish to see, being not so conceited, as to think I have said all that is material on this Subject; but on the contrary apprehend, That there are very few Paragraphs of what I have written, but may admit of farther Informations: In the mean time, from what hath been already said, it must be apparent to these and others, That as an open and free Trade would be far more profitable to the generality of Merchants, so would it be far more honourable to all; That the Consequential Increase of People and Wealth, would better support our great Increase of Shopkeepers, Lawyers, Solicitors, Pen-men, &c. (of which the present Numbers would then hardly be sufficient). That the benefices of our Clergy must receive an inevitable Improvement by it. And that our great and famous City of London (which is the Seat Royal, where our National Courts of Justice are, which is contiguous to our most secure Harbour for Ships, which hath the sweetest and most Commodious situation of any City in Europe, and is so vastly peopled already) must by these advantages, for ever, have the greatest resort and Trade of the Nation, (even under the utmost Improvments of our Trade) which must then be incomparably more than now: Besides, the vast advantage our Gentry would infallibly reap by the continual Rising of their Rents, even such of these as desire more business, or gain, will then have other and farther daily opportunities, by putting Stocks into Manufactures, or Forreign Trade, and projecting and solliciting the Improvement of either, or both. In Florence, the very Nobility and great Duke himself are Traders; hence might our Members of Parliament be continually prepared to make the most suitable Laws for the facilitating of Trade.
Lastly, Nothing can so effectually and certainly secure the peace of the Nation, as the Regulating of our Trade, since it will set all Mens heads and hands at work in all manner of Innocent and Profitable Imployments, and introduce a general satisfaction and Harmony.
Then, and never ’till then, shall we make up that invincible Phalanx, which must not only be terrible to all Forreign Nations, but to all Enemies of the Government at Home, when they find it supported by the solid Pillars of Trade and Treasure, and a Consequential swelling Populacy and Navigation; which will deter Men of sence from Treasonable Machinations, and of Fools there needs no fear: Whereas the defect of these Supports must continually administer temptation to all such as by reason of their particular circumstances, can hope for any greater advantage or security, by the general ruin. The Body Politick being in this like the Natural, more subject to new Distempers when it is infirm before, but when stanch in every part easily bears off the Corruption or Acidity of any malignant humours.
The Trade of the World hath long courted England, but never with so much importunity, or with so much advantage as now: This great Lady affecting Freedom and Security, hath no Inclination to continue under the Arbitrary Power of the French, nor the Uncertain fate of the Dutch; with these she hath resided only as a Sojourner, but is ready to espouse our Interest and Nation, and with her self to bestow upon us the Treasures of the World; but if we still continue inexorable and stubborn, things are grown to such a Crisis, That we may have reason to fear this is the last time of her asking, and that she may suddenly turn this Kindness into such a Fury as we shall not be able to withstand.
Shall we then embrace so advantagious Overtures, or shall we still proceed in our present Methods? I have heard it was a hard matter to reclaim the Irish from drawing with their Horses Tails; shall the Irish now beat us out of our Trade? Shall we continue rolling in Forreign Silks and Linnens? or be still sotting in Forreign Wines, whilest they pick our pockets? Shall we be Curious in Trifles, sneaking after our private interests? or like the blind Sodomites groping after our filthy Pleasures, whilest the Wrathful Angels of God stand at our elbows?See Josephus of the Siege and Destruction of Hierusalem. Shall we like the Reprobated Jews be under continual Decimations within, whilest our Enemies are at the Gates? Shall those of the High City, those of the Low City, and those in the Temple be picking out one anothers Eyes to facilitate the Aggressions of more powerful Forreigners? or shall we be hunting or grasping after false Shadows, and Imaginary Forms and Ideas, and neglect that most valuable substance which we have already in our Mouths, and which would turn into the most solid Nutriment, would we take the pains to chew it?
Which leads me to say, There is yet a farther Requisite to our happy procedure in the Whole, of greater importance than any other; viz. a general Humiliation of our selves towards God, accompanied with an abhorrence of our past Intemperances, Corrupt Passions, Pride, Avarice, Lusts, Prophaneness, mutual Oppressions, Perfidies, and other Impieties, with such a Christian Meekness, Charity, Purity, Truth, Holy Zeal and Resolution as may render us Capable of his Mercy and Protection; perhaps one false step at this time, may be more Irreparable than ever: ’tis certain we shall never be able to make a true one whilest we are under the displeasure of the Almighty.
It is as undeniable, that the Laws which obstruct our Trade, cannot be Repealed, or new ones requisite for its Improvement or Security be made, otherwise than by a Parliament: Whether therefore, upon this and other important Considerations, the Convening and Holding of a Parliament be not under God, (who does not workby Miracle) a necessary means to prevent the Ruine of this Nation, and how Long it may now with any security be deferred, is that, which I most humbly submit to the Determination of Authority.
Dudley North, Discourses upon Trade