Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XIX.: The Herring-Fishery not practicable in the present Circumstances of England; the Dutch can sell cheaper. - A Select Collection of Early English Tracts on Commerce from the Originals of Mun, Roberts, North, and Others
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CHAP. XIX.: The Herring-Fishery not practicable in the present Circumstances of England; the Dutch can sell cheaper. - 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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The Herring-Fishery not practicable in the present Circumstances of England; the Dutch can sell cheaper.
MEN are very full of Panegyricks upon the Fishing Trade, as if by this we were to increase our Shipping and Navigation, to make imployment for every individual Creature in the Kingdom; as if by this we were to enrich the Shoar with all the Spoils of the Sea, to extend our Trade into Foreign Countries, to gain the Balance of Trade over all the rest of Europe; they see these Effects of the Fishing-Trade in Holland; they expect presently the same Effects in England, and without any more ado we are to apply our selves to Fishing. And indeed, I shou’d be of their opinion, when Herrings can be catch’d and cur’d at less charge than will be paid by all their value, when the Merchant can obtain such a price for his Herrings, as besides the hire of the Fisher-man, and all the rest of his Charges, shall leave sufficient profit to himself; then these Panegyricks may be allow’d, then the Labourer may wish for the Fishing-Trade; the Landholder will have no reason to be jealous of it, he will have no reason to be afraid that his Rents will be abated by it. Whenever this shall happen, Money will be very much increas’d; more People will be invited into England; there will be more Purchacers to buy the Produce of the Estate; the Fishing-Trade has not abated the Rents of Holland; all the Lands adjoining are the richer for it; the Fishing-Trade will not abate the Rents of England.
But in the present posture of Affairs, whether profitable or unprofitable, ’tis neither to be hop’d nor fear’d, that the Fishery can be ours; the Dutch can afford their Herrings cheaper, and are therefore sure of all the Markets.
Some have fondly imagin’d,England has few Advantages for Fishing which Holland wants. that we might do the business cheaper, that we might wrest the Fishing-Trade from Holland; They content themselves to give no better Reasons than these for their opinion, That we have Timber of our own growth, and that there is none of this in Holland; that the Dutch pay great Excises upon their Victuals, and therefore English Fisher-men may work at less Wages; that the Herrings are upon our own Coast, and therefore we are not to pay for the loss of so much time in sailing to and from our Ports; that we are nearer to the Land for taking in of Fresh-water, for drying of our Netts, which are Privileges that might be deny’d to Holland. Yet possibly these Advantages are not very great; for if Timber for building Busses is bought in Foreign Countries and imported cheaper into Holland, than as good Timber can be bought in England, and brought to any place of Building; if the Dutch-man pays Excises upon his Victuals, yet if his Victuals are so much cheaper, or if he pays no Excises upon the Fish he eats at Sea; Lastly, If we are nearer to the Herrings, yet if we are so much farther off from almost all the Markets our Advantages are but little. And if we were upon the square in other things, whether by these Advantages we are able to fish cheaper than the Dutch by One Shilling in twenty, or not by One in an hundred, must be left to others to determin.
But indeed, we are not upon the square in other things; the Dutch have advantages for the Fishing-Trade greater far than we; they catch and cure their Herrings with less charge, they can also sell for less profit.
Tho’ the ordinary charge of catching and curing Herrings were alike to both,Law is less expensive and dilatory in Holland. yet the Dutch are able to sell cheaper; they do not manage their Trade with so much contingent charge and hazard as we in England. They have no Law-suits upon controverted Titles of their Busses; indeed they can have none; their Busses are all registred; the Owners can borrow Money upon ’em every where, without the charge of Procuration. Their other Controversies in the Fishing and other Trades, are in a Summary way with little charge determin’d by Men of Skill in the business. In England all is contrary; no certain Titles of Busses, frequent Controversies, dilatory and expensive Suits, but the gain of the Fishery is to pay for all; the Herrings must be sold for such a price, as besides the rest of the charges may be sufficient to pay for this contingent Charge and Hazard. The Dutch do not want any price upon this account; wherefore, they are able to sell their Herrings for less profit.
The Dutch pursue their Fishing-Trade for little profit,The Dutch must be content with less profit, for want of more profitable Trades; because they can make no more by any other Trade: In England, more is to be made of Mony in trading to the Plantations, to the Straights, to Africa, to the East-Indies; also, in the Purchace of Tallies, of Annuities upon the Government, of Joint-Stocks. As long as this can be done, no single Person, no Corporation in England, will level it self to such Gains as must content the Dutch in Fishing.
Besides,And also by their greater plenty of Money. there is a greater plenty of Money in Holland; there are so many lenders, that every one is forc’d to be contented with half the Interest that will be expected here in England: and for the same Reason, there are so many trading one against another, that every one must be well satisfy’d with half the English profit. Let it be suppos’d then, that for an Hundred Pounds imploy’d a Year in the Fishing-Trade, a like quantity of Herrings may be catch’d and cur’d by both; if the English Merchant will expect for his Herrings, all his Principal with a profit of Twenty per Cent. it follows, that the Dutch Merchant will sell a like quantity of Herrings for Ten per Cent. besides his Principal, that is, he will sell as many Herrings Ten Pounds cheaper. So that a greater plenty of Money obliges the Dutch Fisherman to be contented with less profit than will serve in England.
The Dutch are not subject to so much contingent Charge and Hazard in carrying on their Fishing-Trade; they are not invited from the little profit of Fishing to so many other more profitable ways of imploying their Money; they are oblig’d by the greater plenty of Money and Traders there, to the expectation of more modest Gains: Wherefore, tho’ the ordinary Charge were alike to both, yet the Dutch can afford their Herrings for less profit than the English Fishermen, they can therefore sell cheaper.
But, the charge of catching and curing Herrings is not alike to both;The first Costs of things necessary to the Fishing-Trade, less to Holland. the Dutch have all Materials for the Fishing Trade cheaper; the Labour also by which these things are fitted and prepar’d for use, is a great deal cheaper. Salt is a very great part of the price of Herrings, and this they make as cheap again as we. They lye upon the Mouths of the great Navigable Rivers of France and Germany; they have Iron thence, and Wood for Casks, at almost such prices as they are pleas’d to give themselves. They buy in the East Country their Timber, Iron, Hemp, their Rozen, Pitch, and Tar, as cheap as we, for building Busses, for making Netts and Cordage.
Their distance from these things is not so great as ours, their Carriage therefore must be less;Their Carriage less. yet still to make the charge of Carriage less, they navigate their Ships with fewer Hands.
To England these things are imported with an heavy load of Customs,Their Customs less. to Holland Custom free.
In Holland, the Demand of these things is great and constant; the Merchants who import them,Materials for the Fishing-Trade, are sold in Holland for less profit. cohabit close together; no Man there must presume upon the Necessities of People, or think to raise his price; every Man must live frugally, aud sell for little profit, for fear of being undersold by his more frugal Neighbour. In England, where the Demand of necessary Materials for the Fishing-Trade is neither so great nor constant, the Merchants few and more dispers’d, Cheats and extravagant Prices are not so well prevented. Besides if the Dutch Man manages the Fishing-Trade with less contingent charge and hazard, if he is not so much invited to other Trades more profitable; if for these Reasons, and by the great plenty of Money and Traders there, he is oblig’d to sell his Herrings for less profit than will be thought enough in England: For all these Reasons the Dutch Merchant that imports things necessary for the Fishing-Trade, must sell the same for less and more modest Gains than will suffice in England. Wherefore, Materials for the Fishing-Trade are bought in England, dearer by all the difference of greater Costs, of dearer Carriage, of higher Customs, of greater Merchant’s Gains; such things are cheaper much in Holland.
And,Work in Holland is more orderly and regular. so is the Labour by which these things are fitted and prepar’d for use: the Demand of them in Holland is great and constant; the People imploy’d to work them, very numerous; Busses and other things, are Works of great variety: To make them, there is as great variety of Artists; no one is charg’d with so much Work, as to abate his Skill or Expedition. The Model of their Busses is seldom chang’d, so that the Parts of one wou’d serve as well for every Buss; as soon as any such thing can be bespoke in Holland, presently all the Parts are laid together, the Buss is rais’d with mighty Expedition. In England, the Demand of these things is little, the Artists few, every one overcharg’d with variety of Work; the Contrivance and the Workmanship keep equal pace; the Work is slow and clumsily perform’d. The Work in Holland, perform’d with so much more Order and Regularity, with so much greater Expedition, is therefore perform’d with less Labour, and consequently the price of Labour must be less.
In Holland,Carriage is less and cheaper. the People of this Trade cohabit together; there must be frequent occasions for the Carriage of things from one Workman to another; in so close a cohabitation of the People, the Carriage must needs be less; and yet ’tis lessen’d still by artificial Cutts and Channels, that all may be perform’d by Water. In England, the Workmen are but few, and these dispers’d, and almost all the Carriage perform’d by Men and Horses upon the Land; and this must raise the price of Labour here.
The Buss is not constantly imploy’d,The Busses are cheaper Harbour’d. there must be intervals; in these, the Dutch Buss is lodg’d secure from Wind and Weather, in artificial Trenches before the Door of the Fisherman, without the charge of Anchor, Cable, or of Watchman. In England, at all this charge the Buss must ride in the River, must endure the unkindness of frequent Tides, must suffer more Damage, must be refitted with greater Cost and Labour.
In Holland,They abound more with Arts and Engines. they abound with Mills and Engines; such things are there promoted and incourag’d, to save the labour of Hands: But, has more than one only Saw-mill been seen in England? By wonderful Policy, the People here must not be depriv’d of their Labour; rather every Work must be done by more Hands than are necessary. Certainly, such things must make the Labour less, must also make the price of Labour less.
Lastly, the Dutch are already in possession of the Trade; they are therefore able to husband all their equal Advantages better, by saving time, making less waste, an hundred other things that cannot all be thought of on the suddain.
The Work is done in Holland with great order and regularity: the Carriage there is less, and all perform’d by Water; their Busses are better secur’d in the intervals of Fishing, are with less Expence and Labour refitted; they have more Mills and Engines, more Ways and Means to save the work of Hands. Upon all which, it may be concluded, That their whole Preparation for this Trade is cheaper far than ours.
They catch and cure their Herrings cheaper, they sell for less profit: Indeed, we find by experience, That the Dutch can sell Herrings for half the price for which they can be catch’d and cur’d by England. Wherefore the Trade must all be theirs.
And must we for this, quarrel with the Dutch? They have been our best Defence against the successive Powers of Spain and France, they are now our only hopes against the united Strength of both; ’tis certainly the interest of England to preserve and cherish the States of Holland. It is true, some of our Princes have had other Thoughts, or other Interests. It has been the craft of Ministers to cajole the People, to make their Court the better with their Masters: The Flag, Amboyna, and the British Herrings, have been their most persuasive Arguments. Amboyna and the Flag are antient Stories; I do not know whether it be fit to rake into them: But by this time, ’tis very plain, They do not keep the Fishing-Trade from us by violence or injustice, or by any other than the most honest Methods of selling better pennyworths. When we can be able to do this, ’twill then be time to think of Fishing, till then we are disabled.