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AN ESSAY ON THE RISE, PROGRESS, AND DECLINE OF COMMERCE IN HOLLAND. - John Ramsay McCulloch, Treatises and Essays on Subjects connected with Economic Policy with Biographical Sketches of Quesnay, Adam Smith & Ricardo 
Treatises and Essays on Subjects connected with Economic Policy with Biographical Sketches of Quesnay, Adam Smith & Ricardo (Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1853).
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AN ESSAY ON THE RISE, PROGRESS, AND DECLINE OF COMMERCE IN HOLLAND.
The history of Holland, or the Seven United Provinces, evinces in the most striking manner the wonderful influence of a well-directed spirit of industry and economy, at the same time that it shows the means by which that spirit may be most effectually called forth. The Hollanders, though placed apparently under circumstances the most unfavourable for the accumulation of wealth, overcame with matchless perseverance one difficulty after another, until they rendered their country the centre of European commerce, their traffickers the “honourable of the earth,” and diffused opulence, and a taste for conveniences and enjoyments, among the lowest orders of the people. There is no nation whose career has been more extraordinary. And there is none whose history deserves so much to be studied by all who wish to become acquainted with those circumstances which elevate nations to a high pitch of commercial prosperity, and with those, also, which sap the foundations of their power, and sink them to a lower level. For these reasons, we beg briefly to call the attention of the reader to a few remarks on what seem to have been the more prominent causes of the rise and progress of commerce in Holland, and of its subsequent decline.
Occupying a sandy, marshy, and unfruitful country, liable to be overflowed by the large rivers which intersect it, and to be laid waste by the more violent irruptions of the ocean, the Hollanders were obliged to guard against inundations, by constructing vast artificial mounds along the banks of the rivers and the sea-coast, and to seek in fishing and navigation for that support which they could not derive from agriculture. The duris urgens in rebus egestas whetted their ingenuity, and gave them courage to undertake, and patience to overcome, the most formidable enterprises. They could not subsist without drawing a portion of their supplies from foreigners, so that commerce was to them not a matter of choice, but of necessity. Cæsar describes the Batavians as addicted to a seafaring life, and deriving a part of their subsistence from the fishery. The earliest accounts transmitted to us by modern chroniclers and historians represent them as engaged in naval enterprises, and possessing numerous fleets. The foundations of the Hanseatic League were laid in the 12th and 13th centuries, and several of the towns of Holland were amongst its oldest members. In 1477, Philip of Burgundy wrote to the Pope, that “Holland and Zealand were rich islands, inhabited by a brave and warlike people, who have never been conquered by their neighbours, and who prosecute their commerce on every sea.”1 The discovery of the mode of curing and barrelling herring, by an obscure individual of the name of Beukels, or Beukelzon, towards the middle of the 14th century, contributed more, perhaps, than anything else, to increase the maritime power and wealth of Holland. At a period when the prohibition of eating butchers’ meat-during two days every week, and forty days before Easter, was universal, a supply of some sort of subsidiary food was urgently required; so that the discovery of Beukels was of the greatest consequence, not to his countrymen only, but to the Christian world. It should be mentioned, to the honour of the emperor Charles V., that being, in 1550, at Biervliet, where Beukels is buried, he visited his grave, and ordered a magnificent monument to be erected, to record the memory of a man who had rendered so signal a service to his country.
For a long period, the Hollanders enjoyed nearly a complete monopoly of the herring-fishery. They carried it on not only in the bays and inlets of their own country, but along the British coasts, from the Shetland and Orkney Islands to the mouth of the Thames. Their sense of its importance was shown by the saying in common use amongst them, that “The foundations of Amsterdam were laid on herring bones.”1
But they were, if possible, still more indebted to the whale-fishery, which they prosecuted to an extent, and with a degree of success, that completely distanced all their competitors. This fishery, when in its most flourishing condition, was principally carried on in the seas and bays round Spitzbergen. And there the Hollanders constructed the village of Smeerenberg,2 where they boiled the blubber, and prepared the oil and the bone. The destruction of the whales, and the retreat of those who survived to the open seas, and then to the coasts of Greenland and Davis’ Straits, put an end to the establishment at Smeerenberg, and with it terminated the golden age of the whale-fishery.3
It would lead us into too wide a field, were we to enter into any lengthened details with respect to the circumstances which occasioned the revolt and independence of the United Provinces. It is sufficient for our purpose to observe, that the government of Holland, during the period when she began to be distinguished as a naval power, was essentially free. The Earls, or Counts, of Holland, like those of Flanders, enjoyed a comparatively limited authority. Hemmed in on all sides by powerful neighbours, and engaged in frequent contests with each other, they were perpetually under the necessity of applying to their subjects for supplies. In consequence, the nobility, clergy, and above all the corporate bodies established in the different towns, acquired a large share of authority. The supreme government was vested in an assembly of the states, which met as often as it thought proper, and without whose consent no taxes could be imposed, wars entered into, or treaties either of peace or alliance concluded. The prerogatives of the earls were, indeed, more like those enjoyed by the elective chief magistrates of republican governments than those that usually belong to hereditary sovereigns.
This free system of government, the security thence resulting, and the scope which it gave to the exercise of talent and industry, was no doubt the principal circumstance that so early rendered Flanders one of the richest, best cultivated, and most commercial countries of Europe, and which enabled the Hollanders to surmount all the difficulties incident to their situation. A striking proof of the enlightened and constitutional policy of the Flemish government, occurs so far back as the reign of Edward I. of England. That monarch, in a letter addressed to Robert, Earl of Flanders, states that he had learned that an active intercourse was carried on between the Scotch and the Flemings; and as the Scotch had taken part with Robert Bruce, who was in rebellion against him, and excommunicated by the Pope, he begged that the earl would put a stop to this intercourse, and exclude the Scotch from his dominions. The earl returned an answer full of expressions of respect for Edward, adding, however, “We must not conceal it from your majesty, that our country of Flanders is common to all the world, where every person finds a free admission. Nor can we take away this privilege from persons concerned in commerce, without bringing ruin and destruction upon our country. If the Scotch go to our ports, and our subjects go to theirs, it is neither the intention of ourselves nor our subjects to encourage them in their error, but only to carry on our traffic, without taking any part with them.”1
The provinces continued for several ages under the moderate and constitutional government of their native princes, till, by the extinction of the male line in some families, by marriage, conquest, and other casualties, they fell under the dominion of the House of Burgundy. But, notwithstanding the increased power of their new sovereigns, they continued to enjoy their ancient privileges, and were governed according to the laws enacted by their representatives. The taxes and other public burdens, were indeed considerably augmented. But as their commerce and opulence increased in a still greater ratio, this burden was submitted to, if not without reluctance, without any disturbance.
In 1477, the sovereignty of the Low Countries passed from the House of Burgundy to that of Hapsburgh, by the marriage of the only daughter of Charles the Bold, the last Duke of Burgundy, to Maximilian, afterwards Emperor of Germany. Charles V., the grandson of Maximilian, was born in the Low Countries, and entertained a kindly feeling towards the people. He treated them with regard, respected their privileges, and though, on a few occasions, he stretched his prerogative to an unconstitutional length, little opposition was made to his government. But it was far otherwise with his son and successor, Philip II. The Reformation having made a considerable progress in the Netherlands, this gloomy and unrelenting bigot, in the view of arresting its progress, established tribunals equivalent to the Inquisition, and subjected every one accused of heresy to the most barbarous punishments. The command of a large army, quartered in the Provinces, and composed principally of Spanish and Italian troops, was entrusted to the famous Ferdinand de Toledo, Duke of Alva, whose bigotry and ferocity were nowise inferior to Philip’s. Alva’s object was twofold, to extirpate every vestige of the Reformed religion, and by trampling under foot the civil rights of the people, to render the government as despotical as that of Castile. But, in endeavouring to accomplish these objects, his cruelties excited a spirit of resistance, which all the power of Spain was unable to overcome. In Flanders, indeed, the Spaniards succeeded; but Holland and the Northern provinces achieved their independence. No contest was ever engaged in with means apparently so unequal. The Spanish monarchy was then, beyond all question, the most powerful in Europe. Its resources seemed equal to the greatest undertakings; its troops were brave, numerous, and well appointed; and in Alva, Farnese, and Spinola, it could boast of generals that would have done honour to any age. To so mighty a power the Hollanders, few in number, had nothing to oppose but their hatred of tyranny, their invincible courage and constancy, the advantages derived from the peculiar situation of their country, and the talents of William I., Prince of Orange, and his successor Maurice.1 Luckily, however, these proved sufficient. This great struggle was prolonged for above half a century; and whether we consider its duration, the sacrifices and efforts of the weaker party, or the advantages resulting from their success, it may be safely affirmed to have no parallel in the history of the world.
By an unlooked-for train of consequences, the contest with the Spaniards, instead of being injurious to the commerce of Holland, was a principal cause of its increase. Bruges had been at one time the greatest trading city in the Low Countries, having formed the centre of the communication carried on by sea between the southern and northern parts of Europe.1 But owing to some severities exercised on it by the Emperor Frederick III., in consequence of the citizens having imprisoned his son Maximilian, to whose marriage with the heiress of the House of Burgundy we have alluded, the commerce carried on at Bruges was gradually removed to Antwerp. In consequence principally of this circumstance, but partly also of its advantageous situation, the trade of Antwerp was rapidly augmented; and it had become, at the breaking out of the troubles, one of the richest and greatest commercial cities of Europe. Ludovico Guicciardini has given, in his description of the Low Countries,2 an interesting account of Antwerp in 1560, when it had attained the acme of its prosperity, and of the commerce carried on by its merchants. Though too long to copy, this account contains a few particulars which may be worth mentioning. Armuyden, in the island of Walcheren, was the place of rendezvous for the shipping of Antwerp; and in it, Guicciardini says, 500 large ships had been lying at one time, bound to, or newly returned from, distant parts of the world. He adds, that it was no uncommon thing for 500 ships of all sizes to go and come in a single day; that 10,000 carts were employed in conveying merchandise to and from the neighbouring countries, besides hundreds of waggons daily coming and going with passengers; and 500 coaches used by people of distinction. In his enumeration of the different trades, Guicciardini reckons 92 fishmongers, 78 butchers, and 124 goldsmiths, who at that time acted as bankers, or rather exchangers of money. The houses were computed to amount to 13,500, and the inhabitants to about 100,000. Few only of the ships frequenting the port of Antwerp belonged to its citizens, its oversea trade being principally carried on by the ships of foreign nations. Many of its merchants were possessed of immense fortunes.
Its siege and capture by the Spaniards, under Farnese, in 1585, proved fatal to the trade of this great emporium. The terms obtained by the citizens were indeed comparatively favourable. But their aversion to the Spanish government being insurmountable, they lost no time in removing themselves, their commerce, and effects, to Amsterdam, Middleburgh, and other cities, where they hoped to enjoy that security and freedom which they could not look for under their conquerors. To lessen the importance of a place which had fallen into the hands of their enemies, the Hollanders built forts on the Scheldt, to intercept such ships as might attempt to get to Antwerp; and at length resorted to the device of rendering the river unnavigable, by sinking vessels loaded with stones in its channel. The commerce, which had enriched the Netherlands, was thus wholly transferred to Holland, and brought with it an accession of wealth and power, which had a material influence over the fate of the war.
Among the various branches of commerce which Antwerp enjoyed, one of the most valuable was carried on with the Portuguese, who supplied her warehouses with the spices and other productions of India. These were chiefly bought by the Dutch merchants, who conveyed them to England, and the countries bordering on the Baltic, or carried them up the great rivers into the interior of Germany. Philip II. having, in 1580, made himself master of Portugal, one of his first measures was to put a stop, in as far as possible, to the intercourse between Lisbon and his rebellious subjects in the Low Countries. But the Hollanders having participated in the advantages of the trade in Indian commodities, since they could no longer obtain them at second hand, resolved to procure them direct from the places of their growth. At first they endeavoured to effect their object by a north-east passage; but this proving unsuccessful, they determined on attempting the passage by the Cape of Good Hope. Houtman, a Hollander who had been in the Portuguese service in India, commanded the first fleet of Dutch ships that appeared in the Indian ocean, in 1594. In a mercantile point of view, this adventure was not very successful; but it was immediately followed by others that were eminently so. The Portuguese, whose martial ardour had abated during a long period of peace, detested by the natives for their bad faith, rapacity, and intolerance, and little anxious about preserving the dominion of India for the Spaniards, whose subjects they had become, opposed no effectual resistance to the encroachments of the Dutch. The English also having appeared about the same time in the eastern seas, the Portuguese empire, attacked by both, was subverted in even less time than it had been raised. And Philip II. had the mortification to behold the most valuable branches of the commerce of the Peninsula pass into the hands of those whom his persecutions and atrocities had rendered his implacable enemies.
In 1602, the Dutch East India Company was formed; and notwithstanding its pernicious influence, the Indian trade increased rapidly in magnitude and importance. Ships fitted both for commercial and warlike purposes, and having a considerable number of soldiers on board, were sent out within a few years of the Company’s establishment. Amboyna and the Moluccas were first wrested from the Portuguese, and with them the Dutch obtained the monopoly of the spice trade. Factories and fortifications were in no long time established from Bussorah at the mouth of the Tigris, in the Persian Gulph, along the coasts and islands of India as far as Japan. Alliances were formed with several of the native princes; and in many parts, particularly on the coasts of Ceylon, and in various districts of Malabar and Coromandel, the Dutch were themselves the sovereigns. Batavia, in the large and fertile island of Java, the greater part of which they had conquered, formed the centre of their Indian commerce. Though unhealthy, its port was excellent, and it was admirably situated for commanding the trade of the Eastern Archipelago. In 1651, they planted a colony at the Cape of Good Hope, which had been strangely neglected by the Portuguese.
Every branch of commerce was vigorously prosecuted by the Dutch. But that carried on with the Baltic was the most extensive and important. Guicciardini mentions that their trade with Poland, Denmark, Prussia, etc., even before the revolutionary struggle, was so great, that fleets of 300 ships arrived twice a-year at Amsterdam from Dantzic and Livonia only; and it was largely increased during the latter part of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th centuries. The dense population of Holland, and the limited extent and unfruitful nature of the soil, render the inhabitants dependent on foreigners for the greater part of their supplies of corn. And these have always been principally furnished by the countries round the Baltic; they also have supplied the timber, iron, hemp and flax, pitch and tar, tallow, ashes, and other bulky articles required in the building of houses and ships, and in various manufactures.
Nothing redounds more to the credit of the Dutch, than their policy with respect to the corn trade. They had at all times a large capital embarked in it. And the variations which are perpetually occurring in the harvests, early led them to engage very extensively in speculative enterprises. When the crops were unusually productive, and prices low, they bought and stored up large quantities of grain, in the expectation of profiting by the advance that was sure to take place on the occurrence of an unfavourable season. Repeated efforts were made in periods when prices were rising, or high, to prevail on the government to prohibit exportation; but they invariably refused to interfere. In consequence of this enlightened policy, Holland was long the most important entrepôt for corn; and her markets were on all occasions furnished with abundant supplies. Those scarcities which are so very disastrous in countries without commerce, or where the trade in corn is restricted, were not known in Holland, except as being a copious source of wealth to her merchants, who then found an advantageous vent for the stocks accumulated in their warehouses. “Amsterdam,” said Sir Walter Raleigh,1 “is never without 700,000 quarters of corn, none of it the growth of the country. A dearth of only one year in any other part of Europe, enriches Holland for seven years. In the course of a year and a half, during a scarcity in England, there were carried away from the ports of Southampton, Bristol, and Exeter alone, nearly £200,000; and if London and the rest of England be included, above £2,000,000 must have been carried away.”
The well-informed author of the “Richesse de la Hollande,” published in 1778, observes, in allusion to these circumstances, “Que la disette de grains regne dans les quatre parties du monde; vous trouverez du froment, du seigle, et d’autres grains à Amsterdam; ils n’y manquent jamais.”1
The Bank of Amsterdam was founded in 1609. It was principally intended to obviate the inconvenience and uncertainty arising from the circulation of the coins imported into Amsterdam from all parts of the world. The merchants who carried coin or bullion to the Bank obtained credit for an equal value in its books; this was called bank-money: and all considerable payments were effected by writing it off from the account of one individual to that of another. This establishment continued to flourish till the invasion of the French in 1795.
In 1621, the Dutch formed a West India Company. Within the short period of fifteen years this association conquered the greater part of Brazil, fitted out 800 trading and warlike ships, at a vast expense, and captured from the Spaniards and Portuguese 545 ships which were supposed to be worth ninety millions florins.2 But the success of the Company’s warlike enterprises by sea proved their ruin. In their ardour to prosecute them, they neither completed the conquest of Brazil, nor put the provinces which they had conquered into a posture of defence. In 1640, the Portuguese shook off the Spanish yoke; and soon after set about making preparations to recover the valuable possessions they had lost in Brazil. Prince Maurice of Nassau, who had been captain-general in South America, having been imprudently recalled in 1644, the administration fell into incompetent hands. The Portuguese took advantage of this circumstance; and the Dutch being vigorously attacked, and not properly supported from home, were compelled finally to abandon the country in 1654. This circumstance occasioned the fall of the Company, which was abolished in 1674; when a new one, whose career was hardly more prosperous, but whose privileges were much less extensive, was established on its ruins.
Between the years 1651 and 1672, when the republic was invaded by the French, the commerce of Holland seems to have reached its greatest height. The author of the “True Interest of Holland” estimates its increase from the treaty with Spain, concluded at Munster in 1643 to 1669, at fully a half. He adds, that during the war with Holland, Spain lost the greater part of her naval power; that, since the peace, the Dutch had obtained most part of the trade to that country, which had been previously carried on by the Hanseatic merchants and the English; that almost all the coasting trade of Spain was carried on by Dutch bottoms; that Spain had even been forced to hire Dutch ships to sail to her American possessions; and that, so great was the exportation of goods from Holland to Spain, that all the merchandise brought from the Spanish West Indies was not sufficient to make returns for them.
At this period, indeed, the Dutch engrossed, not by means of any artificial monopoly, but by the greater number of their ships, and their superior skill and economy in all that regarded navigation, almost the whole carrying trade of Europe. The value of the goods exported from France on Dutch bottoms, towards the middle of the 14th century, exceeded forty millions of livres; and the commerce of England with the Low Countries was, for a lengthened period, almost entirely carried on in the same way.
The business of marine insurance was largely prosecuted at Amsterdam. Ordinances published in 1551, 1563, and 1570, contain regulations for the settlement of such disputes as were likely to arise in conducting this difficult but highly useful business. It is singular, however, notwithstanding their sagacity, and their desire to strengthen industrious habits, that the Dutch should have prohibited insurance upon lives. It was reserved for England to show the many advantages derivable from this application of the science of probabilities.
In one respect, the division and combination of commercial pursuits was carried farther in Holland than in most other countries. Not only merchants, but towns, applied themselves in preference to one line of business. Middleburgh, for example, was engaged in the wine trade; Flushing, in the West India trade; Swaardam, in ship-building; Sluys, in the herring-fishery; Amsterdam, in the East India, Spanish, and Mediterranean trades, etc. Competition in every branch was intense, and they were all conducted with the utmost skill and economy.
The author of the “True Interest of Holland” says that in his time the republic had 10,000 sail of shipping and 168,000 seamen; “although,” he adds, “the country itself affords them neither materials, nor victual, nor merchandise.” In 1690, Sir William Petty estimated the shipping of Europe at about 2,000,000 tons, which he supposed to be distributed as follows, viz., England, 500,000; France, 100,000; Hamburgh, Denmark, Sweden, and Dantzic, 250,000; Spain, Portugal, and Italy, 250,000; that of the Seven United Provinces amounting, according to him, to 900,000 tons, or to nearly half the whole tonnage of Europe! No great dependence can, indeed, be placed upon these estimates. But the probability is, that had they been more accurate, the preponderance in favour of Holland would have been greater than it appears to be; for the official returns to the circulars addressed in 1701 by the commissioners of customs to the officers at the different ports, show that the whole mercantile navy of England amounted at that period to only 261,222 tons, carrying 27,196 men.1
It may, therefore, be fairly concluded that, during the 17th century, the foreign trade and navigation of Holland was greater than that of all Europe besides. And yet the country which was the seat of this vast commerce had no native produce to export, nor even a piece of timber fit for ship-building. All had been the fruit of industry, economy, and a fortunate combination of circumstances. “Holland,” to use the words of Sir William Temple, “did not grow rich by any native commodities, but by force of industry; by the improvement and manufacture of all foreign growths; by being the general magazine of Europe, and furnishing all parts with whatever the market wants or invites; and by their seamen being, as they have been properly called, the common carriers of the world.”
In this brief sketch of the progress of Dutch commerce, we have touched upon some of the circumstances which seem to have been principally instrumental in accelerating its increase. But before proceeding to offer any further remarks of our own, either upon these or any of the other causes which may be supposed to have concurred in bringing about these extraordinary results, we beg to call the reader’s attention to a very important statement with respect to them, which might have been advantageously referred to on some late occasions in this country.
After the war terminated by the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, the attention of the Dutch government was forcibly attracted to the state of the shipping and foreign commerce of the republic. They had been gradually declining from the beginning of the century; and the discovery of means by which this decline might be arrested, and the trade of the republic, if possible, restored to its ancient flourishing condition, became a prominent object in the speculations of every one who felt interested in the public welfare. That the most correct information might be had on the subject, the Stadtholder, William IV., circulated the following queries among some of the more extensive and intelligent Dutch merchants, desiring them to favour him with their answers:—
“1. What is the actual state of trade? and if the same should be found to be diminished and fallen to decay, then, 2. To inquire by what methods the same may be supported and advanced, or, if possible, restored to its former lustre, repute, and dignity?”
In discussing these questions, the merchants had to trace and exhibit the causes which had raised the commerce of Holland to the high pitch of prosperity to which it had once attained, and those which had occasioned its subsequent decline. It is stated that, though not of the same opinion upon all points, they concurred generally in regard to those of most importance. When their answers had been obtained, and compared with each other, the Stadtholder had a dissertation prepared from them and other authentic sources, on the commerce of the republic, to which proposals were subjoined for its amendment. Some of the principles therein advanced apply to Holland only; but they are mostly of universal application, and are as sound as they are comprehensive. The benefits resulting from religious toleration, political liberty, and the freedom of industry, have seldom been more clearly set forth than in this dissertation. At the same time, it contains nothing which was supposed to be hypothetical or doubtful. Its authors being all either practical or official men, largely engaged in business, or engrossed with the duties and details of office, proceeded on the sober and solid grounds of experience and observation. And yet neither Locke nor Smith could have gone farther in recommending free institutions and the freedom of commerce.
The dissertation begins by an enumeration of the causes which contributed to advance the commerce of the republic to its former unexampled prosperity: these the authors divide into three classes, embracing under the first those which were natural and physical; under the second, those which they denominate moral; and, under the third, those which they considered adventitious and external, remarking on them in succession, as follows:—
“I. The natural and physical causes are the advantages of the situation of the country, on the sea, and at the mouth of considerable rivers. Its situation between the northern and southern parts, which, by being in a manner the centre of all Europe, made the republic become the general market, where the merchants on both sides used to bring their superfluous commodities, in order to barter and exchange the same for other goods they wanted.
“Nor have the barrenness of the country, and the necessities of the natives arising from that cause, less contributed to set them upon exerting all their application, industry, and utmost stretch of genius, to fetch from foreign countries what they stand in need of in their own, and to support themselves by trade.
“The abundance of fish in the neighbouring seas put them in a condition not only to supply their own occasions, but, with the overplus, to carry on a trade with foreigners; and out of the produce of the fishery to find an equivalent for what they so wanted, through the sterility and narrow boundaries and extent of their own country.
“II. Among the moral and political causes are to be placed,—The unalterable maxim and fundamental law relating to the free exercise of different religions; and always to consider this toleration and connivance as the most effectual means to draw foreigners from adjacent countries to settle and reside here, and so become instrumental to the peopling of these provinces.
“The constant policy of the republic to make this country a perpetual, safe, and secure asylum for all persecuted and oppressed strangers, no alliance, no treaty, no regard for, or solicitation from any potentate whatever, has at any time been able to weaken or destroy; or make the state recede from protecting those who have fled to it for their own security and self-preservation.
“Throughout the whole course of all the persecutions and oppressions that have occurred in other countries, the steady adherence of the republic to this fundamental law has been the cause that many people have not only fled hither for refuge, with their whole stock in ready cash, and their most valuable effects, but have also settled and established many trades, fabrics, manufactures, arts, and sciences, in this country; notwithstanding the first materials for the said fabrics and manufactures were almost wholly wanting in it, and not to be procured but at a great expense from foreign parts.
“The constitution of our form of government, and the liberty from thence accruing to the citizens, are further reasons to which the growth of trade, and its establishment in the republic, may fairly be attributed. And all her policy and laws are put on such an equitable footing, that neither life, estates, or dignities, depend on the caprice or arbitrary power of any single individual; nor is there any room for any person, who, by care, frugality, and diligence, has once acquired an affluent fortune or estate, to fear a deprivation of them by any act of violence, oppression, or injustice.
“The administration of justice in the country has, in like manner, always been clear and impartial, and without distinction of superior or inferior rank; whether the parties have been rich or poor, or even this a foreigner and that a native. And it were greatly to be wished we could at this day boast of such impartial quickness and despatch in all our legal processes, considering how great an influence it hath on trade.
“To sum up all, amongst the moral and political causes of the former flourishing state of trade, may be likewise placed the wisdom and prudence of the administration; the intrepid firmness of the councils; the faithfulness with which treaties and engagements were wont to be fulfilled and ratified; and particularly the care and caution practised to preserve tranquillity and peace, and to decline, instead of entering on a scene of war, merely to gratify the ambitious views of gaining fruitless or imaginary conquests.
“By these moral and political maxims was the glory and reputation of the republic so far spread, and foreigners animated to place so great a confidence on the steady determinations of a state so wisely and so prudently conducted, that a concourse of them stocked this country with an augmentation of inhabitants and useful hands, whereby its trade and opulence were constantly from time to time increased.
“III. Amongst the adventitious and external causes of the rise and flourishing state of our trade may be reckoned—
“That at the time when the best and wisest maxims were adopted in the republic as the means of making trade to flourish, they were neglected in almost all other countries; and any one, on reading the history of those times, may easily discover, that the persecutions on account of religion throughout Spain, Brabant, Flanders, and many other states and kingdoms, have given rise to the establishment of trade in the republic.
“To this happy event, and the settling of manufactures in our country, the long continuance of the civil wars in France, which were afterwards carried on in Germany, England, and divers other parts, have also very much contributed.
“It must be added, in the last place, that during our most burdensome and heavy wars with Spain and Portugal (however ruinous that period was for commerce otherwise), these powers had both neglected their navy; whilst the republic, by a conduct directly the reverse, was at the same time formidable, and in a capacity not only to protect the trade of their own subjects, but to annoy and crush that of their enemies in all quarters.”1
It will, we presume, be generally admitted that these statements reflect very great credit on the Dutch merchants and government. The barrenness of the soil of Holland, and its liability to inundation, made industry and perseverance indispensable, not to the comfort merely, but to the very existence of the inhabitants; while its central situation, its sea frontier, and its command of some of the principal inlets of the Continent, impelled them to engage in navigation and trade. But the concurrent influence of these circumstances, however powerful, would not of itself have sufficed to produce the results we have witnessed. Without that free system of government, that toleration of all religions, and that perfect security of property, which they early and for a while almost exclusively enjoyed, the Dutch could not have figured as they have done among the nations of Europe. The intolerance, the persecutions, and the follies of their neighbours, drove many of their most valuable and intelligent citizens to seek an asylum in Holland. Bayle, Locke, and Shaftesbury, were of the number of these refugees. We need not, therefore, wonder at the fortitude, the boldness, and the enterprise displayed by the Dutch in the 16th and 17th centuries. The progress of commerce and industry has everywhere, indeed, been pretty nearly proportioned to the liberality of the government, and the security and freedom enjoyed by the people. These were the circumstances which, though imperfectly developed, occasioned the revival of commerce and arts in the towns and cities of Italy, Germany, and Europe generally, in the middle ages, when the rural population was a prey to every sort of disorder. So long as the Spaniards possessed their Cortes, and the civil and religious privileges accorded by their ancient laws, they made rapid advances in civilisation. Their vigour, wealth, and industry, kept pace with those of their most favoured neighbours. But after the crooked and selfish policy of Ferdinand, followed by the unrelenting bigotry of Philip II., had established the Inquisition and destroyed the freedom of the press and the liberties of the nation, its physical as well as its moral energies were completely paralysed. It continued, indeed, to swarm with priests, and to abound in festivals, processions, and every sort of superstitious mummery; but its industry, intelligence, and enterprise disappeared. It is, however, some consolation to know, that this wretched system has proved no less fatal to the monarchs, for whose aggrandisement it was established, than to their subjects. While, on the one hand, the inhabitants of the Peninsula have been remarkable, for more than two centuries, for ignorance, bigotry, poverty, and laziness; the successors of Charles V. have, on the other, sunk to the lowest place among princes. Instead of being regarded, as of old, when they ruled over a free people, with envy and apprehension, they have become a by-word among nations, and are not so much objects of respect as of scorn and contempt.
Many dissertations have been written to account for the decline of the commerce of Holland. But, if we mistake not, its leading causes may be classed under two prominent heads, viz., first, the growth of commerce and navigation in other countries; and second, the increase of taxation at home. During the period when the republic rose to eminence as a commercial state, England and France, distracted by civil and religious dissensions, or engrossed wholly by schemes of foreign conquest, were unable to apply their energies to the cultivation of commerce, or to withstand the competition of so industrious a people as the Dutch. They, therefore, were under the necessity of allowing the greater part of their foreign, and even of their coasting trade, to be carried on in Dutch bottoms under the superintendence of Dutch factors. But after the accession of Louis XIV. and the ascendancy of Cromwell had put an end to internal commotions in France and England, the energies of these two great nations began to be directed to pursuits of which the Dutch had acquired almost a monopoly. This growing inclination on the part of the English and French people, was fostered and promoted by their respective governments, who, envying the wealth and power to which their trade and navigation had raised the States-General, were anxious to turn the industry of their subjects into the same channels. In 1651, the Parliament of England passed the Act of Navigation, the main object of which was to exclude the Dutch from the carrying trade of this country; and in 1664, Colbert promulgated the tariff compiled under his direction, in the view of promoting the trade and mercantile marine of France, by harassing those of the republic. There is, however, good reason to doubt whether these regulations had the influence commonly ascribed to them. At best they only hastened by a few years a result which must have taken place though they had not been enacted. Their popularity is, indeed, a sufficient proof that they were in unison with the spirit of the age, and strengthened a bias which the course of events had already given to the national industry. It was not to be supposed, after tranquillity and a regular system of government had been established in France and England, that their active and enterprising inhabitants would submit to see one of their most valuable branches of industry engrossed by foreigners. The Dutch ceased to be the carriers of Europe, without any fault of their own. Their performance of that function necessarily terminated as soon as other nations became possessed of a mercantile marine, and were able to do that for themselves which had previously been done for them by their neighbours.
Whatever, therefore, might have been the condition of Holland in other respects, the natural advance of rival nations could hardly fail to strip her of a large portion of the commerce which she once possessed. The progress of decline seems also to have been considerably accelerated, or rather, perhaps, the efforts to arrest it were rendered ineffectual, by the extremely heavy taxation to which she was subjected. It should, however, be observed, that this taxation was not occasioned by any misconduct on the part of the rulers of the republic—the most severe spirit of economy having always pervaded every department of the public expenditure—but by the unavoidable expenses incurred in the administration of the government, in the construction and repair of the vast works required to keep out the sea, and in the heavy cost of the revolutionary struggle with Spain, and the subsequent contests with France and England. Necessity, notwithstanding every exertion to the contrary, compelled the States, on more than one occasion, to reduce the interest of the public debt. And it also obliged them to impose taxes on corn, on flour when ground at the mill, and on bread when it came from the oven; on butter, fish, and fruit; on income and legacies; on the sale of houses; and, in short, on almost every article either of necessity or convenience. Sir William Temple mentions that in his time—and taxes were greatly increased afterwards—a fish sauce in common use, paid no fewer than thirty different duties of excise. And it was a common saying at Amsterdam, that every dish of fish brought to table was paid for once to the fisherman, and six times to the state.
The pernicious influence of this excess of taxation has been illustrated by the author of the “Richesse de la Hollande,” and other well-informed writers; and it has also been forcibly pointed out in the Dissertation already referred to, drawn up from the communications of the Dutch merchants. “Oppressive taxes,” it is there stated, “must be placed at the head of all the causes that have co-operated to the prejudice and discouragement of trade; and it may be justly said, that it can only be attributed to these taxes, that the trade of this country has been diverted out of its channel, and transferred to our neighbours, and must daily be still more and more alienated and shut out from us, unless the progress thereof be stopt by some quick and effectual remedy: Nor is it difficult to see, from these contemplations on the state of our trade, that the same will be effected by no other means than a diminution of all duties.
“In former times this was reckoned the only trading republic in Europe; and foreigners were content to pay the taxes, as well on the goods they brought thither, as on those they came there to buy; without examining whether they could evade or save them, by fetching the goods from the places where they were produced, and carrying others to the places where they were consumed: In short, they paid the Dutch their taxes with pleasure, without any farther inquiry.
“But since the last century, the system of trade is altered all over Europe: Foreign nations seeing the wonderful effect of our trade, and to what an eminence the Dutch had rose only by means thereof, they did likewise apply themselves to it; and to save our duties, sent their superfluous products beside our country, to the places where they are most consumed; and in return for the same, furnished themselves from the first hands with what they wanted.”1
But, notwithstanding this authoritative exposition of the pernicious influence of excessive taxation, the necessary expenses of the state were so great as to render it impossible to make any sufficient reductions. And, with the exception of the transit trade carried on through the Rhine and the Meuse, which is in great measure independent of foreign competition, and the Indian trade, the other branches of the trade of Holland, though still very considerable, continue in a depressed state.
In consequence principally of the oppressiveness of taxation, but partly, too, of the accumulation of capital which had taken place while the Dutch engrossed the carrying trade of Europe, profits in Holland were greatly reduced towards the middle of the 17th century, and have ever since continued extremely low. This circumstance would of itself have undermined the foundations of her greatness. Her capitalists, who could hardly expect to clear more than two or three per cent. of nett profit by any sort of undertaking carried on at home, were tempted to vest their capital in other countries, and to speculate in loans to foreign governments. Hence, until very lately, the Dutch were the largest creditors of any nation in Europe. It is impossible, indeed, to form an accurate estimate either of the amount of the sums owing to them by foreigners, previously to the late French war, or at the present time; but there can be no doubt that at the former period it was immense, and that it is still very large. Demeunier1 estimates the capital lent by the Dutch to foreign governments, exclusive of the large sums lent to France during the American war, at seventy-three millions sterling. According to the author of the “Richesse de la Hollande,”2 the sums lent to France and England only, previously to 1778, amounted to 1,500,000 livres tournois, or sixty millions sterling. And besides these, vast sums were lent to private individuals in foreign countries, both regularly as loans at interest, and in the shape of goods advanced at long credits. Such was the difficulty of finding an advantageous investment for money in Holland, that Sir William Temple mentions, that the payment of any part of the national debt was looked upon by the creditors as an evil of the first magnitude. “They receive it,” says he, “with tears, not knowing how to dispose of it to interest with such safety and ease.”
In consequence of the preference given in Holland to ready money transactions, it was not a country in which adventurers without capital had much chance of speedily making a fortune. “Rien, en effet, de plus facile que de s’établir à Amsterdam; mais rien de plus difficile que de s’y soutenir sans des grandes ressources. Dans cette ville, où l’argent abonde, où on le prête contre des sûrétes à si bon marché, il est pourtant impossible de s’en procurer à crédit; et sans argent il n’y a plus de possibilité d’y travailler, que de trouver quelqu’un qui veuille de se charger d’un papier nouveau qui ne seroit pas appuyé d’un crédit que l’opinion, la protection, ou des effets réels feroient valoir à la bourse. Les Hollandois suivent lá-dessus des maximes très austères, même á l’égard des maisons d’une certaine considération.”1 But this austerity was not a disadvantage, but the reverse. It prevented commerce from degenerating, as it has too often done in other places, into gambling adventures. And, combined with the severe spirit of economy by which all classes have uniformly been actuated, placed it on a comparatively solid foundation. And it should be mentioned, to the honour of the Dutch, and as a proof of the excellence of this system, that notwithstanding the distress and loss of trade occasioned by the invasion and occupation of their country by the French, the bankruptcies in 1795 and subsequent years were not, comparatively, so numerous as in England in ordinary seasons.
Among the subordinate causes which contributed to the decline of Dutch commerce, or which at all events prevented its growth, we may reckon the circumstance of the commerce with India having been subjected to the trammels of monopoly. The author of the “True Interest of Holland” expresses his conviction, that the abolition of the East India Company would have contributed to increase the trade with the East; and no doubt can now remain in the mind of any one that such would have been the case. The Company’s directors did not exert themselves to carry on an extensive trade with a moderate profit, but to carry on a limited trade with a very large profit. To effect this purpose, they laboured with unequalled perseverance to obtain and preserve the monopoly of the spice trade; evincing, in their conduct with respect to it, a degree of rapacity, and a contempt for the rights and interests of others, that is hardly, we believe, to be matched in the history of any other association. “That they might,” said Mr Crawfurd, “regulate and control the production and price of cloves just as they thought proper, the clove trees were extirpated everywhere but in Amboyna, the seat of their power; and the surrounding princes were bribed by annual stipends to league with them for the destruction of their subjects’ property. This plan was begun about the year 1631. The contracts are still in force; and their annual fleet visits the surrounding islands to suppress the growth of cloves, which, in their native country, spring up with a luxuriance which these measures of satanic rigour, and of sacrilege towards bountiful nature, can scarce repress. In consequence of this plan—a plan carried on with so much iniquity and bloodshed—the country of spices is rendered a petty farm, of which the natural owners are reduced to the worst condition of predial slavery, and the great monopoliser and oppressor is that government whose duty it should have been to ensure freedom and afford protection. Human iniquity could hardly devise a plan more destructive of industry, more hostile to the growth of public wealth, or injurious to morals, than this system, framed in a barbarous age; and it reflects disgrace upon the character of a civilised people to persevere in it.”1
The same miserable system was followed with respect to the production of nutmegs, and, generally, of all those spices which are understood to be the exclusive growth of the Moluccas. In consequence, the trade in them was so much reduced, as to have been, for a lengthened period, unable to afford employment for the capital of half-a-dozen wealthy merchants; and the unrestrained rapacity of a few monopolists made the Dutch character be looked upon in Asia, for more than a century and a half, as an epitome of all that is base and mercenary.
But we are glad to have to state, that the old monopoly, with its long train of abuses, is now wholly abolished in the Moluccas, in Java, and throughout all the Dutch possessions in the East. Proprietors of estates and villages, who have lands assigned to them by government, are obliged to furnish to its agents a certain quantity of spice, or of some other article, at a fixed and reasonable price, as a land-tax or rent. But this is the only obligation imposed on them. In all other respects they are quite free to act as they please; and hence the extraordinary progress which these colonies have made since 1815.1
But to return: The capital of the Dutch East India Company amounted to only 6,500,000 florins, being about £542,000 sterling, divided into transferable shares of 3,000 florins each. The ascendancy they early gained over the Portuguese, the rich prizes they took from them, and their monopoly of the spice trade, enabled the Company, notwithstanding the wars in which they were engaged, and their losses by shipwreck and otherwise, to realise for a while enormous profits. The annual dividends for the six years ending with 1610 were as high as 36 per cent. In 1606, they rose to the astonishing rate of 75 per cent.; and in 1616 they were 62½ per cent. At one period, the price of a share in the Company’s stock was as high as 26,000 florins, being more than eight times its original cost. The dividends gradually declined, according as the trade of the English and other nations with India was extended. For some years previously to the dissolution of the Company in 1796, they were nominally 12 per cent., but were in reality much less.
Unlike their countrymen engaged in other branches of commerce, the East India Company made no efforts to prosecute trade on fair mercantile principles. Their whole object was to exclude competition; to grasp at the monopoly of particular products; and when they had obtained it, they took care, by narrowing the supplies brought to market, to raise their price to many times their real cost.1 They succeeded for a short time in getting the exclusive command of the pepper trade; and the first use which they made of it was, to raise the price of pepper to eight shillings a pound, being about 100 per cent. higher than the Portuguese prices. It is supposed that they must, during a few years, have made a profit of not less than 3,800 per cent. on this single article.2
In consequence of this system, the imports of Indian produce, and the Company’s trade, were confined within the narrowest limits. It has been estimated, apparently on good grounds, that the Indian trade, had it been conducted on the principle of open competition, instead of only requiring a capital of £542,000, would have furnished an advantageous employment for one of eight or ten millions. The truth is, that the notions which were long current with respect to the magnitude of the commerce of the Dutch East India Company were quite as visionary as those entertained in this country with regard to the profitableness of the trade carried on by our Company. It has been already seen, that when the “True Interest of Holland” was published (1667), the trade of the republic is supposed to have employed 10,000 sail of shipping; yet, even then, the ships annually engaged in the East India trade amounted to “only ten or sixteen going and coming.”3 From 1614 to 1730, the prosperous period of the Company’s affairs, the whole number of ships which arrived in Holland from India, was but 1621, giving only fourteen ships at an average to each year.4 If any farther proof of the ruinous influence of monopoly, of its tendency to narrow and choke up what would otherwise be the broadest and deepest commercial channels, could be desired, it would be found in the fact, that the American free-traders engaged in the trade between the United States and the dependencies of Holland in the East Indies, very far exceed, both in number and tonnage, the ships employed by the Dutch Company.
It may justly excite surprise, that so sagacious a people should have tolerated so great an abuse, and that the States-General did not early perceive the impolicy of surrendering so important a branch of commerce to a Company acting on such narrow principles. But, instead of being looked upon as a nuisance, which should at all hazards be abated, the East India Company was very generally regarded as one of the principal supports of the republic. It occasionally, indeed, rendered some direct service to the state, and, unlike some similar associations, it was always able to maintain itself without any aid from the public treasury. But these advantages were purchased at an enormous cost; and by blinding the public to the real influence of the monopoly, were positively injurious. Perhaps, however, the peculiar constitution of the Company contributed more than any thing else to its duration. Had its management and patronage been entirely in the hands of the merchants of Amsterdam, the Company would doubtless have had to encounter the hostility of those in the out-ports. This, however, was not the case. The Company’s stock was distributed among six of the principal towns, each of which had a separate chamber, or board of directors, amounting in all to sixty-five. The patronage was distributed amongst these chambers, according to the value of the stock held by each, and the directors had all handsome salaries. A board of seventeen directors was chosen from among the subordinate chambers, in which the supreme administration was vested. This board met alternately at Amsterdam and Middleburgh, six years at the former, and two at the latter.1 In consequence of this constitution, almost all the leading capitalists and merchants throughout the republic were directly concerned in the administration of the Company’s affairs; being at once the disposers and receivers of the patronage it had to bestow. Those whose interest would otherwise have led them to oppose the Company and to insist on the trade being thrown open, were thus induced to lend it an efficient support, and exerted themselves to protect an institution the most injurious that can well be imagined, to the commerce and navigation of the republic.
It is not, perhaps, very generally known, that how injurious soever to its trade, the Dutch India Company had no exclusive right to supply the markets of Holland with the products of India. They were the only Hollanders entitled to carry on a direct intercourse with India; but every one might import Indian commodities from England, France, and other European countries. The Company had, therefore, no means of obtaining a monopoly price for the produce they imported, unless they could engross it in India; and hence the unwearied perseverance with which they laboured to obtain the monopoly of the spice trade. In this respect the constitution of the Dutch East India Company was entirely different from that of the English Company. Had tea been as popular a beverage in Holland as in England, the Dutch Company must, in order to sell the article at an artificial price, have got possession of China, or, at all events have been able to obstruct all intercourse between the Celestial Empire, and every other European and American power. But previously to 1834, when the trade was thrown open, the British Company was relieved from all fear of competition. Not only had it the exclusive right to engage in the China trade, but no English merchant could import tea or other Chinese products from Hamburg or New York, even though they might have been able to sell them here with a good profit for half or two-thirds the price charged by the Company. The monopoly in its favour appears, therefore, to have been more objectionable than that in favour of the Dutch Company. While the latter existed, Indian and Chinese products were sold as cheap in Holland, and generally indeed cheaper, than in any other country. The Company might engross, if they could, a product in the East; but no Dutch statesman ever proposed to give them a monopoly of the home market. This was, at all times, open to Indian goods imported from foreign countries.
In illustration of what has now been stated, it may be mentioned, that previously to the renewal of the East India Company’s charter by Cromwell, in 1657, the trade from England to India had, for some years, been substantially free. And, as might be anticipated, the private adventurers carried it on with a zeal, economy, and success, which monopoly can never expect to rival. It is stated in a work, entitled “Britannia Languens,” or a Discourse of Trade, published in 1680, the author of which must have been alike well-informed and intelligent, that during the years 1653-4, etc., when the trade to India was open, the private traders imported East Indian commodities in such large quantities, and sold them at such reduced prices, that they not only fully supplied the British markets, but had even come into successful competition with the Dutch in the market of Amsterdam, and “had very much sunk the actions (shares) of the Dutch East India Company.”1
The report, that Cromwell intended to dissolve the English Company, caused the greatest consternation among the partners of the Dutch Company, who foresaw that there would be an end of their exorbitant profits if they were brought into competition with free English traders. A letter from the Hague, 15th January 1654, in the third volume of Thurlow’s “State Papers,” states, “That the merchants of Amsterdam have advice, that the Lord Protector intends to dissolve the East India Company at London, and to declare the navigation and commerce of the East Indies free and open, which doth cause great jealousy at Amsterdam, as a thing that will very much prejudice the East India Company in Holland.”
The interference of the administration in regulating the mode in which some of the most important branches of industry should be carried on, seems also to have been not a little injurious. Every proceeding with respect to the herring fishery, for example, was regulated by orders from government, carried into effect by officers appointed for that purpose. Some of these regulations were exceedingly vexatious. The period when the fishery might begin, was fixed at five minutes past twelve o’clock of the night of the 24th June! and the master and pilot of every vessel leaving Holland for the fishery, were obliged to make oath that they would respect this regulation. The species of salt to be made use of in curing different sorts of herrings was also fixed by law; and there were endless regulations with respect to the size of the barrels, the number and thickness of the staves of which they were to be made; the gutting and packing of the herrings; the branding of the barrels, etc., etc.1 These regulations were intended to secure to the Hollanders that superiority which they had early attained in the fishery; and to prevent the reputation of their herrings from being injured by the bad faith of individuals. But their real effect was the reverse of this. By tying up the fishers to a system of routine, they prevented them from making improvements; while the facility of counterfeiting the public marks opened a wider door to fraud, than would have been opened had government declined interfering in the matter.
But notwithstanding the East India monopoly, and the regulations now described, the commercial policy of Holland, for a lengthened period, was more liberal than that of any other nation. And, in consequence, a country not more extensive than Wales, and naturally not more fertile, conquered, indeed, in great measure from the sea, and kept from being submerged by constant watchfulness and a heavy expenditure, accumulated a population of about three millions; maintained wars of unexampled duration with the most powerful monarchies; and besides laying out immense sums in works of utility and ornament at home, lent hundreds of millions to foreigners. Notwithstanding their want of native timber and iron, they are abundantly supplied with all the materials of carpentry, ship-building, and manufacture. Their towns, which are numerous and magnificent, are the great marts for the spices, the coffee, and the sugar of the East; and abound, indeed, in all the products of all the countries of the world. Thus, where freedom and industry prevail,
Omnis fert omnia tellus.
And though their commerce, be much decayed, the Dutch, even at this moment, are the richest and most comfortable people of Europe. And their present, no less than their former state, shows that industry, a liberal system of government, and the security and free disposal of property and labour, can overcome every obstacle; “can convert the standing pool and lake into fat meadows, cover the barren rock with verdure, and make the desert smile with flowers.”1
[1 ] Richesse de la Hollande, i. 26.
[1 ] But, despite its extent and importance, the magnitude of the Dutch herring-fishery has been grossly exaggerated. According to the statements in the treatise on “Trade and Commerce” (Birch’s edition, ii. 130), ascribed to Sir Walter Raleigh, and in the “True Interest of Holland,” (Eng. Trans. p. 24), it would appear as if more than a half of the full-grown male inhabitants of Holland had been engaged in the herring trade! And yet these statements, which carry absurdity on their face, have been copied over and over again by writers of authority, as if their accuracy could not be questioned. We may observe that the “True Interest of Holland,” now referred to, was not written, as is commonly supposed, by the eminent statesman, John de Witt, but by his friend, M. Delacourt. It originally appeared in 1667.—See Literature of Political Economy, p. 353.
[2 ] From smeeren, to melt, and berg, a mountain.
[3 ] Bernard de Reste, “Histoire des Pêches,” i. pp. 39-61.
[1 ] Rymer’s “Fœdera,” iii. 771.
[1 ] The antiquity of the houses of Bourbon, Hapsburgh, and Brunswick, is perhaps equal to that of the house of Orange, and they are greatly superior to it in the magnitude of their dominions; but in every other respect they are its inferiors. To have been the principal instruments in rescuing Holland from the despotism of Old Spain, and in the deliverance of England from the tyranny of the Stuarts, is the peculiar distinction of the princes of the house of Orange, and reflects more true glory upon them than they could have derived from the most extensive conquests. There is no single family to whom the civilised world is so largely indebted.
[1 ] See Essay on the History of the Hanseatic League.
[2 ] Descrizzione di Paesi Basse. Antwerp, 1567, folio.
[1 ] “Observations touching Trade and Commerce with the Hollander.”—Miscel. Works, vol. ii. p. 117, Birch’s ed.
[1 ] Tome i. p. 376.
[2 ] Commerce de la Hollande, tom. i. p. 212.
[1 ] Macpherson’s Annals of Commerce, anno 1701.
[1 ] The Dissertation was translated into English, and published at London in 1751. We have quoted from the translation, pp. 12-15.
[1 ] Dissertation, pp. 27, 28.
[1 ] Dictionnaire de l’Economie Politique, tom. iii. p. 720.
[2 ] Tom. ii. p. 292.
[1 ] Encyclopédie Méthodique, Commerce, t. ii. p. 650.
[1 ] Eastern Archipelago, vol. iii. p. 388. See also Temminck, “Possessions Neerlandaises dans l’Inde Archipelagique,” iii. pp. 202-211, where the enormities of the system are pointed out more in detail.
[1 ] Temminck, iii. 209, etc.
[1 ] Sometimes to effect this object, they destroyed large quantities of spice.
[2 ] Crawfurd’s “Eastern Archipelago,” vol. iii. p. 363.
[3 ] “True Interest of Holland,” p. 27. Lond. 1745.
[4 ] Crawfurd’s “Eastern Archipelago,” vol. iii. p. 259.
[1 ] For an account of the constitution, etc., of the Dutch East India Company, see Ricard, “Traité General du Commerce,” i. pp. 37-50, 4to, 1781.
[1 ] Page 132.
[1 ] See the interesting work, entitled “Histoire des Peches, etc., dans les Mers du Nord,” tom. i. cap. 24.
[1 ] Vindication of Commerce and the Arts, p. 90.