Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. II. - The True Interest and Political Maxims, of the Republic of Holland
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CHAP. II. - Pieter de la Court, The True Interest and Political Maxims, of the Republic of Holland 
The True Interest and Political Maxims of the Republic of Holland (London: John Campbell, Esq, 1746).
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That the true interest, and political maxims of Holland and West-Friesland may be well understood; Holland must not be considered so, as in speculation it should be, but as it now stands at present.
BEING now about to enquire into, and lay down some maxims for Holland’s continual prosperity; it seems at first view to be necessary, that we consider the nature of the country, forasmuch as it is in it self perpetual; and what means may be found to improve it to its best advantage, and what good fruits and effects are to be expected from such improvement.Concerning all which, expedients may be found, whereby Holland may be improved to the most perfect republick. In order whereunto, we are first to consider the soil, rivers, meers of Holland, and its situation upon the sea, with the communication it may have with other nations. And next we are further to consider, what people Holland ought to be inhabited with, viz. whether with few, or many, in order to earn their bread: as also how the rulers ought to deport themselves towards foreign princes and governments: and lastly, by what form of government, and how the people ought to be governed.Wherefore such speculations would produce little benefit. But because such speculations use to build rempublicam Platonis, Aristotelis, eutopiam mori, a philosophical republick in the air, or such a one as was never yet found, the thoughts of it will afford little benefit: nor is this strange, considering that so many people cannot be suddenly brought to an uninhabited country, to erect a political state, according to the said speculation, and keep it on foot when it is establish’d. And since in all populous countries there is some form of government; therefore I say again, those speculations are for the most part useless. For if inquiry be made into the polity of all established governments, we shall always find, that there are ever an incredible number of ignorant and malevolent people, enemies to all speculation, and remedies, how good soever, which they conceive or really foresee will be prejudicial in any wise to themselves; and rather than admit them, they will press hard to embroil the state more than it was before. Besides, there is an endless number of political maxims which have so deep a root, that it is great folly to think any man should be able, or indeed that it should be thought fit to root them out all at once: and consequently it would be yet a greater piece of imprudence, if in Holland, tanquam in tabula rasa, as on a smooth, and in a very clean and good piece of ground, we should go about to sow the best seeds, in order to make it an angelical or philosophical republick:Because in affairs of polity we must ever strike the ball as it is found lying. so true is that good and ancient political maxim,* that in polity many bad things are indulged with less inconveniency than removed; and that we ought never in polity (as in playing at tennis) to set the ball fair, but must strike it as it lies; it being also true, that on every occurrence a good politician is bound to shew his art and love to his native country, that by such constancy the commonwealth may by degrees be brought to a better condition. I do therefore conceive myself oblig’d to consider Holland in the state as it now is, and hope that those thoughts will produce the more and better fruits, since those that duly consider the present state of it, will find that they agree for the most part with the climate, soil, rivers, meers, situation, and correspondence which such a country ought to have with other dominions, and especially with a free commonwealth government, which we have now at present in being: and I hope I shall not digress from it.What is understood by Holland’s interest. By the maxims of Holland’s interest, I understand the conservation and increase of the inhabitants as they now are, consisting of rulers and subjects. I shall likewise diligently enquire by what means this interest may be most conveniently attained. And tho’ in the first place the interest of the rulers ought to be consider’d, because distinctly and at large it always seems to occasion the subjects welfare and prosperity;Namely, and especially the prosperity, and in crease of the subjects. and a good form of government is properly the foundation whereon all the prosperity of the inhabitants is built: I shall nevertheless consider in the first place the preservation, and increase of the number of subjects, not only because it is evident in all governments, and especially in all republicks, that the number or paucity of subjects is the cause of an able or weak government; but also because ambitious spirits can seldom find a multitude of people living out of civil society and government, that will subject themselves to them: and on the contrary, where many inhabitants are, there will never want rulers, because the weakness and wickedness of mankind is so great, that they cannot subsist without government; insomuch that in case of a vacancy of rulers, every one would stand candidates for it themselves, or elect others.Seeing the prosperity of the rulers of the republick in Holland depends on the subjects. And above all, I find my self obliged more fully to consider and promote the welfare of the subjects in Holland above that of the rulers; because in this free commonwealth government, it is evident that the durable and certain prosperity of the rulers does generally depend on the welfare of the subjects, as hereafter shall be particularly shewn. And to give the unexperienc’d reader some insight at first, it is convenient to premise that Holland was not of old one republick, but consisted of many, which in process of time chose a head or governor over them by the name of Earl or Stadtholder;Because Holland was not of old one country, but consisted of many republicks; and also because of the diverse situations of the cities, it cannot possibly have one and the same interest. but seeing he had of old no armed men or soldiery of his own as dukes had, but was to be content with his own revenues, and to rule the land, or rather administer justice to each country according to their particular customs, and laws, they nevertheless continued so many several republicks. And tho’ in process of time they were jointly brought to a sovereign republic, yet is it also true that the members of this Dutch republic are of different natures and manners. For Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Horn, Enchuysen, Medenblick, Edam, Monnikendam, Dort, Schiedam, Briel, &c. lying on the sea, or on rivers where ships of great burden may conveniently arrive; Haerlem, Delf, Leyden, Grude, Gorcum, Schoonhoven, Alkmaer, Purmereynde, &c. lying within land, are not to be come at but with vessels that draw little water: besides which, the gentry who live in the plain or open countries of Holland, having great estates, and being not under any government, seem to have a quite particular interest. Wherefore every intelligent person may easily judge that a diversity of rules, subjects, countrys, and situations, must needs cause a diversity of interests, so that I cannot write of Holland’s prosperity as of a distinct country:And yet forasmuch as they all centre and agree in one, the interest of Holland is made evident nevertheless I incline, and do intend to bring it under one title, as far as all its cities or lands can be comprehended in one interest, to the best of my knowledge and skill. Which to do methodically, I shall in the first part inquire into, and show the maxims tending to the welfare or damage of Holland within its own confines. In the second part I shall propose how Holland must procure its own welfare as to foreign princes. And in the third part I shall enquire, and shew by what form of government such a country and inhabitants ought to be governed according to their true interest, seeing this is the general foundation whereon all the prosperity or adversity aforesaid is founded.