Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. IX. - The True Interest and Political Maxims, of the Republic of Holland
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
CHAP. IX. - 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
That the inhabitants of Holland, being in a state of freedom, are by a common interest wonderfully linked together; which is also shew’d by a rough calculation of the number of inhabitants, and by what means they subsist.
That the forementioned means of subsistence, and also the inhabitants are linked together.WE are moreover well to consider, that fishing is not the sole cause of traffick, nor fishing and traffick the cause of manufactury; as also that these three together do not always give occasion for the shipping that is to let out to freight, which is meant by navigation: but that fishing flourishes much more in those parts, because traffick, navigation and manufactures are settled among us, whereby the fish and oil taken may be transported and consumed. Likewise that more than the one half of our trading would decay, in case the trade of fish were destroyed, as well as all other sorts of commodities about which people are imployed in Holland; besides that, by consequence the inland consumption of all foreign goods being more than one half diminished, the traffick in those parts would fall proportionably.
Namely the greatest traders in fish and makers of manufacture.It is also certain, that of necessity all sorts of manufactures would be lessened more than a moiety, if not annihilated, as soon as this country should come to be berest of fishing, and of trading in those commodities which are spent abroad. And concerning owners of ships let out to freight, it is evident that they wholly depend on the prosperity or success of fishing, manufactury, and traffick: for seeing our country yields almost nothing out of its own bowels; therefore the ships that lie for freight, can lade nothing but what the merchants or traders put on board them of fish, manufactury, or merchandize.And the owners of shipping of those three together. And as little would foreign ships carry goods to Holland, in case no fishermen, merchants, or traders dealing in manufactury dwelt there. And contrariwise it is certain, that our fishers, manufacturers and traders, find a mighty conveniency and benefit in our great number of freightships, which continually lie for freight in all parts of the world, and are ready to carry the same at an easy rate to any place desired. So that the English and Flemish merchants, &c. do oft-times know no better way to transport their goods to such foreign parts as they design, than to carry them first to Amsterdam, and from thence to other places, especially when our admiralties, according to their duty, take care to convoy and defend our merchant ships, with men of war, against all pirates, or sea-robbers whatsoever.The husbandmen and artificers not concern’d in manufactures, are as a necessary consequence of all other inhabitants. It is also evident, that the husbandmen, or boors of Holland, can very well sell all the product or profit of their land, cattle, firing, &c. to the inhabitants that are fishers, mafacturers, traders, navigators, and those that depend on them; which is a great advantage beyond what all other boors have, who for the most part have their commodities spent abroad, and consequently must bear the charges of freight, and the duties outwards and inwards, and must also allow a double gain to the merchants and buyers. So that this great number of people, that are not husbandmen, are I think the only cause that those country boors, tho’ heavily taxed, are able to subsist. And seeing all the said inhabitants have need of meat, drink, cloathing, housing, and of the gain gotten by foreign consumption that is needful to support it; it is evident, that all the other inhabitants depend and live upon the aforesaid fishers, traders and navigators.
And how remarkable it is, that all rulers and others, who for any service depend on them, have a benefit by their great numbers, is so clear, that there needs no more to be said for proof:Our magistrates prosperity depends on the success of all their subjects. for when there were but few inhabitants in this country, within less than 100 years, the most eminent offices of burgomaster, and schepens or sheriffs, were even in the principal cities so great a burden as not to be born without much charge; whereas it is now become profitable to be but a city messenger, or undertaker to freight ships, seeing men are thereby enabled to maintain their families.
Furthermore, having a mind to convince the reader, not only by my reasoning, but by his own experience, that the prosperity of Holland is built upon the foresaid means of subsistence, and on no other; I find myself obliged to make a calculation of the number of people in Holland that are fixed inhabitants, or depend upon them;All which is set forth by a rough calculation, how the people in Holland maintain themselves. and at the same time, as far as I am able, to reckon in what proportion those people are maintain’d by the means of subsistence before-mentioned. In order to this I shall on the one hand consider, that Sir Walter Raleigh, endeavouring to move king James of England to advance the fishing trade, manufactures, and traffick by sea, hath possibly exceeded in his account of the profits arising from it, and augmented the number of the people that live upon it somewhat above the truth.
And likewise is considered how many inhabitants there are in Holland.And on the other hand I shall consider what Gerard Malines saith, in his Lex Mercatoria, Ann. 1622. that in Flanders there were then counted one hundred and forty thousand families; which being reckoned, one with another, at five persons each, they would amount to seven hundred thousand people. I shall likewise consider that in Holland that same year, the states laid a poll-tax upon all inhabitants, none excepted save strangers, prisoners, and vagrants, and those that were on the other side the line; yet were there found in all South-Holland that same wise no more than four hundred eighty one thousand nine hundred thirty and four: altho’ the commissioners instructions for that end were very strict and severe, to prevent all fraud and deceit. However that we may make the better guess whether this was a faithful account, I shall give you the particulars of it as registred in the chamber of Accounts.
But because possibly none but intelligent readers, and such as have travelled, will believe, what we see is customary in all places, that the number of people in all populous countries is excessively magnified, and that the common readers will think, that since many would be willing to evade the poll-tax, there was an extraordinary fraud in the number given in: I shall therefore follow the common opinion, and conclude, that the number of people was indeed much greater, and that these countries are since that time much improved in the number of inhabitants;And with what proportion they live by the said means. and accordingly I shall give a guess as by vulgar report, that the whole number, without excluding any inhabitants whatsoever, may amount to two millions and four hundred thousand people, and that they maintain themselves as followeth, viz.
And tho’ this calculation, whether considered as to the number of the inhabitants, or their proportionable means of subsistence, is very rough and uncertain; yet I suppose it to be evident, that the eighth part of the inhabitants of Holland could not be supplied with necessaries out of its own product, if their gain otherwise did not afford them all other necessaries:’Tis the happiness of Holland to have such as are linked together in interest. so that homo homini deus in statu politico, one man being a god to another under a good government, it is an unspeakable blessing for this land, that there are so many people in it, who according to the nature of the country are honestly maintain’d by such suitable or proportionable means, and especially that the welfare of all the inhabitants (the idle gentry, and foreign soldiers in pay excepted) from the least to the greatest, does so necessarily depend on one another: and above all, it is chiefly considerable, that there are none more really interested in the prosperity of this country than the rulers of this aristocratical government, and the persons that live on their estates.
For fishers, boors, or country people, owners of ships let to freight, merchants and manufacturers, in a general destruction of a country, could easily transport themselves into foreign parts, and there set up their fishing, agriculture, or husbandry, shipping, merchandize and manufactures: But such as have lands, or immovable estates cannot do this; and supposing they could, and should sell their estates and remove into other countries, yet would they there have no calling to subsist by, much less can they expect to be made use of in the government, or procure any office or advantage depending upon it.
And the greatest unhappiness, that the prosperity of all the inhabitants may be ruined by one single error of state.However, this excellent and laudable harmony and union may be violated, even to the ruin of all the inhabitants, none excepted but courtiers and soldiers, and that by one sole mistake in government, which is the electing one supreme head over all these inhabitants, or over their armies. For seeing such a single person for the increase of his grandeur, may curb and obstruct Holland’s greatness and power, by the deputies of the lesser provinces of the generality, who also may in their course check the great and flourishing cities in their own provincial assemblies, by the suffrages or votes of the envious gentry.Namely by advancing a single person over the civil magistracy and soldiery. And the lesser cities, and the great persons, courtiers and soldiers being all of his party, and depending on him, must needs prey upon the industrious or working inhabitants, and so will make use of all their power for their own benefit, and to the detriment of the commonalty. And to the end they may receive no let from the great and strong cities of Holland, it follows that they would either weaken or lessen all such cities, and impoverish the inhabitans, to make them obedient without controul. Which if so, we have just cause continually to pray, A furore monarcharum libera nos Domine; God preserve Holland from the fury of a monarch, prince, or one supreme head: But what there is of reality in this, shall be handled hereafter in a chapter apart.