Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XVII. - The True Interest and Political Maxims, of the Republic of Holland
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CHAP. XVII. - 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 fishers, dealers in manufactures, merchants, and owners of freight-ships as such, ought not at all to be charged by paying any imposition to the country, under what pretext soever.
IF it be granted that the forementioned means of subsistence, namely, fishing, manufactury, traffick, and freight-ships, are so necessary in, and for Holland, as hath been above demonstrated; and if the Hollanders, who have no native commodities, must yet hold markets equally with other nations, who may deal in their own wares, or manufactures made of their own materials; then it follows, that our rulers ought not, under any pretence whatsoever, to charge or tax their own inhabitants, fishers, dealers in manufactures, owners of freight-ships, or merchants as such. And I suppose every one will easily grant me this conclusion in the general, because of its own perspecuity: for indeed, how fully and fixedly soever fishing, manufactury, navigation, and commerce seem to have settled themselves in Holland; yet it is evident, that one stiver of profit or loss, more or less, makes a commodity which is in æquilibrio, and that happens very often (namely when it is hardly discerned whether the profit be sufficient to continue the making of that commodity) wholly to preponderate, or be at a stand;Especially about traffick in Holland. even as a pair of scales wherein ten thousand pounds or less is weighed, being ballanced, one of them is as easily weighed down with a pound weight, as if there were but a hundred pounds in each scale. And by consequence it is evident, that our own fisheries, and manufactures, with their dependencies, as also the traffick in those wares, whether imported or exported, ought not at all to pay for tonnage, convoy, or other duties, nor any thing when brought to the scale, unless they are sold. I know that all such impositions, through the ignorance of those that are unacquainted with trade, are counted very light and insignificant; but those that are more intelligent and concerned therein, do know* that you may pull a large fowl bare, by plucking away single feathers, especially in Holland, where with light gains we must make a heavy purse.Illustrated by fable. The antients have compared these inconsiderate people to mice, who being to live on the fruit of an orchard, found that the roots of the trees relish’d well, and were of good nourishment, so that they made bold to eat of them; whereby the trees, for want of sufficient root, being depriv’d of their usual nourishment, bore less fruit: and the wisest of them told the others the reason of it, but were not believed by the foolish and greedy mice that continued gnawing and devouring of the root. And when in the following year, besides this unfruitfulness, those trees that had lost many of their roots and fibres, were either blown down by the storms, or kill’d by the frost; the wise mice did thereupon once again warn their imprudent brethren against it, who answered, that it was not their undermining and eating the roots, but the sierce storms and sharp winter that was the cause of it. So that they continued feeding on the roots, ’till the trees were so diminished, that both the wise and foolish mice must either die of hunger, or seek a better habitation.
Besides this, antient history teacheth us, that Antigonus king of Macedonia being imprudently covetous, was not content with the health of his subjects, and the profit which he and they receiv’d from the imposts paid by strangers, who came to drink his mineral waters, but he would needs tax the very fountain it self, by laying a duty upon every measure of water: which was so unacceptable to God and nature, that the fountain dried up, insomuch that he thereby lost not only the health of his subjects, but the impost on the consumption; and for this super-impost on the well, he was cursed and derided by his subjects and strangers.
From the fisheries, manufactures, and traffick, is drawn from all parts, what the other inhabitants pay to the magistracy.And indeed if we consider, that all duties levied on consumption must at the long run be born by the fishermen, manufacturers, traffickers and owners of ships, who for the most part employ all the people here directly or indirectly, we must acknowledge, that they alone are above measure burdened thereby, and discouraged by imposts above all others; which will evidently appear, if you consider it in an example or two, and inquire how much wages is here paid for building and setting to sea a ship of 200 lasts, or rather how many carpenters, smiths, rope-makers, sail-makers, &c. must be employed about such a vessel, and how much in the mean while they must altogether pay to the state, whether for imposts, or for poundage of house-hire.As the building of shipping. For I doubt not but it will charge a ship with some hundreds of guilders more than if we had no imposts, and consequently it must be sold so much the dearer. And if moreover we consider, that the owners who set to sea such a ship to seek a freight, must afterwards victual her with our provision and drink for the seamen, upon which our imposts charge very much, you will the easier discern it. And this would likewise appear manifestly, if we consider, that the price of weaving half a piece of ordinary home-made broad cloth, amounts to seventy guilders, and that this money is presently spent, (for such workmen, tho’ they can, will not lay up any thing) then we should see, that of this 70, more than twenty guilders is paid for imposts, and poundage upon house-hire;And drapery do manifest. for a half piece of cloth requires the labour of twenty-eight people for fourteen days, or at least so many may thereby be fed by the heads of families (reckoning five to a family) and then we see that a half piece of cloth is thereby charged with twenty guilders.
And tho’ the fisheries and traffick are not opprest near so much with such imposts, yet it certainly is, and continues an intolerable error, and thwarts the welfare of the whole state, to burden any dealers in manufactures, fishers, or merchants, as such; for we do not take care for the prosperity of the country, unless by all ways and means we lighten their burdens, and remove what makes them uneasy.