Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XXII. - The True Interest and Political Maxims, of the Republic of Holland
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CHAP. XXII. - 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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The grounds and reasons upon which the greatest caution is to be us’d in laying the tax of convoy-money, or customs.
Some exported and imported goods, and ships, may possibly he charged to the benefit of Holland.BUT the impost on goods imported and exported, and that on shipping, is a quite different thing; for some may possibly be laid for the benefit of the state, some without prejudice to it, and some cannot be laid without great and certain detriment to Holland. I shall therefore express my sentiments particularly upon this subject, and do premise, that so long as our polity about sea-affairs is built upon the same foundation as it was in the year 1597, that prohibition of any ships or merchandize whatever, whether imported or exported, must always be of great concernment to Holland.Holland ought to be very wary as to prohibited goods, and taxing of merchandize or shipping. The like may be said of laying any new or higher duty of tonnage, or convoy-money for clearing the seas; seeing we daily find that some provinces, admiralties, and cities, intending to tolerate the same among themselves, do privately connive and suffer them to be smuggl’d, or brought in custom-free, in order to gain that trade of navigation and commerce to themselves; and yet will be sure to be the most zealous in causing such prohibitions, and the laying in of higher convoy-money and taxes for clearing the seas, to be imposed by the states-general.See the grievances of the magistrates of Zierickzee in the year 1668. in Novemb. So that commonly the fairest dealing provinces, admiralties and cities of the United Provinces, and the most upright merchants suffer by the said placaets, while the most fraudulent and dishonest merchants do generally so contrive matters, as to get friends at court, by whose favour they find means to benefit themselves to the prejudice of honest men.
In the first place it is worthy observation, that in this affair, nothing can be more detrimental than to charge all ships, or goods coming in or going out with tonnage-duty, without distinction: for tho’ it be pretended to be taken of the shipping only, yet it is evident that all the goods they carry must pay for it. And to pay for clearing the seas, and thereby charging all goods, according to their value, with one per cent. or the like, is still more prejudicial. To make this more evident, I shall insist the longer upon it. Seeing Holland of it self yields almost nothing, and the greatest part of our traffick consists in fisheries, manufactures, mechanic works, and their dependencies, so that we must take those fish, and fetch the unwrought materials for manufactures, and all that is necessary thereunto from foreign parts; and likewise most of our fish, and wrought goods must afterwards be transported to foreign parts.Last-money, as now laid, is very detrimental, because it charges all without distinction. And seeing it is evident that the fisheries, manufactures, and other mechanick wares, may be practised and made in other countries, it is an inexcusable weakness to burden those necessary means of livelihood, and all other merchandize without distinction, and thereby indanger the driving them into other nations where they are less charged. How much this thwarts all good maxims of polity, I shall shew by an example or two.As is instanced by particular examples; viz. of inland broad-cloth. It was antiently very wisely considered, how much we were concerned in the manufactury of woollen-cloth, and therefore a half-inland made cloth was charged with no more than 4 stivers for exportation; whereas if it had paid 1 per Cent. for clearing the seas, it would have paid 30 stivers. So that every one may perceive the disparity, and into what danger we run by such errors, of losing this trade, and driving out of our country a very great number of people, as washers of wool, pickers, scourers, carders, spinners, weavers, dressers, fullers, dyers, nappers, pressers, &c. with the makers of the instruments necessary to those imployments. And lastly, it is the way to cause the trade of unwrought goods, thereunto subservient, and made use of likewise in the manufactures, to withdraw very readily into other countries, especially if besides all this, we do in the same impolitick manner tax the unwrought goods serving to the same end, which is against all good polity, and the great prudence of our ancestors, who having well considered how much weaving concerns us, very wisely ordered all wooll imported to be free, and all yarn woven here to pay but 15 stivers the 100 l. and but one per Cent. to be paid for clearing the seas;Of worsted yarn for weaving. the wool for an inland half-cloth ten stivers, and the yarn for a home-made camlet 45 stivers the piece: which yet by the ordinary convoy or customs (counting 15 stivers for 100 pounds) is charged but with one half stiver the piece; at least according to the first intent of the confederate states, it ought to be charged with no more. So that it is an inexcusable folly, and would be a very prejudicial exaction to charge the importer with more than 15 stivers convoy-money for 100 pounds of Turkey-yarn brought into this country to be woven. And it is no less imprudent so greatly to burden raw silk imported, as if it were of no concern to us, which by winding, throwing, and weaving, is so profitable to this country.Of raw silk. From all which I suppose every one will easily perceive how prejudicial this great difference is.
But in all events, whether for payment of convoymoney, direction, or tonnage-money, or for clearing the seas, it would be needful for the greater improvement of the navigation of Holland, that all foreign imported goods should be less charged than those that come in by land: whereas on the contrary we see daily that very many Levant, Italian, &c. fine wares are brought in by the land-carriage.To increase navigation, it were needful to charge such goods as come by land-carriage. And how much it concerns our inhabitants we may easily imagine, when we consider that the ships built here, are set to sea victual’d and mann’d, but the carriers and their waggons are foreign, and of no concern to us: and besides, our merchandize on board ships is always in our power, or at least we may convoy and defend them with our men of war as they go and come, whereas those that go by land-carriage are in the lands and power of other princes, so that they may at all times make seizure of them.
As also some foreign shipping.2. All ships and wares, coming out of countries where our inhabitants lade not at all, or at least not without paying duties, ought in proportion to be charged here with as much impost as our advantagious situation, and great consumption can bear: And where ours pay more impost than is taken in the country where the foreign masters of ships do live, we ought likewise to take as much of them here as was taken of ours. And thus having the navigation to ourselves, we may preserve the same, as also the passage on the rivers.
And foreign made wares.3. All wrought goods which we can make in this country, should be charged when imported with so much, and no more than the traffick may bear. And all foreign made goods ought to be charged with more than those made at home, being sold for consumption or wearing; and also the same goods in passing upon rivers into other countries, ought to be charged again so much, as they may not be carried with less charge thro’ other dominions to those rivers.Raw imported goods ought to be little charged. We are moreover duly to observe, that we ought not to charge any foreign goods that are to be transported again, whether manufactured or not, so as that our merchants should find it their advantage to pass by our havens, and chuse rather to carry those goods from one foreign country to another, which might perhaps be effected, especially in very coarse goods, whose lading and unlading cost more than ordinary.Those that come by or upon rivers more. But the wares imported or exported by the rivers, we may charge much more, especially all coarse or bulky goods, which cannot be brought hither by land: for the rivers we have under our command. And again, by charging the goods brought in by rivers, our navigation and traffick is favoured; and the cities that lie upward have for many years past bereft the Netherlandish vessels of their freight on those rivers by their staple duty. Of which great hardship we cannot complain with any reason, while any cities in Holland practise the like.
We ought to ease all imported unwrought goods, whereof our manufactures are made.4. All imported rough goods, which our inhabitants are to work up, ought not at all to be charged: but rough goods, as aforesaid, exported, we ought to charge so much as they can bear.
5. Goods manufactured in this country, and exported, ought not at all to be charged. But on the contrary, we should charge all foreign made goods, either imported or exported, as much as may be, without hazarding the loss of that traffick.And to ease our own, and charge outlandish manufacture.
As for charging foreign goods, and manufactur’d wares, ships, and masters of ships, tho’ it be a matter of great weight, yet I know not of any thing that hath been done in it.Which maxims the English have much better follow’d than we. See their book of rates of tonnage and poundage. But the English, anno 1660, settled their rates of customs and convoy-money so well, according to these maxims, to favour their inhabitants as much as they could, and to burden all foreign masters of ships, and merchants; that if we continue charged in this country so unreasonably as at present, and there too, and the English on the other hand continue to be so favourably used, both here and at home, they will bereave us of much of our trade, unless the merchants there under that government, be for other occasions oppressed with many and heavy taxes, whereunto traffick, under monarchs and princes, is always wont to be much exposed.