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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Above all things war, and chiefly by sea, is most prejudicial, and peace very beneficial for Holland.
BUT if the scouring of the seas against sea robbers or enemies is so necessary for Holland during peace, then much more peace itself.Peace is very necessary for Holland. For besides that all sea robbing is more frequent in war, it deprives our inhabitants at once of all their trade to the enemies country, and carries it to the inhabitants of neutral nations; besides which, all ships, goods and debts of the Hollanders that are in the enemies country are confiscated, which may give this people an incredible great blow: for the Hollanders do not wait as other people till men come to buy their goods in their own country, and give ready money for them, but they transport their goods through the world, and keep them there in warehouses waiting for chapmen; and that which is most grievous, when they sell, in Europe they usually give a year’s time for payment.And war detrimental. And moreover, when in any foreign country the growth and manufactures of that place are very plentiful and cheap, such commodities are presently bought up by our merchants, paid with ready money, and kept in their magazines there, till the season of exportation and shipping presents for other places;Because our debts are confiscable in an enemies country, so that the enemy may easily make seizure of many of our goods, which we can by no means retaliate.
And then it also commonly happens, that our enemies either by whole fleets do intirely obstruct our trade by sea, or by privateers may make incredible depredations upon us.And our navigation obstructed and disturbed. For by reason that our fishery and foreign trade are so greatly dispersed, Holland is not able to defend them in all places, and be masters at sea at one and the same time; tho’ we had nothing else in charge but only to clear the seas. Whereas we on the contrary can find little or no booty at sea, because we are the only great traders there.
And for war by land, tho’ it be not so prejudicial to Holland as by sea, yet ’tis manifestly disadvantagious to the merchant, and greatly mischievous to all the inhabitants in general, but especially to those that drive a foreign trade. And whosoever doubts of this, let him only consult the registers of the admiralties of Amsterdam, with those of other places, and he will see that since our peace with Spain our navigation and commerce is increased one half.Aitzma, Chap. 3. The reader may also remember, that during the war, the convoy and customs together did at most amount to but 1588763 guilders, yet when we had peace, our convoy-money alone of all the admiralties, did in the year 1664, produce 3172898 guilders, when by calculation it was concluded that the admiralty of Zealand had yearly 400000 guilders of revenue.Thereby adding 400000 guilders for the revenue of the admiralty of Zealand, at which value it is yearly esteem’d here. And that is not strange, for the war with Spain being carried on both by sea and land, our merchants were put to great troubles and straits: and ’tis a great burden to our inhabitants to bring into the field so great and chargeable an army as to gain fortified cities from our neighbours by long sieges: but it is doubly ridiculous to endeavour to make men of understanding believe that it tended to the benefit of Holland, when an honourable peace, or a long truce was every year offered to us, as often to reject and refuse it, and yet Holland was forced to take up a vast sum of money at interest, and then to take up another sum to pay those interests, and all this to carry on an offensive war to gain conquests and victories;Because land conquests would hasten Holland’s ruin. which are not only useless, but must needs be very burdensome to a country whose frontiers, by means of the sea and rivers, are for the most part every where so easy to be fortified and kept, that by purely standing on its own defence, it would certainly be able to confound all foreign power that should attack it. Whereas on the other side it is certain, that generally all republicks, especially those that subsist by commerce, have been ruined by offensive wars and conquests.
And that this was well known to those that sided with the prince against those of Barnaveli’s party in this state, the president Jeannin testified on the 29th of August 1608, in a letter to monsieur Villeroy, secretary of state in France, as follows: It is certain that the states, how weak soever they are, do not lose their courage, but rather chuse to return to war, than accept a peace or truce for many years upon other conditions than those formerly mentioned. They (I conceive he means such as by all means desired a war, and those were, as is well known, of the prince’s party) say among themselves, if France abandons us, we must ruin,demolish, and abandon some cities, and parts of the remotest provinces, which, by reason of the great charge of keeping them, will more weaken than strengthen us;Which formerly those that were of the prince’s party, as alsoand we must also dismantle some places of least importance. And moreover they say, that all this being done, they should have wherewith to continue in service 40000 foot and 2500 horse, besides the navy, thirty years longer: and that therewith they should be strong enough so to tire the king of Spain, and after such a manner to exhaust his treasury, that he will be necessitated to grant the conditions which now he rejects.
Prince Maurice knew well enough.And that prince Maurice himself knew very well that these countries might be better and with less expence defended against the enemy with few frontier places than many, appears by a letter written about two months after, to the said prince by the king of France: in which, among other particulars, is this passage, The great charge that the war requires you have experimented, and found that the states alone were not able to bear it, nay hardly with the help of friends, who formerly contributed of their own to bear those expences. And if it should happen that you by weakness, or want of money be necessitated to quit and leave some part of the country to the enemy, whereby to defend the rest the better, as the said Lambert (the prince’s envoy) hath declared to me on your behalf, that you are resolved to do so rather than enter into the said treaty, unless it be first express’d in plain terms, That the sovereignty shall ever be and remain in the states, &c.
And yet many cities have been taken since.All which particulars above-mentioned being in those days agreed by statesmen and experienced soldiers, ’tis as certain that since that time by the conduct of prince Henry, very many remote places about the Scheld, Maese and Rhine, have been taken in and fortified, and that the generality out of all the lands and cities situate out of the voting provinces (for some of them are not allowed to have their suffrages) about the year 1664, had only one million of guilders annual revenue, and yet the keeping of them cost more than four millions yearly;Which altogether yield a million yearly, and require four millions. so that those that are of the prince’s party must in all respects acknowledge, that the states of Holland did, in the year 1640, very well represent the matter to prince Henry, by telling him, that it deserved consideration, whether it were not better to make no more conquests, or even to lose some that are already acquired, than by long sieges, and consequently great charge to the state, to suffer them suddenly to sink and fall in like an undermined hill. Upon which there was nothing replied by the prince, but only that he could not be well pleased to see the conquests which had cost the country so much blood and treasure, so little esteemed.So that all offensive wars are to be forborn. Aitzma hist. p. 104. From all which, it is certain, that Holland’s interest is to seek after peace, and not war.