chapter 12: That the Portugals incline not to equity in forbidding trade - Hugo Grotius, The Free Sea (Hakluyt trans.) 
The Free Sea, trans. Richard Hakluyt, with William Welwod’s Critiuqe and Grotius’s Reply, ed. David Armitage (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2004).
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That the Portugals incline not to equity
in forbidding trade
By those things which have been spoken, their blind covetousness sufficiently appeareth who, that they may admit none to take part of the gain, go about to pacify their consciences with those reasons which the Spanish doctors (who are in the same cause) convince of manifest vanity. For they sufficiently declare all those colors which are used in Indian affairs to be unjustly taken and add further that it was never approved by the serious and diligent examination of the divines. But what is more unjust than that complaint that the Portugals say their gains are consumed and spent through the multitude of those who are licensed to the contrary? For among the positions of the laws this is most certain, that he who useth his own right is not guilty of deceit nor dealeth fraudulently, much less seemeth to endamage another, which is most true if anything be done with a purpose to increase his own estate not to hurt another. For that which is principally done ought to be looked into, not that which outwardly cometh in consequence. Nay, if we speak properly with Ulpian, he doth not prejudice any, but hindereth him from that gain which yet another used.
But it is natural and agreeable to the highest law and also to equity itself that every man should rather propound his own gain unto himself than another, although his gain who took it before. Who could endure a craftsman complaining that another by exercising the same trade overthrew his commodity? But the Hollanders’ cause is so much the more just because their profit in this behalf is joined with the benefit of all mankind which the Portugals go about to overthrow. Nor shall this rightly be said to be done for envy or emulation, as in the like matter Vasquius declareth, for either this is plainly to be denied or we must say it is done not only for a good but also for the best kind of emulation, according to Hesiodus, ἀγαθὴ δ’ ἔρις ἥδε βροτοîσιν: “This is a good contention among men.” For, saith he, if any moved with pity should sell corn cheaper in a great dearth, the wicked cruelty of such should be hindered who in the extremity of penury would sell theirs dearer. “It is true,” saith he, “that by such means other men’s revenues are diminished, nor do we deny it, but they are diminished with the benefit of all. And I would to God the revenues of all the princes and tyrants of the world were so diminished!”
What, therefore, may seem so unjust as that the Spaniards should have the whole world tributary, so that they might neither buy nor sell but at their pleasure? We hate and also punish engrossers of corn or other commodities in all cities. Nor doth any trade of life seem so wicked and hateful as this engrossing of corn. And that worthily too. For they do injury to nature which is plentiful and liberal to all in common. Nor is to be thought that negotiation was found out for a few men’s uses, but to the end that what was wanting unto one should be recompensed through the plenty of another yet with a just advantage or profit propounded unto all who should undertake the danger and labor of transporting.
That very thing therefore which in a commonwealth, to wit, in a less assembly of men, is judged and esteemed grievous and dangerous, is it tolerable in that great society of mankind that the Spanish people should make a monopoly of the whole world? Ambrose inveigheth against them that shut up the seas, Augustine those that stop trading, Nazianzene against co-emptors and suppressors of merchandise who only make a gain by other men’s wants and as he most eloquently speaketh, καταπραγματεύονται τη̑ς ∊νδείας, make a gain of scarcity. Moreover, also by the opinion of that divine wise man, he is publicly bequeathed to the devil and counted accursed who, suppressing sustenance, enhanceth the price of victuals: ο συνέχων σîτον δημοκατάρατος.
Let the Portugals therefore exclaim as much and as long as they list, “Ye take away our gain!” The Hollanders will answer, “Nay, we are careful of our own. Are you angry at this, that we take part with the winds and sea? But who hath promised those gains shall remain yours? It is well with you wherewith we are contented.”