Front Page Titles (by Subject) THE PREFACE. 5 - A Discourse of Trade
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
THE PREFACE. 5 - Nicholas Barbon, A Discourse of Trade 
A Discourse of Trade. A Reprint of Economic Tracts, ed. Jacob H. Hollander (Baltimore: The Lord Baltimore Press, 1905).
About Liberty Fund:
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
THe Greatness and Riches of the UNITED PROVINCES, and STATES of VENICE, Consider'd, with the little Tract of Ground that belongs to either of their TERRITORIES, sufficiently Demonstrate the great Advantage and Profit that Trade brings to a Nation.
And since the Old Ammunition and Artillery of the GRECIANS and ROMANS are grown out ||* of Use; such as Stones, Bows, Arrows, and battering Rams, with other Wooden Engines, which were in all Places easily procured or made: And the Invention of Gunpowder hath introduced another sort of Ammunition and Artillery, whose Materials are made of Minerals, that are not to be found in all Countries; such as Iron, Brass, Lead, Salt-petre, and Brimstone; and therefore where they are wanting, must be procured by Traffick. TRADE is now become as necessary to Preserve Governments, as it is useful to make them Rich.
And notwithstanding the great Influence, that TRADE now hath in the Support and Welfare of || States and Kingdoms, yet there is nothing more unknown, or that Men differ more in their Sentiments, than about the True Causes that raise and promote TRADE.
LIVY, and those Antient Writers, whose elevated GENIUS set them upon the Inquiries into the Causes of the Rise and Fall of Governments, have been very exact in describing the several Forms of Military Discipline, but take no Notice of TRADE; and MACHIAVEL a Modern Writer, and the best, though he lived in a Government, where the Family of MEDICIS had advanced themselves to the Soveraignty by their Riches, acquired by Merchandizing, doth not mention TRADE, as any way || interested in the Affairs of State; for until TRADE became necessary to provide Weapons of War, it was always thought Prejudicial to the Growth of Empire, as too much softening the People by Ease and Luxury, which made their Bodies unfit to Endure the Labour and Hardships of War. And therefore the ROMANS who made War, (the only Way to Raise & Enlarge their Dominion) did in the almost Infancy of their State, Conquer that Rich and TRADING City of CARTHAGE, though Defended by HANIBAL their General, one of the greatest Captains in the World: so that, since TRADE was not in those days useful to provide Magazines for Wars, an Account of it || is not to be expected from those Writers. The Merchant, and other Traders who should understand the true Interest of TRADE, do either not understand it, or else, lest it might hinder their private Gain, will not Discover it. Mr. MUNN a Merchant, in his Treatise of TRADE,6doth better set forth the Rule to make an Accomplished Merchant, than how it may be most Profitable to the Nation; and those Arguments every day met with from the Traders, seem byassed with Private Interest, and run contrary to one another, as their Interest are opposite.
The TURKEY-Merchants Argue against the EAST-INDIA- || COMPANY, the WOOLLEN-DRAPER against the MERCERS, and the UPHOLSTER against the CAIN-CHAIR-MAKER; some think there are too many TRADERS, and Complain against the Number of BUILDERS; others against the Number of ALE-HOUSES; some use Argumen's for the Sole making of particular Commodities, others Plead for the Sole Trading to particular Countries: So that, if these Gentlemens Reasons might prevail in getting those Laws they so much solicite, (which all of them Affirm, would be for the Advance of TRADE, and Publick Good of the Nation) there would be but a few TRADES left for the next Generation of Men to be Em || ploy'd in, a much fewer sorts of Goods to make, and not a Corner of the World to Trade to, unless they purchase a License from them.
And how fair and convincing soever their Premises may appear for the Inlarging and Advancement of TRADE, the Conclusions of their Arguments, which are for Limiting andConfining of it to Number, Persons and Places, are directly opposite to the Inlarging of it.
The Reasons why many Men have not a true IDEA of TRADE, is, Because they Apply their Thoughts to particular Parts of TRADE, wherein they are chiefly concerned in Interest; and having || found out the best Rules and Laws for forming that particular Part, they govern their Thoughts by the same NOTIONS in forming the Great BODY of TRADE, and not Reflecting on the different Rules of Proportions betwixt the Body and Parts, have a very disagreeable Conception; and like those, who having learnt to Draw well an Eye, Ear, Hand, and other Parts of the Body, (being Unskilful in the Laws of Symmetry) when they joyn them together, make a very Deformed Body.
Therefore, whoever will make a true Representation of TRADE, must Draw a rough Sketch of the Body and Parts together, which || though it will not entertain with so much Pleasure as a well-finish't Piece, yet the Agreeableness of the Parts may be as well discern'd, and thereby such Measures taken, as may best suit the Shape of the Body.
[5.] In the original tract the pages of "The Preface" and "The Contents" are unnumbered.
[*]Double vertical bars, ||, denote page breaks in the original 1690 Barbon text, with page numbers when available (e.g., |2|). The bars and numbers were inserted by Hollander and are preserved in this Econlib edition.—Econlib Ed.
[6.]"England's Treasure by Forraign Trade. Or, The Ballance of our Forraign Trade is The Rule of our Treasure" (London, 1664); see chapter I ('The knowledge and qualities, which are required to be in a perfect Merchant of forraign trade').