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time, the inventions of most men were at work (especially those that had any dealing with you, and a sense of your sufferings) to contrive a method, whereby relief might have given you, that are the best employed hands for the inriching and supporting this nation.
After much time had been spent, in endeavouring the taking off the duty, and it was found that no arguments were prevalent, and almost all people despairing of relief, then Col. Waldrond, myself, and others, with no small pains, nor little charge, contrived (as we thought) a method, that might not only have laid the duty on the consumptioner, but also might have relieved you from the complaints of those that do charge you with being great debtors, and to have enabled every planter to make the best advantage of their plantations, by supplying them with monies, at the common interest of the colonies, by preventing numerous sellers, necessitous and ignorant sales. And that this might run through the most strict examination, before it should have been allowed of, we proposed, that his late majesty, and privy-council, might have the first view of it, that they might be satisfied it did not lessen his majesty's revenue, and that we might have his majesty's leave to propose it to the assemblies of every individual colony; and, if they did approve of it, and petitioned his majesty for the incorporating such societies, that then we, and our friends, might be interested in it.
But this, meeting with opposition, occasioned a hearing before his majesty, and the lords of his privy-council; and, after they were satisfied it did not lessen his majesty's revenue, our great debate, with the opposers, was about his majesty's giving leave for the sending of it to the colonies for them to try and examine it. His majesty was pleased to declare, that he could not understand any reason could be given why they might not have a sight of it, for he thought Barbadoes best knew what Barbadoes wanted. I believe none will deny, but that it met with a general approbation of all the lords of the council, except my Lord Chancellor, of whom I was informed by a friend (but at that time an opposer of this design) that he was our enemy, and accordingly we found him.
Soon after this hearing, the government began to be uneasy, and holding it not proper for a matter of this nature, to be further proceeded on, under an unsettled government, I rather chose to be silent, and bear such reflexions as were made by those that were totally ignorant of the method of our undertaking, though prejudicial to my particular interest, than to expose it to view, before I saw the government in a temper to consider of trade, and the great benefit you are to this nation. Therefore, I have now exposed it for your view, that you may be judges whether it might have been, or may be serviceable to you, Bnd whether our request of sending it to you was unreasonable.
You will find, by this treatise (as I humbly conceive) that our design would, at least, have raised the value of your goods to the price it bore before the additional duty was laid; and it was allowed at that hearing, by the opposers, that it would raise, at least, twenty per cent. Our method was, to have had all your goods, that came to England, brought to one body of men, which we called a common factory, and they constantly to be chosen by you in your assemblies, and they to have been accountable to every consigner for the net proceed of every parcel of goods sold, for which your charge was not to exceed what you now pay. The other part of our design was to erect a company, separate from the common factory, which should have sufficient funds in each colony, to lend what monies you had occasion of, you giving security on lands or goods; and, if they did not lend it, on demand, they were to forfeit to the borrower considerable for every hundred pound demanded, the lands or goods being valued by sworn appraisers. What was lent, was to be continued during your pleasure, you paying your interest, when due, and you had power to pay it in, when you pleased, and they obliged to lend too, at least, one half value of land, or goods, and you not to have been confined to have borrowed it of them, but where else you pleased; so that this company might have been serviceable, but could not have been hurtful, for they were bound to obey, and had no power to command.
To make it next to impossibility, that the government should ever be imposed on, to permit any laws or designs of any persons whatsoever, let their pretences be ever so specious, to take effect, until the colonies, by their assembly, were consulted with: I have, to the best of my knowledge, given a true and just account of what import you are to this nation, by increasing of navigation, consuming the woollen-manufactory, of all sorts of apparel, houshold goods, &c. that are made in England; and that which was formerly foreign commodities, and cost us considerable yearly, by your industry, is become native, the nation freed from that charge, and the consumptions saves, at least, one half of his expence, for the like quantity; besides the great advantage this nation receives by your goods exported, being over and above our consumption; and, lastly, all the riches you get in the Indies, by your great care, labour, and industry, is brought to England, and here it centers.
If you will be pleased to rectify my errors, that I through ignorance may have committed, that our legislators may be more fully satisfied, that you are, and ever must be Englishmen, and that you are much more beneficially employed there, for the benefit of this nation, than any the like number in England; that every hardship that is put upon you, that makes your goods dearer in foreign markets, or lessens the consumption in England, is a lessening to the trade of England, and, consequently, prejudicial to every subject in Eng. land: and, if this small treatise meets with your kind acceptance, I shall think myself very happy, and shall always be ready to demonstrate, that I am your well wisher, and, Gentlemen, Your most humble and faithful Servant,
There is nothing more frequent amongst the generality of mankind than is the drawing wrong conclusions from right premisses, where, by the most concise and truest maxims and sayings, that wise men upon solid thinking have contrived to guide us, like landmarks, in the search of truth, are perverted by wrong applications, to drown our understandings in the gulph of error.
Thus, because truth itself is not truer, than that people are the wealth of a nation, those who have not time, experience, and skill, to examine the fund of that undeniable verity, though, in other things, men of excellent understandings, are apt to infer, that all, who set foot out of the kingdom, are in some degree a diminution of its wealth, and thence take for granted, that the American colonies occasion the decay both of the people and riches of the nation; when, upon a thorough examination, nothing can appear more erroneous, as I doubt not to make plain to every man, though my principal design is to convince the nobility and gentry of the kingdom, who, being the contrivers of our statutes and most concerned for the preservation of its grandeur, ought rightly to be informed, for fear our laws in time take a contrary byass to our trade and navigation, which are nude, niably our glory and strength, as well as the fountain of our riches.
To make this point clear, it is necessary to consider and examine four things.
1. What is real wealth;
1. What is imaginary wealth:
3. How these are acquired:4. How they may be lost.
To distinguish rightly in these points, we must consider money, as the least part of the wealth of any nation, and think of it only as a scale to weigh one thing against another, or as counters to reckon riches by, or as a pawn of intrinsick value, to deposit in lieu of any necessary whatsoever.
True, solid, and real wealth, therefore, in respect to the nation, is the land, and what is upon, or under its surface, as useful buildings, trees, quarries, mines,&c.
Thus by a good computation, made by Sir William Petty, which we will take for granted till there appears a better, we may reckon the present rent of land and houses to be ten millions of pounds, per annum, which at twenty years purchase amounts to two hundred millions of pounds.
The people of this nation consume annually, in necessary meat, drink, and cloaths, computed from their numbers, manner of living, and usual price current of things, about fifty millions of pounds, an. nually, which is about six pounds ten shillings a head.
The imaginary wealth therefore of the nation, which consists in labour, trade, and negotiation, is four times as much as the real, and, preserved in its natural channels, is to be reduced to the same valu* |ii purchase as land; whereby we may allow, that the intrinsick worth of the people and kingdom, as they now stand together, is a thousand millions of pounds.
The money in species of the nation, though the scale by which the whole is valued and weighed,amounts not to six millions.
Now such as do account the lands and buildings of the nation more valuable, because real, than the negotiation, because accidental and imaginary, will find themselves mistaken; since lands and houses, without people, are of no value at all, and to a naked and unindustrious nation very little more, so that labour, invention, trade, and negotiation are the only causes of, as well as supports to that we call riches.
This is so self-evident that it will be superfluous to illustrate it by many examples or comparisons between civil and barbarous countries.
Therefore we must consider, that when it is said, people are the wealth of a nation, it is only meant, laborious and industrious people, and not such as are wholly unemployed, as gentry, clergy, lawyers, servingmen, and beggars, &c. Or which is worse, employed only in disturbing the industrious and laborious, as pettifoggers, informers, catchpoles, and thieves; and, though the first sorts may be necessary, as harmless spurs to consumption, learning, or virtue, or as objects of the good will, mutual love, pity and compassion of human nature, as well as increasers of the numbers by children, yet the fewer such the better; whereas the last should by all imaginary ways be discouraged, tamed, or destroyed, as the worst of vermin in a well-governed commonwealth.
We must likewise consider, that the value of every thing useful to the necessities, luxuries, or vanities of this life, is measured by the industry and labour either of body or mind, which is necessary to their acquirement, whereby things of little or no price in one couiu try, by the time spent, labour and hazard of those which carry them to another, become dear.
From all which it is plain, that only industrious and laborious people are the riches of any nation; and it will as naturally follow, these laborious or industrious, who employ their talents to most advantage, are of most value to such nation.
And though a man, whose skill amounts to no more than to earn three pence a day by his continual labour, can no ways add to the wealth of a kingdom like ours, because it will not supply his necessary consumption, yet such a man is a less burthen to it, than one totally idle, and may increase the number by children.
So again, one that constantly by his labour can earn six pence a day only, and consumes just so much, as he is not advantageous to the nation's wealth, so he is no burthen neither, and occasions its increase.
But that man, who, by industry and labour, not only maintains himself and family, but makes himself rich, is, to the proportion of his wealth, just so much addition to the intrinsick value of the kingdom,
I have the more enlarged upon this head, that I might lead the mind of the reader, by a natural chain of consequences, rightly to understand the true original and everlasting support of wealth, which is nothing else but labour.
As for such persons who by the faculties of the mind only acquire riches to themselves, as soldiers, lawyers, divines, bankers, retailers, victuallers, &c. they, though necessary callings, are no increases of the nation's wealth, nor is the kingdom more rich by the fluctuating and circulation of money among such, than one of them would be by putting his money out of one chest into another, or shifting it from one pocket to another.
But where soldiery becomes the trade of a people, as among the Switzers and Scots it is, who serve abroad for money, and bring it home to purchase lands there, it is of equal benefit to any other labour, by increasing the rates and value of the real wealth of those countries, which, as amongst all other civil nations, is land, and houses.
I doubt not but the reader by this time will perceive, that in what way soever a man employs his labour and industry, either at home or abroad, so that at last he increases the value of the real wealth of the nation, he is, in the proportion of such increase, a benefit thereunto.
And, on the contrary, he that labours not at all, or so much as not to increase the intrinsick value of his country, is just good for nothing.
To leave this truth plain beyond dispute, I beg the doubter but to consider, that if all the laborious people of the kingdom left working, and were to live upon the natural produce of it, to be distributed to them in equal proportions by way of charity, as parish-poor and beggars are now supported, how long it would be before the nation became necessitous, naked, and starving, and consequently the land and houses worth nothing.
A short reflexion would make him sensible that a very few years of idleness would compleat the matter; whence he can no longer doubt, but that labour and industry, rightly applied, is the sole cause of the wealth of a nation; that money is only the scales or touchstone to weigh or value things by; and that land itself would yield no rent, but as labour employed for the support of luxuries, as well as neces, sities, did find a due encouragement and increase. In short it is plain hereby,
1. That real wealth is land and houses;
2. That imaginary wealth is the laborious people.
3. That the real and imaginary wealth both increase only, as industry is rightly applied by great numbers of laborious people : and not by increase of people only.
4. And the increase of people, wilfully or accidentally idle, is so far from being national riches, that it is the surest and speediest way to inevitable poverty, famine, and nakedness, and must decay the value as well of the real, as imaginary wealth of the nation, proportionably to the decay of industry. Thus civil wars, disorders, and changes in the government of na,