London in the Time of the Stuarts

By Walter Besant | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
TRADE
THE chapter on trade under the Stuarts may be introduced by certain extracts from a paper written by Sir Walter Raleigh early in the seventeenth century. It was called "Observations on Trade and Commerce," in which he compares the Dutch trade and Dutch merchants with our own, very much to our disadvantage. The following, he says, are the seven points in which the Dutch surpass us:--
"1. The Merchant Staplers which maketh all Things in abundance, by reason of their Store-houses continually replenished with all kinds of Commodities.
2. The Liberty of free Traffick for Strangers to buy and sell in Holland, and other Countries and States, as if they were free-born, maketh great intercourse.
3. The small Duties levied upon Merchants, draws all Nations to trade with them.
4. Their fashioned ships continually freighted before ours, by reason of their few Mariners and great Bulk, serving the Merchant cheap.
5. Their forwardness to further all manner of Trading.
6. Their wonderful employment of their Busses for Fishing, and the great Returns they make.
7. Their giving free Custom inwards and outwards, for any new-erected Trade, by Means whereof they have gotten already almost the sole Trade into their hands."

Thus," he goes on, "as regards the storing of merchandize, Amsterdam is never without a supply of 700,000 quarters of corn, which they keep always ready besides what they sell; and the like with other commodities, so that if a Dearth of Fish, wine, grain, or anything, else begins in the country, forthwith the Dutch are ready with fifty or a hundred ships dispersing themselves at every 'Port-Town' in England, trading away their cargoes and carrying off English gold. Moreover, the Dutch have in their hands the greater part of the carrying trade of France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Turkey, the East Indies, and the West Indies. Yet London is a much more convenient port for a store-house and for the carrying trade if ourmerchants would but bend their course for it."

As for small duties in foreign countries compared with the excessive customs ill ours. James, it will be remembered, relied on his Customs duties, which were heavy, thereby keeping off foreign trade. In Holland the Customs duties were so much lighter that a ship which would pay £900 in the port of London could be cleared at Amsterdam for £50. Raleigh points out that what is lost by lowering the duties is more than made up by the increase of trade when the duties are low. He advocates Free Trade, observe, long before that innovation was thought of.

-190-

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London in the Time of the Stuarts
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • 49079- Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xi
  • Sovereigns 1
  • Chapter I- James I 3
  • Chapter II- Charles I 22
  • Chapter III- The City and the Civil War 53
  • Chapter IV- The Commonwealth 64
  • Chapter V- The Restoration 74
  • Chapter VI 82
  • Chapter VII- James II 103
  • Chapter VIII- William the Third 117
  • Chapter IX- queen Anne 127
  • Religion, Government, and Trade 135
  • Chapter I- Religion 137
  • Chapter II- Tiie Church and Dissent 154
  • Chapter III- Superstitions 159
  • Chapter IV- Sanctuary 168
  • Chapter V- City Government and Usages 172
  • Chapter VI- Trade 190
  • Chapter VII- The Irish Estates 206
  • The Great Plague and Fire 213
  • Chapter I- Plague 215
  • Chapter II- Plague and Medicine 233
  • Chapter III- The Fire 240
  • Chapter IV- Ii. the Fire of London 244
  • Chapter V- Contemporary Evidence 258
  • Chapter VI- London after the Fire 269
  • Manners and Customs 285
  • Chapter I- Food and Drink 287
  • Chapter II- Dress and Manners 298
  • Chapter III- Weddings and Funerals 308
  • Chapter IV- Places of Resort 311
  • Chapter V- Theatre and Art 318
  • Chapter VI- Sports and Amusements 328
  • Chapter VII- Coaches 338
  • Chapter VIII- Punishment and Crime 345
  • Chapter IX- Public Morality 355
  • Chapter X- General Notes 359
  • Appendices 363
  • Index 385
  • Ogilby and Morgan''s Map of London, 1677 397
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