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TRADE AND COMMERCE, &c.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY, I HAVE diligently, in my travels, observed how the countries herein mentioned do grow potent with abundance of all things to serve themselves and other nations, where nothing groweth ; and that their never-dried fountains of wealth, by which they raise their estate to such an admirable height as that they are at this day even a wonder to the world, proceedeth from your majesty's seas and lands.
I, thus moved, began to dive into the depth of their policies and circumventing practices, whereby they drain, and still covet to exhaust, the wealth and coin of this kingdom, and so with our own commodities to weaken us, and finally beat us quite out of trading in other countries. I found that they more fully obtained these their purposes by their convenient privileges and settled constitutions, than Eng. land with all the laws and superabundance of homebred commodities which God hath vouchsafed your sea and land : and these, and other mentioned in this book, are the urgent causes that provoked me, in my love and bounden duty to your majesty and my country, to address my former books to your princely hands and consideration.
By which privileges they draw multitudes of merchants to trade with them, and many other nations to inhabit amongst them, which makes them populous, and there they make storehouses of all foreign commodities, wherewith, upon every occasion of scarcity and dearth, they are able to furnish foreign countries with plenty of those commodities, which before in time of plenty they engrossed and brought home from the same places; which doth greatly augment power, treasure to their state, besides the common good in setting their poor and people on work.
To which privileges they add smallness of custom and liberty of trade, which maketh them flourish, and their country so plentiful of all kind of coin and commodities where little or nothing groweth ; and their merchants so flourish, that when a loss cometh they scarce feel it.
To bring this to pass, they have many advantages of us; the one is, by their fashioned ships called boyers, hoybarks, hoys, and others that are made to hold great bulk of merchandise, and to sail with a few men for profit. For example; though an English ship of two hundred tons, and a Holland ship, or any other of the petty States of the same burden be at Dantzic, or any other place beyond the seas, or in England, they do serve the merchant better cheap by one hundred pounds in his freight than we can, by reason he hath but nine or ten mariners, and we near thirty ; thus he saveth twenty men's meat and wages in a voyage; and so in all other their ships according to their burden, by which means they are freighted, wheresoever they come, to great profit, whilst our ships lie still and decay, or go to Newcastle for coals. · Of this their smallness of custom, inwards and outwards, we have daily experience ; for if two English ships, or two of any other nations be at Bourdeaux, both laden with wine of three hundred tons apiece, the one bound for Holland, or any other petty States, the other for England, the merchant shall pay about nine hundred pounds custom here, and other duties, when the other in Holland, or any other petty States, shall be cleared for less than fifty pounds, and so in all other wares and merchandises accordingly, which draws all nations to traffick with them; and although it seems but small duties which they receive, yet the multitudes of all kind of commodities and coin that is brought in by themselves and others, and carried out by themselves and others, is so great, that they receive more custom and duties to the state by the greatness of their commerce in one year, than England doth in two years; for the one hundredth part of commodities are not spent in Holland, but vended into other countries, which maketh all the country merchants to buy and sell, and increase ships and mariners to transport them.
My travels and meaning is not to diminish (neither hath been) your majesty's revenues, but exceedingly to increase them, as shall appear, and yet please the people, as in other parts they do.
Notwithstanding their excises bring them in great revenues, yet whosoever will adventure to Bourdeaux but for six tons of wine, shall be free of excise in his own house all the year long; and this is done of purpose to animate and increase merchants in their country.
And if it happen that a trade be stopped by any foreign nation, which they heretofore usually had, or hear of any good trading which they never had, they will hinder others, and seek, either by favour, money, or force, to open the gap of traffick, for advancement of trade amongst themselves, and employment of their people.
And when there is a new course or trade erected, they give free custom inwards and outwards, for the better maintenance of navigation, and encouragement of the people to that business.
Thus they and others glean the wealth and strength from us to themselves; and these reasons following procure them this advantage of us.
1. The merchant staplers which maketh all things in abundance, by reason of their storehouses continually replenished with all kind 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 freeborn, 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.
All nations may buy and sell freely in France, and there is free custom outwards twice or thrice in a year, at which time our merchants themselves do make their great sales of English commodities, and do buy and lade their great bulk of French commodities to serve for the whole year; and in Rochelle in France and in Britain, free custom all the year long, except some small toll, which makes great traffick, and maketh them flourish.
In Denmark, to encourage and enrich the merchants, and to increase ships and mariners, there is free custom all the year long for their own merchants, except one month between Bartholomew-tide and Michaelmas.
The Hanse Towns have advantage of us, as Holland and other petty States have, and in most things imitate them, which makes them exceeding rich and plentiful of all kind of commodities and coin, and so strong in ships and mariners, that some of their towns have near one thousand sail of ships.
The merchandises of France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Turkey, East and West Indies, are transported most by the Hollanders, and other petty States, into the east and north-east kingdoms of Pomerland, Spruceland, Poland, Denmark, Sweedland, Leifland, and Germany, and the merchandises brought from the last-mentioned kingdoms, being wonderful many, are likewise by the Hollanders and other petty States most transported into the southern and western dominions, and yet the situation of England lieth far better for a storehouse to serve the south-east and north
east regions than theirs-doth, and hath far better means to do it, if we will bend our course for it.
No sooner a dearth of fish, wine, or corn here, and other merchandise, but forth with the Embdeners, Hamburghers, and Hollanders, out of their storehouses, lade fifty or one hundred ships, or more, dispersing themselves round about this kingdom, and carry away great store of coin and wealth for little commodity in those times of dearth ; by which means they suck our commonwealth of her riches, cut down our merchants, and decay our navigation ; not with their natural commodities, which grow in their own countries, but the merchandises of other countries and kingdoms.
Therefore it is far more easy to serve ourselves, hold up our merchants, and increase our ships and mariners, and strengthen the kingdom ; and not only keep our money in our own realm, which other nations still rob us of, but bring in theirs who carry ours away, and make the bank of coin and storehouse to serve other nations as well, and far better cheap than they.
Amsterdam is never without seven hundred thousand quarters of corn, besides the plenty they daily vend, and none of this groweth in their own country: a dearth in England, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and other places, is truly observed to enrich Holland seven years after, and likewise the petty States.
For example; the last dearth, six years past, the Hamburghers, Embdeners, and Hollanders, out of their storehouses, furnished this kingdom ; and from Southampton, Exeter, and Bristol, in a year and a half, they carried away near two hundred thousand pounds from these parts only: then what great quantity of coin was transported round about your kingdom from every port-town, and from your city of London and other cities, cannot be esteemed so little as two millions, to the great decay of your kingdom and impoverishing your people. Discredit to the company of merchants, and dishonour to the land, that any nation, that have no corn in their own country growing, should serve