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Account of the Quantities of the Principal Articles imported into the United Kingdom from Holland in
1x39, 1840, and 1841; and of the Quantities and Declared Value of the Principal Articles of British Produce and Manufacture exported from the United Kingdom to Holland in 1839, 1840, and 1841.
Bark for Tanning or Dyeing cwts. 191,133 171,733 138,229
139,239 157,02 164,6,52
Clover Seed Corn, Wheat
qrs. 116,150 50,612 101,483 Flaxseed! and Linseed Barley
3,358 Silk, Haw and Waste (ats
101,336 50,215 21,50 Geneva Spirits Peas and Beans
19,109 12,654 11,075 Rhenish Wine Flax and Tow, or Codilla of Herup and Flax
cwts. 160,48 113,108 120,085
cwts. 35,869 17,375 35,334
Ils. 121,116 25,116 16,479 cwts. 19,1188 21,196
6,4731 bush. 55,126 66,727 42,411
lbs. 81,112 201,07,0 166, 177 pr. gall. 575,654 676,401 464, 5;
79,869 72,81% 73,146
Brass and Copper Manufactures
by the Yard Al other Articles
61,476 Ibs. 21,193,315 1,729,690 21,774,633 1,642,151 22,179,583 1,684,73% pieces 2,239,0,19 25,234 2,301,353 28,903 2,101,141 21,00 cwts. 7,363 38,686 7,2.38 35,916 6,917 38,32 tons 23,958 299,08 30,0014 234,769 36,216 220,524 313 6,079
2,154 37,533 1,719 31,854 lbs. 2,183,577 69,302 2,398,998 66,134 2,524,671 61.519 48,278 49,293
799,166 11,555 1,102,940 14,523 1,111,094 12,37 lbs. 723,166 81,428 919,513 95,1.35 1.461.000 127,6412 pieces 145.196 287,623 135,197 225,995 175,87 275,718 yds. 230,575 19,159 351,306 23,713 436,892 30,79 162,433 174,410
Total Declared Value
Previously to the commencement of the long-continued and glorious struggle made by the Dutch to emancipate themselves from the blind and brutal despotism of Old Spain, they had a considerable marine, and had attained to distinction by their fisheries and commerce; and the war, instead of being injurious to the trade of the republic, contributed powerfully to its extension. After the capture of Antwerp by the Spaniards, in 1585, the extensive commerce of which it had been the centre was removed to the ports of Holland, and principally to Amsterdam, which then attained to the distinction she long enjoyed, of the first commercial city of Europe.
In 1602, the Dutch East India Company was formed; and notwithstanding the pernicious influence of that association, the Indian trade increased rapidly in magni. tude and importance. Ships fitted either for commercial or warlike purposes, and having a considerable number of soldiers on board, were sent out within a few years of the establishment of the company. Amboyna and the Moluccas were first wrested from the Portuguese, and with them the Dutch obtained the monopoly of the spice trade. Factories and fortifications were in no long time established, from Bussorah, near the mouth of the Tigris, in the Persian Gulph, along the coasts and islands of India as far as Japan. Alliances were formed with several of the Indian princes; and in many parts, particularly on the coasts of Ceylon, and in various districts of Malabar and Coromandel, they were themselves the sovereigns. Batavia, in the large and fertile island of Java, the greater part of which had been conquered by the Dutch, formed the centre of their Indian commerce; and though unhealthy, its port was excellent, and it was admirably situated for commanding the trade of the Eastern Archipelago. In 1651, they planted a colony at the Cape of Good Hope, which had been strangely neglected by the Portuguese,
Every branch of commerce was vigorously prosecuted by the Dutch. Their trade with the Baltic was, however, by far the most extensive and lucrative of which they were in possession. Guicciardini mentions that the trade with Poland, Denmark, Prussia, &c., even before their revolt, was so very great, that fleets of 300 ships arrived twice a year at Amsterdam from Dantzic and Livonia only; but it increased prodigiously during the latter part of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenh centuries. The great population of Holland, and the limited extent and unfruitful nature of the soil, render the inhabitants dependent on foreigners for the greater part of their supplies of corn. The countries round the Baltic have always furnished them with the principal part of those supplies; and it is from them that they have been in the habit of bringing timber, iron, hemp and flax, pitch and tar, tallow, ashes, and other bulky articles required in the building of their houses and ships, and in various ma
nufactures. Nothing, however, redounds so much to the credit of the Dutch, as the policy they have invariably followed with respect to the trade in corn. They have, at all tiines, had a large capital embarked in this business. The variations which are perpetually occurring in the harvests, early led them to engage very extensively in a sort of speculative corn trade. When the crops happened to be unusually productive, and prices low, they bought and stored up large quantities of grain, in the expectation of protiting by the advance that was sure to take place on the occurrence of an unfavourable year.
Repeated efforts were made, in periods when prices were rising, to prevail on the government to prohibit exportation; but they steadily refused to interfere. In consequence of this enlightened policy, Holland has long been the most important European entrepôt for corn; and her markets have on all occasions been furnished with the most abundant supplies. Those scarcities which are so very disastrous in countries without commerce, or where the trade in corn is subjected to fetters and restraints, have not only heen totally unknown in Holland, but became a copious source of wealth to her merchants, who then obtained a ready and advantageous vent for the supplies accuinulated in their warehouses. “ Amsterdam," says Sir Walter Raleigh, “is never without 700,000 quarters of corn, none of it of the growth of Holland; and a dearth of only one year in any other part of Europe enriches Holland for seven years. In the course of a year and a half, during a scarcity in England, there were carried away from the ports of Southampton, Bristol, and Exeter alone, nearly 200,0002.; and if London and the rest of England be included, there must have been 2,000,0001. more.” - (Observations touching Trade and Commerce with the Hollander, Miscel. Works, vol. ii. )
The very well informed author of the lichesse de la Hollande, published in 1778, observes, in allusion to these circumstances, “ Que la disette de grains regne dans les quatre parties du monde; vous trouverez du froment, du seigle, et d'autres grains à Amsterdam; ils n'y manquent jamais." -- ( Tome i. p. 376.)
The Bank of Amsterdam was founded in 1609. The principal object of this establishment was to obviate the inconvenience and uncertainty arising from the circulation of the coins imported into Amsterdam from all parts of the world. The merchants who carried coin or bullion to the Bank obtained credit for an equal value in its books: this was called bank-money; and all considerable payments were eflected by writing it off from the account of one individual to that of another, This establishment continued to flourish till the invasion of the French in 1795.
Between the years 1651 and 1672, when the territories of the republic were invaded by the French, the commerce of Holland seems to have reached its greatest height. De Witt estimates its increase from the treaty with Spain, concluded at Munster in 1643, to 1669, at fully a half. He adds, that during the war with Holland, Spain lost the greater part of her naval power; that since the peace, the Dutch had obtained most of the trade to that country, which had been previously carried on by the Hanseatic merchants and the English; that almost all the coasting trade of Spain was carried on by Duteh shipping; that Spain had even been forced to hire Dutch ships to sail to her American possessions; and that so great was the exportation of goods from Holland to Spain, that all the merchandise brought from the Spanish West Indies was not sufficient to make returns for them.
At this period, indeed, the Dutch engrossed, not by means of any artificial monopoly, but by the greater number of their ships, and their superior skill and economy in all that regarded navigation, almost the whole carrying trade of Europe. The value of the goods exported from France in Dutch bottoms, towards the middle of the fourteenth century, exceeded 40,000,000 livres; and the commerce of England with the Low Countries was, for a very long period, almost entirely carried on in them.
The business of marine insurance was largely and successfully prosecuted at Amsterdam; and the ordinances published in 1551, 1563, and 1570, contain the most judicious regulations for the settlement of such disputes as might arise in conducting this difficult but highly useful business. It is singular, however, notwithstanding the sagacity of the Dutch, and their desire to strengthen industrious habits, that they should have proluibited insurance upon lives. It was reserved for England to show the advantages that might be derived from this beautiful application of the science of probabilities.
In 1690, Sir William Petty estimated the shipping of Europe at about 2,000,000 tons, which he supposed to be distributed as follows: – viz. England, 500,000; France, 100,000; Hamburgh, Denmark, Sweden, and Dantzic, 250,000; Spain, Porti:gal, and Italy, 250,000; that of the Seven United Provinces amounting, according to him, to 900,000 tons, or to nearly one half of the whole tonnage of Europe! No great dependence can, of course, be placed upon these estimates; but the probability is, that, had they been more accurate, the preponderance in favour of Holland would have been greater than it appears to be; for the official returns to the circulars addressed in Frol by the commissioners of customs to the officers at the different ports, show that
the whole mercantile navy of England amounted at that period to on.y 261,222 tons, carrying 27,196 men. ---( Macpherson's Annals of Commerce, anno 1701.)
It may, therefore, be fairly concluded that during the seventeenth century the foreign commerce and navigation of Holland was greater than that of all Europe besides; and yet the country which was the seat of this vast commerce had no native produce to export, nor even a piece of timber fit for ship-building. All had been the fruit of industry, economy, and a fortunate combination of circumstances.
Holland owed this vast commerce to a variety of causes: partly to her peculiar situation, the industry and economy of her inhabitants, the comparatively liberal and enlightened system of civil as well as of commercial policy adopted by the republic; and partly also to the wars and disturbances that prevailed in most European countries in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and prevented them from emulating the successful career of the Dutch.
The ascendency of Holland as a commercial state began to decline from about the commencement of last century. After the war terminated by the treaty of Aix-laChapelle, the attention of the government of Holland was forcibly attracted to the state of the shipping and foreign commerce of the republic. The discovery of means by which their decline might be arrested, and the trade of the republic, if possible, restored to its ancient flourishing condition, became a prominent object in the speculations of every one who felt interested in the public welfare. In order to procure the most correct information on the subject, the Stadtholder, William IV., addressed the following queries to all the most extensive and intelligent merchants, desiring them to favour him with their answers:
“). What is the actual state of trade? And if the same should be found to be dimi. nished and fallen to decay, then, 2. To inquire by what methods the same may be supported and advanced, or, if possible, restored to its former lustre, repute, and dig. nity?”
İn discussing these questions, the merchants were obliged to enter into an examination, as well of the causes which had raised the commerce of Holland to the high pitch of prosperity to which it had once attained, as of those which had occasioned its subsequent decline.
It is stated that, though not of the same opinion upon all points, they, speaking generally, concurred as to those that were most important. When their answers had been obtained, and compared with each other, the Stadtholder had a dissertation prepared from them, and other authentic sources, on the commerce of the republic, to which proposals were subjoined for its annendment. Some of the principles advanced in this dissertation apply to the case of Holland only; but most of them are of universal application, and are not more comprehensive than sound. We doubt, indeed, whether the benefits resulting from religious toleration, political liberty, the security of property, and the freedom of industry, have ever been more clearly set forth than in this dissertation. It begins by an enumeration of the causes which contributed to advance the commerce of the republic to its former unexampled prosperity: these the authors divide into three classes, embracing under the first those that were natural and physical ; under the second, those they denominated moral; and under the third, those which they considered adventitious and external; remarking on them in succession as follows:
" I. The natural and physical causes are the advantages of the situation of the country, on the sea, and at the mouth of considerable rivers ; its situation between the northern and southern parts, which, by being in a manner the centre of all Europe, made the republic become the general market, where the merchants on both sides used to bring their superfluous commodities, in order to barter and exchange the same for other goods they wanted.
“Nor have the barrenness of the country, and the necessities of the natives arising from that cause, less contributed to set them upon exerting all their application, industry, and utmost stretch of genius, to fetch from foreign countries what they stand in need of in their own, and to support themselves by trade,
" The abundance of fish in the neighbouring seas put them in a condition not only to supply their own occasions, but with the overplus to carry on a trade with foreigners, and out of the produce or the fishery to find an equivalent for what they wanted, through the sterility and narrow boundaries and extent of their own country.
** II. Among the moral and political causes are to be placed. The unalterable maxim and fundamental law relating to the frie exercise of different religions ; and always to consider this toleration and connivance as the most effectual means to draw foreigners from adjacent countries to settle and reside here, and so become instrumental to the peopling of these provinces.
“ The constant policy of the republic to make this country a perpetual, safe, and secure asylum for any persecuted and oppressed strangers. No alliance, po treaty, no regard for or solicitation of any potentate whatever, has at any time been able to weaken or destroy this law, or make the state recede from protecting those who have fled to it for their own security and self-preservation.
" Throughout the whole course of all the persecutions and oppressions that have occurred in other countries, the steady adherence of the republic to this fundamental law has been the cause that many people have not only fled hither for refuge, with their whole stock in ready cash, and their most valuable effects, but have also settled, and established many trades, fabrics, manufactories, arts, and sciences in this country, notwithstanding the first materials for the said fabrics and manufactories were almost wholly wanting in it, and not to be procured but at a great expense from foreign parts.
“ The constitution of our form of government, and the liberty thus accruing to the citizen, are further reasons to which the growth of trade, and its establishment in the republic, may fairly be ascribed ; and all her policy and laws are put upon such an equitable footing, that neither life, estates, nor dignities, depend on the caprice or arbitrary power of any single individual ; nor is there any room for any person,
who, by care, frugality, and diligence, has once acquired an affluent fortune or estate, to fear a depriv. ation of them by any act of violence, oppression, or injustice.
" The administration of justice in the country has, in like manner, always been clear and impartial, and without distinction of superior or inferior rank, whether the parties have been rich or poor, or were this a foreigner ani that a native ; and it were greatly to be wished we could at this day boast of such impartial quickness and despatch in all our legal processes, considering how great an influence it has on trade.
** To sum up all, amongst the moral and political causes of the former fourishing state of trade may be likewise placed the wisdom and prudence of the administration, the intrepid firmness of the councils, the faithfulness with which treaties and engagements were wont to be fulfilled and ratified, and particu. larly the care and caution practised to preserve tranquillity and peace, and to decline instead of entering on a scene of war, merely to gratify the ambitious views of gaining fruitless or imaginary conquests.
“ By these moral and political maxims were the glory and reputation of the republic so far spread, and foreigners animated to place so great a confidence in the steady determinations of a state so wisely and prudently conducted, that a concourse of them stocked this country with an augmentation of inhabitants and useful hands, whereby its trade and opulence were from time to time increasech.
* 111. Amongst the adventitious and external causes of the rise and Nourishing state of our trade may be reckoned
“ That at the time when the best and wisest maxims were adopted in the republic as the means of making trade flourish, they were neglected in almost all other countries; and any one reading the history of tpose times may easily discover that the persecutions on account of religion, throughout Spain, Brabant, Flanders, and many other states and kingdoms, have powerfully promoted the establishinent of con merce in the republic.
* To this happy result, and the settling of manufacturers in our country, the long continuance of the civil wars in France, which were afterwards carried on in Germany, England, and divers other parts, have also very inuch contributed.
" It must be added, in the last place, that during our most barthensome and heavy wars with Spain and Portugal (however ruinous that period was for cominerce otherwise), these powers had both neglected their nary; whilst the navy of the republic, by a conduct directly the reverse, was at the same time formidable, and in a capacity not only to protect the trade of its own subjects, but to annoy and crush that of their enemies in all quarters.'
We believe our readers will agree with us in thinking that these statements reflect the greatest credit on the merchants and government of Ilolland. Nothing, as it appears to us, could be conceived more judicious than the account they give of the causes which principally contributed to render Holland a great commercial commonwealth. The central situation of the country, its command of some of the principal inlets to the Continent, and the necessity under which the inhabitants have been placed, in consequence of the barrenness of the soil and its liability to be overflowed, to exert all their industry and enterprise, arc circumstances that seem to be in a great degree peculiar in Holland. But though there can be no doubt that their influence has been very considerable, no one will pretend to say that it is to be compared for a moment with the influence of those free institutions, which, fortunately, are not the exclusive attributes of any particular country, but have flourished in Phænicia, Greece, England, and America, as well as in Holland.
Many dissertations have been written to account for the decline of the commerce of Ilolland. But, if we mistake not, its leading causes may be classed under two prominent heads : viz. first, the natural growth of commerce and navigation in other countries; and, second, the weight of taxation at home. During the period when the republic rose to great eminence as a commercial state, England, France, and Spain, distracted by civil and religious dissensions, or engrossed wholly by schemes of foreign conquest, were unable to apply their energies to the cultivation of commerce, or to withstand the competition of so industrious a people as the Dutch. They, therefore, were under the necessity of allowing the greater part of their foreign, and even of their coasting trade, to be carried on in Dutch bottoms, and under the superintendence of Dutch factors. But after the accession of Louis XIV. and the ascendency of Cromwell had put an end to internal commotions in France and England, the energies of these two great nations began to be directed to pursuits of which the Dutch had hitherto enjoyed alınost a monopoly. It was not to be supposed that when tranquillity and a regular system of government had been established in France and England, their active and enterprising inhabitants would submit to see one of their most valuable branches of industry in the hands of the foreigners. The Dutch ceased to be the carriers of Europe, without any fault of their own. Their performance of that function necessarily terminated as soon as other nations became possessed of a mercantile marine, and were able to do for themselves what had previously been done for them by their neighbours.
Whatever, therefore, might have been the condition of Holland in other respects, the natural advance of rival nations must inevitably have stripped her of a large portion of the commerce she once possessed. But the progress of decline seems to have been considerably accelerated, or rather, perhaps, the efforts to arrest it were rendered ineffectual, by the extremely heavy taxation to which she was subjected, occasioned by the unavoidable expenses incurred in the revolutionary struggle with Spain, and the subsequent wars with France and England. The necessities of the state led to the imposition of taxes on corn, on flour when it was ground at the mill, and on bread when it came from the oven; on butter, and fish, and fruit; on income and legacies; the sale of
• The Dissertation was translated into English, and published at London in 1751. We have quoted from the translation,
houses ; and, in short, almost every article of either necessity or convenience. Sir William Temple mentions that in his time--and taxes were greatly increased afterwards -one fish sauce was in common use, which directly paid no fewer than thirty different duties of excise ; and it was a common saying at Amsterdam, that every dish of fish brought to table was paid for once to the fishermen, and six times to the state.
The pernicious influence of this heavy taxation has been ably set forth by the author of the Richesse de la Hollande, and other well-informed writers; and it has also been very forcibly pointed out in the Dissertation already referred to, drawn up from the communications of the Dutch merchants. “ Oppressive taxes,” it is there stated, “ must be placed at the head of all the causes that have co-operated to the prejudice and discouragement of trade; and it may be justly said, that it can only be attributed to them that the trade of this country has been diverted out of its channel, and transferred to our neighbours, and must daily be still more and more alienated and shut out from us, unless the progress thereof be stopped by some quick and effectual remedy: nor is it difficult to see, from these contemplations on the state of our trade, that the same will be effected by no other means than a diminution of all duties.
“ In former times this was reckoned the only trading state in Europe ; and foreigncrs were content to pay the taxes, as well on the goods they brought hither, as on those they came here to buy; without examining whether they could evade or save them, by fetching the goods from the places where they were produced, and carrying others to the places where they were consumed: in short, they paid us our taxes with pleasure, without any farther inquiry.
“ But, since the last century, the system of trade is altered all over Europe: foreign nations, seeing the wonderful effect of our trade, and to what an eminence we had risen only by means thereof, they did likewise apply themselves to it; and, to save our duties, sent their superfluous products beside our country, to the places where they are most consumed ; and in return for the same, furnished themselves from the first hands with what they wanted.”
But, notwithstanding this authoritative exposition of the pernicious effects resulting from the excess of taxation, the necessary expenses of the state were so great as to render it impossible to make any sufficient reductions. And, with the exception of the transit trade carried on through the Rhine and the Meuse, which is in a great measure independent of foreign competition, and the American trade, most of the other branches of the foreign trade of Holland, though still very considerable, continue in a comparatively depressed state.
In consequence principally of the oppressiveness of taxation, but partly, too, of the excessive accumulation of capital that had taken place while the Dutch engrossed the carrying trade of Europe, profits in Holland were reduced towards the middle of the seventeenth century, and have ever since continued extremely low. This circumstance would of itself have sapped the foundations of her commercial greatness. Her capitalists, who could hardly expect to clear more than two or three per cent. of nett profit by any sort of undertaking carried on at home, were tempted to vest their capital in other countries, and to speculate in loans to forcign governments. There are the best reasons for thinking that the Dutch were, until very lately, the largest creditors of any nation in Europe. It is impossible, indeed, to form any accurate estimate of what the sums owing them by foreigners previously to the late French war, or at present, may amount to; but there can be no doubt that at the former period the amount was immense, and that it is still very considerable. M. Demeunier (Dictionnaire de l'Economie Politique, tom. iii. p. 720.) states the amount of capital lent by the Dutch to foreign governments, exclusive of the large sums lent to France during the American war, at seventy-three millions sterling. According to the author of the Richesse de la Hollande (ii. p. 292.), the sums lent to France and England only, previously to 1778, amounted to 1,500,000 livres tournois, or sixty millions sterling. And besides these, vast sums were lent to private individuals in foreign countries, both regularly as loans at interest, and in the shape of goods advanced at long credits. So great was the difficulty of finding an advantageous investment for money in Holland, that Sir William
Temple mentions, that the payment of any part of the national debt was looked upon by the creditors as an evil of the tirst magnitude.“ They receive it,” says he, “ with tears, not knowing how to dispose of it to interest with such safety and ease.”
Among the subordinate causes which contributed to the decline of Dutch commerce, or which have, at all events, prevented its growth, we may reckon the circumstance of the commerce with India having been subjected to the trammels of monopoly. De Witt expresses his firin conviction, that the abolition of the East India Company would have added very greatly to the trade with the East; and no doubt can now remain in the mind of any one, that such would have been the case. * The interference of the
• For proofs of this, see the article on the Commerce of Holland in the Edinburgh Review, No. 102., from which most part of these statements have been taken.