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Chapter 23

OF THE INLAND TRADE OF ENGLAND,

ITS MAGNITUDE,

AND THE GREAT ADVANTAGE IT IS TO THE NATION IN GENERAL


I have, in a few words, described what I mean by the inland trade of England, in the introduction to this work. It is the circulation of commerce among ourselves.

I. For the carrying on our manufactures of several kinds in the several counties where they are made, and the employing the several sorts of people and trades needful for the said manufactures.

II. For the raising and vending provisions of all kinds for the supply of the vast numbers of people who are employed every where by the said manufactures.

III. For the importing and bringing in from abroad all kinds of foreign growth and manufactures which we want.

IV. For the carrying about and dispersing, as well our own growth and manufactures as the foreign imported growth and manufactures of other nations, to the retailer, and by them to the last consumer, which is the utmost end of all trade; and this, in every part, to the utmost corner of the island of Great Britain and Ireland.

This I call inland trade, and these circulators of goods, and retailers of them to the last consumer, are those whom we are to understand by the word tradesmen, in all the parts of this work; for (as I observed in the beginning) the ploughmen and farmers who labour at home, and the merchant who imports our merchandise from abroad, are not at all meant or included, and whatever I have been saying, except where they have been mentioned in particular, and at length.

This inland trade is in itself at this time the wonder of all the world of trade, nor is there any thing like it now in the world, much less that exceeds it, or perhaps ever will be, except only what itself may grow up to in the ages to come; for, as I have said on all occasions, it is still growing and increasing.

By this prodigy of a trade, all the vast importation from our own colonies is circulated and dispersed to the remotest corner of the island, whereby the consumption is become so great, and by which those colonies are so increased, and are become so populous and so wealthy as I have already observed of them. This importation consists chiefly of sugars and tobacco, of which the consumption in Great Britain is scarcely to be conceived of, besides the consumption of cotton, indigo, rice, ginger, pimento or Jamaica pepper, cocoa or chocolate, rum and molasses, train-oil, salt-fish, whale-fin, all sorts of furs, abundance of valuable drugs, pitch, tar, turpentine, deals, masts, and timber, and many other things of smaller value; all which, besides the employing a very great number of ships and English seamen, occasion again a very great exportation of our own manufactures of all sorts to those colonies; which being circulated again for consumption there, that circulation is to be accounted a branch of home or inland trade, as those colonies are on all such occasions esteemed as a branch of part of ourselves, and of the British government in the world.

This trade to our West Indies and American colonies, is very considerable, as it employs so many ships and sailors, and so much of the growth of those colonies is again exported by us to other parts of the world, over and above what is consumed among us at home; and, also, as all those goods, and a great deal of money in specie, is returned hither for and in balance of our own manufactures and merchandises exported thither--on these accounts some have insisted that more real wealth is brought into Great Britain every year from those colonies, than is brought from the Spanish West Indies to old Spain, notwithstanding the extent of their dominion is above twenty times as much, and notwithstanding the vast quantity of gold and silver which they bring from the mines of Mexico, and the mountains of Potosi.[38]

Whether these people say true or no, is not my business to inquire here; though, if I may give my opinion, I must acknowledge that I believe they do; but be it so or not, it is certain that it is an infinitely extended trade, and daily increasing; and much of it, if not all, is and ought to be esteemed as an inland trade, because, as above, it is a circulation among ourselves.

As the manufactures of England, particularly those of wool (cotton wool included), and of silk, are the greatest, and amount to the greatest value of any single manufacture in Europe,[39] so they not only employ more people, but those people gain the most money, that is to say, have the best wages for their work of any people in the world; and yet, which is peculiar to England, the English manufactures are, allowing for their goodness, the cheapest at market of any in the world, too. Even France itself, after all the pains they are at to get our wool, and all the expense they have been at to imitate our manufactures, by getting over our workmen, and giving them even greater wages than they had here, have yet made so little proficiency in it, and are so far from outselling us in foreign markets, that they still, in spite of the strictest prohibitions, send hither, and to Holland and Germany, for English broad-cloths, druggets, duroys, flannels, serges, and several other sorts of our goods, to supply their own. Nor can they clothe themselves to their satisfaction with their own goods; but if any French gentleman of quality comes over hither from France, he is sure to bring no more coats with him than backs, but immediately to make him new clothes as soon as he arrives, and to carry as many new suits home with him at his return, as he can get leave to bring ashore when he comes there--a demonstration that our manufacture exceeds theirs, after all their boasts of it, both in goodness and in cheapness, even by their own confession. But I am not now to enter upon the particular manufactures, but the general trade in the manufacture; this particular being a trade of such a magnitude, it is to be observed for our purpose, that the greatness of it consists of two parts:--

1. The consumption of it at home, including our own plantations and factories.

2. The exportation of it to foreign parts, exclusive of the said plantations and factories.

It is the first of these which is the subject of my present discourse, because the tradesmen to whom, and for whose instruction these chapters are designed, are the people principally concerned in the making all these manufactures, and wholly and solely concerned in dispersing and circulating them for the home consumption; and this, with some additions, as explained above, I call inland trade.

The home-consumption of our own goods, as it is very great, so it has one particular circumstance attending it, which exceedingly increases it as a trade, and that is, that besides the numbers of people which it employs in the raising the materials, and making the goods themselves as a manufacture--I say, besides all this, there are multitudes of people employed, cattle maintained, with waggons and carts for the service on shore, barges and boats for carriage in the rivers, and ships and barks for carrying by sea, and all for the circulating these manufactures from one place to another, for the consumption of them among the people.

So that, in short, the circulation of the goods is a business not equal, indeed, but bearing a very great proportion to the trade itself.

This is owing to another particular circumstance of our manufacture, and perhaps is not so remarkably the case of any other manufacture or country in Europe, namely, that though all our manufactures are used and called for by almost all the people, and that in every part of the whole British dominion, yet they are made and wrought in their several distinct and respective countries in Britain, and some of them at the remotest distance from one another, hardly any two manufactures being made in one place. For example:

The broad-cloth and druggets in Wilts, Gloucester, and Worcestershire; serges in Devon and Somersetshire; narrow-cloths in Yorkshire and Staffordshire; kerseys, cottons, half-thicks, duffields, plains, and coarser things, in Lancashire and Westmoreland; shalloons in the counties of Northampton, Berks, Oxford, Southampton, and York; women's-stuffs in Norfolk; linsey-woolseys, &c, at Kidderminster; dimmeties and cotton-wares at Manchester; flannels at Salisbury, and in Wales; tammeys at Coventry; and the like. It is the same, in some respects, with our provisions, especially for the supply of the city of London, and also of several other parts: for example, when I speak of provisions, I mean such as are not made use of in the county where they are made and produced. For example:

Butter, in firkins, in Suffolk and Yorkshire; cheese from Cheshire, Wiltshire, Warwickshire, and Gloucestershire; herrings, cured red, from Yarmouth in Norfolk; coals, for fuel, from Northumberland and Durham; malt from the counties of Hertford, Essex, Kent, Bucks, Oxford, Berks, &c.

And thus of many other things which are the proper produce of one part of the country only, but are from thence dispersed for the ordinary use of the people into many, or perhaps into all the other counties of England, to the infinite advantage of our inland commerce, and employing a vast number of people and cattle; and consequently those people and cattle increasing the consumption of provisions and forage, and the improvement of lands; so true it is, and so visible, that trade increases people, and people increase trade.

This carriage of goods in England from those places is chiefly managed by horses and waggons; the number of which is not to be guessed at, nor is there any rule or art that can be thought of, by which any just calculation can be made of it, and therefore I shall not enter upon any particular of it at this time; it is sufficient to say, what I believe to be true, namely, that it is equal to the whole trade of some nations, and the rather because of the great improvement of land, which proceeds from the employing so many thousands of horses as are furnished for this part of business.

In other countries, and indeed, in most countries in Europe, all their inland trade, such as it is, is carried on by the convenience of navigation, either by coastings on the sea, or by river-navigation. It is true, our coasting trade is exceedingly great, and employs a prodigious number of ships, as well from all the shores of England to London, as from one port to another.

But as to our river-navigation, it is not equal to it, though in some places it is very great too; but we have but a very few navigable rivers in England, compared with those of other countries; nor are many of those rivers we have navigable to any considerable length from the sea. The most considerable rivers in England for navigation are as follows:--The Thames, the Trent, the Severn, the Wye, the Ouse, the Humber, the Air, and the Calder. These are navigable a considerable way, and receive several other navigable rivers into them; but except these there are very few rivers in England which are navigable much above the first town of note within their mouth.

Most of our other greatest and most navigable rivers are navigable but a very little way in; as the northern Ouse but to York, the Orwell but to Ipswich, the Yare but to Norwich; the Tyne itself but a very little above Newcastle, not in all above twelve miles; the Tweed not at all above Berwick; the great Avon but to Bristol; the Exe but to Exeter; and the Dee but to Chester: in a word, our river-navigation is not to be named for carriage, with the vast bulk of carriage by pack-horses and by waggons; nor must the carriage by pedlars on their backs be omitted.[40]

This carriage is the medium of our inland trade, and, as I said, is a branch of the trade itself. This great carriage is occasioned by the situation of our produce and manufactures. For example--the Taunton and Exeter serges, perpetuanas, and duroys, come chiefly by land; the clothing, such as the broad-cloth and druggets from Wilts, Gloucester, Worcester, and Shropshire, comes all by land-carriage to London, and goes down again by land-carriages to all parts of England; the Yorkshire clothing trade, the Manchester and Coventry trades, all by land, not to London only, but to all parts of England, by horse-packs--the Manchester men being, saving their wealth, a kind of pedlars, who carry their goods themselves to the country shopkeepers every where, as do now the Yorkshire and Coventry manufacturers also.

Now, in all these manufactures, however remote from one another, every town in England uses something, not only of one or other, but of all the rest. Every sort of goods is wanted every where; and where they make one sort of goods, and sell them all over England, they at the same time want other goods from almost every other part. For example:

Norwich makes chiefly woollen stuffs and camblets, and these are sold all over England; but then Norwich buys broad-cloth from Wilts and Worcestershire, serges and sagathies from Devon and Somersetshire, narrow cloth from Yorkshire, flannel from Wales, coal from Newcastle, and the like; and so it is, mutatis mutandis, of most of the other parts.

The circulating of these goods in this manner, is the life of our inland trade, and increases the numbers of our people, by keeping them employed at home; and, indeed, of late they are prodigiously multiplied; and they again increase our trade, as shall be mentioned in its place.

As the demand for all sorts of English goods is thus great, and they are thus extended in every part of the island, so the tradesmen are dispersed and spread over every part also; that is to say, in every town, great or little, we find shopkeepers, wholesale or retail, who are concerned in this circulation, and hand forward the goods to the last consumer. From London, the goods go chiefly to the great towns, and from those again to the smaller markets, and from those to the meanest villages; so that all the manufactures of England, and most of them also of foreign countries, are to be found in the meanest village, and in the remotest corner of the whole island of Britain, and are to be bought, as it were, at every body's door.

This shows not the extent of our manufactures only, but the usefulness of them, and how they are so necessary to mankind that our own people cannot be without them, and every sort of them, and cannot make one thing serve for another; but as they sell their own, so they buy from others, and every body here trades with every body: this it is that gives the whole manufacture so universal a circulation, and makes it so immensely great in England. What it is abroad, is not so much to our present purpose.

Again, the magnitude of the city of London adds very considerably to the greatness of the inland trade; for as this city is the centre of our trade, so all the manufactures are brought hither, and from hence circulated again to all the country, as they are particularly called for. But that is not all; the magnitude of the city influences the whole nation also in the article of provisions, and something is raised in every county in England, however remote, for the supply of London; nay, all the best of every produce is brought hither; so that all the people, and all the lands in England, seem to be at work for, or employed by, or on the account of, this overgrown city.

This makes the trade increase prodigiously, even as the city itself increases; and we all know the city is very greatly increased within few years past. Again, as the whole nation is employed to feed and clothe this city, so here is the money, by which all the people in the whole nation seem to be supported and maintained.

I have endeavoured to make some calculation of the number of shopkeepers in this kingdom, but I find it is not to be done--we may as well count the stars; not that they are equal in number neither, but it is as impossible, unless any one person corresponded so as to have them numbered in every town or parish throughout the kingdom. I doubt not they are some hundreds of thousands, but there is no making an estimate--the number is in a manner infinite. It is as impossible likewise to make any guess at the bulk of their trade, and how much they return yearly; nor, if we could, would it give any foundation for any just calculation of the value of goods in general, because all our goods circulate so much, and go so often through so many hands before they come to the consumer. This so often passing every sort of goods through so many hands, before it comes into the hands of the last consumer, is that which makes our trade be so immensely great. For example, if there is made in England for our home-consumption the value of 100,000 worth of any particular goods, say, for example, that it be so many pieces of serge or cloth, and if this goes through ten tradesmen's hands, before it comes to the last consumer, then there is 1,000,000 returned in trade for that 100,000 worth of goods; and so of all the sorts of goods we trade in.

Again, as I said above, all our manufactures are so useful to, and depend on, one another so much in trade, that the sale of one necessarily causes the demand of the other in all parts. For example, suppose the poorest countryman wants to be clothed, or suppose it be a gentleman wants to clothe one of his servants, whether a footman in a livery, or suppose it be any servant in ordinary apparel, yet he shall in some part employ almost every one of the manufacturing counties of England, for making up one ordinary suit of clothes. For example:

If his coat be of woollen-cloth, he has that from Yorkshire; the lining is shalloon from Berkshire; the waistcoat is of callamanco from Norwich; the breeches of a strong drugget from Devizes, Wiltshire; the stockings being of yarn from Westmoreland; the hat is a felt from Leicester; the gloves of leather from Somersetshire; the shoes from Northampton; the buttons from Macclesfield in Cheshire, or, if they are of metal, they come from Birmingham, or Warwickshire; his garters from Manchester; his shirt of home-made linen of Lancashire, or Scotland.

If it be thus of every poor man's clothing, or of a servant, what must it be of the master, and of the rest of the family? And in this particular the case is the same, let the family live where they will; so that all these manufactures must be found in all the remotest towns and counties in England, be it where you will.

Again, take the furnishing of our houses, it is the same in proportion, and according to the figure and quality of the person. Suppose, then, it be a middling tradesman that is going to live in some market-town, and to open his shop there; suppose him not to deal in the manufacture, but in groceries, and such sort of wares as the country grocers sell.

This man, however, must clothe himself and his wife, and must furnish his house: let us see, then, to how many counties and towns, among our manufactures, must he send for his needful supply. Nor is the quantity concerned in it; let him furnish himself as frugally as he pleases, yet he must have something of every necessary thing; and we will suppose for the present purpose the man lived in Sussex, where very few, if any, manufactures are carried on; suppose he lived at Horsham, which is a market-town in or near the middle of the county.

For his clothing of himself--for we must allow him to have a new suit of clothes when he begins the world--take them to be just as above; for as to the quality or quantity, it is much the same; only, that instead of buying the cloth from Yorkshire, perhaps he has it a little finer than the poor man above, and so his comes out of Wiltshire, and his stockings are, it may be, of worsted, not of yarn, and so they come from Nottingham, not Westmoreland; but this does not at all alter the case.

Come we next to his wife; and she being a good honest townsman's daughter, is not dressed over fine, yet she must have something decent, being newly married too, especially as times go, when the burghers' wives of Horsham, or any other town, go as fine as they do in other places: allow her, then, to have a silk gown, with all the necessaries belonging to a middling tolerable appearance, yet you shall find all the nation more or less concerned in clothing this country grocer's wife, and furnishing his house, and yet nothing at all extravagant. For example:

Her gown, a plain English mantua-silk, manufactured in Spitalfields; her petticoat the same; her binding, a piece of chequered-stuff, made at Bristol and Norwich; her under-petticoat, a piece of black callamanco, made at Norwith--quilted at home, if she be a good housewife, but the quilting of cotton from Manchester, or cotton-wool from abroad; her inner-petticoats, flannel and swanskin, from Salisbury and Wales; her stockings from Tewksbury, if ordinary, from Leicester, if woven; her lace and edgings from Stony Stratford the first, and Great Marlow the last; her muslin from foreign trade, as likewise her linen, being something finer than the man's, may perhaps be a guilick-Holland; her wrapper, or morning-gown, a piece of Irish linen, printed at London; her black hood, a thin English lustring; her gloves, lamb's-skin, from Berwick and Northumberland, or Scotland; her ribands, being but very few, from Coventry, or London; her riding-hood, of English worsted-camblet, made at Norwich.

Come next to the furniture of their house. It is scarce credible, to how many counties of England, and how remote, the furniture of but a mean house must send them, and how many people are every where employed about it; nay, and the meaner the furniture, the more people and places employed. For example:

The hangings, suppose them to be ordinary linsey-woolsey, are made at Kidderminster, dyed in the country, and painted, or watered, at London; the chairs, if of cane, are made at London; the ordinary matted chairs, perhaps in the place where they live; tables, chests of drawers, &c., made at London; as also looking-glass; bedding, &c., the curtains, suppose of serge from Taunton and Exeter, or of camblets, from Norwich, or the same with the hangings, as above; the ticking comes from the west country, Somerset and Dorsetshire; the feathers also from the same country; the blankets from Whitney in Oxfordshire; the rugs from Westmoreland and Yorkshire; the sheets, of good linen, from Ireland; kitchen utensils and chimney-furniture, almost all the brass and iron from Birmingham and Sheffield; earthen-ware from Stafford, Nottingham, and Kent; glass ware from Sturbridge in Worcestershire, and London.

I give this list to explain what I said before, namely, that there is no particular place in England, where all the manufactures are made, but every county or place has its peculiar sort, or particular manufacture, in which the people are wholly employed; and for all the rest that is wanted, they fetch them from other parts.[41]

But, then, as what is thus wanted by every particular person, or family, is but in small quantities, and they would not be able to send for it to the country or town where it is to be bought, there are shopkeepers in every village, or at least in every considerable market-town, where the particulars are to be bought, and who find it worth their while to furnish themselves with quantities of all the particular goods, be they made where and as far off as they will; and at these shops the people who want them are easily supplied.

Nor do even these shopkeepers go or send to all the several counties where those goods are made--that is to say, to this part for the cloth, or to that for the lining; to another for the buttons, and to another for the thread; but they again correspond with the wholesale dealers in London, where there are particular shops or warehouses for all these; and they not only furnish the country shopkeepers, but give them large credit, and sell them great quantities of goods, by which they again are enabled to trust the tailors who make the clothes, or even their neighbours who wear them; and the manufacturers in the several counties do the like by those wholesale dealers who supply the country shops.

Through so many hands do all the necessary things pass for the clothing a poor plain countryman, though he lived as far as Berwick-upon-Tweed; and this occasions, as I have said, a general circulation of trade, both to and from London, from and to all the parts of England, so that every manufacture is sold and removed five or six times, and perhaps more, before it comes at the last consumer.

This method of trade brings another article in, which also is the great foundation of the increase of commerce, and the prodigious magnitude of our inland trade is much owing to it; and that is giving credit, by which every tradesman is enabled to trade for a great deal more than he otherwise could do. By this method a shopkeeper is able to stock his shop, or warehouses, with two or three times as much goods in value, as he has stock of his own to begin the world with, and by that means is able to trust out his goods to others, and give them time, and so under one another--nay, I may say, many a tradesman begins the world with borrowed stocks, or with no stock at all, but that of credit, and yet carries on a trade for several hundreds, nay, for several thousands, of pounds a-year.

By this means the trade in general is infinitely increased--nay, the stock of the kingdom in trade is doubled, or trebled, or more, and there is infinitely more business carried on, than the real stock could be able to manage, if no credit were to be given; for credit in this particular is a stock, and that not an imaginary, but a real stock; for the tradesman, that perhaps begins but with five hundred, or one thousand pounds' stock, shall be able to furnish or stock his shop with four times the sum in the value of goods; and as he gives credit again, and trusts other tradesmen under him, so he launches out into a trade of great magnitude; and yet, if he is a prudent manager of his business, he finds himself able to answer his payments, and so continually supply himself with goods, keeping up the reputation of his dealings, and the credit of his shop, though his stock be not a fifth, nay, sometimes not a tenth part, in proportion to the returns that he makes by the year: so that credit is the foundation on which the trade of England is made so considerable.

Nor is it enough to say, that people must and will have goods, and that the consumption is the same; it is evident that consumption is not the same; and in those nations where they give no credit, or not so much as here, the trade is small in proportion, as I shall show in its place.

FOOTNOTES:

[38] [The amount of trade produced by the British colonies is still great; but it has been ascertained that it is not profitable to the nation at large, as much more is paid from the public purse for the military protection required by the colonies, than returns to individuals through the medium of business.]

[39] [The cotton manufacture has now the prominence which, in Defoe's time, was due to those of wool and silk.]

[40] [It is scarcely necessary to remind the reader, that the canal navigation of England has come into existence since the date of this work--the railway communication is but of yesterday.]

[41] [Since Defoe's time, little alteration has taken place in the locality of a number of manufactures in England; but, in the interval, an entire change has been effected in Scotland, which now possesses various manufactures of importance in the commercial economy of the nation. We need only allude to the cambrics, gauzes, and silks of Paisley; the cottons and other goods of Glasgow; the plaidings of Stirlingshire; the stockings of Hawick; the printing-paper of Mid-Lothian; the carpets and bonnets of Kilmarnock; the iron of Muirkirk and Carron; the linens of Fife and Dundee; and the shawls of Edinburgh.]


Daniel Defoe

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