As for bread-corn, it is for the most part brought to London after it is converted into flour, and both bread and flour are extremely reasonable: we here buy as much good white bread for three- halfpence or twopence, as will serve an Englishman a whole day, and flour in proportion. Good strong beer also may be had of the brewer, for about twopence a quart, and of the alehouses that retail it for threepence a quart. Bear Quay, below bridge, is a great market for malt, wheat, and horse-corn; and Queenhithe, above the bridge, for malt, wheat, flour, and other grain.
The butchers here compute that there are about one thousand oxen sold in Smithfield Market one week with another the year round; besides many thousand sheep, hogs, calves, pigs, and lambs, in this and other parts of the town; and a great variety of venison, game, and poultry. Fruit, roots, herbs, and other garden stuff are very cheap and good.
Fish also are plentiful, such as fresh cod, plaice, flounders, soles, whitings, smelts, sturgeon, oysters, lobsters, crabs, shrimps, mackerel, and herrings in the season; but it must be confessed that salmon, turbot, and some other sea-fish are dear, as well as fresh-water fish.
Wine is imported from foreign countries, and is dear. The port wine which is usually drunk, and is the cheapest, is two shillings a quart, retailed in taverns, and not much less than eighteen or twenty pounds the hogshead, when purchased at the best hand; and as to French wines, the duties are so high upon them that they are double the price of the other at least. White wine is about the same price as red port, and canary about a third dearer.
It is computed that there are in London some part of the year, when the nobility and gentry are in town, 15,000 or 16,000 large horses for draught, used in coaches, carts, or drays, besides some thousands of saddle-horses; and yet is the town so well supplied with hay, straw, and corn, that there is seldom any want of them. Hay generally is not more than forty shillings the load, and from twenty pence to two shillings the bushel is the usual price of oats.
The opportunity of passing from one part of the town to the other, by coach, chair, or boat, is a very great convenience, especially in the winter, or in very hot weather. A servant calls a coach or a chair in any of the principal streets, which attends at a minute's warning, and carries one to any part of the town, within a mile and a half distance, for a shilling, but to a chair is paid one-third more; the coaches also will wait for eighteenpence the first hour, and a shilling every succeeding hour all day long; or you may hire a coach and a pair of horses all day, in or out of town, for ten shillings per day; there are coaches also that go to every village almost about town, within four or five miles, in which a passenger pays but one shilling, and in some but sixpence, for his passage with other company.
The pleasantest way of moving from one end of the town to the other in summer time is by water, on that spacious gentle stream the Thames, on which you travel two miles for sixpence, if you have two watermen, and for threepence if you have but one; and to any village up or down the river you go with company for a trifle. But the greatest advantage reaped from this noble river is that it brings whatever this or other countries afford. Down the river from Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Bucks, &c., come corn and all manner of provision of English growth, as has been observed already; and up the river, everything that the coasts and the maritime counties of England, Scotland, or Ireland afford; this way also are received the treasures and merchandise of the East and West Indies, and indeed of the four quarters of the world.
Carts are hired as coaches, to remove goods and merchandise from one part of the town to the other, whose rates are also fixed, and are very reasonable; and for small burdens or parcels, and to send on messages, there are porters at every corner of the streets, those within the City of London and liberties thereof being licensed by authority, and wearing a badge or ticket; in whose hands goods of any value, and even bills of exchange or sums of money, may be safely trusted, they being obliged at their admission to give security. There is also a post that goes from one part of the town to the other several times a day; and once a day to the neighbouring villages, with letters and small parcels; for the carriage of which is given no more than a penny the letter or parcel. And I should have remembered that every coach, chair, and boat that plies for hire has its number upon it; and if the number be taken by any friend or servant, at the place you set out from, the proprietor of the vehicle will be obliged to make good any loss or damage that may happen to the person carried in it, through the default of the people that carry him, and to make him satisfaction for any abuse or ill-language he may receive from them.
The high streets from one end of the town to the other are kept clean by scavengers in the winter, and in summer the dust in some wide streets is laid by water-carts: they are so wide and spacious, that several lines of coaches and carts may pass by each other without interruption. Foot-passengers in the high streets go about their business with abundance of ease and pleasure; they walk upon a fine smooth pavement; defended by posts from the coaches and wheel- carriages; and though they are jostled sometimes in the throng, yet as this seldom happens out of design, few are offended at it; the variety of beautiful objects, animate and inanimate, he meets with in the streets and shops, inspires the passenger with joy, and makes him slight the trifling inconvenience of being crowded now and then. The lights also in the shops till eight or nine in the evening, especially in those of toymen and pastry-cooks, in the winter, make the night appear even brighter and more agreeable than the day itself.
From the lights I come very naturally to speak of the night-guards or watch. Each watch consists of a constable and a certain number of watchmen, who have a guard-room or watch-house in some certain place, from whence watchmen are despatched every hour, to patrol in the streets and places in each constable's district; to see if all be safe from fire and thieves; and as they pass they give the hour of the night, and with their staves strike at the door of every house.
If they meet with any persons they suspect of ill designs, quarrelsome people, or lewd women in the streets, they are empowered to carry them before the constable at his watch-house, who confines them till morning, when they are brought before a justice of the peace, who commits them to prison or releases them, according as the circumstances of the case are.
Mobs and tumults were formerly very terrible in this great city; not only private men have been insulted and abused, and their houses demolished, but even the Court and Parliament have been influenced or awed by them. But there is now seldom seen a multitude of people assembled, unless it be to attend some malefactor to his execution, or to pelt a villain in the pillory, the last of which being an outrage that the Government has ever seemed to wink at; and it is observed by some that the mob are pretty just upon these occasions; they seldom falling upon any but notorious rascals, such as are guilty of perjury, forgery, scandalous practices, or keeping of low houses, and these with rotten eggs, apples, and turnips, they frequently maul unmercifully, unless the offender has money enough to bribe the constables and officers to protect him.
The London inns, though they are as commodious for the most part as those we meet with in other places, yet few people choose to take up their quarters in them for any long time; for, if their business requires them to make any stay in London, they choose to leave their horses at the inn or some livery-stable, and take lodgings in a private house. At livery stables they lodge no travellers, only take care of their horses, which fare better here than usually at inns; and at these places it is that gentlemen hire saddle-horses for a journey. At the best of them are found very good horses and furniture: they will let out a good horse for 4s. a day, and an ordinary hackney for 2s. 6d., and for 5s. you may have a hunter for the city hounds have the liberty of hunting; in Enfield Chase and round the town, and go out constantly every week in the season, followed by a great many young gentlemen and tradesmen. They have an opportunity also of hunting with the King's hounds at Richmond and Windsor: and such exercises seem very necessary for people who are constantly in London, and eat and drink as plentifully as any people in the world. And now I am speaking of hired horses, I cannot avoid taking notice of the vast number of coach-horses that are kept to be let out to noblemen or gentlemen, to carry or bring them to and from the distant parts of the kingdom, or to supply the undertakers of funerals with horses for their coaches and hearses. There are some of these men that keep several hundreds of horses, with coaches, coachmen, and a complete equipage, that will be ready at a day's warning to attend a gentleman to any part of England. These people also are great jockeys. They go to all the fairs in the country and buy up horses, with which they furnish most of the nobility and gentry about town. And if a nobleman does not care to run any hazard, or have the trouble of keeping horses in town, they will agree to furnish him with a set all the year round.
The principal taverns are large handsome edifices, made as commodious for the entertaining a variety of company as can be contrived, with some spacious rooms for the accommodation of numerous assemblies. Here a stranger may be furnished with wines, and excellent food of all kinds, dressed after the best manner:- each company, and every particular man, if he pleases, has a room to himself, and a good fire if it be winter time, for which he pays nothing, and is not to be disturbed or turned out of his room by any other man of what quality soever, till he thinks fit to leave it. And as many people meet here upon business, at least an equal-number resort hither purely for pleasure, or to refresh themselves in an evening after a day's fatigue.
And though the taverns are very numerous, yet ale-houses are much more so, being visited by the inferior tradesmen, mechanics, journeymen, porters, coachmen, carmen, servants, and others whose pockets will not reach a glass of wine. Here they sit promiscuously in common dirty rooms, with large fires, and clouds of tobacco, where one that is not used to them can scarce breathe or see; but as they are a busy sort of people, they seldom stay long, returning to their several employments, and are succeeded by fresh sets of the same rank of men, at their leisure hours, all day long.
Of eating-houses and cook-shops there are not many, considering the largeness of the town, unless it be about the Inns of Court and Chancery, Smithfield, and the Royal Exchange, and some other places, to which the country-people and strangers resort when they come to town. Here is good butcher's meat of all kinds, and in the best of them fowls, pigs, geese, &c., the last of which are pretty dear; but one that can make a meal of butcher's meat, may have as much as he cares to eat for sixpence; he must be content indeed to sit in a public room, and use the same linen that forty people have done before him. Besides meat, he finds very good white bread, table- beer, &c.
Coffee-houses are almost as numerous as ale-houses, dispersed in every part of the town, where they sell tea, coffee, chocolate, drams, and in many of the great ones arrack and other punch, wine, &c. These consist chiefly of one large common room, with good fires in winter; and hither the middle sort of people chiefly resort, many to breakfast, read the news, and talk politics; after which they retire home: others, who are strangers in town, meet here about noon, and appoint some tavern to dine at; and a great many attend at the coffee-houses near the Exchange, the Inns of Court, and Westminster, about their business. In the afternoon about four, people resort to these places again, from whence they adjourn to the tavern, the play, &c.; and some, when they have taken a handsome dose, run to the coffee-house at midnight for a dish of coffee to set them right; while others conclude the day here with drams, or a bowl of punch.
There are but few cider-houses about London, though this be liquor of English growth, because it is generally thought too cold for the climate, and to elevate the spirits less than wine or strong beer.
The four grand distinctions of the people are these:- (1) The nobility and gentry; (2) the merchants and first-rate tradesmen; (3) the lawyers and physicians; and (4) inferior tradesmen, attorneys, clerks, apprentices, coachmen, carmen, chairmen, watermen, porters, and servants.
The first class may not only be divided into nobility and gentry, but into either such as have dependence on the Court, or such as have none. Those who have offices, places, or pensions from the Court, or any expectations from thence, constantly attend the levees of the prince and his ministers, which takes up the greatest part of the little morning they have. At noon most of the nobility, and such gentlemen as are members of the House of Commons, go down to Westminster, and when the Houses do not sit late, return home to dinner. Others that are not members of either House, and have no particular business to attend, are found in the chocolate-houses near the Court, or in the park, and many more do not stir from their houses till after dinner. As to the ladies, who seldom rise till about noon, the first part of their time is spent, after the duties of the closet, either at the tea-table or in dressing, unless they take a turn to Covent Garden or Ludgate Hill, and tumble over the mercers' rich silks, or view some India or China trifle, some prohibited manufacture, or foreign lace.
Thus, the business of the day being despatched before dinner, both by the ladies and gentlemen, the evening is devoted to pleasure; all the world get abroad in their gayest equipage between four and five in the evening, some bound to the play, others to the opera, the assembly, the masquerade, or music-meeting, to which they move in such crowds that their coaches can scarce pass the streets.
The merchants and tradesmen of the first-rate make no mean figure in London; they have many of them houses equal to those of the nobility, with great gates and courtyards before them, and seats in the country, whither they retire the latter end of the week, returning to the city again on Mondays or Tuesdays; they keep their coaches, saddle-horses, and footmen; their houses are richly and beautifully furnished; and though their equipage be not altogether so shining and their servants so numerous as those of the nobility, they generally abound in wealth and plenty, and are generally masters of a larger cash than they have occasion to make use of in the way of trade, whereby they are always provided against accidents, and are enabled to make an advantageous purchase when it offers. And in this they differ from the merchants of other countries, that they know when they have enough, for they retire to their estates, and enjoy the fruits of their labours in the decline of life, reserving only business enough to divert their leisure hours. They become gentlemen and magistrates in the counties where their estates lie, and as they are frequently the younger brothers of good families, it is not uncommon to see them purchase those estates that the eldest branches of their respective families have been obliged to part with.
Their character is that they are neither so much in haste as the French to grow rich, nor so niggardly as the Dutch to save; that their houses are richly furnished, and their tables well served. You are neither soothed nor soured by the merchants of London; they seldom ask too much, and foreigners buy of them as cheap as others. They are punctual in their payments, generous and charitable, very obliging, and not too ceremonious; easy of access, ready to communicate their knowledge of the respective countries they traffic with, and the condition of their trade.
As to their way of life, they usually rise some hours before the gentlemen at the other end of the town, and having paid their devotions to Heaven, seldom fail in a morning of surveying the condition of their accounts, and giving their orders to their bookkeepers and agents for the management of their respective trades; after which, being dressed in a modest garb, without any footmen or attendants, they go about their business to the Custom House, Bank, Exchange, &c., and after dinner sometimes apply themselves to business again; but the morning is much the busiest part of the day. In the evening of every other day the post comes in, when the perusing their letters may employ part of their time, as the answering them does on other days of the week; and they frequently meet at the tavern in the evening, either to transact their affairs, or to take a cheerful glass after the business of the day is over.
As to the wives and daughters of the merchants and principal tradesmen, they endeavour to imitate the Court ladies in their dress, and follow much the same diversions; and it is not uncommon to see a nobleman match with a citizen's daughter, by which she gains a title, and he discharges the incumbrances on his estate with her fortune. Merchants' sons are sometimes initiated into the same business their fathers follow; but if they find an estate gotten to their hands, many of them choose rather to become country gentlemen.
As to the lawyers or barristers, these also are frequently the younger sons of good families; and the elder brother too is sometimes entered of the Inns of Court, that he may know enough of the law to keep his estate.
A lawyer of parts and good elocution seldom fails of rising to preferment, and acquiring an estate even while he is a young man. I do not know any profession in London where a person makes his fortune so soon as in the law, if he be an eminent pleader. Several of them have of late years been advanced to the peerage; as Finch, Somers, Cowper, Harcourt, Trevor, Parker, Lechmere, King, Raymond, &c., scarce any of them much exceeding forty years of age when they arrived at that honour.
The fees are so great, and their business so engrosses every minute of their time, that it is impossible their expenses should equal their income; but it must be confessed they labour very hard, are forced to be up early and late, and to try their constitutions to the utmost (I mean those in full business) in the service of their clients. They rise in winter long before it is light, to read over their briefs; dress, and prepare themselves for the business of the day; at eight or nine they go to Westminster, where they attend and plead either in the Courts of Equity or Common Law, ordinarily till one or two, and (upon a great trial) sometimes till the evening. By that time they have got home, and dined, they have other briefs to peruse, and they are to attend the hearings, either at the Lord Chancellor's or the Rolls, till eight or nine in the evening; after which, when they return to their chambers, they are attended by their clients, and have their several cases and briefs to read over and consider that evening, or the next morning before daylight; insomuch that they have scarce time for their meals, or their natural rest, particularly at the latter end of a term. They are not always in this hurry; indeed, if they were, the best constitution must soon be worn out; nor would anyone submit to such hardships who had a subsistence, but with a prospect of acquiring a great estate suddenly; for the gold comes tumbling into the pockets of these great lawyers, which makes them refuse no cause, how intricate or doubtful soever. And this brings me to consider the high fees that are usually taken by an eminent counsel; as for a single opinion upon a case, two, three, four, and five guineas; upon a hearing, five or ten; and perhaps a great many more; and if the cause does not come on till the next day, they are all to be fee'd again, though there are not less than six or seven counsel of a side.
The next considerable profession therefore I shall mention in London is that of the physicians, who are not so numerous as the former; but those who are eminent amongst them acquire estates equal to the lawyers, though they seldom arrive at the like honours. It is a useful observation, indeed, as to English physicians, that they seldom get their bread till they have no teeth to eat it: though, when they have acquired a reputation, they are as much followed as the great lawyers; they take care, however, not to be so much fatigued. You find them at Batson's or Child's Coffee House usually in the morning, and they visit their patients in the afternoon. Those that are men of figure amongst them will not rise out of their beds or break their rest on every call. The greatest fatigue they undergo is the going up forty or fifty pair of stairs every day; for the patient is generally laid pretty near the garret, that he may not be disturbed.
These physicians are allowed to be men of skill in their profession, and well versed in other parts of learning. The great grievance here (as in the law) is that the inferior people are undone by the exorbitance of their fees; and what is still a greater hardship is, that if a physician has been employed, he must be continued, however unable the patient is to bear the expense, as no apothecary may administer anything to the sick man, if he has been prescribed to first by a physician: so that the patient is reduced to this dilemma, either to die of the disease, or starve his family, if his sickness happens to be of any duration. A physician here scorns to touch any other metal but gold, and the surgeons are still more unreasonable; and this may be one reason why the people of this city have so often recourse to quacks, for they are cheap and easily come at, and the mob are not judges of their ability; they pretend to great things; they have cured princes, and persons of the first quality, as they pretend; and it must be confessed their patients are as credulous as they can desire, taken with grand pretences, and the assurance of the impostor, and frequently like things the better that are offered them out of the common road.
I come in the next place to treat of attorneys' clerks, apprentices, inferior tradesmen, coachmen, porters, servants, and the lowest class of men in this town, which are far the most numerous: and first of the lawyers' clerks and apprentices, I find it a general complaint that they are under no manner of government; before their times are half out, they set up for gentlemen; they dress, they drink, they game, frequent the playhouses, and intrigue with the women; and it is no uncommon thing with clerks to bully their masters, and desert their service for whole days and nights whenever they see fit.
As to the ordinary tradesmen, they live by buying and selling; I cannot say they are so eminent for their probity as the merchants and tradesmen of the first rate; they seem to have a wrong bias given them in their education; many of them have no principles of honour, no other rule to go by than the fishmonger, namely, to get what they can, who consider only the weakness or ignorance of the customer, and make their demands accordingly, taking sometimes half the price they ask. And I must not forget the numbers of poor creatures who live and maintain their families by buying provisions in one part of the town, and retailing them in another, whose stock perhaps does not amount to more than forty or fifty shillings, and part of this they take up (many of them) on their clothes at a pawnbroker's on a Monday morning, which they make shift to redeem on a Saturday night, that they may appear in a proper habit at their parish-churches on a Sunday. These are the people that cry fish, fruit, herbs, roots, news, &c, about town.
As to hackney-coachmen, carmen, porters, chairmen, and watermen, though they work hard, they generally eat and drink well, and are decently clothed on holidays; for the wife, if she be industrious, either by her needle, washing, or other business proper to her sex, makes no small addition to their gains; and by their united labours they maintain their families handsomely if they have their healths.
As to the common menial servants, they have great wages, are well kept and clothed, but are, notwithstanding the plague, of almost every house in town. They form themselves into societies, or rather confederacies, contributing to the maintenance of each other when out of place; and if any of them cannot manage the family where they are entertained as they please, immediately they give notice they will be gone. There is no speaking to them; they are above correction; and if a master should attempt it, he may expect to be handsomely drubbed by the creature he feeds and harbours, or perhaps an action brought against him for it. It is become a common saying, "If my servant ben't a thief, if he be but honest, I can bear with other things;" and indeed it is very rare in London to meet with an honest servant.
When I was treating of tradesmen, I had forgot to mention those nuisances of the town, the itinerant pedlars who deal in toys and hardware, and those who pretend to sell foreign silks, linen, India handkerchiefs, and other prohibited and unaccustomed goods. These we meet at every coffee-house and corner of the streets, and they visit also every private house; the women have such a gust for everything that is foreign or prohibited, that these vermin meet with a good reception everywhere. The ladies will rather buy home manufactures of these people than of a neighbouring shopkeeper, under the pretence of buying cheaper, though they frequently buy damaged goods, and pay a great deal dearer for them than they would do in a tradesman's shop, which is a great discouragement to the fair dealer that maintains a family, and is forced to give a large credit, while these people run away with the ready money. And I am informed that some needy tradesmen employ fellows to run hawking about the streets with their goods, and sell pennyworths, in order to furnish themselves with a little money.
As to the recreations of the citizens, many of them are entertained in the same manner as the quality are, resorting to the play, park, music-meetings, &c.; and in the summer they visit Richmond, Hampstead, Epsom, and other neighbouring towns, where horse-racing, and all manner of rural sports, as well as other diversions, are followed in the summer season.
Towards autumn, when the town is thin, many of the citizens who deal in a wholesale way visit the distant parts of the kingdom to get in their debts, or procure orders for fresh parcels of goods; and much about the same time the lawyers are either employed in the several circuits, or retired to their country seats; so that the Court, the nobility and gentry, the lawyers, and many of the citizens being gone into the country, the town resumes another face. The west end of it appears perfectly deserted; in other parts their trade falls off; but still in the streets about the Royal Exchange we seldom fail to meet with crowds of people, and an air of business in the hottest season.
I have heard it affirmed, however, that many citizens live beyond their income, which puts them upon tricking and prevaricating in their dealings, and is the principal occasion of those frequent bankruptcies seen in the papers; ordinary tradesmen drink as much wine, and eat as well, as gentlemen of estates; their cloth, their lace, their linen, are as fine, and they change it as often; and they frequently imitate the quality in their expensive pleasures.
As to the diversions of the inferior tradesmen and common people on Sundays and other holidays, they frequently get out of town; the neighbouring villas are full of them, and the public-houses there usually provide a dinner in expectation of their city guests; but if they do not visit them in a morning, they seldom fail of walking out in the fields in the afternoon; every walk, every public garden and path near the town are crowded with the common people, and no place more than the park; for which reason I presume the quality are seldom seen there on a Sunday, though the meanest of them are so well dressed at these times that nobody need be ashamed of their company on that account; for you will see every apprentice, every porter, and cobbler, in as good cloth and linen as their betters; and it must be a very poor woman that has not a suit of Mantua silk, or something equal to it, to appear abroad in on holidays.
And now, if we survey these several inhabitants in one body, it will be found that there are about a million of souls in the whole town, of whom there may be 150,000 men and upwards capable of bearing arms, that is, between eighteen and sixty.
If it be demanded what proportion that part of the town properly called the City of London bears to the rest, I answer that, according to the last calculations, there are in the city 12,000 houses; in the parishes without the walls, 36,320; in the parishes of Middlesex and Surrey, which make part of the town, 46,300; and in the city and liberties of Westminster, 28,330; in which are included the precincts of the Tower, Norton Folgate, the Rolls, Whitefriars, the Inns of Court and Chancery, the King's palaces, and all other extra-parochial places.
As to the number of inhabitants in each of these four grand divisions, if we multiply the number of houses in the City of London by eight and a half, there must be 102,000 people there, according to this estimate. By the same rule, there must be 308,720 people in the seventeen parishes without the walls; 393,550 in the twenty-one out-parishes of Middlesex and Surrey; and 240,805 in the city and liberties of Westminster, all which compose the sum-total of 1,045,075 people.
Let me now proceed to inquire into the state of the several great trading companies in London. The first, in point of time, I find to be the Hamburg Company, originally styled "Merchants of the Staple" (that is, of the staple of wool), and afterwards Merchant Adventurers. They were first incorporated in the reign of King Edward I., anno 1296, and obtained leave of John, Duke of Brabant, to make Antwerp their staple or mart for the Low Countries, where the woollen manufactures then flourished more than in any country in Europe. The business of this company at first seems to be chiefly, if not altogether, the vending of English wool unwrought.
Queen Elizabeth enlarged the trade of the Company of Adventurers, and empowered them to treat with the princes and states of Germany for a place which might be the staple or mart for the woollen manufactures they exported, which was at length fixed at Hamburg, from whence they obtained the name of the Hamburg Company. They had another mart or staple also assigned them for the sale of their woollen cloths in the Low Countries, viz., Dort, in Holland.
This company consists of a governor, deputy-governor, and fellowship, or court of assistants, elected annually in June, who have a power of making bye-laws for the regulation of their trade; but this trade in a manner lies open, every merchant trading thither on his own bottom, on paying an inconsiderable sum to the company; so that though the trade to Germany may be of consequence, yet the Hamburg Company, as a company, have very little advantage by their being incorporated.
The Hamburg or German Merchants export from England broad-cloth, druggets, long-ells, serges, and several sorts of stuffs, tobacco, sugar, ginger, East India goods, tin, lead, and several other commodities, the consumption of which is in Lower Germany.
England takes from them prodigious quantities of linen, linen-yarn, kid-skins, tin-plates, and a great many other commodities.
The next company established was that of the Russia Merchants, incorporated 1st and 2nd of Philip and Mary, who were empowered to trade to all lands, ports, and places in the dominions of the Emperor of Russia, and to all other lands not then discovered or frequented, lying on the north, north-east, or north-west.
The Russia Company, as a company, are not a very considerable body at present; the trade thither being carried on by private merchants, who are admitted into this trade on payment of five pounds for that privilege.
It consists of a governor, four consuls, and twenty-four assistants, annually chosen on the 1st of March.
The Russia Merchants export from England some coarse cloth, long- ells, worsted stuffs, tin, lead, tobacco, and a few other commodities.
England takes from Russia hemp, flax, linen cloth, linen yarn, Russia leather, tallow, furs, iron, potashes, &c., to an immense value.
The next company is the Eastland Company, formerly called Merchants of Elbing, a town in Polish Prussia, to the eastward of Dantzic, being the port they principally resorted to in the infancy of their trade. They were incorporated 21 Elizabeth, and empowered to trade to all countries within the Sound, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Liefland, Prussia, and Pomerania, from the river Oder eastward, viz., with Riga, Revel, Konigsberg, Elbing, Dantzic, Copenhagen, Elsinore, Finland, Gothland, Eastland, and Bornholm (except Narva, which was then the only Russian port in the Baltic). And by the said patent the Eastland Company and Hamburg Company were each of them authorised to trade separately to Mecklenburg, Gothland, Silesia, Moravia, Lubeck, Wismar, Restock, and the whole river Oder.
This company consists of a governor, deputy-governor, and twenty- four assistants, elected annually in October; but either they have no power to exclude others from trading within their limits, or the fine for permission is so inconsiderable, that it can never hinder any merchants trading thither who is inclined to it; and, in fact, this trade, like the former, is carried on by private merchants, and the trade to Norway and Sweden is laid open by Act of Parliament.
To Norway and Denmark merchants send guineas, crown-pieces, bullion, a little tobacco, and a few coarse woollens.
They import from Norway, &c., vast quantities of deal boards, timber, spars, and iron.
Sweden takes from England gold and silver, and but a small quantity of the manufactures and production of England.
England imports from Sweden near two-thirds of the iron wrought up or consumed in the kingdom, copper, boards, plank, &c.
The Turkey or Levant Company was first incorporated in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and their privileges were confirmed and enlarged in the reign of King James I., being empowered to trade to the Levant, or eastern part of the Mediterranean, particularly to Smyrna, Aleppo, Constantinople, Cyprus, Grand Cairo, Alexandria, &c. It consists of a governor, deputy-governor, and eighteen assistants or directors, chosen annually, &c. This trade is open also to every merchant paying a small consideration, and carried on accordingly by private men.
These merchants export to Turkey chiefly broadcloth, long-ells, tins, lead, and some iron; and the English merchants frequently buy up French and Lisbon sugars and transport thither, as well as bullion from Cadiz.
The commodities received from thence are chiefly raw silk, grogram yarn, dyeing stuffs of sundry kinds, drugs, soap; leather, cotton, and some fruit, oil, &c.
The East India Company were incorporated about the 42nd of Elizabeth, anno 1600, and empowered to trade to all countries to the eastward of the Cape of Good Hope, exclusive of all others.
About the middle of King William's reign it was generally said their patent was illegal, and that the Crown could not restrain the English merchants from trading to any country they were disposed to deal with; and application being made to Parliament for leave to lay the trade open, the ministry took the hint, and procured an Act of Parliament (9 and 10 William III., cap. 44) empowering every subject of England to trade to India who should raise a sum of money for the supply of the Government in proportion to the sum he should advance, and each subscriber was to have an annuity after the rate of 8 per cent. per annum, to commence from Michaelmas, 1698. And his Majesty was empowered to incorporate the subscribers, as he afterwards did, and they were usually called the New East India Company, the old company being allowed a certain time to withdraw their effects. But the old company being masters of all the towns and forts belonging to the English on the coast of India, and their members having subscribed such considerable sums towards the two millions intended to be raised, that they could not be excluded from the trade, the new company found it necessary to unite with the old company, and to trade with one joint stock, and have ever since been styled "The United Company of Merchants trading to the East Indies."
The company have a governor, deputy-governor, and twenty-four assistants or directors, elected annually in April.
The East India Company export great quantities of bullion, lead, English cloth, and some other goods, the product or manufacture of that kingdom, and import from China and India tea, china ware, cabinets, raw and wrought silks, coffee, muslins, calicoes, and other goods.
Bengal raw silk is bought at very low prices there, and is very useful in carrying on the manufactures of this kingdom.
China silk is of excellent staple, and comes at little above one- third of the price of Italian Piedmont silk.
The China silk is purchased at Canton, but their fine silk is made in the provinces of Nankin and Chekiam, where their fine manufactures are carried on, and where prodigious quantities of raw silk are made, and the best in all China.
The Royal African Company was incorporated 14 Charles II., and empowered to trade from Sallee, in South Barbary, to the Cape of Good Hope, being all the western coast of Africa. It carries no money out, and not only supplies the English plantations with servants, but brings in a great deal of bullion for those that are sold to the Spanish West Indies, besides gold dust and other commodities, as red wood, elephants' teeth, Guinea grain, &c., some of which are re-exported. The supplying the plantations with negroes is of that extraordinary advantage, that the planting sugar and tobacco and carrying on trade there could not be supported without them; which plantations are the great causes of the increase of the riches of the kingdom.
The Canary Company was incorporated in the reign of King Charles II., anno 1664, being empowered to trade to the Seven Islands, anciently called the Fortunate, and now the Canary Islands.
They have a governor, deputy-governor, and thirteen assistants or directors, chosen annually in March. This company exports baize, kerseys, serges, Norwich stuffs, and other woollen manufactures; stockings, hats, fustians, haberdashery wares, tin, and hardware; as also herrings, pilchards, salted flesh, and grain; linens, pipe- staves, hoops, &c. Importing in return Canary wines, logwood, hides, indigo, cochineal, and other commodities, the produce of America and the West Indies.
There is another company I had almost overlooked, called the Hudson's Bay Company; and though these merchants make but little noise, I find it is a very advantageous trade. They by charter trade, exclusively of all other his Britannic Majesty's subjects, to the north-west; which was granted, as I have been told, on account that they should attempt a passage by those seas to China, &c., though nothing appears now to be less their regard; nay; if all be true, they are the very people that discourage and impede all attempts made by others for the opening that passage to the South Seas. They export some woollen goods and haberdashery wares, knives, hatchets, arms, and other hardware; and in return bring back chiefly beaver-skins, and other skins and furs.
The last, and once the most considerable of all the trading companies, is that of the South Sea, established by Act of Parliament in the ninth year of the late Queen Anne; but, what by reason of the mismanagement of its directors in 1720, the miscarriage of their whale-fishery, and the intrigues of the Spaniards, their credit is sunk, and their trade has much decreased.
I proceed, in the next place, to inquire what countries the merchants of London trade to separately, not being incorporated or subject to the control of any company.
Among which is the trade to Italy, whither are exported broad-cloth, long-ells, baize, druggets, callimancoes, camlets, and divers other stuffs; leather, tin, lead, great quantities of fish, as pilchards, herrings, salmon, Newfoundland cod, &c., pepper, and other East India goods.
The commodities England takes from them are raw, thrown, and wrought silk, wine, oil, soap, olives, some dyer's wares, anchovies, &c.
To Spain the merchants export broad-cloth, druggets, callimancoes, baize, stuff of divers kinds, leather, fish, tin, lead, corn, &c.
The commodities England takes from them are wine, oil, fruit of divers kinds, wool, indigo, cochineal, and dyeing stuffs.
To Portugal also are exported broad-cloth, druggets, baize, long- ells, callimancoes, and all other sorts of stuffs; as well as tin, lead, leather, fish, corn, and other English commodities.
England takes from them great quantities of wine, oil, salt, and fruit, and gold, both in bullion and specie; though it is forfeited, if seized in the ports of Portugal.
The French take very little from England in a fair way, dealing chiefly with owlers, or those that clandestinely export wool and fuller's-earth, &c. They indeed buy some of our tobacco, sugar, tin, lead, coals, a few stuffs, serges, flannels, and a small matter of broad-cloth.
England takes from France wine, brandy, linen, lace, fine cambrics, and cambric lawns, to a prodigious value; brocades, velvets, and many other rich silk manufactures, which are either run, or come by way of Holland; the humour of some of the nobility and gentry being such, that although they have those manufactures made as good at home, if not better than abroad, yet they are forced to be called by the name of French to make them sell. Their linens are run in very great quantities, as are their wine and brandy, from the Land's End even to the Downs.
To Flanders are exported serges, a few flannels, a very few stuffs, sugar, tobacco, tin, and lead.
England takes from them fine lace, fine cambrics, and cambric-lawns, Flanders whited linens, threads, tapes, incles, and divers other commodities, to a very great value.
To Holland the merchants export broad-cloth, druggets, long-ells, stuffs of a great many sorts, leather, corn, coals, and something of almost every kind that this kingdom produces; besides all sorts of India and Turkey re-exported goods, sugars, tobacco, rice, ginger, pitch and tar, and sundry other commodities of the produce of our American plantations.
England takes from Holland great quantities of fine Holland linen, threads, tapes, and incles; whale fins, brass battery, madder, argol, with a large number of other commodities and toys; clapboard, wainscot, &c.
To Ireland are exported fine broad-cloth, rich silks, ribbons, gold and silver lace, manufactured iron and cutlery wares, pewter, great quantities of hops, coals, dyeing wares, tobacco, sugar, East India goods, raw silk, hollands, and almost everything they use, but linens, coarse woollens, and eatables.
England takes from Ireland woollen yarn, linen yarn, great quantities of wool in the fleece, and some tallow.
They have an extraordinary trade for their hides, tallow; beef, butter, &c., to Holland, Flanders, France, Portugal, and Spain, which enables them to make large remittances.
To the sugar plantations are exported all sorts of clothing, both linen, silks, and woollen; wrought iron, brass, copper, all sorts of household furniture, and a great part of their food.
They return sugar, ginger, and several commodities, and all the bullion and gold they can meet with, but rarely carry out any.
To the tobacco plantations are exported clothing, household goods, iron manufactures of all sorts, saddles, bridles, brass and copper wares; and notwithstanding they dwell among the woods, they take their very turnery wares, and almost everything else that may be called the manufacture of England.
England takes from them not only what tobacco is consumed at home, but very great quantities for re-exportation.
To Carolina are exported the same commodities as to the tobacco plantations. This country lying between the 32nd and 36th degrees of northern latitude, the soil is generally fertile. The rice it produces is said to be the best in the world; and no country affords better silk than has been brought from thence, though for want of sufficient encouragement the quantity imported is very small. It is said both bohea and green tea have been raised there, extraordinary good of the kind. The olive-tree grows wild, and thrives very well, and might soon be improved so far as to supply us with large quantities of oil. It is said the fly from whence the cochineal is made is found very common, and if care was taken very great quantities might be made. The indigo plant grows exceedingly well. The country has plenty of iron mines in it, and would produce excellent hemp and flax, if encouragement was given for raising it.
To Pennsylvania are exported broad-cloth, kerseys, druggets, serges, and manufactures of all kinds.
To New England are exported all sorts of woollen manufactures, linen, sail-cloth and cordage for rigging their ships, haberdashery, &c. They carry lumber and provisions to the sugar plantations; and exchange provisions for logwood with the logwood-cutters at Campeachy. They send pipe and barrel-staves and fish to Spain, Portugal, and the Straits. They send pitch, tar, and turpentine to England, with some skins.
Having considered the trading companies, and other branches of foreign trade, I shall now inquire into the establishment of the Bank of England.
The governor and company of the Bank of England, &c., are enjoined not to trade, or suffer any person in trust for them to trade, with any of the stock, moneys or effects, in the buying or selling of any merchandise or goods whatsoever, on pain of forfeiting the treble value. Yet they may deal in bills of exchange, and in buying and selling of bullion, gold or silver, or in selling goods mortgaged to them, and not redeemed at the time agreed on, or within three months after, or such goods as should be the produce of lands purchased by the corporation. All bills obligatory and of credit under the seal of the corporation made to any person, may by endorsement be assigned, and such assignment shall transfer the property to the moneys due upon the same, and the assignee may sue in his own name.
There is at present due to this Bank from the Government on the original fund at 6 pounds per cent. 1,600,000 (pounds) For cancelling of Exchequer bills, 3 George I 1,500,000 Purchased of the South Sea Company 4,000,000 Annuities at 4 pounds per cent. charged on the duty on coals since Lady Day, 1719. 1,750,000 Ditto, charged on the surplus of the funds for the lottery of 1714 1,250,000 Total due to the Bank of England 10,100,000 (pounds)
Give me leave to observe here, that most of the foreign trade of this town is transacted by brokers, of which there are three sorts, viz., 1st, Exchange-brokers, 2ndly, brokers for goods and merchandise, and 3rdly, ship-brokers.
The exchange-brokers, who are versed in the course of exchange, furnish the merchant with money or bills, as he has occasion for either.
The broker of goods lets the merchant know where he may furnish himself with them, and the settled price; or if he wants to sell, where he may meet with a chapman for his effects.
The ship-broker finds ships for the merchant, when he wants to send his goods abroad; or goods for captains and masters of vessels to freight their ships with.
If it be demanded what share of foreign trade London hath with respect to the rest of the kingdom; it seems to have a fourth part of the whole, at least if we may judge by the produce of the customs, which are as three to twelve, or thereabouts.
As to the manufactures carried on in the City of London; here mechanics have acquired a great deal of reputation in the world, and in many things not without reason; for they excel in clock and cabinet-work, in making saddles, and all sorts of tools, and other things. The door and gun locks, and fire-arms, are nowhere to be paralleled; the silk manufacture is equal to that of France, or any other country, and is prodigiously enlarged of late years. Dyers also are very numerous in and about London, and are not exceeded by any foreigners in the beauty or durableness of their colours: and those that print and stain cottons and linens have brought that art to great perfection. Printers of books, also, may equal those abroad; but the best paper is imported from other countries.
The manufacture of glass here is equal to that of Venice, or any other country in Europe, whether we regard the coach or looking- glasses, perspective, drinking-glasses, or any other kind of glass, whatever. The making of pins and needles is another great manufacture in this town, as is that of wire-drawings of silver, gold, and other metals. The goldsmiths and silversmiths excel in their way. The pewterers and brasiers furnish all manner of vessels and implements for the kitchen, which are as neatly and substantially made and furnished here as in any country in Europe. The trades of hat-making and shoe-making employ multitudes of mechanics; and the tailors are equally numerous. The cabinet, screen, and chair-makers contribute also considerably to the adorning and furnishing the dwelling-house. The common smiths, bricklayers, and carpenters are no inconsiderable branch of mechanics; as may well be imagined in a town of this magnitude, where so many churches, palaces, and private buildings are continually repairing, and so many more daily erecting upon new foundations. And this brings me to mention the shipwrights, who are employed in the east part of the town, on both sides the river Thames, in building ships, lighters, boats, and other vessels; and the coopers, who make all the casks for domestic and foreign service. The anchorsmiths, ropemakers, and others employed in the rigging and fitting out ships, are very numerous; and brewing and distilling may be introduced among the manufactures of this town, where so many thousand quarters of malt are annually converted into beer and spirits: and as the various kinds of beer brewed here are not to be paralleled in the world, either for quantity or quality, so the distilling of spirits is brought to such perfection that the best of them are not easily to be distinguished from French brandy.
Having already mentioned ship-building among the mechanic trades, give me leave to observe farther, that in this England excels all other nations; the men-of-war are the most beautiful as well as formidable machines that ever floated on the ocean.
As to the number of foreigners in and about this great city, there cannot be given any certain account, only this you may depend upon, that there are more of the French nation than of any other: such numbers of them coming over about the time of the Revolution and since to avoid the persecution of Louis XIV., and so many more to get their bread, either in the way of trade, or in the service of persons of quality; and I find they have upwards of twenty churches in this town, to each of which, if we allow 1,000 souls, then their number must be at least 20,000. Next to the French nation I account most of the Dutch and Germans; for there are but few Spaniards or Portuguese, and the latter are generally Jews; and except the raree- show men, we see scarce any of the natives of Italy here; though the Venetian and some other Italian princes have their public chapels here for the exercise of the Romish religion.