Chapter 5b

The Difficulties of Raising a Large Dominion

by Nicholas Barbon Icon

The Difficulties of Raising a Dominion of very Large Extent; especially in Europe, are Many.

  1. Europe is grown more Populous than before.

It has more Fortified Towns and Cities, than during the time of the Roman Empire which was the last extended Dominion. Therefore, Europe is not easily Subjected to the Power of any one Prince.

Whether Europe be grown more Populous, Solely by the Natural Increase of Mankind; There being more Born than Dye, which first Peopled the World?

Or, Whether, since the Inhabitants of Europe being Addicted to Trade, the ground is made more Fertile, and yields greater plenty of Food; which hath prevented famine, that formerly destroy’d great numbers of Mankind: So that no great Famines, has been taken Notice of by Historians, these Last Three Hundred Years?

Whether by Dreining Great Bogs, Lakes, and Fens, and Cutting down vast Woods, to make Room for the Increase of Mankind, the Air is Grown more Healthy; So that Plagues, and other Epidemical Diseases, are not so destructive as formerly? none so violent, as Procopius and Wallsingham Report, where destroyed such Vast Numbers in Italy, that there were not left Ten in a Thousand; and in other Parts of Europe, not enough alive to Bury the Dead. Whereas, the Plague in (1665) the Greatest since did not take away the Hundredth Person in England, Holland, and other Countries, where it Raged?

Whether, since the Invention of Guns and Gun-Powder, so many Men are not slain in the Wars as formerly? Xerxes lost 160000 in one Battle against the Grecians; Alexander destroyed 110000 of Darius’s Army; Marius slew 120000 of the Cimbri; and in great Battles, seldome less than 100000 fell: but now 20000 Men are accounted very great Slaughter.

Whether, since the Northern People have fallen on Trade, such vast Numbers, are not destroyed by Invasions?

Whether, by all these Ways, or by which of them most, Europe is grown Populous, is not Material to this Discourse: It is sufficient to shew, that the Matter of Fact is so, which does appear by comparing the Antient Histories of Countries with the Modern?

In the Antient Descriptions, the Countries are full of Vast Woods, wild Beasts; the Inhabitants barbarous, and as wild, without Arts, and the Governments are like Colonies, or Herds of People: But in the Modern, the Woods are cut down, and the Lyons, Bears, and wild Beasts destroyed; no Flesh-Eaters are left to inhabit with man, but those Dogs and Cats that he tames for his Use: Corn grows where the Woods did, and with the Timber are built Cities, Towns and Villages; the People are cloathed, and have all Arts among them; and those little Colonies and Families, are increased into Great States and Kingdoms; and the most undeniable Proof of the Increase of Mankind in England, is the Doom-Day-Book, which was a Survey taken of all the Inhabitants of England, in the Reign of William the Conquerour; by which it appears, that the People of England are increased more than double since that time: But since the Mosaical Hypothesis of the Increase of the World, is generally believed amongst the Christians. And the late Lord Chief Justice Hales, in his Book of the Origination of Mankind, hath endeavoured to satisfie all the rest of the World. It would be misspending of time, to use any other Topick for the further Proof thereof, than what naturally follows in this Discourse, which is from the Different Success of Arms, in the Latter and Former Ages.

In the Infancy of the World, Governments began with little Families and Colonies of Men; so that, when ever any Government arrived to greater Heighth than the rest, either by the great Wisdom or Courage of the Government, they afterwards grew a pace: it was no Difficulty for Ninus, that was the oldest Government, and consequently, the most Populous, to begin the Assyrian Empire; nor for his Successors to continue and inlarge it: Such Vast Armies of Cyrus, Darius, Hystopis and Xerxes, the least of their Forces amounting to above 500000, could not be resisted, when the World was but thin Peopled.

These great Armies might at first sight, seem to infer, That the World was more Populous than now; because the Armies of the greatest Princes, seldom now exceed the Number of Fifty or Sixty Thousand Men; But the Reason of those great Numbers, was, They were not so well skilled in Military Arts, and shew that the World was in the Infancy of its Knowledge, rather than Populous; for all that were able to bear Arms, went to the Wars: And if that were now the Custom, there might be an Army in England of above Three Million, allowing the Inhabitants to be Seven Millions; and by the same Proportion, the King of France’s Country, (being four times bigger) might raise Twelve Millions; such a Number was never heard of in this World.

The next Difficulty against the inlarging of Empire by Arms is, That since Printing, and the Use of the Needle hath been discovered, Navigation is better known, and thence is a Greater Commerce against Men, the Countries and Languages are more understood, Knowledge more dispersed, and the Arts of War in all Places known; so that, Men fight more upon equal Terms than formerly; and like two Skilful Fencers, fight a long Time, before either gets Advantage.

The Assyrians & Persians Conquered more by the Number of Souldiers than Discipline; the Grecians and Romans, more by Discipline than Number; as the World grew older, it grew wiser: Learning first flourished among the Grecians, afterwards among the Romans; and as the Latter succeeded in Learning, so they did in Empire. But now both Parties are Equally Disciplin’d and Arm’d; and the Successes of War are not so great; victory is seldem gained without some Considerable Loss to the Conquerour.

Another Difficulty to the inlarging of Dominion by Arms, is, That the Goths overcoming the greatest part of Europe, did by their Form of Government, so settle Liberty, and Property of Land, that it is difficult for any Prince to Change that Form.

Whether the Goths were Part of the Ten Tribes, as some are of Opinion, and to Countenance their conjectures, have Compared the Languages of the Inhabitants, Wales, Finland and Orchadis, and other Northern Parts (little frequented by Strangers, which might alter their language) and find them to agree with the Hebrew in many Words and Sound, all their Speech being Guttural. This is certain, their Form of Government seems framed after the Examples of Moses’s Government in the Land of Canaan, by dividing the Legislative Power, according to the Property of Land, according to that Antient Maxim, That Dominion is founded upon Property of Land. There Monarchy seems to be made by an easie Division of Land into Thirds, by a Conquering Army, setting down in Peace; the General being King, has one Third; the Colonels being the Lords, another Third; and the Captains, and other Inferiour Officers being Gentlemen, another; the Common Souldiers are the Farmers, and the Conquered are the Villains: The Legislative Power is divided amongst them, according to their Share in the Land; it being necessary that those that have Property of Land, should have Power to make Laws to Preserve it.

There seems to be but two settled Forms of government; the Turkish, and Gothick, or English Monarchy: They are both founded upon Property in Land; in the First, the Property and Legislative Power is solely in the Prince; In the Latter, they are in both the Prince and People: The one is best fitted to raise Dominion by Armies; for the Prince must be Absolute to give Command, according to the Various Fortunes of Warr: The other is Best for Trade; for men most industrious, where they are most free, and secure to injoy the Effects of their Labours.

All other Sorts of Government, either Aristocracy, or Democracy, where the Supream Magistrate is Elective, are Imperfect, Tumultuous, and Unsettled: For Man is Naturally Ambitious; he inherits the same Ruleing Spirit that God gave to Adam, to Govern the Creation with: And the oftener that the Throne is Empty, the oftener will Contentions and Struggles Happen to get into it: Where deter digniori is the Rule, Warr always Ensues for the Golden Prize. Such Governments will never be without such Men as Marius and Scilla, to disturb them; nor without such a Man as Caesar to Usurp them; notwithstanding all the Contrivance for their Defence by those Polititians who seems fond of such Formes of Government.

The Gothic Government had a well-fixed form. The People so free under it, is great hindedrance to the Enlarging of Dominion; for a People under a good Government do more Vigorously Defend it:

A free People have more to lose than Slaves, and their Success is better Rewarded than by any Mercenary Pay, and therefore, make a better Resistance: It was the Freedom of the Grecians and Romans that raised their Courage, and had an equal Share in raising their Empires, with their Millitary Discipline: The free City of Tyre put Alexander to more Trouble to Conquer, than all the Citys of Asia.

The People of Asia live under a Dispotick Power. They made little Resistance.

Alexander subdued Libya, Phoenicia, Pamphilia, without much Opposition in his Journey to meet Darius.

Egypt came under Subjection without Fighting, and so did many Countries, being willing to Change the Persian Yoak.

Besides, he Fought but 2 Battles for the whole Persian Empire. The Resistance of those slavish People was so weak, that he did not lose 500 Grecians in either of the Battles, tho’ Darius Number far exceeded his. The one being above 260,000, and the other not 40,000.

There was as great Disproportion in the Slaughter; for at the Battle in Cilicia he slew 110,000, and that at Arbela 40000; whereas, the Spartan, a Free People, about the same time, fought with Antipater his Vice-Roy of Macedon;

In a Fight, where neither Army exceeded 60000, slew 1012 of the Macedonians, which was more than Alexander lost in both his Battles: so great is the difference of fighting against a Free, and a Slavish Effeminate People.

For the same Reasons, That the world is grown more Populous, That the Arts of War are more known.

That the People of Europe live under a Free Government. It is as difficult to keep a Country in Subjection, as to Conquer it. The People are too Numerous to be kept in Obedience: To destroy the greatest Part, were too Bloody, and Inhuman; To Burn the Towns, and Villages, and so force the People to remove, Is to lose the greatest share in conquest; for the People are the Riches and the Strength of the Country, And it is not much more Advantage to a Prince, to have a Title to Lands, in Terra Incognita, As to Countries without People.

Besides, Countries and Languages being more known; And Mankind more acquainted than formerly: The Oppressed People remove into the next Country they can find Shelter in, and become the Subjects of other Governments.

By such Addition of Subjects, those Governments growing stronger, are better able to Resist the Incroaches of Empire: So that, every Conquest makes the next more difficult, from the Assistance of those People before Conquered; To Transplant the Conquered into a Remote Country, as formerly, Is not to be Practised; There is now no Room, the World is so full of People.

To Conquer, and leave them Free, only paying Tribute and Homage, Is the same as not to conquer them: For there is no Reason to expect their Submission longer, than till they are able to Resist; which will not be long before they make the same Opposition, if they continue in the same Possession; and therefore, though the Romans in the Infancy of their Government, did leave several Countries Free, as an Assistance to other Conquest; yet, when they grew stronger, they turned all their Conquest into Provinces, being the surest way to keep them from Revolting.

These are the Difficulties of inlarging Dominion at Land, but are not Impediments to its Rise at Sea: For those things that Obstruct the Growth of Empire at Land, do rather Promote its Growth at Sea. That the World is more Populous, is no Prejudice, there is Room enough upon the Sea; the many Fortified Towns may hinder the March of an Army, but not the Sailing of Ships: The Arts of Navigation being discover’d, hath added an Unlimited Compass to the Naval Power. There needs no change of the Gothick Government; for that best Agrees with such an Empire.

The Ways of preserving Conquests gain’d by Sea, are different from those at Land. By the one, the Cities, Towns and Villages are burnt, to thin the People, that they may be the easier Governed, and kept into Subjection; by the other, the Cities must be inlarged, and New ones built: Instead of Banishing the People, they must be continued, in their Possession, or invited to the Seat of Empire; by the one, the Inhabitants are inslaved, by the other, they are made Free: The Seat of such an Empire must be in an Island, that their Defence may be solely in Shipping; the same way to defend their Dominion, as to inlarge it.

To conclude, there needs no other Argument, That Empire may be raised sooner at Sea, than at Land; than by observing the Growth of the United Provinces, within One Hundred Years last past, who have Changed their Style, from Poor Distressed, into that of High and Mighty States of the United Provinces: And Amsterdam, that was not long since, a poor Fisher-Town, is now one of the Chief Cities in Europe; and with the same compass of time, that the Spaniard & French have been endeavouring to Raise an Universal Empire upon the Land; they have risen to that Heighth, as to be an equal Match for either of them at Sea; and were their Government fitted for a Dominion of large Extent, and their country separated from their Troublesome Neighbour the Continent, which would Free them from that Military Charge in defending themselves, they might, in a short time, Contend for the Soveraignity of the Seats.

But England seems the Properer Seat for such an Empire: It is an Island, therefore requires no Military Force to defend it. Besides, Merchants and Souldiers never thrive in the same Place; It hath many large Harbours fitting for a large Dominion: The Inhabitants are naturally Couragious, as appears from the Effects of the Climate, in the Game Cocks, and Mastiff Dogs, being no where else so stout: The Monarchy is both fitted for Trade and Empire. And were there an Act for a General Naturalization, that all Forreigners, purchasing Land in England, might Enjoy the Freedom of Englishmen, It might within much less Compass of Time, than any Government by Arms at Land, arrive to such a Dominion: For since, in some Parts of Europe, Mankind is harrassed and disturbed with Wars; Since, some Governours have incroached upon the Rights fo their Subjects, and inslaved them; Since the People of England enjoy the Largest Freedoms, and Best government in the World; and since by Navigation and Letters, there is a great Commerce, and a General Acquaintance among Mankind, by which the Laws and Liberties of all Nations are known; those that are oppressed and inslaved, may probably Remove, and become the Subjects of England: And if the Subjects increase, the Ships, Excise and Customs, which are the Strength and Revenue of the Kingdom, will in Proportion increase, which may be so Great in a short Time, not only to preserve its Antient Soveraignty over the Narrow Seas, but to extent its Dominion over all the Great Ocean: an Empire, not less Glorious, and of a much larger Extent, than either Alexander’s or Ceasar’s.

Of the Chief Causes that Promote Trade. The Chief Causes that Promote Trade, (not to mention good Government, Peace, and Scituation, with other Advantages) are Industry in the Poor, and Liberality in the Rich: Liberality, is the free Usage of all those things that are made by the Industry of the Poor, for the Use of the Body and Mind; It Relates chiefly to Man’s self, but doth not hinder him from being Liberal to others.

The Two Extreams to this Vertue, are Prodigality and Covetousness: Prodigality is a vice that is prejudicial to the Man, but not to Trade; It is living a pace, and spending that in a Year, that should last all his Life: Covetousness is a Vice, prejudicial both to Man and Trade; It starves the Man, and breaks the Trader; and by the same way the Covetous Man thinks he grows rich, he grows poor; for by not consuming the goods that are provided for Man’s Use, there ariseth a dead Stock, called Plenty, and the Value of those goods fall, and the Covetous Man’s Estates, whether in Land, or Mony, become less worth: And a Conspiracy of the Rich Men to be Covetous, and not spend, would be as dangerous to a Trading State, as a Forreign War; for though they themselves get nothing by their Covetousness, nor grow the Richer, yet they would make the Nation poor, and the government great Losers in the Customs and Excises that ariseth from Expence.

Liberality ought chiefly to be Excercised in an equal Division of the Expence amongst those things that relate to Food, Cloaths, and Lodging; according to the Portion, or Station, that is allotted to every Man, with some allowance for the more refined Pleasures of the Mind; with such Distributions, as may please both sect of Philosophers, Platonist and Epicureans: The Belly must not be starved to cloath the Back-Part.

Those Expences that most Promote Trade, are in Cloaths and Lodging: In Adorning the Body and the House, There are a Thousand Traders Imploy’d in providing Food. Belonging to Cloaths, is Fashion; which is the shape or Form of Apparel.

In some places, it is fixed and certain; as all over Asia, and in Spain.

But in France, England, and other places, the Dress alters.

Fashion or the alteration of Dress, is a great Promoter of Trade, because it occasions the Expence of Cloaths, before the Old ones are worn out: It is the Spirit and Life of Trade; It makes a Circulation, and gives a Value by Turns, to all sorts of Commodities; keeps the great Body of Trade in Motion; it is an Invention to Dress a Man, as if he lived in a perpetual Spring; he never sees the Autum of his Cloaths:

The following of the Fashion, Is a Respect paid to the Prince and his Court, by approving his Choice in the shape of Dress. It lyes under an ill Name amongst many Grave and Sober People, but without any Just Cause; for those that Exclaim against the Vanity of the New Fashion, and at the same time, commend that Decency of the Old one, forget that every Old Fashion was once New, and then the same Argument might have been used against it. And if an Indian, or Stranger, that nvever saw any person Cloathed before, were to be Judge of the Controversy, and were to Determin upon seeing at the same time a well Drest-Courtier in the New Fashion, and another in the Old, which is accounted Decent; and a third in the Robes of an Officer, which by common Esteem, had a Reverence: It will be Two to One, against any One of the Grave Fashions; for it’s only Use and Custom by which Habits become Grave and Decent, and not any particular Conveniency in the shape; for if Conveniency were the Rule of Commendation, Whether the Spanish garb made strait to the Body, or the loose Habit of the Turks, were to be Chosen? And therefore since all Habits are equally handsome, and hard to know which is most Convenient: The Promoting of New Fashions, ought to be Encouraged, because it provides a Livelihood for a great Part of Mankind.

The next Expence that chiefly promotes trade is construction. This is natural to Mankind, being the making of a Nest or Place for his Birth, it is the most proper and vible Distinction of Riches, and Greatness; because the Expences are too Great for Mean Persons to follow.

It is a Pleasure fit to entertain Princes; for a Magnificient Structure doth best represent the Majesty of the Person that lives init, and is the most lasting and truest History of the Greatness of his Person.

Building is the chiefest Promoter of Trade. It employs more Trades and People, than Feeding or Cloathing. The Artificers that belong to building, such as Bricklayers, Carpenters, Plaisterers, etc. employ many Hands.

Those that make the Materials for Building, usch as Bricks, Lyme, Tyle, etc. imploy more; and with those that Furnish the Houses, such as Upholsterers, Pewterers, etc. they are almost Innumerable.

In Holland, where Trade hath made the Inhabitants very Rich, It is the Care of the government, to Incourage the Builder, and at the Charge of the State, the Grafts and Streets are made. And at Amsterdam, they have three times, at great Expence, Thrown down the walls of thier City, and Dreined the Boggs, to make Room for the Builder: For Houses are the Places where the Artificers make their Goods, and Merchants Sell them; and without New Houses, the Trades and Inhabitants could not Increase.

Trade also creates a great Advantage by Enlarging cities. This increases the 2 Beneficial Expences of clothing and Lodging.

Man are Naturally Ambitious. The Living together leads to Emulation, which is seen by Out-Vying one another in Apparel, Equipage, and Furniture of the House. If a Man lived alone, his chiefest Expence, would be Food.

It is from this very Custom; If the Gentry of France Living in Cities, with the Invention of Fashion; that France, tho’ a Country no way fitted for Trade, has so great a share of it: It is from Fashion in Cloaths, and Living in Cities, that the King of France’s Revenues is so great, by which he is become troublesome to his Neighbours, and will always be so, while he can preserve Peace within his own Country; by which, those Fountains of riches, may run Interrupted into his Exchequer.


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