Chapter 1

The Qualities of a Perfect Foreign Trade Merchant

by Thomas Mun Icon

We can show our nationalism through our own actions, instead of waiting for the actions of others.

I hope that you, my son, will be a merchant like me.

herein are my thougths free from all Ambition, although I rank thee in a place of so high esteem; for the

A Merchant is the Steward of the Kingdom’s Stock, by way of foreign commerce

a work of no less Reputation than Trust, which ought to be performed with great skill and conscience, that so the private gain may ever accompany the publique good.

And because the nobleness of this profession may the better stir up thy desires and endeavours to obtain those abilities which may effect it worthily, I well briefly set down the excellent qualities which are required in a perfect Merchant.

A merchant should=

  1. Be good at writing, math, and accounting (debit and credit).

He should be expert in the order and form of Charter-parties, bills of Lading, invoices, contracts, Bills of Exchange, and policies of Insurance.

  1. Know the Measures, Weights, and Money of all forraign Countries

This includes the denominations of money but their intrinsic values in weight & fineness, compared with the Standard of Britain

  1. Know the Customs, Tolls, Taxes, Impositions, Conducts and other charges upon all matters of Merchandize exported or imported to and from the said Foreign Countries.
  1. Know in what is the supply and demand of in each Country, and from where they get and to where they sell
  1. Observe diligently the rates of Exchanges by Bills, from one State to another

This will let him get as much advantage from it as possible

  1. He should know what goods are prohibited to be exported or imported in the said foreign Countries, lest otherwise he should incur great danger and loss in the ordering of his affairs.
  1. He should know upon what rates and conditions to fraight his Ships, and ensure his adventures from one Countrey to another, and to be well acquainted with the laws, orders and customes of the Ensurance office both here and beyond the Seas, in the many accidents which may happen upon the damage or loss of Ships or goods, or both these.

  2. He should know the goodness and in the prices of all the materials needed to build and repair Ships, and the divers workmanships of the same, as also for the Masts, Tackling, Cordage, Ordnance, Victuals, Munition and Provisions of many kinds; together with the ordinary wages of Commanders, Officers and Mariners, all which concern the Merchant as he is an Owner of Ships.

  3. He should (by the divers occasions which happen sometime in the buying and selling of one commodity and sometimes in another) to have indifferent if not perfect knowledge in all manner of Merchandize or wares, which is to be as it were a man of all occupations and trades.

  4. He should by his voyaging on the Seas to become skilful in the Art of Navigation.

  5. He sometimes lives overseas and so he should speak foreign Languages, and to be a diligent observer of the ordinary Revenues and expences of forraign Princes, together with their strength both by Sea and Land, their laws, customes, policies, manners, religions, arts, and the like; to be able to give account thereof in all occasions for the good of his Countrey.

  6. Lastly, although there be no necessity that such a Merchant should be a great Scholar; yet is it (at least) required, that in his youth he learn the Latine tongue, which will the better enable him in all the rest of his endeavours.

Only the profession of a merchant requires so much knowledge.

And it cannot be denied but that their sufficiency doth appear likewise in the excellent government of State at Venice, Luca, Genoua, Florence, the low Countreys, and divers other places of Christendom.

And in those States also where they are least esteemed, yet is their skill and knowledge often used by those who sit in the highest places of Authority=

It is therefore an act beyond rashness in some, who do dis-enable their Counsel and judgment (even in books printed) making them uncapable of those ways and means which do either enrich or empoverish a Common-wealth, when in truth this is only effected by the mystery of their trade, as I shall plainly shew in that which followeth.

It is true that many Merchants here in England finding less encouragement given to their profession than in other Countreys, and seeing themselves not so well esteeemed as their Noble Vocation requireth, and according to the great consequence of the same, doe not therefore labour to attain unto the excellencie of their profession, neither is it practised by the Nobility of this Kingdom as it is in other States from the Father to the Son throughout their generations, to the great encrease of their wealth, and maintenance of their names and families=

Whereas the memory of our richest Merchants is suddenly extinguished; the Son being left rich, scorneth the profession of his Father, conceiving more honor to be a Gentleman (although but in name) to consume his estate in dark ignorance and excess, than to follow the steps of his Father as an Industrious Merchant to maintain and advance his Fortunes.

But now leaving the Merchants praise we will come to his practice, or at least to so much thereof as concerns the bringing of Treasure into the Kingdom.

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