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consequently throughout the whole then known world.
It was only in the twelfth century that these sources were again opened, and Europe was again indebted for wealth to foreign commerce.
Venice, Genoa, Pisa, and Florence, though doomed to poverty by the barrenness or smallness of their territory, acquired yet great wealth by their commerce with the produce of the East and North. Not less powerful than Tyre, Sidon, and Carthage, they dictated laws to the Greek empire, bade defiance to the greatest monarchs, and balanced for more than three centuries the fate of Europe. Their grandeur declined with their wealth, which they imprudently sacrificed to expensive wars, to a fatal rivalship, and an unbounded ambition; it vanished for ever when unforeseen events turned aside the current of their trade, and reduced them to the resources of their territorial riches and local industry.
The numerous factories which these cities had established in the north of Europe, at Lubeck, Bremen, Hamburgh, Bruges, and Antwerp, created there new scources of wealth and prosperity. Towns hardly known before the introduction of foreign commerce, were soon distinguished for their wealth, splendour, and power. Wiser than the cities of Italy, they guarded against the dangers of rivalship, formed a confederacy for the protection and defence of their trade, and laid the foundations of the Hanseatic league, that monument of boldness and prudence in a barbarous age and among a rude people.
Strengthened by the accession of one hundred and sixty towns of Flanders and the Baltic, the Hanseatic league rapidly attained a great commercial and political prosperity: the wisdom of its conduct was equal to the wisdom of its institution ; it opposed a salutary resistance to the progress of feudal anarchy, enlightened the people concerning their true interests, and caused the spirit of commerce, manufactures, and labour, to prevail over the spirit of murder, rapine, and devastation. The services which the Hanseatic league rendered to humanity in those barbarous times, are invaluable, and yet they scarcely occupy a few pages in the records of Europe *; while many volumes are filled with the history of the crusades by which Europe was devastated, of the ambitious pretensions of the Pontiffs of Rome, by which she was disgraced, and of the quarrels of vassals and lords, by which she was oppressed and kept in servitude. Is it possible that the picture of public vices should be more attractive to mankind than the spectacle of public virtues 2 Or is there no other title to the remembrance, consideration, and veneration of men, than the harm which is done to them 2 The Hanseatic league, that perfect paragon of a wise political association, only ceased to exist, when its existence was no longer necessary to the protection and safety of its commerce, and when the towns of which it was composed found, in the government of the countries in which they were situated, a full security of persons and property. By its generously confiding its interests to the care of all, the Hanseatic league left the world an honourable remembrance consoling to humanity. The discovery of America and of a passage to the East Indies by the Cape of Good Hope, the abundance of the precious metals which it caused to circulate in Europe, the general comforts, which were an obvious consequence of this discovery, every circumstance of this ever-memorable event confirmed the opinion respecting foreign commerce, and left no doubt about its being the true source of wealth. But how does commerce enrich a country By what channels does it pour its benefits And how is the productiveness of commerce to be increased and its prosperity insured: The majority of writers supposed, that foreign commerce enriches a country by the plenty of gold and silver which it causes to circulate *; and governments, in conformity to this doctrine, endeavoured to retain the precious metals, or to invite them by encouraging national manufactures, by directly or indirectly prohibiting the produce of foreign industry, or by procuring to the produce of national industry,
* The late professor J. Fisher, of Halle, published an excellent history of the Hanseatic League, in German, about five-and-twenty years ago.--T.
* We must do the justice to Davenant to confess, that, although a partisan of the mercantile system, he did not limit its advantages to the abundance of precious metals which it accumulates in a eountry. This justly celebrated author, on the contrary, lays it down as a principle, that every trade is advantageous, provided its returns be more considerable than the goods exported, even ihough the returns should consist in perishable commodities. Woł. ii. p. 11.
an easy and even privileged introduction into foreign countries. Such was, and such is still, some few modifications excepted, the system which places the source of wealth in foreign commerce; and which, on that account, is called the Mercantile System. The great estimation in which a gold and silver currency was every where held, naturally led some philosophers to watch its progress, its distribution, its circulation, and, above al}, its influence upon private and public concerns; and it was not long before the inconveniencies which might be apprehended, and the advantages which might be expected from it, were discovered. The Italian writers soon pointed out the vices of the prevailing monetary system, and threw great light upon that important part of the science. Towards the end of the sixteenth and in the beginning of the seventeenth century, Davanśati at Florence, and Turbolo at Naples, gave excellent instructions on metallic currency.” But their writings proved unavailing against the disorders which they wanted to stop or to prevent. When we peruse these ancient writings, we do not know whether we ought to be more surprised at the extensive light they throw on the subject which they discuss, or at the small influence they had upon their own times. It is as if their country was to give to the rest of Europe the example of the calamities which result from the disordered state of a currency, and of the theory best adapted to avoid such a disorder. Ten very distinguished treatises, published in Italy since the middle of the eighteenth century, by men of powerful understandings and most distinguished for the eminent offices which they had held, attest, at once, the greatness of the evil and the impotence of the remedy.* Existing circumstances have predominated over human continations, and Italy has always been remarkable for the worst currency and the best works on money. The English writers were also aware of the obstacles which a vicious monetary system opposes to the progress of wealth : but the measures, pointed out by Locke and Newton, remedied the evil in England, and the Banksubsequently contributed to guard against its recurrence.-It appears, that before the middle of the eighteenth century, the French had not paid any serious attention to their monetary system. In vain did the people complain against its defects; in vain did they submit to the greatest sacrifices: their complaints were listened to, their sacrifices accepted, but recourse was
* Lezione delle Monete di Bernardo Davanzati. Fiorentino, 1588.-Discorsi et Relazioni sulle Monete del regno di Napoli di Gian Donato Turbolo. Napolitano, 1629.
* Montancri, Broggia, Galiani, Ncri, Carli, Genovcsi, Beccaria, Bandini, Pasco, et Corniani.
# To this praise the Bank of England, unfortunately, has na longer any claim, since its late issue of bank tokens, worth scarcely two shillings and sixpence, at three shillings: so that the same quantity of silver as was formerly contained in fifty shillings, now represents sixty.—See the Speech of Mr. Johnstone, on the third reading of Lord Stanhopc's Bill. Booker. 1811.-T,