REASONS FOR THE Abatement of Interest TO FOUR in the HUNDRED.

AND The OBJECTIONS against it fairly STATED, and briefly and fully ANSWER'D.

By E. H.

LONDON: Printed for Daniel Brown, and Matt. Gilly­flower; at the Bible without Temple-Bar, and at the Spread-Eagle in Westminster-Hall. 1692.

The CONTENTS of the following Discourse, are these, viz.

  • CHAP. 1. The chief Ad­vantages propounded by bringing down Interest from Six to Four per Cent. per Annum, are, 1. That it will increase Trade. p. 1.
  • Chap. 2. The Abatement of In­terest will raise the Value of Land. p. 25
  • Chap. 3. That it will improve Rents, or at least enable the Farmer to pay his Rent bet­ter. p. 30
  • [Page]Chap. 4. The Objections against the Abatement of Interest, fairly stated, and clearly an­swer'd. p. 38.

REASONS FOR THE Abatement of Interest, &c.

CHAP. I.

The chief Advantages propounded by bringing down Interest from Six to Four per Cent. per Annum, are, 1. That it will increase Trade.

BEFORE I endeavour to prove, That an Abatement of Interest to Four in the Hundred, will be very beneficial to the Nation, or go about to Answer the Objections [Page 2] which are commonly made against it; I think it not amiss to pre­mise, that I will not undertake to evince, that only the lowering of Interest will at any time force a Trade, tho it lye under never so many Obstructions or Restraints; no, that surely will not be expect­ed, nor can it be reasonably imagin'd, that the bare lessening of Use, can make us drive a grea­ter Trade in time of War, than we had in time of Peace, tho Interest was at 6 per Cent. I hope it will be sufficient to induce Gen­tlemen to promote a Bill to lower Interest, if it can be prov'd, That when Trade is open, it shall be greater when Interest is low, than it can be when Interest is high; if it can be prov'd, That even a restrain'd Trade shall be greater with a low Interest, then it can be with an higher. If I can make it appear, That Land in time [Page 3] of War as well as Peace, will sell for more, if Interest be at Four, than it will if it be at Six per. Cent. This I doubt not will be sufficient to convince the Reader, that the lowering of Interest to Four in the Hundred, will be very advanta­geous to the Nation. I will not take up the Reader's time with a longer Introduction; but will be­gin with the first Benefit propound­ed to be discuss'd, viz. That the lessening of Interest to Four in the Hundred, will encourage and pro­mote Trade. Only give me leave here to prefix the preamble of an Act of Parliament made in the twenty first year of Jac. 1. cap. 17. and another made in the 12 Car. 2. cap. 13.

Whereas at this time,21 Jac. 1. cap. 17. there is a very great A­batement in the value of Land, and other the Merchandizes, Wares, and Commodities of this [Page 4] Kingdom, both at Home, and al­so in Foreign Parts, whither they are transported. (2.) And where­as divers the Subjects of this King­dom, as well the Gentry as Mer­chants, Farmers, and Tradesmen, both for their urgent and necessary Occasions, for the following their Trades, maintenance of their Stocks and Imployments, have borrow'd and do borrow divers Sums of Money, Wares, Mer­chandises, and other Commodi­ties. (3.) But by reason of the said general fall and abatement of the value of Land, and the prices of the said Merchandize, Wares, and Commodities, and Interest in Loan continuing at so high a rate, as Ten pounds in the Hundred pounds for a year, doth not only make Men unable to pay their Debts, and continue the mainte­nance of Trade; but their Debts daily increasing, they are enforc'd [Page 5] to sell their Lands and Stocks at very low Rates, to forsake the use of Merchandize and Trade, and to give over their Leases and Farms, and so become unprofita­ble Members of the Common­wealth, to the great hurt and hin­derance of the same: Be it therefore, &c.

Forasmuch as the A­batement12 Car. 2. cap. 13. of Interest from Ten in the hundred in for­mer times, hath been found by no­table Experience beneficial to the advancement of Trade, and im­provement of Lands by good Hus­bandry, with many other consi­derable advantages to this Nati­on, especially, the reducing it to a nearer proportion with Foreign States, with whom we Traffick. (2.) And whereas in fresh me­mory the like fall from Eight to Six in the Hundred, by a late constant practice hath found the [Page 6] like success to the general Con­tentment of this Nation, as is visible by several Improvements. (3.) And whereas it is the endea­vour of some at present to reduce it back again in practice, to the allowance of the Statute still in force to Eight in the Hundred, to the great discouragement of In­genuity and Industry, in the Hus­bandry, Trade and Commerce of this Nation: Be it therefore &c.

That an Abatement of Interest to Four in the Hundred, will in­crease Trade, I shall prove by these following Arguments.

All Merchants thatN. B. M. D. in his Disc. of Trade. Trade in the same sort of Goods to the same Ports, should Trade by the same Interest, or else the Gain cannot be equal.

Interest is the Rule of Buying and Selling, and being higher in [Page 7] England than in Holland; the Eng­lish Merchant trades with a disad­vantage, because the Dutch Mer­chant can afford to give more, to buy dearer, and sell cheaper than the English can, and yet shall gain more.

The Dutch can sell an hundred pound worth of Goods for 103 l. and the English must sell the same sort and quantity for 106 l. to make the same account of the Principal and Interest.

The Dutch may give 1 per Cent. more for the same quantity of the same sort of Goods, (as the Eng­lish deal in) and sell for 1 l. per Cent. less than they, and yet shall gain 1 per Cent. As for instance, the Dutch may give 101 l. for the same quantity of Goods (which I suppose the English to buy at 100 l.) may sell these at 105 l. and will gain 1 per Cent. whereas the [Page 8] English, if they sell at 106 l. shall gain nothing.

When we had almost theIbid. sole Trade of Spain, and the sole selling of Cloth into Turky, and several other places; the dif­ference of Interest was then not so considerable a prejudice to Trade (tho Interest was then in England at 8 per Cent.) because whosoever hath the sole Trade to any place, may set what price he pleaseth upon his Goods; but now Trade is disperst; the same sort of Manufacture is made in se­veral Countries; the Dutch and English trade in the same sort of Goods, to the same Foreign Parts, and therefore they ought to deal by the same Interest (which is the measure of Trade) or else the Dutch may undersel us, and so must beat us out of our Trade.

By this difference of In­terest,Ibid Holland is become the great Magazine, and Store­house, for all sorts of Goods; for they may be laid up cheaper there than here.

It is impossible for theIbid. Merchant, when he hath bought his Goods, to know what he shall sell them for: The value of them depends upon the differences betwixt the Occasion, and the Quantity; tho that be the chiefest of the Merchants care to observe, yet it depends upon so many Cir­cumstances, that it is impossible to know it; therefore, if the plen­ty of the Goods hath brought down the Price, the Merchant lay­eth them up till the Quantity is consum'd, and the Price riseth; but the English Merchant cannot lay up his, but with disadvantage; for, by that time the Price is risen so, as to pay Charges and Interest, [Page 10] at 6 per Cent. the same Goods are sent for from Holland, and bring down the Price; for they are laid up there at 3 per Cent. and can therefore be sold Cheaper.

For want of consideringIbid. this in England, many an English Merchant hath been un­done; for tho by observing the Bill of Lading, he was able to make some guess of the Stock im­ported here; and therefore hath kept his Goods by him for a Rise: Yet not knowing what Stock there was in Holland, hath not been a­ble to sell his Goods to Profit; the same sort of Goods being brought from thence before the Price riseth high enough to pay Ware-house­room and Interest.

So that now the greatest part of the English Trade is driven by a quick return, every day Buying and Selling, according to a Bill of Rate every day printed: By this [Page 11] means the English Trade is nar­row'd and confin'd; the King lo­seth the Revenue of Importation, and Exportation, which he would have, if England was the Maga­zine of Europe; and the Nation loseth the profit which would a­rise from the hands imploy'd in Freight and Shipping.

High Interest decays Trade; sor, where the Advantage from Usury is greater than the Profit from Trade; there the rich Merchants give over, and put out their Stock to Usury; and the poorer Mer­chants, and others, who carry on a Trade with borrow'd Money, must break: Nay, further, whilst Interest is at Six per Cent. few will run the hazard at Sea, (even in time of Peace) for their gain of Eight or Nine per Cent. And how then can we expect any Foreign Trade in time of War?

When Interest was at Ten in the Hundred, no wise man would follow any Trade whereby he could not promise himself Four­teen, or Twelve per Cent. gain at least. Now Interest goes at Six per Cent. the hopes of Nine, or at least Eight, is necessary; the in­fallible consequence whereof is, That all Trades that will not af­ford a clear profit of Nine, or at least Eight per Cent. we must neg­lect, and give away to such who can Trade for less Gain, and must do so for ever, unless we bring our Interest to a nearer proportion with our Neighbours.

Abatement of Interest will mul­tiply Traders as well in England, as it hath done in Holland already, to such a degree, that almost all their People of both Sexes are Tra­ders; and the many Traders will oblige the Merchants to sell for less Profit, by which means the bulk [Page 13] of Trade will be increas'd. (which will be no disadvantage to the Na­tion, tho private men should gain less) And this is the true reason why many considerable Merchants (who continue on their Trades) are against the lessening of Interest.

If Intrest be abated to Four in the Hundred: Who will not, that can leave his Children an Estate of a thousand, or two thousand Pound, bring them up to Arith­metick, Merchants Accounts, and put them out to Trades, well knowing that the bare Use of their Money, or the product of it in Land, will scarcely maintain them.

Two per Cent. extraordinary in Interest, is an heavier burthen up­on the Merchants, than Four per Cent. extraordinary in Customs; because Customs run only upon Goods Imported, or Exported, and that but once; whereas Use falls as well upon Ships, as Goods, [Page 14] and must be yearly paid on both; and the Ships in many bulky Trades are of four times the va­lue of the Goods.

An Anonymous Author in his discourse of Trade, pag. 10. saith, That the Trade of England was in­considerable, and the Merchants very mean and few, when Interest was at 10 per Cent. and that with­in Ten years after Interest was brought down to Eight in the Hundred, viz. An. 1635. there were more Merchants to be found, worth each 1000 l. and upwards, than could be found, before the year 1600, worth 100 l. each.

And now since Interest hath been at 6 per Cent. there are more to be found upon the Exchange, worth 10000 l. than were then to be met with worth 1000 l.

The encrease of our Trade hath always follow'd, not preceded the Abatement of Use by Law; if [Page 15] this be doubted, ask theDiscourse of Trade. Aged, and they will tell you, that 500 l. with a Daughter Sixty years ago, was esteem'd a larger Portion than 2000 l. now: Gentlewomen in those days would think themselves well dress'd in a Searge Gown, which a Chamber­maid now will be asham'd to be seen in. The Citizens now are richer in Cloaths, Houshold-Goods, Plate, Jewels, than the richest No­bility and Gentry were then.

Where Interest is high, the peo­ple are poor, and Money scarce; as for instance, in Spain, Scotland, and Ireland, where Money lately was (and for what I know still is) at 10 and 12 per Cent. the In­habitants are poor, ill fed, and meanly clad; tho Ireland and Spain are very fruitful Countries; and to the last, all the Gold and Silver of the Indies are brought.

I come now to decide a Questi­on often started in this Controver­sy, viz.

Whether the lowness of Inte­rest be the cause, or the effect of Riches?

Many who write against the A­batement of Interest, do assert, That it is not the cause, but the effect of Riches.

In answer to this (lest what hath been said upon this Subject, should not fully satisfie the Curio­sity of the Reader) I will here add something more:

First, I presume this Postula­tum will be granted, That Trade doth imploy the Poor, doth mul­tiply Home-Artificers, doth fill the Nation with People, doth car­ry out the Product of our Land, doth bring in Money; all which are the cause of Riches. This be­ing granted, I will not be so dis­ingenious, as to affirm, that Riches [Page 17] will not bring Interest down; but what can be inferr'd from thence? that a low Interest cannot be the cause of Riches? No certainly, that Inference can never be made; for, if Trade be that which en­richeth a Nation, and if the low­ering of Interest advanceth Trade, (which, I hope, is before suffici­ently prov'd) then it follows, That the Abatement of Interest is, doubtless, a principal cause of Riches; for it is not absurd, nor improper to say, That the same thing may be both a Cause and an Effect.

Peace may cause Plenty, and Plenty preserve Peace: Fear beget Hatred, and Hatred may beget Fear: The Fertility of a Country may multiply People, and the multiplication of People may cause a greater Fertility in that Country; so the Abatement of Interest causeth an encrease of [Page 18] Wealth; and the encrease of Wealth, may cause a further A­batement of Interest.

Since our first Abate­mentDiscourse of Trade. of Interest, the Riches and Splendour of this Kingdom is very much increas'd; as appears from the new Buildings, fine Furni­ture, and number of Coaches; from our Shipping and Naviga­tion, from the improvement of our Customs, which doth not pro­ceed so much from the advance­ment of the Rates of Goods, as from the encrease of the bulk of Trade; for tho some Foreign Commodities and Manufactures are advanc'd; yet others of our Native Commodities and Manu­factures are considerably abated in the Book of Rates.

England hath been enrich'd con­stantly, and proportionably to, and after our several Abatements of Interest by Law, from an Un­limited [Page 19] Rate, to Ten; from Ten to Eight, and from Eight to Six, in the Hundred: And I think it may reasonably be hoped, that a fur­ther Abatement will produce more Riches, as well here, as it hath done in Holland.

As it hath been in England, so my Author saith, it is in all Eu­rope, and other parts of the World; insomuch, that to know whether any Country be Rich or Poor, or in what proportion it is so: The resolution of this Question, viz. What Interest do they pay for Mo­ney? will tell you; for all Coun­tries are at this day Richer, or Poorer, in an exact proportion to what they pay, and have usually paid for the Interest of Money.

That an Abatement of Interest would encrease Trade, (which is the cause of Riches) and would raise the value of Land, and keep up Rents, was the opinion of the [Page 20] Parliament, in the 21 Jac. 1. and of another in the 12 Car. 2. as appears in the Preamble to those Acts, which I desire the Reader once more to look over again. That they were not mistaken in their Sentiments, is evident from Seventy years Observation, beyond all Contradiction; insomuch, that it must be granted by all English­men, for it can no longer be made a Question, That to abate Interest, will advance Land, and encrease Trade; and consequently is the cause of Riches.

It is confest on all hands, that in Holland Interest is lower than in England; but some are pleas'd to say, That is not the effect of Laws, but proceeds only from the Plenty of Money; for in Holland there is no Law restraining Usury: To which I answer out of my Ano­nymous Author in his Discourse of Trade, That it may be true, that [Page 21] in Holland, there hath not lately been any Law to limit Usury to the present Rate it is now at, viz. 3 or 4 per Cent.; yet most certain it is, that many years since, there were Laws in Holland, that re­duc'd Interest to 8, 6, and after­wards to 5 per Cent. An. 1640. and in the year 1655. to 4. per Cent. as he affirms, pag. 31. and no doubt but they would by Law lessen Usury still, were it necessa­ry at this time; It having always been the policy of that State, to keep down the Interest of their Money 3 or 4 per Cent. under the Rate of what is usually paid in their Neighbouring Countries; we never yet abated our Interest, but they soon after abated theirs.

Interest hath been at 6 per Cent. in Holland; but after it was re­duc'd to Eight in England, it was reduc'd to Four in Holland; and now being at Six here, 'tis there [Page 22] at Three; so that they have al­ways kept the same advantage in Trade, from our over-ballance by Usury; well understanding the Profit they have from thence.

It may not be impertinent to recite here so much of the French King's Edict, as concerns this matter; for, perhaps all may not elsewhere come to the sight of it.

He found that Ten or Eight in the Hundred, did ruine many good Families, hindered the Traf­fick and Commerce of Merchan­dize, and made Tillage cheap, and Handicrafts to be neglected; many desiring, through the easi­ness of a deceitful Gain, to live idlely, rather than give themselves to Arts, or to Till, or Husband their Lands: For these Reasons he did forbid all Usury at an higher Rate than 6 l. 5 sh. in the Hun­dred.

This Edict was ratify'd in the Court of Parliament. I have transcrib'd this out of a discourse of Trade, pag. 51.

Should I pursue all the advan­tages to Trade, (which may rea­sonably be hoped for, from an A­batement of Interest) or, should I enumerate all the benefits which will redound to the Kingdom, by the encouragement and encrease of Trade; this Piece would swell into a large Volume. I need not tell you of what great use the lowering of Interest would be to the Government; That the King might with much less Charge build Ships, and set out his Fleet; that all Ammunition, and other Necessaries for the Army would be much cheaper; That upon all occasions he would be more rea­dily suppli'd with Money: These Considerations alone are of no small Concernment to the Na­tion; [Page 24] for the more easily the Government can be maintain'd, the less Taxes will be want­ting.

It would be unnecessary to add any more upon this Head, which relates to Trade.

I make no doubt, but the Rea­sons alledg'd, will convince the Merchant, and Trades-man, That a further Abatement of Interest will be no prejudice to them, but will highly advance their Cal­ling. I proceed now to the next thing propounded to the Consi­deration of the Reader, wherein I shall endeavour to satisfie the Landed-man, That to lessen Usury, will be of very great advantage to him, by raising the Value of Land in Purchase; and by ena­bling his Tenants to give more for his Farm, or at least to pay his Rents fooner.

CHAP. II.

That Abatement of Interest will raise the Value of Land.

THE inseparable Affinity betwixt Trade and Land, is so obvious to every Man's un­derstanding, that I think it will not be deni'd, but when Trade flourisheth, Land always bears a good price, and the Landlord's Rents are well paid. When Trade decays, Rents are never well paid, and the price of Land falls too; on the other hand, when Rents fall, and Farmers break, then Shopkeepers fail, and Merchants give over. The Inte­rest of one is so interwoven with the others, that it cannot be ill with Trade, but Land will fall; nor ill with Land, but Trade will feel it. This Observation is by [Page 26] experience found so true, that no Trader or Landed-man can make the least doubt of it.

That Land in England hath risen in value, as Interest hathDiscourse of Trade. been abated, is matter of fact, and every Owner of Land can best judge of this; look but into your Ancestors Deeds of Pur­chase made Seventy years ago, and you will find that Land was then fold for 10 or 12 years Purchase; but an enquiry into the gross Sum of Money paid, will be more exact, and less fallible, than to make an estimate by the years Purchase; for many Farms have been of late years so rackt up in Rents, that it may be they will not yield more years purchase now, according to the present Rents, than they would have done many years past, and yet may double the Money they were then bought or sold [Page 27] for, because the Rents might be much less then.

Where Use for Money is high, Land is cheap in other parts of the World, as well as in England, and it must be so; that it is so, Spain, Scotland, and Ireland, do abun­dantly attest; in those Kingdoms Interest is high, and Land cheap. In Italy and Holland, Usury is lower and Land dearer.

That it must be so, according to the rate of Interest, is evident from Reason; for who are so stu­pid as to give more than Ten or Twelve years purchase for Land, if Interest was at 10 per Cent. when at single Interest they may double their Money in ten years? If high Interest brings down the price of Land, certainly low Interest must raise it.

Whilst Use is at 6 per Cent. (especially when Land is loaded [Page 28] with Taxes) few will buy; the Interest of Money being at least 2 per Cent. more than the Rent of Land.

If Interest be reduced to Four in the hundred, it would not so much over-run the Rent of Land, and consequently more Men would be inclin'd to buy, and could affored to give a better price than now they can; for Interest fets the price in buying and selling Land.

If Usury was reduced to Four in the Hundred, we might reason­ably enough expect, that 10 l. per Ann. in Land (being now worth 200 l.) would within few years be worth 300 l. the disproportion betwixt the Rent of Land, and In­terest of Money being so much less; and the value of Money being thereby so considerably a­bated.

That 300 l. at 4 per Cent. in twenty years will bring in no more [Page 29] than 200 l. at 6 per Cent. in twenty years doth now.

And there is great Reason, that the exchange betwixt Land, Mo­ney, and Goods, should be even; for why should the Country Gen­tlemen give 6 per Cent. for Money or Goods, when his Land will bring in but four? I believe I might say, not three at this time; why should the Gentleman pay 2 per Cent. more for all the Goods he buys of the Merchant, viz. for Silks, Linnen, &c. than the Mer­chant gives for his Wooll, Corn, or Cattel? This being the Case, I do not question but the Nobility and Gentry, having so great a share in Parliament, will in due time, before it be too late, reflect upon the great odds in the ex­change, and promote a Law to regulate the Ballance; such a Law will certainly prevent many noble Mannors and goodly Farms, from [Page 30] being so quickly devour'd by Tay­lor's and Mercer's Bills; for Gen­tlemen may then expend more, pay better, and run into Debt less.

CHAP. III.

That it will improve Rents, or at least enable the Farmer to pay his Rent better.

THat an Abatement of Interest will improve Rents, or at least enable the Farmer to pay his Rent better, than he can whilst Money is at 6 per Cent.

It will raise the Rent of some Estates, and keep up the Rent of others: For the Farmer must make up his Accounts as the Merchants do. The Interest of the Stock must be reckon'd, as well as the Rent of Land; so that the taking 2 l. [Page 31] per Cent. from the Stock, being added to the Rent of the Land, so much is the Rent of the Land rais'd, or the Farm so much the cheaper to the Tenant. As for instance, a Farm that is now worth 50 l. per Ann. and requires 300 l. to Stock it, will be worth 56 l. per Annum, when Interest is re­duced to four in the Hundred; there being Six pounds a year ta­ken from the Stock, and added to the Rent; and the Farmer shall make the same account of profit from the Farm, as he doth now In­terest is at 6 per Cent.

Interest being so highDiscourse of Trade. in England, is the cause of the fall of Rents; for Trade being thereby confin'd to a quick return, and the Merchant not being able to lay up any quantity of Goods, he exports less of our own growth; and the plenty of our Native Stock brings down [Page 32] the Rent of Land; for the Rent of Land that produceth the Stock, must fall, as the price of the Stock doth. Whereas, if Interest was at 4 per Cent. it would make the Rent more certain, and raise the value of Land.

If Usury was at Four in the hundred, there would always be a Magazine of Corn and Wooll in England, which would be a great advantage to the Farmer; for there are years of plenty and scarcity; and there are more Far­mersDiscouse of Trade. undone in plentiful years, than recover themselves in years of scarcity; for when the price is very low, the Crop will not pay the charge of Plowing, Sowing, Reaping, Thrashing, and carrying to the Market; and when it is dear, all Farmers, that lost by Plenty, are not so fortunate as to have a Crop: Now, if Interest was at 4 per Cent. Corn and Wooll [Page 33] in years of plenty would be bought and laid up to be sold in years of scarcity. And by this means the buying in years of plenty, would keep the price from falling too low; and the selling in years of scarcity, would prevent it from rising too high, whereby Corn and Wooll would always be bought and sold at a moderate price, and the Farmer's Stock and the Rent of Land would be more certain.

Estates let in Leases, whether for Lives or Years, will be very much advanced by low Interest; for the Tenant being furnisht more readily and easily with Money, may afford to renew oftner, and give greater Fines, and will be enabled to pay his yearly Rent more punctually than now he can.

The Clergy, as well as Gentry, Tradesmen and Farmers, will e­qually [Page 34] find the benefit of 4 per Cent. the Tythe of all Improve­ments being their Inheritance, will flow in plentifully to them with­out Fraud or Murmur, when the Farmer can well afford it; such of them as enjoy Church-Leases may justly enough, and without oppressing their Tenants, enlarge their Fines; whereas otherwise they can hardly expect to keep up the present reserv'd Rents, and I fear they are very sensible that Tenants come in slowly to renew.

I might upon this head properly enough, and without much diffi­culty shew, That to lower Interest will very much encourage and promote Building; for Houses would be built Cheaper, and let Dearer; that it would be a great invitation to improve Lands by good Husbandry; that it would multiply Artificers, and revive our dying Manufactures, and put Ar­tizans [Page 35] upon seeking out ways of making such Commodities as we daily spend, and buy from Foreign parts, tho we are, or may be accommodated with them at home. But so many ingenious Pieces are in print (which the Reader may every where be furnisht with) that it would be a needless Repe­tition to pass through all these Branches, which have been so well handled by others long since.

The great Incumbrances of Gen­tlemens Estates, of what pernicious consequence they have been, and must be to the whole Kingdom, is manifest enough. For if Gentle­men become insolvent, or but bad Pay-masters; Tradesmen, who are forced to depend upon them, must be so too: When the charge upon Land is light, and Rents well paid, then the Nobili­ty and Gentry (who have always been the constant support of the [Page 36] Crown) will be abler to serve the King, both with Purse and Person, and would recover that Power and Reputation in their Countries which formerly they had; on the other hand, if the Nobility and Gentry should be so weakened in their Estates and Credits that they could contribute little to the Aid and Assistance of the Prince; what could we expect, but that our Peace must soon be disturb'd, the Government shaken, and the King­dom ruin'd? This Consideration is of no small Importance; for it is scarcely imaginable, that the In­terest of the Landed-men should at any time be sever'd from that of the Crown; because Land being visible and immoveable, is always most responsible to the Law. I hope this Digression will not seem impertinent, tho it neither relates to the value or Rent of Land.

I will in this place only offer one thing more to be consider'd by the Landed-men. Suppose a Gen­tleman that hath 600 l. per Annum, should have 300 l. per Annum in his hands, and hath no Money to stock it with; will not his Circum­stances be very hard to borrow at 6 per Cent. when it is too well known, that he cannot with all his care and trouble make the Rent of his Land, in many places half; will he not let his Land lye untill'd, and without stock, rather then run himself into Debt? That a great part of the Land in England is now untenanted, I appeal to all those who have any share or Interest in it. Is it not therefore high time to enable the Fere-holder to manage it at a more easy Charge? And will not an Abatement of Interest do it?

CHAP. IV.

The Objections against the Abate­ment of Interest, fairly stated, and clearly answer'd.

HAVING, by what hath been alledg'd in the forego­ing Chapters, endeavour'd to maintain, (and I hope, to the sa­tisfaction of the Readers) That the lessening of Usury to 4 per Cent. will increase Trade, and raise the value of Land, and keep up Rents; I intend in this, to state the Objections fairly, (which are commonly made against it) and will study to answer them as plain­ly and fully as I can in so short a discourse.

Object. 1. That Foreigners will call in their Loans.

Answ. In this Objection Four things seem to be insinuated, viz. 1. That an high Interest (be­ing so great an invitation to lend) doth fill any Countrey with Money. 2. That we are now suppli'd with abundance, by Mer­chants beyond the Seas. 3. That it is for our advantage to borrow from them. And lastly, That, if Interest be lessen'd, they will call it in. If any of these be false, the Objection is then out of doors; for my part, I can scarce­ly believe any of the Four Insi­nuations true.

If high Interest fills any Coun­trey with Money, what is the reason, that in Ireland, Scotland, and Spain, and other parts of the World (where Interest hath been, and is High) they have so little? And how comes it to pass, That in Italy, and Holland, Money is [Page 40] so plentiful where Interest is much lower?

How much Money is lent by Fo­reigners, is not easie to find out; the greatest part (I guess) comes from the Dutch Merchants, and very pro­bable it is, it may be paid in by Bills of Exchange; which way of lending doth not bring in Gold or Silver; for if one English man lend to a­nother English-man, (be the In­terest high or low) between them Two, nothing is got or lost to the Nation: But if Foreigners do transmit over Gold or Silver, it is no advantage to us to borrow; for in all Loans the Gain is the Lenders, not the Borrowers; As for instance, If the Dutch lend to the English an 100000 l. and let it continue here till it comes to 200000 l. they at length carry home both Principal and Interest, which Interest is a clear loss to the Nation, and a manifest Gain to [Page 41] the Dutch. After all, Why should we imagine the Dutch will call in their Debts here, to put it out for less there? Certainly they will not be so extravagant: The usual reply to this is, That their Security is better: Truly, I can­not say so, unless they were as safe from the French, as they are se­cure in their Titles from Law-Suits, by the help of a Registry: I rather think they will be glad (whilst the French do daily ap­proach nearer and nearer to them) to transmit more hither.

But if, upon lowering of In­terest, they should call it home; it would be better for the Nation if they did; for then, perhaps they will draw back their Effects in our Native Commodities.

Object. 2. That the value of the principal Money will be abated, by lessening the Interest; so that every [Page 42] Man, whose whole Estate is in Mo­ney, will by such a Law, lose a Third part of it.

Answ. This is a great mistake; for the lowering of the Inte­rest a Third, will not lessen the value of the Principal; for an 100 l. will buy as much Goods (of some sort more) after such a Law is made, as it would before; it will buy as much Corn, Wool, Cloath, and all things else, as now, except Land; for the lower­ing of Interest will chiefly fall upon foreign Stock, or Wares; and the Merchant may afford to sell his Goods 2 per Cent. Cheaper, and will gain as much by them, as he did, when Money was at 6 per Cent. and almost ¾ of every Gentle­man's Fxpence is in Foreign Wares, as Wine, Spices, Silks, Linnen, &c. In such Goods there will be 2 per Cent. sav'd in the Price; so [Page 43] that they may then maintain themselves almost as well with 40 l. a year, as they can now with 60 l.

But, what if the Principal should sink in value? Is all the Cash in the Kingdom equivalent to the va­lue of all the Land in England? No certainly; for I have very good reason to believe, that all the Coin in the Nation doth not exceed Ten Millions, and the Annual Rents of England are at least Twelve; (as I could easily make appear, if there was occasion for it) and conse­quently, the Land of England at Twenty years Purchase, is worth above Twenty times more than the Money; wherefore it is not difficult to know, which is most for the advantage of England, to keep up the Interest of Money, or to raise the Value of Land.

[Page 44]Object. 3. That such as are indebt­ed, will not be able to take up Mo­ney to pay off their Debts, and so will be put to great Streights and Difficul­ties, and many will be undone, and ruin'd.

Answ. This Objection would have some weight in it, if the Law to abate Interest, should respect Contracts already made; but to me, that seems, upon many Accounts, so unreasonable, that I fancy no Gentleman doth in­tend to aim at it: And if the Bill respect only Contracts to be made after what time the Parliament shall in their Wisdom think fit, then such a Law will be so far from prejudicing the Debtor, that it will be an help to him; for, if he can pay off his Debt, he may, by borrowing of another at 4 per Cent. and if he cannot, no doubt, but the Creditor will be very [Page 45] willing to let his Money continue upon the same Security, at 6 per Cent. rather than call in his Mo­ney, to put it out for 4.

Object. 4. That they who want Money, shall not be trusted upon Per­sonal Security, which will very much obstruct, and hinder Trade; for a great part of the Trade of the Na­tion is carry'd on with Money, bor­row'd upon such Security: And Ʋsu­rers will rather keep their Money by them, than lend upon such Terms.

Answer. The Reason why any Man should lock up his Money, and expect a better Advantage, when the Law hath reduc'd it to Four in the Hundred, I cannot well see. 4 per Cent. is no con­temptible Interest, it is more than Land produceth; and what grea­ter Advantage can any Man then expect, unless it be to lay it out in [Page 46] Trade? if so, it will rather promote Trade, than obstruct, or hinder it; or he must Purchase, or Build, which are the proper Channels into which we desire to turn his Mo­ney.

Trades-men will be suppli'd sooner than now they are; for there will be fewer Borrowers.

The value of Land being rais'd, the Debts upon it will be sooner discharg'd; and there being less occasion for Money to be lent up­on Land, it will the more easily be borrow'd by Trades-men and others.

If the Security was weaken'd by lessening the Usury, then we might justly fear Trades-men would not be furnish'd with Mo­ney at 4 per Cent. But the Abate­ment of Interest is so far from ma­king the Secutity weaker, that it will be safer to Trust, when In­terest is at 4 per Cent. than whilst [Page 47] it is at Six; for the Trades-men will drive a greater Trade, and must gain more, and so will sooner be able to pay the Interest and Principal, than now he can.

The reason assign'd against 4 per Cent. viz. Because Trades-men are necessitated to borrow, is a very strong Argument for it, and was thought so by the Parliament in the 21 Jacob. and by that in the 12th. Carol. 2. as you may see in the Preamble to those Acts for lessening Usury: If this be of any force now against 4 per Cent. it was as strong against bringing Usury at that time from Ten to Eight, and against redu­cing it from Eight to Six: We find this Objection did not sway with the Parliament then; and we find by Seventy years Experience, that the Abatement of Interest hath been very beneficial, and that the Money'd Man hath constantly sub­mitted [Page 48] to the Use let by Law, and soon ceas'd to be sullen, not scru­pling to trust the Trades-man; and therefore, why should we fear now he will not?

Object. 5. That it is now unsea­sonable, Money being scarce.

Answ. To this Objection I an­swer thus, That Money is not scarce; but if it be, the taking off Two in the Hundred, will not make it scarcer.

That Money is notDiscourse of Trade. scarce, is evident from hence; We give ⅓ more with Ap­prentices, than Thirty years ago: We Ship off one Third more of Manufactures, than we did 30 years past: Houses new built in London since the Fire, yield double the Rent they did before: The speedy, and costly Building of the City is a convincing and an amazing Argu­ment of the Plenty, and late In­crease [Page 49] of Money in England: We have now more than double the number of Merchants Ships we had Thirty years past.

I cannot deny, but in the Coun­trey, Money is very scarce; for which, these Reasons may be as­sign'd;

1. The great resort of the No­bility and Gentry to London; their spending little amongst their Tenants, and returning their Rents up.

The Second proceeds from the quick payments of the Taxes, and from the constant practice of bringing up the Money in Wa­gons to London, which misfortune cannot be avoided, unless the Counties could return in Cattel, Corn, or other Goods, such Sums as they pay towards the Charge of the Government; for the Bal­lance must be made even with Money: As for instance, if the [Page 50] County of Lincoln pay 100000 l. within the space of Twelve Months, for Taxes, and cannot make out above 80000 l. in Goods, the re­maining 20000 l. must be made up in Money.

Money is not so much wanting in England, as such Security as Money'd Men will require, espe­cially for great Sums.

The East-India Company have taken up very great Sums at 4 per Cent. The Goldsmiths in London could have had (and, I believe, may still) what Money they would, upon their Servants Notes, only at 4 l. or 4 l. 10 s. in the Hun­dred.

No Gentleman finds any want of Money, if he will give Land-security: 'Tis very well known, that many Thousands have, with­in these few years, been lent to Gentlemen at 4 l. in the Hundred, and any Man may now have at 5 l. [Page 51] upon Real Security; so that we seem ripe enough, and throughly prepared for a farther abatement of Usury.

To take off 2 l. in the Hundred, will not make Money more scarce, for such a Law would not lessen the Money, tho it would abate the Interest; but the contrary is most true, the lowering of In­terest will make it more plenti­ful; for low interest increaseth trade, and trade increaseth money; for Bullion is a foreign Commo­dity, and brought in by trade.

Another reason why money seems scarce, is the Banking it up, which obstructs the circulation, advanceth Usury by rendring it so easie, that most men as soon as they can make up 50 l. lend it to the Goldsmiths; which Trade of Bankering doth and will occasion that fatal pressing necessity for money throughout the whole Kingdom.

Money will not lye so long dead, if Interest be abated, as it doth now; for the Gain being so much the less, the Usurer will strive to put it out as soon as may be.

Object. 6. That the Exchequer will draw in all or the greatest part of the Cash of the Kingdom.

Answ. This Objection is foun­ded upon a presumption, that an higher Interest than Four in the Hundred must be allowed to those who lend Money to the Crown upon an Act of Parliament: I doubt not but the Parliament in their Wisdom will think it highly reasonable that it should be so; and what mischief will follow from thence? Will more Money be lent than what the Parliament shall give the King Credit for? No certainly; but this benefit the King will receive by such a Law, [Page 53] whatsoever Money the Parliament shall find necessary to be anticipa­ted upon a borrowing Clause, shall sooner be brought in; and that will be of great use to the Nation; so that what is here urged against lessening Use, is when well weigh­ed a very strong reason for it; but what if Money should flow in, will it not find a way out? Have we any ground to fear, it will be lockt up there? I am sure there is no such danger in time of Peace, and much less during a chargeable War.

Object. 7. That Widows and Or­phans will suffer much by an abate­ment of Interest; Those who have Sixty Pound a year for a 1000 l. will then have but Forty.

Answ. I answer thus: This will not be a general prejudice, because they are few in number in respect [Page 54] of the whole Nation; for they are scarcely one to twenty of the whole People, and of those not one in Forty will suffer by an a­batement of Interest, for these reasons; many of them have Land or Annuities, and such persons may gain more by the rise of Land, than they will lose by the fall of Use-money.

Many Executors allow Orphans no Interest, and yet justifie them­selves by Law; to such Orphans it will be no damage to lessen the Legal Rate of Interest.

Their Portions will be of the same esteem, and of the same va­lue to buy every thing (except Lands) and they were never given them with that intent; for then their Parents might as well have given them Lands: So that it is only the income of their Portions that will be lessened, and that but for a short time, till the young [Page 55] men set up their Trades, or till the Maidens or Widows marry.

But how severe soever the low­ering of Interest from Six to Four in the Hundred may be to Wi­dows, Orphans, or younger Bro­thers; yet they will have as much Rent for their Money, as the Gen­try and their Elder Brothers have for their Land; for the Land of England doth not yield Four in the Hundred.

After Interest is reduced to Four in the hunnred, many will leave their Children Annuities, or Estates, running in Trade (as they do in Holland and Italy) whereby the abatement of Inte­rest will become profitable not prejudicial to them, and advanta­geous to the whole Nation by en­larging Trade.

Object. 8. That Gentlemen must give more with their Daughters for [Page 56] Portions, by which means a great part of the Inheritance of such Gentlemen's Estates will be lessen'd and more in­cumber'd.

Answ. This Objection is foun­ded upon a Supposition, that the value of the Principal Money is sunk, and therefore they must give greater Portions; but that is a mistake; for 1000 l. will be as much valued by a Trades-man, as it is now; it will buy as much Goods (of some sort more) after Usury is abated, as it will now; Foreign Stocks or Wares may be Sold 2 l. per Cent. cheaper than now they can be afforded for; and the greatest part of the Ladies ex­pence is in Foreign Wares; so that they may then maintain themselves almost as well with forty Pounds a year, as they can now with threescore.

But if larger Portions should be requisite, the Gentleman will be better able to raise them; for his Rents will be better paid, and his Land will sell for a third part more; so that his Estate will be less incumber'd then before.

Object. 9. Others object, That an Abatement of Interest by a Law, is not practicable, nor would it be conducive to the end aim'd at; tho they confess a low Interest doth most encourage Trade, and advance Land.

Answ. Some Men fancy, That such a Law would be only advanta­geous to Scriveners, who will have more for Procuration and Continu­ation. If this should happen (tho I see no reason for it) the Bor­rower might afford to give more to the Scrivener, when he pays less to the Usurer.

Interest hath been abated twice in England by Act of Parliament, within the space of fifty years, with very good success, and great advantage to the Kingdom, and what should hinder its effect now more than formerly?

If a Law will not do it, why do the Usurers always oppose the passing of an Act to that purpose? The true Reason seems to be, be­cause they are wise enough to know, that a Law will certainly do it, as it hath done already, tho they would perswade others to the contrary.

Octject. 10. Many assert, That low Interest is not the Cause, but the effect of Riches; or otherwise, say they, Why are not all Countries rich, they having it in their Power to make themselves so by a low-stated Interest by Law.

Answ. That low Interest is the cause of Riches, I appeal to the Judgment of the Parliament in the 21 Jac. and of that in the 12 Car. 2. who ascribe the decay of Trade, the fall of Rents, the discourage­ment of all Improvements, and good Husbandry, to the height of Interest; and those wise Conside­rations did induce them to pass two Acts, as may be seen by the preamble to the Acts reducing Usury from Ten to Eight, and from Eight to Six in the Hun­dred.

The Authority of so many wise and worthy Patriots, and the visi­ble usefulness of those Acts con­firm'd by Seventy years Experi­ence, is, I doubt not, of so great weight, that no Man (without im­modesty) can deny, that low In­terest is the cause of Riches. Vide p. 31. to p. 39.

[Page 60]Object. 11. Lastly, some alledge, That all the Reasons urged for redu­cing Interest to Four in the Hundred, will hold as strongly against all Ʋ ­sury.

Answ. To this, I answer, No; for many Improvements are made with borrow'd Money, and seve­ral considerable Trades are car­ri'd on with Loans, which would fall or decay, unless Money could be had readily and freely.

'Tis true, if Money'd men would lend their Money freely, and gratis upon all occasions, then doubtless, Trade would flourish most, and Land be advanced to its highest Value; but since the Usurer is not so publick-spirited, it is ne­cessary that a moderate Interest should be allowed, to invite him to part with his Money frankly: but why so great, as to discourage Trade, and wholly to depress [Page 61] Land, nay, to exceed the Rent of it, I see no occasion. My Lord Bacon in his time (in his Essay upon Usury) thought it expedi­ent, that Use should be brought to 5 l. in the Hundred, and high­ly reasonable that the Rent of Land should always exceed the Interest of Money; and I am sure, at Four in the Hundred it will not do that.

I have now gone through all the Objections of moment, that ever I could find in Print, or meet with in Conversation; I have an­swered every one of them di­stinctly, with as much brevity and perspicuity as possibly I could. If through inadvertency I have omitted any, I ask the Reader's pardon: how many more Obje­ctions soever may occur, this short Answer will serve for all. We have often and continually felt the good [Page 62] Effects of an Abatement of Inte­rest, and therefore we may rea­sonably expect the like advantage; the Objections were the same then as now, and can have no greater force, nor be of worser con­sequence.

I wish what is said, may give satisfaction; if it doth not, I hope this Subject (which is of so general concernment, and publick use to the whole Nati­on) will be better handled by a more acceptable and successful Pen.

The CONCLƲSION.

THE raising the value of Land at this time seems most necessary, the Nation being engaged in such a chargeable War: For the Land is the Fund that ever hath maintain'd, and must still support and preserve the [Page 63] Government. Have not all our late Taxes been raised upon Land, Excise, Customs upon Home-Commodities (which Duty ari­seth from the product of Land) or Impositions upon foreign Goods; the last of which doth, tho not so immediately fall upon Land? For the Gentry, and consumer of fo­reign Wares must pay at least so much dearer as the Duty a­mounts to.

If the Charge of our Govern­ment, and Defence, should in­crease (as they have lately) and I am afraid must still, the Power of France being so formidable; and should Their Majesties Cu­stoms decline (as they must, un­less we have a free and uninter­rupted Trade at Sea) then I would gladly be informed from any Pro­jector, how this happy Settlement can be kept up, or the French kept out, without a General Excise, or [Page 64] an Extraordinary great and last­ing Land-Tax? Money must be granted in proportion to future Exigencies (how great soever they may be.)

There is no true Englishman but will chearfully give his Money, when Life, Fortune, and Family are at Stake.

I need not remind any Gentle­man how Rents fall, and Tenants break, tho very honest and indu­strious.

But one thing I desire all Gen­tlemen (especially such who have no Places) to consider seriously, in what manner, after what poor fa­shion they must live, if but half of their Estates be thrown into their own hands; I doubt they will find it very difficult to stock that half, and when Taxes and all other Charges are paid, and the usual deductions made (not to rec­kon Casualties) I fear they will see very little Money.

Nothing but an abatement of Interest can effectually reach the Usurer, who must otherwise grow rich in time of War, whilst others labour under heavy pressures.

In a word; no Law can be of greater advantage to the Nation, than an Act to reduce Interest to 4 l. per Cent. it will produce the most general good with the least private disadvantage; it will give great satisfaction to the whole Kingdom; it will make an abun­dant recompensation for the Great Taxes, and heavy Impositions, which the necessities of Publick Affairs have required the Parlia­ment to lay upon the People; and it will enable the Landed-men to bear exceeding Taxes, with great ease and chearfulness.

No Consideration whatsoever hath induced me to expose these lines to publick view and cen­sure, but the deep sense I have [Page 66] of the Free-holder's and Farmer's Poverty, the visible decay of Trade, the prospect of the pitiful con­dition of the Ancient Nobility and Gentry (who have not been brought up to Husbandry) if once their whole Estates should be Untenanted; nothing else hath brought this Treatise forth; therefore I hope, if I be mistaken in the Remedy propounded, the Candid and Ingenuous Reader will easily forgive me, and ac­quaint the World with a more speedy and effectual way to raise the value of Land, and increase Trade.

FINIS.

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