A Discourse of Trade
By Nicholas Barbon
TRADE is the Making, and Selling of one sort of Goods for another; The making is called Handy-Craft Trade, and the maker an Artificer; The Selling is called Merchandizing, and the Seller a Merchant: The Artificer is called by several Names from the sort of Goods he makes. As a Clothier, Silk-weaver, Shoo-maker, or Hatter, &c. from Making of Cloth, Silk, Shooes, or Hats; And the Merchant is distinguished by the Names of the Countrey he deals to, and is called, Dutch, French, Spanish or Turkey Merchant. [From the text]
Jacob H. Hollander, ed.
First Pub. Date
Baltimore, MD: Lord Baltimore Press
The text of this edition is in the public domain.
Professor of Political Economy
Johns Hopkins University
The careful researches of Professor Stephen Bauer have thrown much needed light upon the life of Nicholas Barbon and upon his proper place in the history of economic thought.
*1 Born in London, probably in 1640, the son of Praisegod Barebone—”anabaptist, leather-seller, and politician,”
*2—he studied medicine at Leyden, received a medical degree at Utrecht in 1661, and was admitted as an honorary fellow of the College of Physicians in 1664. After the great fire of 1666, he established the first insurance office in London, and participated actively in rebuilding the city. He was a member of Parliament in 1690, and again in 1695; he founded and conducted a land bank in 1695-96, and he died in 1698, making John Asgill the executor of his will, and directing that none of his debts should be paid.
Barbon’s writings stand for the most part in immediate relation to the economic events of the period in which he lived. He defended his scheme of fire insurance; he advocated building extension in London; he discussed the possibilities of land-banking and he contributed a remarkable tract
*3 to the currency controversy of 1696.
Of more general scope than these semi-controversial pamphlets is the essay here reprinted. Of the circumstances under which it was written and of the obscurity into which it appears promptly to have fallen nothing is known. Less enthusiastic critics will dissent from Professor Bauer’s opinions that certain of its passages place Barbon as an economist above both Petty and Locke, and that it contains the ablest refutation of the theory of the balance of trade previous to Hume and Adam Smith. But none will deny that the essay is surely entitled to reissue in accessible form, and that Barbon may properly receive, to a greater degree than has heretofore been accorded him, the attention of students of the development of economic thought from Hobbes to Hume.
The present edition is a reprint of Barbon’s essay as issued in 1690.
*4 The general appearance of the title page has been preserved, the original pagination has been indicated and a few notes have been appended.
and the Stock,
or Wares of Trade