What a kingdom would England be if this were performed in all the counties of it! And yet I believe it is feasible, even in the worst. I have narrowly deserved all the considerable ways in that unpassable county of Sussex, which (especially in some parts in the wild, as they very properly call it, of the county) hardly admits the country people to travel to markets in winter, and makes corn dear at market because it cannot be brought, and cheap at the farmer's house because he cannot carry it to market; yet even in that county would I undertake to carry on this proposal, and that to great advantage, if backed with the authority of an Act of Parliament.

I have seen in that horrible country the road, sixty to a hundred yards broad, lie from side to side all poached with cattle, the land of no manner of benefit, and yet no going with a horse, but at every step up to the shoulders, full of sloughs and holes, and covered with standing water. It costs them incredible sums of money to repair them; and the very places that are mended would fright a young traveller to go over them. The Romans mastered this work, and by a firm causeway made a highway quite through this deep country, through Darkin in Surrey to Stansted, and thence to Okeley, and so on to Arundel; its name tells us what it was made of (for it was called Stone Street), and many visible parts of it remain to this day.

Now would any lord of a manor refuse to allow forty yards in breadth out of that road I mentioned, to have the other twenty made into a firm, fair, and pleasant causeway over that wilderness of a country?

Or would not any man acknowledge that putting this country into a condition for carriages and travellers to pass would be a great work? The gentlemen would find the benefit of it in the rent of their land and price of their timber; the country people would find the difference in the sale of their goods, which now they cannot carry beyond the first market town, and hardly thither; and the whole county would reap an advantage a hundred to one greater than the charge of it. And since the want we feel of any convenience is generally the first motive to contrivance for a remedy, I wonder no man over thought of some expedient for so considerable a defect.


Assurances among merchants, I believe, may plead prescription, and have been of use time out of mind in trade, though perhaps never so much a trade as now.

It is a compact among merchants. Its beginning being an accident to trade, and arose from the disease of men's tempers, who, having run larger adventures in a single bottom than afterwards they found convenient, grew fearful and uneasy; and discovering their uneasiness to others, who perhaps had no effects in the same vessel, they offer to bear part of the hazard for part of the profit: convenience made this a custom, and custom brought it into a method, till at last it becomes a trade.

I cannot question the lawfulness of it, since all risk in trade is for gain, and when I am necessitated to have a greater cargo of goods in such or such a bottom than my stock can afford to lose, another may surely offer to go a part with me; and as it is just if I give another part of the gain, he should run part of the risk, so it is as just that if he runs part of my risk, he should have part of the gain. Some object the disparity of the premium to the hazard, when the insurer runs the risk of 100 pounds on the seas from Jamaica to London for 40s., which, say they, is preposterous and unequal. Though this objection is hardly worth answering to men of business, yet it looks something fair to them that know no better; and for the information of such, I trouble the reader with a few heads:

First, they must consider the insurer is out no stock.

Secondly, it is but one risk the insurer runs; whereas the assured has had a risk out, a risk of debts abroad, a risk of a market, and a risk of his factor, and has a risk of a market to come, and therefore ought to have an answerable profit.

Business Ebooks
Classic Literature

All Pages of This Book