I recently acquired, in the personal library, a rare 39 page pamphlet entitled “A Letter to the
Honourable A----R M---re, Com--------ner of Trade and Plantation; London 1714. This
anonymous lobbying treatise was sent to Arthur Moore, who was one of the Commissioners of
Trade and Plantation at the time.
Some things never change – like lobbying government! Today we have trade wars between the
United States and China, between Britain and the EU, and so on with complaints about tariffs
and out of balance trade volume. The author of this work was petitioning those who set trading
regulations for more fairness in the trade activities between England and France, although
Portugal and Holland are mentioned along the way.
Today such activity is measured very frequently by all parties within months of the period
measured. In this case, the foldout “Scheme of the Trade as it is present carried on Between
England and France” is dated London, 29 Nov. 1674. A bit of a time gap but the detail appears
to be very detailed and precise. Commodities imported into England from France totaled
1,136,150 pounds and the commodities imported into France from England only 171,021
pounds with an imbalance greatly in favour of France of 965,129 pounds!
Amongst the commodities included in the pamphlet are woollen and silk; lead and tin; leather;
wine and more wine and of note for us here in Canada – fish from Newfoundland.
I find the arguments to be circular, and very confusing. There is an etiquette followed, that quite
frankly I don’t understand. I have noticed this in other period pieces. Hard to follow the logic. It is
also a bit hard to read with the use on the “long s” which looks like an “f” but the bar is just on
the left side of the vertical line. The “s” as we know it, is used only as the first or last letter in a
word. The author frequently has blanks in his proper names just like in the title – protection
against libel and disfavour, I suppose.
Another thing that hasn’t changed is the use of the phrase “birds of a feather flock together”. Seeing this, I then looked up how long this phrase has been in use and it goes back to at least
the mid 16th century.
What has changed is the phrase “shim sham” re a project, in this instance. I saw this and the
word dubious came to mind. However, when I tried to find a history of this one Wikipedia just
took it back to a dance style from the 1920s. If a reader has knowledge on this, please respond!
One of the reasons I kept this item for myself is the presence of the bookplate from “Bibliotheca
Lindesiana” the library of the Lindsay “Earl of Crawford” clan and the library was considered one
of the finest in private hands in Britain in the 19th century.
This little gem was a real fun step back into history.