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land, or even to trace its decline. The Edwards, during the preffure of their foreign conquests, certainly manumitted many of their villains for money. Owing to the previous fewness of inhabitants, the numerous armies, which for almost a century defolated the nation amidst our civil wars, must have been neceffarily compofed of the lower ranks and we may reasonably fuppofe, that the men, who had been brought from the drudgeries of flavery to contend as foldiers, for the honour of nobles and the rights of kings, would not readily relinquish the honourable sword for the meaner ploughfhare. The church, even in the darkest ages, laudably remonftrated against the unchriftian practice of holding fellow-men in bondage. The courts of justice did not willingly enforce the mafter's claim to the fervitude of his villains, till, in the progrefs of knowledge, interest discovered, that the purchased labour of freemen was more productive than the liftlefs and ignoble toil of flaves. Owing to those causes, there were certainly few villains in England at the acceffion of Henry VII.*; and the great body of the people, having thus gained greater freedom, and with it greater comfort, henceforth acquired the nume

The ftatute of 23 Henry VI. chap. 12. mentions only fervants, artificers, workmen, and labourers; and there is a distinction made between husbandry fervants and domeftic fervants. Yet villains are spoken of, even in our courts of justice, though feldom, as late as the time of James I.

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rous bleffings, which every where refult from an orderly administration of established government.

Duting almost a century, before the acceffion of Henry VII. in 1485, the manufacturers of wool, with their attendant artificers, had fixed the seats of their industry in every county in England. The principle of the act of navigation had been introduced into our legislation as early as 1381, by the law declaring*, "That none of the king's fubjects fhall carry forth, or bring in merchandizes, but only in ships of the king's allegiance." The fisheries too had been encouraged t. Agriculture had been moreover promoted, by the law which declared, "That all the king's fubjects "may carry corn out of the realm when they "will." And guilds, fraternities, and other companies, having foon after their creation impofed monopolizing restraints, were corrected by a law of Henry VI. §; though our legislators were not very fteady, during an unenlightened age, in the application of so wife a policy.

In reading the laws of Edward IV. we think ourselves in modern times, when the spirit of the mercantile system was in its full vigour, before it had been fo perfpicuously explained and fo ably


5 Richard II. ch. 3,-6 Richard, ch. 8.

↑ By 6 Richard II. ch. 11, 12.

17 Richard II. ch. 7.

§ 15 Hen. VI. ch. 6.


exploded. It is however in the laws † of Richard III. that we see more clearly the commercial ftate of England, during the long period, wherein the English people were unhappily too much engaged in king-making. In thofe inaufpicious times was the trade of England chiefly carried on by Italians, at least by merchants from the fhores of the Mediterranean. The manufacturers were compofed mostly of Flemings, who, under the encouragement of Edward III. had fled from the distractions of the Netherlands, for repofe and employment in England. And, the preamble of one of Richard's laws, will furnish a convincing proof that their numbers had given great discontent to the English people: "Moreover, a great number "of artificers and other strangers, not born under "the king's obeisance, do daily refort to London, "and to other cities, boroughs, and towns, and "much more than they were wont to do in times

past, and inhabit by themselves in this realm, "with their wives, children, and household; and "will not take upon them any laborious occupa"tion, as going to plough and cart, and other like "business, but ufe the making of cloth, and other "handicrafts and eafy occupations; and bring from

By Dr. Smith's Effay on the Wealth of Nations.
Richard III. ch. 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13.

Richard III. ch. 9. But Henry VII. upon the fupplication of the Italian merchants, repealed the greater part of this law, which imposed restraints on aliens; yet retained the forfeitures incurred, in the true fpirit of his avaricious govern



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"the parts beyond the sea great substance of wares " and merchandizes to fairs and markets, and other places, at their pleasure, to the impoverishment "of the king's fubjects; and will only take into "their fervice people born in their own countries; "whereby the king's fubjects, for lack of occupa"tion, fall into idleness and vicious living, to the great perturbance of the realm."-All this was directed otherwise by Henry VII. though probably without much fuccefs, "upon the petition made of "the Commons of England." In the prefent times, it is perhaps the wifeft policy, neither to encourage foreigners to come, nor to drive them away.

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When manufacturers have been thoroughly fettled, nothing more is wanting to promote the wealth and populoufnefs of a country from their labour, than the protection of their property and freedom; by the impartial adminiftration of juftice; while their frauds are repreffed, and their combinations prevented, by doing equal right to every order in the ftate.

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The policy of Henry VII. has been praised-by hiftorians fully equal to its worth. Anderson relates, that this prince, finding the woollen ma"nufactures declining, drew over some of the best "Netherland clothmakers, as Edward III. had "done 150 years before." This, is probably faid without authority; fince the law of the preceding reign, concurring with the temper of the times, did

* Chron. Acc. of Com. v. i. p. 306.


not permit the eafy execution of so unpopular a measure. Henry VII. like his two immediate predeceffors, turned the attention of the Parlia ment to agriculture and manufacture, to commerce and navigation, because he found the current of the national spirit already running toward all these falutary objects: hence, fays Lord Bacon*, it was no hard matter to difpofe and affect the Parliament in this business. And the legislature enacted a variety of laws, which that illustrious historian explains, with his usual perspicuity †; all tending, fays he, in their wife policy, towards the population apparently, and the military forces of the realm certainly.

That monarch's measures for breaking the oppreffive power of the nobles; for facilitating the alienation of lands; for keeping within reasonable bounds the bye-laws of corporations; and, above all, for fuppreffing the numerous bodies of men, who were then retained in the fervice of the great; all these deserve the highest commendation, because they were attended with effects, as lafting as they were efficacious.

It may be however doubted, whether his piddling husbandry of petty farms, which has been oftentatiously praised by Doctor Price, can produce a fufficiency of food for a manufacturing country, or even prevent the too frequent returns

* Hiftory of Henry VII.

† History in Kennet, v. i. p. 504—7.


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