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Full Online Book HomeEssaysNo. 069 (from The Spectator)
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No. 069 (from The Spectator) Post by :leo_cupid Category :Essays Author :Joseph Addison Date :August 2011 Read :1136

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No. 069 (from The Spectator)

No. 69 Saturday, May 19, 1711.


'Hic segetes, illic veniunt felicius uvae:
Arborei foetus alibi, atque injussa virescunt
Gramina. Nonne vides, croceos ut Tmolus odores,
India mittit ebur, molles sua thura Sabaei?
At Chalybes nudi ferrum, virosaque Pontus
Castorea, Eliadum palmas Epirus equarum?
Continuo has leges aeternaque foedera certis
Imposuit Natura locis ...'

Virg.


There is no Place in the Town which I so much love to frequent as the _Royal-Exchange_. It gives me a secret Satisfaction, and in some measure, gratifies my Vanity, as I am an _Englishman_, to see so rich an Assembly of Countrymen and Foreigners consulting together upon the private Business of Mankind, and making this Metropolis a kind of _Emporium_ for the whole Earth. I must confess I look upon High-Change to be a great Council, in which all considerable Nations have their Representatives. Factors in the Trading World are what Ambassadors are in the Politick World; they negotiate Affairs, conclude Treaties, and maintain a good Correspondence between those wealthy Societies of Men that are divided from one another by Seas and Oceans, or live on the different Extremities of a Continent. I have often been pleased to hear Disputes adjusted between an Inhabitant of _Japan_ and an Alderman of _London_, or to see a Subject of the _Great Mogul_ entering into a League with one of the _Czar of Muscovy_. I am infinitely delighted in mixing with these several Ministers of Commerce, as they are distinguished by their different Walks and different Languages: Sometimes I am justled among a Body of _Armenians_; Sometimes I am lost in a Crowd of _Jews_; and sometimes make one in a Groupe of _Dutchmen_. I am a _Dane_, _Swede_, or _Frenchman_ at different times; or rather fancy my self like the old Philosopher, who upon being asked what Countryman he was, replied, That he was a Citizen of the World.

Though I very frequently visit this busie Multitude of People, I am known to no Body there but my Friend, Sir ANDREW, who often smiles upon me as he sees me bustling in the Crowd, but at the same time connives at my Presence without taking any further Notice of me. There is indeed a Merchant of _Egypt_, who just knows me by sight, having formerly remitted me some Mony to _Grand Cairo_; (1) but as I am not versed in the Modern _Coptick_, our Conferences go no further than a Bow and a Grimace.

This grand Scene of Business gives me an infinite Variety of solid and substantial Entertainments. As I am a great Lover of Mankind, my Heart naturally overflows with Pleasure at the sight of a prosperous and happy Multitude, insomuch that at many publick Solemnities I cannot forbear expressing my Joy with Tears that have stolen down my Cheeks. For this Reason I am wonderfully delighted to see such a Body of Men thriving in their own private Fortunes, and at the same time promoting the Publick Stock; or in other Words, raising Estates for their own Families, by bringing into their Country whatever is wanting, and carrying out of it whatever is superfluous.

Nature seems to have taken a particular Care to disseminate her Blessings among the different Regions of the World, with an Eye to this mutual Intercourse and Traffick among Mankind, that the Natives of the several Parts of the Globe might have a kind of Dependance upon one another, and be united together by their common Interest. Almost every _Degree_ produces something peculiar to it. The Food often grows in one Country, and the Sauce in another. The Fruits of _Portugal_ are corrected by the Products of _Barbadoes:_ The Infusion of a _China_ Plant sweetned with the Pith of an _Indian_ Cane. The _Philippick_ Islands give a Flavour to our _European_ Bowls. The single Dress of a Woman of Quality is often the Product of a hundred Climates. The Muff and the Fan come together from the different Ends of the Earth. The Scarf is sent from the Torrid Zone, and the Tippet from beneath the Pole. The Brocade Petticoat rises out of the Mines of _Peru_, and the Diamond Necklace out of the Bowels of _Indostan_.

If we consider our own Country in its natural Prospect, without any of the Benefits and Advantages of Commerce, what a barren uncomfortable Spot of Earth falls to our Share! Natural Historians tell us, that no Fruit grows Originally among us, besides Hips and Haws, Acorns and Pig-Nutts, with other Delicates of the like Nature; That our Climate of itself, and without the Assistances of Art, can make no further Advances towards a Plumb than to a Sloe, and carries an Apple to no greater a Perfection than a Crab: That (our (2)) Melons, our Peaches, our Figs, our Apricots, and Cherries, are Strangers among us, imported in different Ages, and naturalized in our _English_ Gardens; and that they would all degenerate and fall away into the Trash of our own Country, if they were wholly neglected by the Planter, and left to the Mercy of our Sun and Soil. Nor has Traffick more enriched our Vegetable World, than it has improved the whole Face of Nature among us. Our Ships are laden with the Harvest of every Climate: Our Tables are stored with Spices, and Oils, and Wines: Our Rooms are filled with Pyramids of _China_, and adorned with the Workmanship of _Japan_: Our Morning's Draught comes to us from the remotest Corners of the Earth: We repair our Bodies by the Drugs of _America_, and repose ourselves under _Indian_ Canopies. My Friend Sir ANDREW calls the Vineyards of _France_ our Gardens; the Spice-Islands our Hot-beds; the _Persians_ our Silk-Weavers, and the _Chinese_ our Potters. Nature indeed furnishes us with the bare Necessaries of Life, but Traffick gives us greater Variety of what is Useful, and at the same time supplies us with every thing that is Convenient and Ornamental. Nor is it the least Part of this our Happiness, that whilst we enjoy the remotest Products of the North and South, we are free from those Extremities of Weather (which (3)) give them Birth; That our Eyes are refreshed with the green Fields of _Britain_, at the same time that our Palates are feasted with Fruits that rise between the Tropicks.

For these Reasons there are no more useful Members in a Commonwealth than Merchants. They knit Mankind together in a mutual Intercourse of good Offices, distribute the Gifts of Nature, find Work for the Poor, add Wealth to the Rich, and Magnificence to the Great. Our _English_ Merchant converts the Tin of his own Country into Gold, and exchanges his Wool for Rubies. The _Mahometans_ are clothed in our _British_ Manufacture, and the Inhabitants of the frozen Zone warmed with the Fleeces of our Sheep.

When I have been upon the _'Change_, I have often fancied one of our old Kings standing in Person, where he is represented in Effigy, and looking down upon the wealthy Concourse of People with which that Place is every Day filled. In this Case, how would he be surprized to hear all the Languages of _Europe_ spoken in this little Spot of his former Dominions, and to see so many private Men, who in his Time would have been the Vassals of some powerful Baron, negotiating like Princes for greater Sums of Mony than were formerly to be met with in the Royal Treasury! Trade, without enlarging the _British_ Territories, has given us a kind of additional Empire: It has multiplied the Number of the Rich, made our Landed Estates infinitely more Valuable than they were formerly, and added to them an Accession of other Estates as Valuable as the Lands themselves.

C.


(Footnote 1: A reference to the Spectator's voyage to Grand Cairo mentioned in No. 1.)

(Footnote 2: "these Fruits, in their present State, as well as our")

(Footnote 3: that)


(The end)
Joseph Addison's essay: No. 69 (from The Spectator)

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