1690 | London

Surfeit of Riches

The natural stock is infinite.

The Native Staple of each Country is the Riches of the Country, and is perpetual and never to be consumed; Beasts of the Earth, Fowls of the Air, and Fishes of the Sea, Naturally Increase: There is Every Year a New Spring and Autumn, which produceth a New Stock of Plants and Fruits. And the Minerals of the Earth are Unexhaustable; and if the Natural Stock be Infinite, the Artificial Stock that is made of the Natural must be Infinite, as Woollen and Linnen Cloth, Calicoes, and wrought Silk, which are made of Flax, Wool, Cotton, and Raw Silks.

This sheweth a Mistake of Mr. Munn, in his Discourse of Trade, who commends Parsimony, Frugality, and Sumptuary Laws as the means to make a Nation Rich; and uses an Argument from a Simile supposing a Man to have £1,000 per Annum, and £2,000 in a Chest, and spends Yearly £1,500 per Annum, he will in four Years time Waste his £2,000. This is true of a Person but not of a Nation; because his Estate is Finite but the Stock of a Nation Infinite, and can never be consumed. For what is Infinite can neither receive Addition by Parsimony nor suffer Diminution by Prodigality.

About This Text

Nicholas Barbon, from A Discourse of Trade. A physician, economist, and early believer in the miracles of the free market, Barbon established England’s first fire insurance office in response to the Great Fire of 1666.