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An Essay Upon Projects by Daniel Defoe

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Author's Preface
Author's Introduction
The History of Projects
Of Projectors
Of Banks
Of the Multiplicity of Banks
Of the Highways
Of Assurances
Of Friendly Societies
Of Seamen
Of Wagering
Of Fools
A Charity-Lottery
Of Bankrupts
Of Academies
Of a Court Merchant
Of Seamen
The Conclusion


Defoe's "Essay on Projects" was the first volume he published, and
no great writer ever published a first book more characteristic in
expression of his tone of thought. It is practical in the highest
degree, while running over with fresh speculation that seeks
everywhere the well-being of society by growth of material and moral
power. There is a wonderful fertility of mind, and almost whimsical
precision of detail, with good sense and good humour to form the
groundwork of a happy English style. Defoe in this book ran again
and again into sound suggestions that first came to be realised long
after he was dead. Upon one subject, indeed, the education of
women, we have only just now caught him up. Defoe wrote the book in
1692 or 1693, when his age was a year or two over thirty, and he
published it in 1697.

Defoe was the son of James Foe, of St. Giles's, Cripplegate, whose
family had owned grazing land in the country, and who himself throve
as a meat salesman in London. James Foe went to Cripplegate Church,
where the minister was Dr. Annesley. But in 1662, a year after the
birth of Daniel Foe, Dr. Annesley was one of the three thousand
clergymen who were driven out of their benefices by the Act of
Uniformity. James Foe was then one of the congregation that
followed him into exile, and looked up to him as spiritual guide
when he was able to open a meeting-house in Little St. Helen's.
Thus Daniel Foe, not yet De Foe, was trained under the influence of
Dr. Annesley, and by his advice sent to the Academy at Newington
Green, where Charles Morton, a good Oxford scholar, trained young
men for the pulpits of the Nonconformists. In later days, when
driven to America by the persecution of opinion, Morton became Vice-
President of Harvard College. Charles Morton sought to include in
his teaching at Newington Green a training in such knowledge of
current history as would show his boys the origin and meaning of the
controversies of the day in which, as men, they might hereafter take
their part. He took pains, also, to train them in the use of
English. "We were not," Defoe said afterwards, "destitute of
language, but we were made masters of English; and more of us
excelled in that particular than of any school at that time."

Daniel Foe did not pass on into the ministry for which he had been
trained. He said afterwards, in his "Review," "It was my disaster
first to be set apart for, and then to be set apart from, the honour
of that sacred employ." At the age of about nineteen he went into
business as a hose factor in Freeman's Court, Cornhill. He may have
bought succession to a business, or sought to make one in a way of
life that required no capital. He acted simply as broker between
the manufacturer and the retailer. He remained at the business in
Freeman's Court for seven years, subject to political distractions.
In 1683, still in the reign of Charles the Second, Daniel Foe, aged
twenty-two, published a pamphlet called "Presbytery Roughdrawn."
Charles died on the 6th of February, 1685. On the 14th of the next
June the Duke of Monmouth landed at Lyme with eighty-three
followers, hoping that Englishmen enough would flock about his
standard to overthrow the Government of James the Second, for whose
exclusion, as a Roman Catholic, from the succession to the throne
there had been so long a struggle in his brother's reign. Daniel
Foe took leave of absence from his business in Freeman's Court,
joined Monmouth, and shared the defeat at Sedgmoor on the 6th of
July. Judge Jeffreys then made progress through the West, and
Daniel Foe escaped from his clutches. On the 15th of July Monmouth
was executed. Daniel Foe found it convenient at that time to pay
personal attention to some business affairs in Spain. His name
suggests an English reading of a Spanish name, Foa, and more than
once in his life there are indications of friends in Spain about
whom we know nothing. Daniel Foe went to Spain in the time of
danger to his life, for taking part in the rebellion of the Duke of
Monmouth, and when he came back he wrote himself De Foe. He may
have heard pedigree discussed among his Spanish friends; he may have
wished to avoid drawing attention to a name entered under the letter
F in a list of rebels. He may have played on the distinction
between himself and his father, still living, that one was Mr. Foe,
the other Mr. D. Foe. He may have meant to write much, and wishing
to be a friend to his country, meant also to deprive punsters of the
opportunity of calling him a Foe. Whatever his chief reason for the
change, we may be sure that it was practical.

In April, 1687, James the Second issued a Declaration for Liberty of
Conscience in England, by which he suspended penal laws against all
Roman Catholics and Nonconformists, and dispensed with oaths and
tests established by the law. This was a stretch of the king's
prerogative that produced results immediately welcome to the
Nonconformists, who sent up addresses of thanks. Defoe saw clearly
that a king who is thanked for overruling an unwelcome law has the
whole point conceded to him of right to overrule the law. In that
sense he wrote, "A Letter containing some Reflections on His
Majesty's Declaration for Liberty of Conscience," to warn the
Nonconformists of the great mistake into which some were falling.
"Was ever anything," he asked afterwards, "more absurd than this
conduct of King James and his party, in wheedling the Dissenters;
giving them liberty of conscience by his own arbitrary dispensing
authority, and his expecting they should be content with their
religious liberty at the price of the Constitution?" In the letter
itself he pointed out that "the king's suspending of laws strikes at
the root of this whole Government, and subverts it quite. The Lords
and Commons have such a share in it, that no law can be either made,
repealed, or, which is all one, suspended, but by their consent."

In January, 1688, Defoe having inherited the freedom of the City of
London, took it up, and signed his name in the Chamberlain's book,
on the 26th of that month, without the "de," "Daniel Foe." On the
5th of November, 1688, there was another landing, that of William of
Orange, in Torbay, which threatened the government of James the
Second. Defoe again rode out, met the army of William at Henley-on-
Thames, and joined its second line as a volunteer. He was present
when it was resolved, on the 13th of February, 1689, that the flight
of James had been an abdication; and he was one of the mounted
citizens who formed a guard of honour when William and Mary paid
their first visit to Guildhall.

Defoe was at this time twenty-eight years old, married, and living
in a house at Tooting, where he had also been active in foundation
of a chapel. From hose factor he had become merchant adventurer in
trade with Spain, and is said by one writer of his time to have been
a "civet-cat merchant." Failing then in some venture in 1692, he
became bankrupt, and had one vindictive creditor who, according to
the law of those days, had power to shut him in prison, and destroy
all power of recovering his loss and putting himself straight with
the world. Until his other creditors had conquered that one enemy,
and could give him freedom to earn money again and pay his debts--
when that time came he proved his sense of honesty to much larger
than the letter of the law--Defoe left London for Bristol, and there
kept out of the way of arrest. He was visible only on Sunday, and
known, therefore, as "the Sunday Gentleman." His lodging was at the
Red Lion Inn, in Castle Street. The house, no longer an inn, still
stands, as numbers 80 and 81 in that street. There Defoe wrote this
Essay on Projects." He was there until 1694, when he received
offers that would have settled him prosperously in business at
Cadiz, but he held by his country. The cheek on free action was
removed, and the Government received with favour a project of his,
which is not included in the Essay, "for raising money to supply the
occasions of the war then newly begun." He had also a project for
the raising of money to supply his own occasions by the
establishment of pantile works, which proved successful. Defoe
could not be idle. In a desert island he would, like his Robinson
Crusoe, have spent time, not in lamentation, but in steady work to
get away.

H. M.


TO DALBY THOMAS, ESQ., One of the Commission's for Managing His
majesty's Duties on Glass, &c


This Preface comes directed to you, not as commissioner, &c., under
whom I have the honour to serve his Majesty, nor as a friend, though
I have great obligations of that sort also, but as the most proper
judge of the subjects treated of, and more capable than the greatest
part of mankind to distinguish and understand them.

Books are useful only to such whose genius are suitable to the
subject of them; and to dedicate a book of projects to a person who
had never concerned himself to think that way would be like music to
one that has no ear.

And yet your having a capacity to judge of these things no way
brings you under the despicable title of a projector, any more than
knowing the practices and subtleties of wicked men makes a man
guilty of their crimes.

The several chapters of this book are the results of particular
thoughts occasioned by conversing with the public affairs during the
present war with France. The losses and casualties which attend all
trading nations in the world, when involved in so cruel a war as
this, have reached us all, and I am none of the least sufferers; if
this has put me, as well as others, on inventions and projects, so
much the subject of this book, it is no more than a proof of the
reason I give for the general projecting humour of the nation.

One unhappiness I lie under in the following book, viz.: That
having kept the greatest part of it by me for near five years,
several of the thoughts seem to be hit by other hands, and some by
the public, which turns the tables upon me, as if I had borrowed
from them.

As particularly that of the seamen, which you know well I had
contrived long before the Act for registering seamen was proposed.
And that of educating women, which I think myself bound to declare,
was formed long before the book called "Advice to the Ladies" was
made public; and yet I do not write this to magnify my own
invention, but to acquit myself from grafting on other people's
thoughts. If I have trespassed upon any person in the world, it is
upon yourself, from whom I had some of the notions about county
banks, and factories for goods, in the chapter of banks; and yet I
do not think that my proposal for the women or the seamen clashes at
all, either with that book, or the public method of registering

I have been told since this was done that my proposal for a
commission of inquiries into bankrupt estates is borrowed from the
Dutch; if there is anything like it among the Dutch, it is more than
ever I knew, or know yet; but if so, I hope it is no objection
against our having the same here, especially if it be true that it
would be so publicly beneficial as is expressed.

What is said of friendly societies, I think no man will dispute with
me, since one has met with so much success already in the practice
of it. I mean the Friendly Society for Widows, of which you have
been pleased to be a governor.

Friendly societies are very extensive, and, as I have hinted, might
be carried on to many particulars. I have omitted one which was
mentioned in discourse with yourself, where a hundred tradesmen, all
of several trades, agree together to buy whatever they want of one
another, and nowhere else, prices and payments to be settled among
themselves; whereby every man is sure to have ninety-nine customers,
and can never want a trade; and I could have filled up the book with
instances of like nature, but I never designed to fire the reader
with particulars.

The proposal of the pension office you will soon see offered to the
public as an attempt for the relief of the poor; which, if it meets
with encouragement, will every way answer all the great things I
have said of it.

I had wrote a great many sheets about the coin, about bringing in
plate to the Mint, and about our standard; but so many great heads
being upon it, with some of whom my opinion does not agree, I would
not adventure to appear in print upon that subject.

Ways and means also I have laid by on the same score: only adhering
to this one point, that be it by taxing the wares they sell, be it
by taxing them in stock, be it by composition--which, by the way, I
believe is the best--be it by what way soever the Parliament please,
the retailers are the men who seem to call upon us to be taxed; if
not by their own extraordinary good circumstances, though that might
bear it, yet by the contrary in all other degrees of the kingdom.

Besides, the retailers are the only men who could pay it with least
damage, because it is in their power to levy it again upon their
customers in the prices of their goods, and is no more than paying a
higher rent for their shops.

The retailers of manufactures, especially so far as relates to the
inland trade, have never been taxed yet, and their wealth or number
is not easily calculated. Trade and land has been handled roughly
enough, and these are the men who now lie as a reserve to carry on
the burden of the war.

These are the men who, were the land tax collected as it should be,
ought to pay the king more than that whole Bill ever produced; and
yet these are the men who, I think I may venture to say, do not pay
a twentieth part in that Bill.

Should the king appoint a survey over the assessors, and indict all
those who were found faulty, allowing a reward to any discoverer of
an assessment made lower than the literal sense of the Act implies,
what a register of frauds and connivances would be found out!

In a general tax, if any should be excused, it should be the poor,
who are not able to pay, or at least are pinched in the necessary
parts of life by paying. And yet here a poor labourer, who works
for twelve pence or eighteen pence a day, does not drink a pot of
beer but pays the king a tenth part for excise; and really pays more
to the king's taxes in a year than a country shopkeeper, who is
alderman of the town, worth perhaps two or three thousand pounds,
brews his own beer, pays no excise, and in the land-tax is rated it
may be at 100 pounds, and pays 1 pound 4s. per annum, but ought, if
the Act were put in due execution, to pay 36 pounds per annum to the

If I were to be asked how I would remedy this, I would answer, it
should be by some method in which every man may be taxed in the due
proportion to his estate, and the Act put in execution, according to
the true intent and meaning of it, in order to which a commission of
assessment should be granted to twelve men, such as his Majesty
should be well satisfied of, who should go through the whole
kingdom, three in a body, and should make a new assessment of
personal estates, not to meddle with land.

To these assessors should all the old rates, parish books, poor
rates, and highway rates, also be delivered; and upon due inquiry to
be made into the manner of living, and reputed wealth of the people,
the stock or personal estate of every man should be assessed,
without connivance; and he who is reputed to be worth a thousand
pounds should be taxed at a thousand pounds, and so on; and he who
was an overgrown rich tradesman of twenty or thirty thousand pounds
estate should be taxed so, and plain English and plain dealing be
practised indifferently throughout the kingdom; tradesmen and landed
men should have neighbours' fare, as we call it, and a rich man
should not be passed by when a poor man pays.

We read of the inhabitants of Constantinople, that they suffered
their city to be lost for want of contributing in time for its
defence, and pleaded poverty to their generous emperor when he went
from house to house to persuade them; and yet when the Turks took
it, the prodigious immense wealth they found in it, made them wonder
at the sordid temper of the citizens.

England (with due exceptions to the Parliament, and the freedom
wherewith they have given to the public charge) is much like
Constantinople; we are involved in a dangerous, a chargeable, but
withal a most just and necessary war, and the richest and moneyed
men in the kingdom plead poverty; and the French, or King James, or
the devil may come for them, if they can but conceal their estates
from the public notice, and get the assessors to tax them at an
under rate.

These are the men this commission would discover; and here they
should find men taxed at 500 pounds stock who are worth 20,000
pounds. Here they should find a certain rich man near Hackney rated
to-day in the tax-book at 1,000 pounds stock, and to-morrow offering
27,000 pounds for an estate.

Here they should find Sir J- C- perhaps taxed to the king at 5,000
pounds stock, perhaps not so much, whose cash no man can guess at;
and multitudes of instances I could give by name without wrong to
the gentlemen.

And, not to run on in particulars, I affirm that in the land-tax ten
certain gentlemen in London put together did not pay for half so
much personal estate, called stock, as the poorest of them is
reputed really to possess.

I do not inquire at whose door this fraud must lie; it is none of my

I wish they would search into it whose power can punish it. But
this, with submission, I presume to say: The king is thereby
defrauded and horribly abused, the true intent and meaning of Acts
of Parliament evaded, the nation involved in debt by fatal
deficiencies and interests, fellow-subjects abused, and new
inventions for taxes occasioned.

The last chapter in this book is a proposal about entering all the
seamen in England into the king's pay--a subject which deserves to
be enlarged into a book itself; and I have a little volume of
calculations and particulars by me on that head, but I thought them
too long to publish. In short, I am persuaded, was that method
proposed to those gentlemen to whom such things belong, the greatest
sum of money might be raised by it, with the least injury to those
who pay it, that ever was or will be during the war.

Projectors, they say, are generally to be taken with allowance of
one-half at least; they always have their mouths full of millions,
and talk big of their own proposals. And therefore I have not
exposed the vast sums my calculations amount to; but I venture to
say I could procure a farm on such a proposal as this at three
millions per annum, and give very good security for payment--such an
opinion I have of the value of such a method; and when that is done,
the nation would get three more by paying it, which is very strange,
but might easily be made out.

In the chapter of academies I have ventured to reprove the vicious
custom of swearing. I shall make no apology for the fact, for no
man ought to be ashamed of exposing what all men ought to be ashamed
of practising. But methinks I stand corrected by my own laws a
little, in forcing the reader to repeat some of the worst of our
vulgar imprecations, in reading my thoughts against it; to which,
however, I have this to reply:

First, I did not find it easy to express what I mean without putting
down the very words--at least, not so as to be very intelligible.

Secondly, why should words repeated only to expose the vice, taint
the reader more than a sermon preached against lewdness should the
assembly?--for of necessity it leads the hearer to the thoughts of
the fact. But the morality of every action lies in the end; and if
the reader by ill-use renders himself guilty of the fact in reading,
which I designed to expose by writing, the fault is his, not mine.

I have endeavoured everywhere in this book to be as concise as
possible, except where calculations obliged me to be particular; and
having avoided impertinence in the book, I would avoid it too, in
the preface, and therefore shall break off with subscribing myself,

Your most obliged, humble servant
D. F.


Necessity, which is allowed to be the mother of invention, has so
violently agitated the wits of men at this time that it seems not at
all improper, by way of distinction, to call it the Projecting Age.
For though in times of war and public confusions the like humour of
invention has seemed to stir, yet, without being partial to the
present, it is, I think, no injury to say the past ages have never
come up to the degree of projecting and inventing, as it refers to
matters of negotiation and methods of civil polity, which we see
this age arrived to.

Nor is it a hard matter to assign probable causes of the perfection
in this modern art. I am not of their melancholy opinion who
ascribe it to the general poverty of the nation, since I believe it
is easy to prove the nation itself, taking it as one general stock,
is not at all diminished or impoverished by this long, this
chargeable war, but, on the contrary, was never richer since it was

Nor am I absolutely of the opinion that we are so happy as to be
wiser in this age than our forefathers; though at the same time I
must own some parts of knowledge in science as well as art have
received improvements in this age altogether concealed from the

The art of war, which I take to be the highest perfection of human
knowledge, is a sufficient proof of what I say, especially in
conducting armies and in offensive engines. Witness the now ways of
rallies, fougades, entrenchments, attacks, lodgments, and a long et
cetera of new inventions which want names, practised in sieges and
encampments; witness the new forts of bombs and unheard-of mortars,
of seven to ten ton weight, with which our fleets, standing two or
three miles off at sea, can imitate God Almighty Himself and rain
fire and brimstone out of heaven, as it were, upon towns built on
the firm land; witness also our new-invented child of hell, the
machine which carries thunder, lightning, and earthquakes in its
bowels, and tears up the most impregnable fortification.

But if I would search for a cause from whence it comes to pass that
this age swarms with such a multitude of projectors more than usual,
who--besides the innumerable conceptions, which die in the bringing
forth, and (like abortions of the brain) only come into the air and
dissolve--do really every day produce new contrivances, engines, and
projects to get money, never before thought of; if, I say, I would
examine whence this comes to pass, it must be thus:

The losses and depredations which this war brought with it at first
were exceeding many, suffered chiefly by the ill-conduct of
merchants themselves, who did not apprehend the danger to be really
what it was: for before our Admiralty could possibly settle
convoys, cruisers, and stations for men-of-war all over the world,
the French covered the sea with their privateers and took an
incredible number of our ships. I have heard the loss computed, by
those who pretended they were able to guess, at above fifteen
millions of pounds sterling, in ships and goods, in the first two or
three years of the war--a sum which, if put into French, would make
such a rumbling sound of great numbers as would fright a weak
accountant out of his belief, being no less than one hundred and
ninety millions of livres. The weight of this loss fell chiefly on
the trading part of the nation, and, amongst them, on the merchants;
and amongst them, again, upon the most refined capacities, as the
insurers, &c. And an incredible number of the best merchants in the
kingdom sunk under the load, as may appear a little by a Bill which
once passed the House of Commons for the relief of merchant-
insurers, who had suffered by the war with France. If a great many
fell, much greater were the number of those who felt a sensible ebb
of their fortunes, and with difficulty bore up under the loss of
great part of their estates. These, prompted by necessity, rack
their wits for new contrivances, new inventions, new trades, stocks,
projects, and anything to retrieve the desperate credit of their
fortunes. That this is probable to be the cause will appear further
thus. France (though I do not believe all the great outcries we
make of their misery and distress--if one-half of which be true,
they are certainly the best subjects in the world) yet without
question has felt its share of the losses and damages of the war;
but the poverty there falling chiefly on the poorer sort of people,
they have not been so fruitful in inventions and practices of this
nature, their genius being quite of another strain. As for the
gentry and more capable sort, the first thing a Frenchman flies to
in his distress is the army; and he seldom comes back from thence to
get an estate by painful industry, but either has his brains knocked
out or makes his fortune there.

If industry be in any business rewarded with success it is in the
merchandising part of the world, who indeed may more truly be said
to live by their wits than any people whatsoever. All foreign
negotiation, though to some it is a plain road by the help of
custom, yet is in its beginning all project, contrivance, and
invention. Every new voyage the merchant contrives is a project;
and ships are sent from port to port, as markets and merchandises
differ, by the help of strange and universal intelligence--wherein
some are so exquisite, so swift, and so exact, that a merchant
sitting at home in his counting-house at once converses with all
parts of the known world. This and travel make a true-bred merchant
the most intelligent man in the world, and consequently the most
capable, when urged by necessity, to contrive new ways to live. And
from hence, I humbly conceive, may very properly be derived the
projects, so much the subject of the present discourse. And to this
sort of men it is easy to trace the original of banks, stocks,
stock-jobbing, assurances, friendly societies, lotteries, and the

To this may be added the long annual inquiry in the House of Commons
for ways and means, which has been a particular movement to set all
the heads of the nation at work; and I appeal, with submission, to
the gentlemen of that honourable House, if the greatest part of all
the ways and means out of the common road of land taxes, polls, and
the like, have not been handed to them from the merchant, and in a
great measure paid by them too.

However, I offer this but as an essay at the original of this
prevailing humour of the people; and as it is probable, so it is
also possible to be otherwise, which I submit to future

Of the several ways this faculty of projecting have exerted itself,
and of the various methods, as the genius of the authors has
inclined, I have been a diligent observer and, in most, an
unconcerned spectator, and perhaps have some advantage from thence
more easily to discover the faux pas of the actors. If I have given
an essay towards anything new, or made discovery to advantage of any
contrivance now on foot, all men are at the liberty to make use of
the improvement; if any fraud is discovered, as now practised, it is
without any particular reflection upon parties or persons.

Projects of the nature I treat about are doubtless in general of
public advantage, as they tend to improvement of trade, and
employment of the poor, and the circulation and increase of the
public stock of the kingdom; but this is supposed of such as are
built on the honest basis of ingenuity and improvement, in which,
though I will allow the author to aim primarily at his own
advantage, yet with the circumstances of public benefit added.

Wherefore it is necessary to distinguish among the projects of the
present times between the honest and the dishonest.

There are, and that too many, fair pretences of fine discoveries,
new inventions, engines, and I know not what, which--being advanced
in notion, and talked up to great things to be performed when such
and such sums of money shall be advanced, and such and such engines
are made--have raised the fancies of credulous people to such a
height that, merely on the shadow of expectation, they have formed
companies, chose committees, appointed officers, shares, and books,
raised great stocks, and cried up an empty notion to that degree
that people have been betrayed to part with their money for shares
in a new nothing; and when the inventors have carried on the jest
till they have sold all their own interest, they leave the cloud to
vanish of itself, and the poor purchasers to quarrel with one
another, and go to law about settlements, transferrings, and some
bone or other thrown among them by the subtlety of the author to lay
the blame of the miscarriage upon themselves. Thus the shares at
first begin to fall by degrees, and happy is he that sells in time;
till, like brass money, it will go at last for nothing at all. So
have I seen shares in joint-stocks, patents, engines, and
undertakings, blown up by the air of great words, and the name of
some man of credit concerned, to 100 pounds for a five-hundredth
part or share (some more), and at last dwindle away till it has been
stock-jobbed down to 10 pounds, 12 pounds, 9 pounds, 8 pounds a
share, and at last no buyer (that is, in short, the fine new word
for nothing-worth), and many families ruined by the purchase. If I
should name linen manufactures, saltpetre-works, copper mines,
diving engines, dipping, and the like, for instances of this, I
should, I believe, do no wrong to truth, or to some persons too
visibly guilty.

I might go on upon this subject to expose the frauds and tricks of
stock-jobbers, engineers, patentees, committees, with those Exchange
mountebanks we very properly call brokers, but I have not gaul
enough for such a work; but as a general rule of caution to those
who would not be tricked out of their estates by such pretenders to
new inventions, let them observe that all such people who may be
suspected of design have assuredly this in their proposal: your
money to the author must go before the experiment. And here I could
give a very diverting history of a patent-monger whose cully was
nobody but myself, but I refer it to another occasion.

But this is no reason why invention upon honest foundations and to
fair purposes should not be encouraged; no, nor why the author of
any such fair contrivances should not reap the harvest of his own
ingenuity. Our Acts of Parliament for granting patents to first
inventors for fourteen years is a sufficient acknowledgment of the
due regard which ought to be had to such as find out anything which
may be of public advantage; new discoveries in trade, in arts and
mysteries, of manufacturing goods, or improvement of land, are
without question of as great benefit as any discoveries made in the
works of nature by all the academies and royal societies in the

There is, it is true, a great difference between new inventions and
projects, between improvement of manufactures or lands (which tend
to the immediate benefit of the public, and employing of the poor),
and projects framed by subtle heads with a sort of a deceptio visus
and legerdemain, to bring people to run needless and unusual
hazards: I grant it, and give a due preference to the first. And
yet success has so sanctified some of those other sorts of projects
that it would be a kind of blasphemy against fortune to disallow
them. Witness Sir William Phips's voyage to the wreck; it was a
mere project; a lottery of a hundred thousand to one odds; a hazard
which, if it had failed, everybody would have been ashamed to have
owned themselves concerned in; a voyage that would have been as much
ridiculed as Don Quixote's adventure upon the windmill. Bless us!
that folks should go three thousand miles to angle in the open sea
for pieces of eight! Why, they would have made ballads of it, and
the merchants would have said of every unlikely adventure, "It, was
like Phips's wreck-voyage." But it had success, and who reflects
upon the project?

"Nothing's so partial as the laws of fate,
Erecting blockheads to suppress the great.
Sir Francis Drake the Spanish plate-fleet won;
He had been a pirate if he had got none.
Sir Walter Raleigh strove, but missed the plate,
And therefore died a traitor to the State.
Endeavour bears a value more or less,
Just as 'tis recommended by success:
The lucky coxcomb ev'ry man will prize,
And prosp'rous actions always pass for wise."

However, this sort of projects comes under no reflection as to their
honesty, save that there is a kind of honesty a man owes to himself
and to his family that prohibits him throwing away his estate in
impracticable, improbable adventures; but still some hit, even of
the most unlikely, of which this was one of Sir William Phips, who
brought home a cargo of silver of near 200,000 pounds sterling, in
pieces of eight, fished up out of the open sea, remote from any
shore, from an old Spanish ship which had been sunk above forty


When I speak of writing a History of Projects, I do not mean either
of the introduction of, or continuing, necessary inventions, or the
improvement of arts and sciences before known, but a short account
of projects and projecting, as the word is allowed in the general
acceptation at this present time; and I need not go far back for the
original of the practice.

Invention of arts, with engines and handicraft instruments for their
improvement, requires a chronology as far back as the eldest son of
Adam, and has to this day afforded some new discovery in every age.

The building of the Ark by Noah, so far as you will allow it a human
work, was the first project I read of; and, no question, seemed so
ridiculous to the graver heads of that wise, though wicked, age that
poor Noah was sufficiently bantered for it: and, had he not been
set on work by a very peculiar direction from heaven, the good old
man would certainly have been laughed out of it as a most senseless
ridiculous project.

The building of Babel was a right project; for indeed the true
definition of a project, according to modern acceptation, is, as is
said before, a vast undertaking, too big to be managed, and
therefore likely enough to come to nothing. And yet, as great as
they are, it is certainly true of them all, even as the projectors
propose: that, according to the old tale, if so many eggs are
hatched, there will be so many chickens, and those chickens may lay
so many eggs more, and those eggs produce so many chickens more, and
so on. Thus it was most certainly true that if the people of the
Old World could have built a house up to heaven, they should never
be drowned again on earth, and they only had forgot to measure the
height; that is, as in other projects, it only miscarried, or else
it would have succeeded.

And yet, when all is done, that very building, and the incredible
height it was carried, is a demonstration of the vast knowledge of
that infant age of the world, who had no advantage of the
experiments or invention of any before themselves.

"Thus when our fathers, touched with guilt,
That huge stupendous staircase built;
We mock, indeed, the fruitless enterprise
(For fruitless actions seldom pass for wise),
But were the mighty ruins left, they'd show
To what degree that untaught age did know."

I believe a very diverting account might be given of this, but I
shall not attempt it. Some are apt to say with Solomon, "No new
thing happens under the sun; but what is, has been:" yet I make no
question but some considerable discovery has been made in these
latter ages, and inventions of human origin produced, which the
world was ever without before, either in whole or in part; and I
refer only to two cardinal points, the use of the loadstone at sea,
and the use of gunpowder and guns: both which, as to the inventing
part, I believe the world owes as absolutely to those particular
ages as it does the working in brass and iron to Tubal Cain, or the
inventing of music to Jubal, his brother. As to engines and
instruments for handicraftsmen, this age, I daresay, can show such
as never were so much as thought of, much less imitated before; for
I do not call that a real invention which has something before done
like it--I account that more properly an improvement. For
handicraft instruments, I know none owes more to true genuine
contrivance, without borrowing from any former use, than a mechanic
engine contrived in our time called a knitting-frame, which, built
with admirable symmetry, works really with a very happy success, and
may be observed by the curious to have a more than ordinary
composition; for which I refer to the engine itself, to be seen in
every stocking-weaver's garret.

I shall trace the original of the projecting humour that now reigns
no farther back than the year 1680, dating its birth as a monster
then, though by times it had indeed something of life in the time of
the late civil war. I allow, no age has been altogether without
something of this nature, and some very happy projects are left to
us as a taste of their success; as the water-houses for supplying of
the city of London with water, and, since that, the New River--both
very considerable undertakings, and perfect projects, adventured on
the risk of success. In the reign of King Charles I. infinite
projects were set on foot for raising money without a Parliament:
oppressing by monopolies and privy seals; but these are excluded our
scheme as irregularities, for thus the French are as fruitful in
projects as we; and these are rather stratagems than projects.
After the Fire of London the contrivance of an engine to quench
fires was a project the author was said to get well by, and we have
found to be very useful. But about the year 1680 began the art and
mystery of projecting to creep into the world. Prince Rupert, uncle
to King Charles II., gave great encouragement to that part of it
that respects engines and mechanical motions; and Bishop Wilkins
added as much of the theory to it as writing a book could do. The
prince has left us a metal called by his name; and the first project
upon that was, as I remember, casting of guns of that metal and
boring them--done both by a peculiar method of his own, and which
died with him, to the great loss of the undertaker, who to that
purpose had, with no small charge, erected a water-mill at Hackney
Marsh, known by the name of the Temple Mill, which mill very happily
performed all parts of the work; and I have seen some of those guns
on board the Royal Charles, a first-rate ship, being of a reddish
colour, different either from brass or copper. I have heard some
reasons of state assigned why that project was not permitted to go
forward; but I omit them, because I have no good authority for them.
After this we saw a floating-machine, to be wrought with horses, for
the towing of great ships both against wind and tide; and another
for the raising of ballast, which, as unperforming engines, had the
honour of being made, exposed, tried, and laid by before the prince

If thus we introduce it into the world under the conduct of that
prince, when he died it was left a hopeless brat, and had hardly any
hand to own it, till the wreck-voyage before noted, performed so
happily by Captain Phips, afterwards Sir William, whose strange
performance set a great many heads on work to contrive something for
themselves. He was immediately followed by my Lord Mordant, Sir
John Narborough, and others from several parts, whose success made
them soon weary of the work.

The project of the Penny Post, so well known and still practised, I
cannot omit, nor the contriver, Mr. Dockwra, who has had the honour
to have the injury done him in that affair repaired in some measure
by the public justice of the Parliament. And, the experiment
proving it to be a noble and useful design, the author must be
remembered, wherever mention is made of that affair, to his very
great reputation.

It was, no question, a great hardship for a man to be master of so
fine a thought, that had both the essential ends of a project in it
(public good and private want ), and that the public should reap the
benefit and the author be left out; the injustice of which, no
doubt, discouraged many a good design. But since an alteration in
public circumstances has recovered the lost attribute of justice,
the like is not to be feared. And Mr. Dockwra has had the
satisfaction to see the former injury disowned, and an honourable
return made, even by them who did not the injury, in bare respect to
his ingenuity.

A while before this several people, under the patronage of some
great persons, had engaged in planting of foreign colonies (as
William Penn, the Lord Shaftesbury, Dr. Cox, and others) in
Pennsylvania, Carolina, East and West Jersey, and the like places,
which I do not call projects, because it was only prosecuting what
had been formerly begun. But here began the forming of public
joint-stocks, which, together with the East India, African, and
Hudson's Bay Companies, before established, begot a new trade, which
we call by a new name stock-jobbing, which was at first only the
simple occasional transferring of interest and shares from one to
another, as persons alienated their estates; but by the industry of
the Exchange brokers, who got the business into their hands, it
became a trade, and one perhaps managed with the greatest intrigue,
artifice, and trick that ever anything that appeared with a face of
honesty could be handled with; for while the brokers held the box,
they made the whole Exchange the gamesters, and raised and lowered
the prices of stocks as they pleased, and always had both buyers and
sellers who stood ready innocently to commit their money to the
mercy of their mercenary tongues. This upstart of a trade, having
tasted the sweetness of success which generally attends a novel
proposal, introduces the illegitimate wandering object I speak of,
as a proper engine to find work for the brokers. Thus stock-jobbing
nursed projecting, and projecting, in return, has very diligently
pimped for its foster-parent, till both are arrived to be public
grievances, and indeed are now almost grown scandalous.


Man is the worst of all God's creatures to shift for himself; no
other animal is ever starved to death; nature without has provided
them both food and clothes, and nature within has placed an instinct
that never fails to direct them to proper means for a supply; but
man must either work or starve, slave or die. He has indeed reason
given him to direct him, and few who follow the dictates of that
reason come to such unhappy exigences; but when by the errors of a
man's youth he has reduced himself to such a degree of distress as
to be absolutely without three things--money, friends, and health--
he dies in a ditch, or in some worse place, a hospital.

Ten thousand ways there are to bring a man to this, and but very few
to bring him out again.

Death is the universal deliverer, and therefore some who want
courage to bear what they see before them, hang themselves for fear;
for certainly self-destruction is the effect of cowardice in the
highest extreme.

Others break the bounds of laws to satisfy that general law of
nature, and turn open thieves, house-breakers, highwaymen, clippers,
coiners, &c., till they run the length of the gallows, and get a
deliverance the nearest way at St. Tyburn.

Others, being masters of more cunning than their neighbours, turn
their thoughts to private methods of trick and cheat, a modern way
of thieving every jot as criminal, and in some degree worse than the
other, by which honest men are gulled with fair pretences to part
from their money, and then left to take their course with the
author, who skulks behind the curtain of a protection, or in the
Mint or Friars, and bids defiance as well to honesty as the law.

Others, yet urged by the same necessity, turn their thoughts to
honest invention, founded upon the platform of ingenuity and

These two last sorts are those we call projectors; and as there was
always more geese than swans, the number of the latter are very
inconsiderable in comparison of the former; and as the greater
number denominates the less, the just contempt we have of the former
sort bespatters the other, who, like cuckolds, bear the reproach of
other people's crimes.

A mere projector, then, is a contemptible thing, driven by his own
desperate fortune to such a strait that he must be delivered by a
miracle, or starve; and when he has beat his brains for some such
miracle in vain, he finds no remedy but to paint up some bauble or
other, as players make puppets talk big, to show like a strange
thing, and then cry it up for a new invention, gets a patent for it,
divides it into shares, and they must be sold. Ways and means are
not wanting to swell the new whim to a vast magnitude; thousands and
hundreds of thousands are the least of his discourse, and sometimes
millions, till the ambition of some honest coxcomb is wheedled to
part with his money for it, and then (nascitur ridiculus mus) the
adventurer is left to carry on the project, and the projector laughs
at him. The diver shall walk at the bottom of the Thames, the
saltpetre maker shall build Tom T-d's pond into houses, the
engineers build models and windmills to draw water, till funds are
raised to carry it on by men who have more money than brains, and
then good-night patent and invention; the projector has done his
business and is gone.

But the honest projector is he who, having by fair and plain
principles of sense, honesty, and ingenuity brought any contrivance
to a suitable perfection, makes out what he pretends to, picks
nobody's pocket, puts his project in execution, and contents himself
with the real produce as the profit of his invention.


Banks, without question, if rightly managed are, or may be, of great
advantage, especially to a trading people, as the English are; and,
among many others, this is one particular case in which that benefit
appears: that they bring down the interest of money, and take from
the goldsmiths, scriveners, and others, who have command of running
cash, their most delicious trade of making advantage of the
necessities of the merchant in extravagant discounts and premiums
for advance of money, when either large customs or foreign
remittances call for disbursements beyond his common ability; for by
the easiness of terms on which the merchant may have money, he is
encouraged to venture further in trade than otherwise he would do.
Not but that there are other great advantages a Royal Bank might
procure in this kingdom, as has been seen in part by this; as
advancing money to the Exchequer upon Parliamentary funds and
securities, by which in time of a war our preparations for any
expedition need not be in danger of miscarriage for want of money,
though the taxes raised be not speedily paid, nor the Exchequer
burthened with the excessive interests paid in former reigns upon
anticipations of the revenue; landed men might be supplied with
moneys upon securities on easier terms, which would prevent the loss
of multitudes of estates, now ruined and devoured by insolent and
merciless mortgagees, and the like. But now we unhappily see a
Royal Bank established by Act of Parliament, and another with a
large fund upon the Orphans' stock; and yet these advantages, or
others, which we expected, not answered, though the pretensions in
both have not been wanting at such time as they found it needful to
introduce themselves into public esteem, by giving out prints of
what they were rather able to do than really intended to practise.
So that our having two banks at this time settled, and more
erecting, has not yet been able to reduce the interest of money, not
because the nature and foundation of their constitution does not
tend towards it, but because, finding their hands full of better
business, they are wiser than by being slaves to old obsolete
proposals to lose the advantage of the great improvement they can
make of their stock.

This, however, does not at all reflect on the nature of a bank, nor
of the benefit it would be to the public trading part of the
kingdom, whatever it may seem to do on the practice of the present.
We find four or five banks now in view to be settled. I confess I
expect no more from those to come than we have found from the past,
and I think I make no broach on either my charity or good manners in
saying so; and I reflect not upon any of the banks that are or shall
be established for not doing what I mention, but for making such
publications of what they would do. I cannot think any man had
expected the Royal Bank should lend money on mortgages at 4 per
cent. (nor was it much the better for them to make publication they
would do so from the beginning of January next after their
settlement), since to this day, as I am informed, they have not lent
one farthing in that manner.

Our banks are indeed nothing but so many goldsmiths' shops, where
the credit being high (and the directors as high) people lodge their
money; and they--the directors, I mean--make their advantage of it.
If you lay it at demand, they allow you nothing; if at time, 3 per
cent.; and so would any goldsmith in Lombard Street have done
before. But the very banks themselves are so awkward in lending, so
strict, so tedious, so inquisitive, and withal so public in their
taking securities, that men who are anything tender won't go to
them; and so the easiness of borrowing money, so much designed, is
defeated. For here is a private interest to be made, though it be a
public one; and, in short, it is only a great trade carried on for
the private gain of a few concerned in the original stock; and
though we are to hope for great things, because they have promised
them, yet they are all future that we know of.

And yet all this while a bank might be very beneficial to this
kingdom; and this might be so, if either their own ingenuity or
public authority would oblige them to take the public good into
equal concern with their private interest.

To explain what I mean; banks, being established by public
authority, ought also, as all public things are, to be under
limitations and restrictions from that authority; and those
limitations being regulated with a proper regard to the ease of
trade in general, and the improvement of the stock in particular,
would make a bank a useful, profitable thing indeed.

First, a bank ought to be of a magnitude proportioned to the trade
of the country it is in, which this bank is so far from that it is
no more to the whole than the least goldsmith's cash in Lombard
Street is to the bank, from whence it comes to pass that already
more banks are contriving. And I question not but banks in London
will ere long be as frequent as lotteries; the consequence of which,
in all probability, will be the diminishing their reputation, or a
civil war with one another. It is true, the Bank of England has a
capital stock; but yet, was that stock wholly clear of the public
concern of the Government, it is not above a fifth part of what
would be necessary to manage the whole business of the town--which
it ought, though not to do, at least to be able to do. And I
suppose I may venture to say above one-half of the stock of the
present bank is taken up in the affairs of the Exchequer.

I suppose nobody will take this discourse for an invective against
the Bank of England. I believe it is a very good fund, a very
useful one, and a very profitable one. It has been useful to the
Government, and it is profitable to the proprietors; and the
establishing it at such a juncture, when our enemies were making
great boasts of our poverty and want of money, was a particular
glory to our nation, and the city in particular. That when the
Paris Gazette informed the world that the Parliament had indeed
given the king grants for raising money in funds to be paid in
remote years, but money was so scarce that no anticipations could be
procured; that just then, besides three millions paid into the
Exchequer that spring on other taxes by way of advance, there was an
overplus-stock to be found of 1,200,000 pounds sterling, or (to make
it speak French) of above fifteen millions, which was all paid
voluntarily into the Exchequer. Besides this, I believe the present
Bank of England has been very useful to the Exchequer, and to supply
the king with remittances for the payment of the army in Flanders,
which has also, by the way, been very profitable to itself. But
still this bank is not of that bulk that the business done here
requires, nor is it able, with all the stock it has, to procure the
great proposed benefit, the lowering the interest of money: whereas
all foreign banks absolutely govern the interest, both at Amsterdam,
Genoa, and other places. And this defect I conceive the
multiplicity of banks cannot supply, unless a perfect understanding
could be secured between them.

To remedy this defect, several methods might be proposed. Some I
shall take the freedom to hint at:-

First, that the present bank increase their stock to at least five
millions sterling, to be settled as they are already, with some
small limitations to make the methods more beneficial.

Five millions sterling is an immense sum; to which add the credit of
their cash, which would supply them with all the overplus-money in
the town, and probably might amount to half as much more; and then
the credit of running bills, which by circulating would, no
question, be an equivalent to the other half: so that in stock,
credit, and bank-bills the balance of their cash would be always ten
millions sterling--a sum that everybody who can talk of does not

But then to find business for all this stock, which, though it be a
strange thing to think of, is nevertheless easy when it comes to be
examined. And first for the business; this bank should enlarge the
number of their directors, as they do of their stock, and should
then establish several sub-committees, composed of their own
members, who should have the directing of several offices relating
to the distinct sorts of business they referred to, to be overruled
and governed by the governor and directors in a body, but to have a
conclusive power as to contracts. Of these there should be -

One office for loan of money for customs of goods, which by a plain
method might be so ordered that the merchant might with ease pay the
highest customs down, and so, by allowing the bank 4 per cent.
advance, be first sure to secure the 10 pounds per cent. which the
king allows for prompt payment at the Custom House, and be also
freed from the troublesome work of finding bondsmen and securities
for the money--which has exposed many a man to the tyranny of
extents, either for himself or his friend, to his utter ruin, who
under a more moderate prosecution had been able to pay all his
debts, and by this method has been torn to pieces and disabled from
making any tolerable proposal to his creditors. This is a scene of
large business, and would, in proportion, employ a large cash, and
it is the easiest thing in the world to make the bank the paymaster
of all the large customs, and yet the merchant have so honourable a
possession of his goods, as may be neither any diminution to his
reputation or any hindrance to their sale.

As, for example, suppose I have 100 hogsheads of tobacco to import,
whose customs by several duties come to 1,000 pounds, and want cash
to clear them. I go with my bill of loading to the bank, who
appoint their officer to enter the goods and pay the duties, which
goods, so entered by the bank, shall give them title enough to any
part, or the whole, without the trouble of bills of sale, or
conveyances, defeasances, and the like. The goods are carried to a
warehouse at the waterside, where the merchant has a free and public
access to them, as if in his own warehouse and an honourable liberty
to sell and deliver either the whole (paying their disburse) or a
part without it, leaving but sufficient for the payment, and out of
that part delivered, either by notes under the hand of the
purchaser, or any other way, he may clear the same, without any
exactions, but of 4 pounds per cent., and the rest are his own.

The ease this would bring to trade, the deliverance it would bring
to the merchants from the insults of goldsmiths, &c,, and the honour
it would give to our management of public imposts, with the
advantages to the Custom House itself, and the utter destruction of
extortion, would be such as would give a due value to the bank, and
make all mankind acknowledge it to be a public good. The grievance
of exactions upon merchants in this case is very great, and when I
lay the blame on the goldsmiths, because they are the principal
people made use of in such occasions, I include a great many other
sorts of brokers and money-jobbing artists, who all get a snip out
of the merchant. I myself have known a goldsmith in Lombard Street
lend a man 700 pounds to pay the customs of a hundred pipes of
Spanish wines; the wines were made over to him for security by bill
of sale, and put into a cellar, of which the goldsmith kept the key;
the merchant was to pay 6 pounds per cent. interest on the bond, and
to allow 10 pounds percent. premium for advancing the money. When
he had the wines in possession the owner could not send his cooper
to look after them, but the goldsmith's man must attend all the
while, for which he would be paid 5s. a day. If he brought a
customer to see them, the goldsmith's man must show them. The money
was lent for two months. He could not be admitted to sell or
deliver a pipe of wine out single, or two or three at a time, as he
might have sold them; but on a word or two spoken amiss to the
goldsmith (or which he was pleased to take so), he would have none
sold but the whole parcel together. By this usage the goods lay on
hand, and every month the money remained the goldsmith demanded a
guinea per cent. forbearance, besides the interest, till at last by
leakage, decay, and other accidents, the wines began to lessen.
Then the goldsmith begins to tell the merchant he is afraid the
wines are not worth the money he has lent, and demands further
security, and in a little while, growing higher and rougher, he
tells him he must have his money. The merchant--too much at his
mercy, because he cannot provide the money--is forced to consent to
the sale; and the goods, being reduced to seventy pipes sound--wine
and four unsound (the rest being sunk for filling up), were sold for
13 pounds per pipe the sound, and 3 pounds the unsound, which
amounted to 922 pounds together.

Pounds s. d
The cooper's bill came to . . . . . . . . . 30 0 0
The cellarage a year and a half to . . . . 18 0 0
Interests on the bond to . . . . . . . . . 63 0 0
The goldsmith's men for attendance . . . . . 8 0 0
Allowance for advance of the money and
forbearance . . . . . . . . . . . . 74 0 0
193 0 0
Principal money borrowed . . . . 700 0 0
893 0 0
Due to the merchant . . . . . . . . . . 29 0 0
922 0 0

By the moderatest computation that can be, these wines cost the
merchant as follows:-

First Cost with Charges on Board. Pounds s. d
In Lisbon 15 mille reis per pipe is
1,500 mille reis; exchange,
at 6s. 4d. per mille rei . . . . . 475 0 0
Freight to London, then at 3 pounds per
ton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150 0 0
Assurance on 500 pounds at 2 per cent. . . 10 0 0
Petty charges . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 0 0
640 0 0

So that it is manifest by the extortion of this banker, the poor man
lost the whole capital with freight and charges, and made but 29
pounds produce of a hundred pipes of wine.

One other office of this bank, and which would take up a
considerable branch of the stock, is for lending money upon pledges,
which should have annexed to it a warehouse and factory, where all
sorts of goods might publicly be sold by the consent of the owners,
to the great advantage of the owner, the bank receiving 4 pounds per
cent. interest., and 2 per cent. commission for sale of the goods.

A third office should be appointed for discounting bills, tallies,
and notes, by which all tallies of the Exchequer, and any part of
the revenue, should at stated allowances be ready money to any
person, to the great advantage of the Government, and ease of all
such as are any ways concerned in public undertakings.

A fourth office for lending money upon land securities at 4 per
cent. interest, by which the cruelty and injustice of mortgagees
would be wholly restrained, and a register of mortgages might be
very well kept, to prevent frauds.

A fifth office for exchanges and foreign correspondences.

A sixth for inland exchanges, where a very large field of business
lies before them.

Under this head it will not be improper to consider that this method
will most effectually answer all the notions and proposals of county
banks; for by this office they would be all rendered useless and
unprofitable, since one bank of the magnitude I mention, with a
branch of its office set apart for that business, might with ease
manage all the inland exchange of the kingdom.

By which such a correspondence with all the trading towns in England
might be maintained, as that the whole kingdom should trade with the
bank. Under the direction of this office a public cashier should be
appointed in every county, to reside in the capital town as to trade
(and in some counties more), through whose hands all the cash of the
revenue of the gentry and of trade should be returned on the bank in
London, and from the bank again on their cashier in every respective
county or town, at the small exchange of 0.5 per cent., by which
means all loss of money carried upon the road, to the encouragement
of robbers and ruining of the country, who are sued for those
robberies, would be more effectually prevented than by all the
statutes against highwaymen that are or can be made.

As to public advancings of money to the Government, they may be left
to the directors in a body, as all other disputes and contingent
cases are; and whoever examines these heads of business apart, and
has any judgment in the particulars, will, I suppose, allow that a
stock of ten millions may find employment in them, though it be
indeed a very great sum.

I could offer some very good reasons why this way of management by
particular offices for every particular sort of business is not only
the easiest, but the safest, way of executing an affair of such
variety and consequence; also I could state a method for the
proceedings of those private offices, their conjunction with and
dependence on the general court of the directors, and how the
various accounts should centre in one general capital account of
stock, with regulations and appeals; but I believe them to be
needless--at least, in this place.

If it be objected here that it is impossible for one joint-stock to
go through the whole business of the kingdom, I answer, I believe it
is not either impossible or impracticable, particularly on this one
account: that almost all the country business would be managed by
running bills, and those the longest abroad of any, their distance
keeping them out, to the increasing the credit, and consequently the
stock of the bank.


What is touched at in the foregoing part of this chapter refers to
one bank royal to preside, as it were, over the whole cash of the
kingdom: but because some people do suppose this work fitter for
many banks than for one, I must a little consider that head. And
first, allowing those many banks could, without clashing, maintain a
constant correspondence with one another, in passing each other's
bills as current from one to another, I know not but it might be
better performed by many than by one; for as harmony makes music in
sound, so it produces success in business.

A civil war among merchants is always the rain of trade: I cannot
think a multitude of banks could so consist with one another in
England as to join interests and uphold one another's credit,
without joining stocks too; I confess, if it could be done, the
convenience to trade would be visible.

If I were to propose which way these banks should be established, I
answer, allowing a due regard to some gentlemen who have had
thoughts of the same (whose methods I shall not so much as touch
upon, much less discover; my thoughts run upon quite different
methods, both for the fund and the establishment).

Every principal town in England is a corporation, upon which the
fund may be settled, which will sufficiently answer the difficult
and chargeable work of suing for a corporation by patent or Act of

A general subscription of stock being made, and by deeds of
settlement placed in the mayor and aldermen of the city or
corporation for the time being, in trust, to be declared by deeds of
uses, some of the directors being always made members of the said
corporation, and joined in the trust; the bank hereby becomes the
public stock of the town (something like what they call the rentes
of the town-house in France), and is managed in the name of the said
corporation, to whom the directors are accountable, and they back
again to the general court.

For example: suppose the gentlemen or tradesmen of the county of
Norfolk, by a subscription of cash, design to establish a bank. The
subscriptions being made, the stock is paid into the chamber of the
city of Norwich, and managed by a court of directors, as all banks
are, and chosen out of the subscribers, the mayor only of the city
to be always one; to be managed in the name of the corporation of
the city of Norwich, but for the uses in a deed of trust to be made
by the subscribers, and mayor and aldermen, at large mentioned. I
make no question but a bank thus settled would have as firm a
foundation as any bank need to have, and every way answer the ends
of a corporation.

Of these sorts of banks England might very well establish fifteen,
at the several towns hereafter mentioned. Some of which, though
they are not the capital towns of the counties, yet are more the
centre of trade, which in England runs in veins, like mines of metal
in the earth:

Canterbury. Salisbury. Exeter. Bristol. Worcester. Shrewsbury.
Manchester. Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Leeds, or Halifax, or York.
Warwick or Birmingham. Oxford or Reading. Bedford. Norwich.

Every one of these banks to have a cashier in London, unless they
could all have a general correspondence and credit with the bank

These banks in their respective counties should be a general staple
and factory for the manufactures of the said county, where every man
that had goods made, might have money at a small interest for
advance, the goods in the meantime being sent forward to market, to
a warehouse for that purpose erected in London, where they should be
disposed of to all the advantages the owner could expect, paying
only 1 per cent. commission. Or if the maker wanted credit in
London either for Spanish wool, cotton, oil, or any goods, while his
goods were in the warehouse of the said bank, his bill should be
paid by the bank to the full value of his goods, or at least within
a small matter. These banks, either by correspondence with each
other, or an order to their cashier in London, might with ease so
pass each other's bills that a man who has cash at Plymouth, and
wants money at Berwick, may transfer his cash at Plymouth to
Newcastle in half-an-hour's time, without either hazard, or charge,
or time, allowing only 0.5 per cent. exchange; and so of all the
most distant parts of the kingdom. Or if he wants money at
Newcastle, and has goods at Worcester or at any other clothing town,
sending his goods to be sold by the factory of the bank of
Worcester, he may remit by the bank to Newcastle, or anywhere else,
as readily as if his goods were sold and paid for and no exactions
made upon him for the convenience he enjoys.

This discourse of banks, the reader is to understand, to have no
relation to the present posture of affairs, with respect to the
scarcity of current money, which seems to have put a stop to that
part of a stock we call credit, which always is, and indeed must be,
the most essential part of a bank, and without which no bank can
pretend to subsist--at least, to advantage.

A bank is only a great stock of money put together, to be employed
by some of the subscribers, in the name of the rest, for the benefit
of the whole. This stock of money subsists not barely on the
profits of its own stock (for that would be inconsiderable), but
upon the contingencies and accidents which multiplicity of business
occasions. As, for instance, a man that comes for money, and knows
he may have it to-morrow; perhaps he is in haste, and won't take it
to-day: only, that he may be sure of it to-morrow, he takes a
memorandum under the hand of the officer, that he shall have it
whenever he calls for it, and this memorandum we call a bill. To-
morrow, when he intended to fetch his money, comes a man to him for
money, and, to save himself the labour of telling, he gives him the
memorandum or bill aforesaid for his money; this second man does as
the first, and a third does as he did, and so the bill runs about a
mouth, two or three. And this is that we call credit, for by the
circulation of a quantity of these bills, the bank enjoys the full
benefit of as much stock in real value as the suppositious value of
the bills amounts to; and wherever this credit fails, this advantage
fails; for immediately all men come for their money, and the bank
must die of itself: for I am sure no bank, by the simple
improvement of their single stock, can ever make any considerable

I confess, a bank who can lay a fund for the security of their
bills, which shall produce first an annual profit to the owner, and
yet make good the passant bill, may stand, and be advantageous, too,
because there is a real and a suppositious value both, and the real
always ready to make good the suppositious: and this I know no way
to bring to pass but by land, which, at the same time that it lies
transferred to secure the value of every bill given out, brings in a
separate profit to the owner; and this way no question but the whole
kingdom might be a bank to itself, though no ready money were to be
found in it.

I had gone on in some sheets with my notion of land being the best
bottom for public banks, and the easiness of bringing it to answer
all the ends of money deposited with double advantage, but I find
myself happily prevented by a gentleman who has published the very
same, though since this was wrote; and I was always master of so
much wit as to hold my tongue while they spoke who understood the
thing better than myself.

Mr. John Asgill, of Lincoln's Inn, in a small tract entitled,
"Several Assertions proved, in order to create another Species of
Money than Gold and Silver," has so distinctly handled this very
case, with such strength of argument, such clearness of reason, such
a judgment, and such a style, as all the ingenious part of the world
must acknowledge themselves extremely obliged to him for that piece.

At the sight of which book I laid by all that had been written by me
on that subject, for I had much rather confess myself incapable of
handling that point like him, than have convinced the world of it by
my impertinence.


It is a prodigious charge the whole nation groans under for the
repair of highways, which, after all, lie in a very ill posture too.
I make no question but if it was taken into consideration by those
who have the power to direct it, the kingdom might be wholly eased
of that burden, and the highways be kept in good condition, which
now lie in a most shameful manner in most parts of the kingdom, and
in many places wholly unpassable, from whence arise tolls and
impositions upon passengers and travellers, and, on the other hand,
trespasses and encroachments upon lands adjacent, to the great
damage of the owners.

The rate for the highways is the most arbitrary and unequal tax in
the kingdom: in some places two or three rates of sixpence per
pound in the year; in others the whole parish cannot raise wherewith
to defray the charge, either by the very bad condition of the road
or distance of materials; in others the surveyors raise what they
never expend; and the abuses, exactions, connivances, frauds, and
embezzlements are innumerable.

The Romans, while they governed this island, made it one of their
principal cares to make and repair the highways of the kingdom, and
the chief roads we now use are of their marking out; the consequence
of maintaining them was such, or at least so esteemed, that they
thought it not below them to employ their legionary troops in the
work; and it was sometimes the business of whole armies, either when
in winter quarters or in the intervals of truce or peace with the
natives. Nor have the Romans left us any greater tokens of their
grandeur and magnificence than the ruins of those causeways and
street-ways which are at this day to be seen in many parts of the
kingdom, some of which have by the visible remains been discovered
to traverse the whole kingdom, and others for more than a hundred
miles are to be traced from colony to colony, as they had particular
occasion. The famous highway or street called Watling Street, which
some will tell you began at London Stone, and passing that very
street in the City which we to this day call by that name, went on
west to that spot where Tyburn now stands, and then turned north-
west in so straight a line to St. Albans that it is now the exactest
road (in one line for twenty miles) in the kingdom; and though
disused now as the chief, yet is as good, and, I believe, the best
road to St. Albans, and is still called the Streetway. From whence
it is traced into Shropshire, above a hundred and sixty miles, with
a multitude of visible antiquities upon it, discovered and described
very accurately by Mr. Cambden. The Fosse, another Roman work, lies
at this day as visible, and as plain a high causeway, of above
thirty feet broad, ditched on either side, and coped and paved where
need is--as exact and every jot as beautiful as the king's new road
through Hyde Park, in which figure it now lies from near Marshfield
to Cirencester, and again from Cirencester to the Hill, three miles
on this side Gloucester, which is not less than twenty-six miles,
and is made use of as the great road to those towns, and probably
has been so for a thousand years with little repairs.

If we set aside the barbarity and customs of the Romans as heathens,
and take them as a civil government, we must allow they were the
pattern of the whole world for improvement and increase of arts and
learning, civilising and methodising nations and countries conquered
by their valour; and if this was one of their great cares, that
consideration ought to move something. But to the great example of
that generous people I will add three arguments:-

1. It is useful, and that as it is convenient for carriages, which
in a trading country is a great help to negotiation, and promotes
universal correspondence, without which our inland trade could not
be managed. And under this head I could name a thousand
conveniences of a safe, pleasant, well-repaired highway, both to the
inhabitant and the traveller, but I think it is needless.

2. It is easy. I question not to make it appear it is easy to put
all the highroads, especially in England, in a noble figure; large,
dry, and clean; well drained, and free from floods, unpassable
sloughs, deep cart-ruts, high ridges, and all the inconveniences
they now are full of; and, when once done, much easier still to be
maintained so.

3. It may be cheaper, and the whole assessment for the repairs of
highways for ever be dropped or applied to other uses for the public

Here I beg the reader's favour for a small digression.

I am not proposing this as an undertaker, or setting a price to the
public for which I will perform it, like one of the projectors I
speak of, but laying open a project for the performance, which,
whenever the public affairs will admit our governors to consider of,
will be found so feasible that no question they may find undertakers
enough for the performance; and in this undertaking age I do not
doubt but it would be easy at any time to procure persons at their
own charge to perform it for any single county, as a pattern and
experiment for the whole kingdom.

The proposal is as follows:- First, that an Act of Parliament be
made with liberty for the undertakers to dig and trench, to cut down
hedges and trees, or whatever is needful for ditching, draining and
carrying off water, cleaning, enlarging and levelling the roads,
with power to lay open or enclose lands; to encroach into lands;
dig, raise, and level fences; plant and pull up hedges or trees (for
the enlarging, widening, and draining the highways), with power to
turn either the roads or watercourses, rivers and brooks, as by the
directors of the works shall be found needful, always allowing
satisfaction to be first made to the owners of such lands (either by
assigning to them equivalent lands or payment in money, the value to
be adjusted by two indifferent persons to be named by the Lord
Chancellor or Lord Keeper for the time being), and no watercourse to
be turned from any water-mill without satisfaction first made both
to the landlord and tenant.

But before I proceed, I must say a word or two to this article.

The chief, and almost the only, cause of the deepness and foulness
of the roads is occasioned by the standing water, which (for want of
due care to draw it off by scouring and opening ditches and drains,
and other watercourses, and clearing of passages) soaks into the
earth, and softens it to such a degree that it cannot bear the
weight of horses and carriages; to prevent which, the power to dig,
trench, and cut down, &c., mentioned above will be of absolute
necessity. But because the liberty seems very large, and some may
think it is too great a power to be granted to any body of men over
their neighbours, it is answered:-

1. It is absolutely necessary, or the work cannot be done, and the
doing of the work is of much greater benefit than the damage can
amount to.

2. Satisfaction to be made to the owner (and that first, too,
before the damage be done) is an unquestionable equivalent; and both
together, I think, are a very full answer to any objection in that

Besides this Act of Parliament, a commission must be granted to
fifteen at least, in the name of the undertakers, to whom every
county shall have power to join ten, who are to sit with the said
fifteen so often and so long as the said fifteen do sit for affairs
relating to that county, which fifteen, or any seven of them, shall
be directors of the works, to be advised by the said ten, or any
five of them, in matters of right and claim, and the said ten to
adjust differences in the countries, and to have right by process to
appeal in the name either of lords of manors, or privileges of towns
or corporations, who shall be either damaged or encroached upon by
the said work. All appeals to be heard and determined immediately
by the said Lord Chancellor, or commission from him, that the work
may receive no interruption.

This commission shall give power to the said fifteen to press
waggons, carts, and horses, oxen and men, and detain them to work a
certain limited time, and within certain limited space of miles from
their own dwellings, and at a certain rate of payment. No men,
horses, or carts to be pressed against their consent during the
times of hay-time or harvest, or upon market-days, if the person
aggrieved will make affidavit he is obliged to be with his horses or
carts at the said markets.

It is well known to all who have any knowledge of the condition the
highways in England now lie in that in most places there is a
convenient distance land left open for travelling, either for
driving of cattle, or marching of troops of horse, with perhaps as
few lanes or defiles as in any countries. The cross-roads, which
are generally narrow, are yet broad enough in most places for two
carriages to pass; but, on the other hand, we have on most of the
highroads a great deal, if waste land thrown in (as it were, for an
overplus to the highway), which, though it be used of course by
cattle and travellers on occasion, is indeed no benefit at all
either to the traveller as a road or to the poor as a common, or to
the lord of the manor as a waste; upon it grows neither timber nor
grass, in any quantity answerable to the land, but, though to no
purpose, is trodden down, poached, and overrun by drifts of cattle
in the winter, or spoiled with the dust in the summer. And this I
have observed in many parts of England to be as good land as any of
the neighbouring enclosures, as capable of improvement, and to as
good purpose.

These lands only being enclosed and manured, leaving the roads to
dimensions without measure sufficient, are the fund upon which I
build the prodigious stock of money that must do this work. These
lands (which I shall afterwards make an essay to value), being
enclosed, will be either saleable to raise money, or fit to exchange
with those gentlemen who must part with some land where the ways are
narrow, always reserving a quantity of these lands to be let out to
tenants, the rent to be paid into the public stock or bank of the
undertakers, and to be reserved for keeping the ways in the same
repair, and the said bank to forfeit the lands if they are not so

Another branch of the stock must be hands (for a stock of men is a
stock of money), to which purpose every county, city, town, and
parish shall be rated at a set price, equivalent to eight years'
payment, for the repair of highways, which each county, &c., shall
raise, not by assessment in money, but by pressing of men, horses,
and carriages for the work (the men, horses, &,c., to be employed by
the directors); in which case all corporal punishments--as of
whippings, stocks, pillories, houses of correction, &c.--might be
easily transmitted to a certain number of days' work on the
highways, and in consideration of this provision of men the country
should for ever after be acquitted of any contribution, either in
money or work, for repair of the highways--building of bridges

There lie some popular objections against this undertaking; and the
first is (the great controverted point of England) enclosure of the
common, which tends to depopulation, and injures the poor.

2. Who shall be judges or surveyors of the work, to oblige the
undertakers to perform to a certain limited degree?

For the first, "the enclosure of the common"--a clause that runs as
far as to an encroachment upon Magna Charta, and a most considerable
branch of the property of the poor--I answer it thus:-

1. The lands we enclose are not such as from which the poor do
indeed reap any benefit--or, at least, any that is considerable.

2. The bank and public stock, who are to manage this great
undertaking, will have so many little labours to perform and offices
to bestow, that are fit only for labouring poor persons to do, as
will put them in a condition to provide for the poor who are so
injured, that can work; and to those who cannot, may allow pensions
for overseeing, supervising, and the like, which will be more than

3. For depopulations, the contrary should be secured, by obliging
the undertakers, at such and such certain distances, to erect
cottages, two at least in a place (which would be useful to the work
and safety of the traveller), to which should be an allotment of
land, always sufficient to invite the poor inhabitant, in which the
poor should be tenant for life gratis, doing duty upon the highway
as should be appointed, by which, and many other methods, the poor
should be great gainers by the proposal, instead of being injured.

4. By this erecting of cottages at proper distances a man might
travel over all England as through a street, where he could never
want either rescue from thieves or directions for his way.

5. This very undertaking, once duly settled, might in a few years
so order it that there should be no poor for the common; and, if so,
what need of a common for the poor? Of which in its proper place.

As to the second objection, "Who should oblige the undertakers to
the performance?" I answer -

1. Their Commission and charter should become void, and all their
stock forfeit, and the lands enclosed and unsold remain as a pledge,
which would be security sufficient.

2. The ten persons chosen out of every county should have power to
inspect and complain, and the Lord Chancellor, upon such complaint,
to make a survey, and to determine by a jury, in which case, on
default, they shall be obliged to proceed.

3. The lands settled on the bank shall be liable to be extended for
the uses mentioned, if the same at any time be not maintained in the
condition at first provided, and the bank to be amerced upon
complaint of the country.

These and other conditions, which on a legal settlement to be made
by wiser heads than mine might be thought on, I do believe would
form a constitution so firm, so fair, and so equally advantageous to
the country, to the poor, and to the public, as has not been put in
practice in these later ages of the world. To discourse of this a
little in general, and to instance in a place perhaps that has not
its fellow in the kingdom--the parish of Islington, in Middlesex.
There lies through this large parish the greatest road in England,
and the most frequented, especially by cattle for Smithfield market;
this great road has so many branches, and lies for so long a way
through the parish, and withal has the inconvenience of a clayey
ground, and no gravel at hand, that, modestly speaking, the parish
is not able to keep it in repair; by which means several cross-roads
in the parish lie wholly unpassable, and carts and horses (and men
too) have been almost buried in holes and sloughs; and the main road
itself has for many years lain in a very ordinary condition, which
occasioned several motions in Parliament to raise a toll at Highgate
for the performance of what it was impossible the parish should do,
and yet was of so absolute necessity to be done. And is it not very
probable the parish of Islington would part with all the waste land
upon their roads, to be eased of the intolerable assessment for
repair of the highway, and answer the poor, who reap but a small
benefit from it, some other way? And yet I am free to affirm that
for a grant of waste and almost useless land, lying open to the
highway (those lands to be improved, as they might easily be),
together with the eight years' assessment to be provided in workmen,
a noble, magnificent causeway might be erected, with ditches on
either side, deep enough to receive the water, and drains sufficient
to carry it off, which causeway should be four feet high at least,
and from thirty to forty feet broad, to reach from London to Barnet,
paved in the middle, to keep it coped, and so supplied with gravel
and other proper materials as should secure it from decay with small

I hope no man would be so weak now as to imagine that by lands lying
open to the road, to be assigned to the undertakers, I should mean
that all Finchley Common should be enclosed and sold for this work;
but, lest somebody should start such a preposterous objection, I
think it is not improper to mention, that wherever a highway is to
be carried over a large common, forest, or waste, without a hedge on
either hand for a certain distance, there the several parishes shall
allot the directors a certain quantity of the common, to lie
parallel with the road, at a proportioned number of feet to the
length and breadth of the said road--consideration also to be had to
the nature of the ground; or else, giving them only room for the
road directly shall suffer them to inclose in any one spot so much
of the said common as shall be equivalent to the like quantity of
land lying by the road. Thus where the land is good and the
materials for erecting a causeway near, the less land may serve; and
on the contrary, the more; but in general allowing them the quantity
of land proportioned to the length of the causeway, and forty rods
in breadth: though where the land is poor, as on downs and plains,
the proportion must be considered to be adjusted by the country.

Another point for the dimensions of roads should be adjusted; and
the breadth of them, I think, cannot be less than thus:

From London every way ten miles the high post-road to be built full
forty feet in breadth and four feet high, the ditches eight feet
broad and six feet deep, and from thence onward thirty feet, and so
in proportion.

Cross-roads to be twenty feet broad, and ditches proportioned; no
lanes and passes less than nine feet without ditches.

The middle of the high causeways to be paved with stone, chalk, or
gravel, and kept always two feet higher than the sides, that the
water might have a free course into the ditches; and persons kept in
constant employ to fill up holes, let out water, open drains, and
the like, as there should be occasion--a proper work for highwaymen
and such malefactors, as might on those services be exempted from
the gallows.

It may here be objected that eight years' assessment to be demanded
down is too much in reason to expect any of the poorer sort can pay;
as, for instance, if a farmer who keeps a team of horse be at the
common assessment to work a week, it must not be put so hard upon
any man as to work eight weeks together. It is easy to answer this

So many as are wanted, must be had; if a farmer's team cannot be
spared without prejudice to him so long together, he may spare it at
sundry times, or agree to be assessed, and pay the assessment at
sundry payments; and the bank may make it as easy to them as they

Another method, however, might be found to fix this work at once.
As suppose a bank be settled for the highways of the county of
Middlesex, which as they are, without doubt, the most used of any in
the kingdom, so also they require the more charge, and in some parts
lie in the worst condition of any in the kingdom.

If the Parliament fix the charge of the survey of the highways upon
a bank to be appointed for that purpose for a certain term of years,
the bank undertaking to do the work, or to forfeit the said

As thus: suppose the tax on land and tenements for the whole county
of Middlesex does, or should be so ordered as it might, amount to
20,000 pounds per annum more or less, which it now does, and much
more, including the work of the farmers' teams, which must be
accounted as money, and is equivalent to it, with some allowance to
be rated for the city of London, &c., who do enjoy the benefit, and
make the most use of the said roads, both for carrying of goods and
bringing provisions to the city, and therefore in reason ought to
contribute towards the highways (for it is a most unequal thing that
the road from Highgate to Smithfield Market, by which the whole city
is, in a manner, supplied with live cattle, and the road by those
cattle horribly spoiled, should lie all upon that one parish of
Islington to repair); wherefore I will suppose a rate for the
highways to be gathered through the city of London of 10,000 pounds
per annum more, which may be appointed to be paid by carriers,
drovers, and all such as keep teams, horses, or coaches, and the
like, or many ways, as is most equal and reasonable; the waste lands
in the said county, which by the consent of the parishes, lords of
the manors, and proprietors shall be allowed to the undertakers,
when inclosed and let out, may (the land in Middlesex generally
letting high) amount to 5,000 pounds per annum more. If, then, an
Act of Parliament be procured to settle the tax of 30,000 pounds per
annum for eight years, most of which will be levied in workmen and
not in money, and the waste lands for ever, I dare be bold to offer
that the highways for the whole county of Middlesex should be put
into the following form, and the 5,000 pounds per annum land be
bound to remain as a security to maintain them so, and the county be
never burdened with any further tax for the repair of the highways.

And that I may not propose a matter in general, like begging the
question, without demonstration, I shall enter into the particulars
how it may be performed, and that under these following heads of

1. What I propose to do to the highways.
2. What the charge will be.
3. How to be raised.
4. What security for performance.
5. What profit to the undertaker.

1. WHAT I PROPOSE TO DO TO THE HIGHWAYS.--I answer first, not
repair them; and yet secondly, not alter them--that is, not alter
the course they run; but perfectly build them as a fabric. And, to
descend to the particulars, it is first necessary to note which are
the roads I mean, and their dimensions.

First, the high post-roads, and they are for the county of Middlesex
as follows:

Staines, which is . . . . 15
Colebrook is from Hounslow 5
Uxbridge . . . . . . . . . 15
From London to Bushey, the Old Street-way 10
Barnet, or near it . . . . 9
Waltham Cross, in Ware Road 11
Bow . . . . . . . . . 2

Besides these, there, are cross-roads, bye-roads, and lanes, which
must also be looked after; and that some of them may be put into
condition, others may be wholly slighted and shut up, or made drift-
ways, bridle-ways, or foot-ways, as may be thought convenient by the

The cross-roads of most repute are as follows:

London Hackney, Old Ford, and Bow 5
Hackney Dalston and Islington 2
Ditto Hornsey, Muswell Hill, to 8
Tottenham The Chase, Southgate, &c., 6
called Green Lanes
Enfield Wash Enfield Town, Whetstone, 10
Totteridge, to Edgworth
From London Hampstead, Hendon, and 8
Edgworth Stanmore, to Pinner, to 8
London Harrow and Pinner Green 11
Ditto Chelsea, Fulham 4
Brentford Thistleworth, Twittenham,
and Kingston 6
Kingston Staines, Colebrook, and Uxbridge 17
Ditto Chertsey Bridge 5
Overplus miles 50

And because there may be many parts of the crossroads which cannot
be accounted in the number abovementioned, or may slip my knowledge
or memory, I allow an overplus of 50 miles, to be added to the 90
miles above, which together make the cross-roads of Middlesex to be
140 miles.

For the bye-lanes such as may be slighted need nothing but to be
ditched up; such as are for private use of lands, for carrying off
corn, and driving cattle, are to be looked after by private hands.

But of the last sort, not to be accounted by particulars, in the
small county of Middlesex we cannot allow less in cross-bye-lanes,
from village to village, and from dwelling-houses which stand out of
the way to the roads, than 1,000 miles.

So in the whole county I reckon up -

Of the high post-road 67
Of cross-roads less public 140
Of bye-lanes and passes 1,000

These are the roads I mean, and thus divided under their several

To the question, what I would do to them I answer -

(1). For the sixty-seven miles of high post-road I propose to throw
up a firm strong causeway well-bottomed, six feet high in the middle
and four feet on the side, faced with brick or stone, and crowned
with gravel, chalk, or stone, as the several counties they are made
through will afford, being forty-four feet in breadth, with ditches
on either side eight feet broad and four feet deep; so the whole
breadth will be sixty feet, if the ground will permit.

At the end of every two miles, or such like convenient distances,
shall be a cottage erected, with half an acre of ground allowed,
which shall be given gratis, with one shilling per week wages, to
such poor man of the parish as shall be approved, who shall, once at
least every day, view his walk, to open passages for the water to
run into the ditches, to fill up holes or soft places.

Two riders shall be allowed to be always moving the rounds, to view
everything out of repair, and make report to the directors, and to
see that the cottagers do their duty.

(2). For the 140 miles of cross-road a like causeway to be made,
but of different dimensions--the breadth twenty feet, if the ground
will allow it; the ditches four feet broad, three feet deep; the
height in the middle three feet, and on the sides one foot, or two
where it may be needful; to be also crowned with gravel, and one
shilling per week to be allowed to the poor of every parish, the
constables to be bound to find a man to walk on the highway every
division for the same purpose as the cottagers do on the greater

Posts to be set up at every turning to note whither it goes, for the
direction of strangers, and how many miles distant.

(3). For the 1,000 miles of bye-lanes, only good and sufficient
care to keep them in repair as they are, and to carry the water off
by clearing and cutting the ditches, and laying materials where they
are wanted.

This is what I propose to do to them, and what, if once performed, I
suppose all people would own to be an undertaking both useful and

2. The second question I propose to give an account of is, WHAT THE
CHARGE WILL BE, which I account thus.

The work of the great causeway I propose, shall not cost less than
ten shillings per foot (supposing materials to be bought, carriage,
and men's labour to be all hired), which for sixty-seven miles in
length is no less than the sum of 176,880 pounds; as thus:

Every mile accounted at 1,760 yards, and three feet to the yard, is
5,280 feet, which at ten shillings per foot is 2,640 pounds per
mile, and that, again, multiplied by sixty-seven, makes the sum of
176,880 pounds, into which I include the charge of water-courses,
mills to throw off water where needful, drains, &c.

To this charge must be added, ditching to inclose land for thirty
cottages, and building thirty cottages at 40 pounds each, which is
1,200 pounds.

The work of the smaller causeway I propose to finish at the rate of
a shilling per foot, which being for 149 miles in length, at 5,280
feet per mile, amounts to 36,960 pounds.

Ditching, draining, and repairing 1,000 miles, Supposed at three
shillings per rod, as for 320,000 rods, is 48,000 pounds, which,
added to the two former accounts, is thus:

The high post-roads, or the great causeway 178,080
The small causeway 36,960
Bye-lanes, &c. 48,000

If I were to propose some measures for the easing this charge, I
could perhaps lay a scheme down how it may be performed for less
than one-half of this charge.

As first, by a grant of the court at the Old Bailey whereby all such
criminals as are condemned to die for smaller crimes may, instead of
transportation, be ordered a year's work on the highways; others,
instead of whippings, a proportioned time, and the like; which
would, by a moderate computation, provide us generally a supply of
200 workmen, and coming in as fast as they go off; and let the
overseers alone to make them work.

Secondly, by an agreement with the Guinea Company to furnish 200
negroes, who are generally persons that do a great deal of work; and
all these are subsisted very reasonably out of a public storehouse.

Thirdly, by carts and horses to be bought, not hired, with a few
able carters; and to the other a few workmen that have judgment to
direct the rest, and thus I question not the great causeway shall be
done for four shillings per foot charge; but of this by-the-bye.

Fourthly, a liberty to ask charities and benevolences to the work.

3. To the question, HOW THIS MONEY SHALL BE RAISED. I think if the
Parliament settle the tax on the county for eight years at 30,000
pounds per annum, no man need ask how it shall be raised . . . It
will be easy enough to raise the money; and no parish can grudge to
pay a little larger rate for such a term, on condition never to be
taxed for the highways any more.

Eight years' assessment at 30,000 pounds per annum is enough to
afford to borrow the money by way of anticipation, if need be; the
fund being secured by Parliament, and appropriated to that use and
no other.


The lands which are inclosed may be appropriated by the same Act of
Parliament to the bank and undertakers, upon condition of
performance, and to be forfeit to the use of the several parishes to
which they belong, in case upon presentation by the grand juries,
and reasonable time given, any part of the roads in such and such
parishes be not kept and maintained in that posture they are
proposed to be. Now the lands thus settled are an eternal security
to the country for the keeping the roads in repair; because, they
will always be of so much value over the needful charge as will make
it worth while to the undertakers to preserve their title to them;
and the tenure of them being so precarious as to be liable to
forfeiture on default, they will always be careful to uphold the

Lastly, WHAT PROFIT TO THE UNDERTAKERS. For we must allow them to
gain, and that considerably, or no man would undertake such a work.

To this I propose: first, during the work, allow them out of the
stock 3,000 pounds per annum for management.

After the work is finished, so much of the 5,000 pounds per annum as
can be saved, and the roads kept in good repair, let be their own;
and if the lands secured be not of the value of 5,000 pounds a year,
let so much of the eight years' tax be set apart as may purchase
land to make them up; if they come to more, let the benefit be to
the adventurers.

It may be objected here that a tax of 30,000 pounds for eight years
will come in as fast as it can well be laid out, and so no
anticipations will be requisite; for the whole work proposed cannot
be probably finished in less time; and, if so,

The charge of the county amounts to 240,000
The lands saved eight years' revenue 40,000

which is 13,000 pounds more than the charge; and if the work be done
so much cheaper, as is mentioned, the profit to the undertaker will
be unreasonable.

To this I say I would have the undertakers bound to accept the
salary of 3,000 pounds per annum for management, and if a whole
year's tax can be spared, either leave it unraised upon the country,
or put it in bank to be improved against any occasion--of building,
perhaps, a great bridge; or some very wet season or frost may so
damnify the works as to make them require more than ordinary repair.
But the undertakers should make no private advantage of such an
overplus; there might be ways enough found for it.

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