A Just and Modest Vindication of the Scots Design

Scots Design,
For the having Established a
Colony at Darien.
A Brief Display, how much it is their Interest, to apply themselves to Trade, and particularly to that which is Foreign.

Sanctiora sunt Patriae Jura, quam Hospitii. Corn. Nep. in vit. Timoth. Nemo Patriam amat quia Magna est, sed quia Sua.Senec. Epist. 66.
Printed in the Year, 1699.



[Page 16]

Nor can it be reasonably contradicted, but that Scotland hath been expos'd and stood liable to many Inconveniences and Prejudices by it's having so long and greatly neglected Manufacture and Trade, as it hath imprudently and supinely done. And had not they of that Nation, given undeniable proofs in divers other ways and Instances of their being a Sagacious and Wise, and a Laborious and Industrious people; such of some other Kingdoms who assume a great Licentiousness in rallying upon the defects and imperfections of those of other Countries, than their own, might as Justly reflect upon the Laziness of the Scots, and their deficiency in Prudence, and good Sence, as they do with insolence and unmannerliness enough, upbraid them with their Poverty. But as this is a very tender Subject, I shall handle it with such gentleness, that none of the Kingdom of Scotland, shall have cause to be offended: For as much as my only design herein is, to represent the Benefits which will arise to them, by their present undertaking, and to commend their engaging, as well as to encourage their persevering in it, but not to reflect with any Severity upon their omissions heretofore in this matter.

[Page 17]

And I suppose it will be readily acknowleged, by all Men that are capable of thinking accurately, and to useful purposes, that it is not the Largeness of Territory, that makes a Country Strong and Powerful, but the great and plentiful Number of People, and consequently that the neglecting of such means and Methods, as would be effectual motives to prevail upon such as are Born and Bred in a Nation to continue in it, or to go no where but in prospect of, and in Subserviency unto the prosperity of their Native Land, must unavoidably cause a Nation to be Weak, notwithstanding the vast Multitudes, that may have been Born, and for some years brought up in it; which I presume will be confessed to have been hitherto the case of the Kingdom of Scotland, in that so large Numbers of people of great Ingenuity of mind, and of bodily strength and agility, equal to those of any Country about them, have through the difficulties they were under of living comfortably at home, which proceeded from Neglect and want of Manufacture and Trade, been Necessitated, as well as Tempted, to seek their Fortunes, and to endeavour to gain a livelyhood elsewhere.

Whereunto may be added, That as it is not meerly because of the having a great Number of People, that a Nation is rendred Prosperous and Happy, but thro' the having them usefully employed, which it is impossible they should be, without Manufacture and Traffick, and therefore that where there is none or very little Trade, a Nation is even made Obnoxious, and doth become liable to Calamities and Desolations, by the greater Complement and Number it hath of Inhabitants. Seeing in such years as are not [Page 18] Seasonable for Grain, wherein that of the Poet obtains of Spem mentita seges, the Corn doth not answer the hope and expectation of the Husbandman; The greater that the Number of the People is, they must be subject the more to Famine, and Multitudes of them exposed to Starve. Whereof there needs no other proof, than what that Country hath for these two or three last years afforded us. For tho' it is by reason of Trade, being become more diffused and universal in the World, than it Anciently was, by means whereof the Indigency of one Country, is supplyed out of the Abundance and Plenty of another, that Famines of late Ages are neither so frequent nor so Fatal as of Old they used to be; yet in proportion to the Scarcity and Want that there is of Money in any Nation, which must necessarily be answerable to the littleness of their Manufactures, and the meanness of their Commerce, Famines will both fall out the oftner there, and prove the more destructive. Seeing by the same reason, that the Poor in any Country, are in a time of scarcity more Obnoxious to Starving, than such as are Rich: A Nation that is Necessitous must be more exposed and subject to Famines and to Devastations by them, than Kingdomes and Provinces which are Wealthy and Opulent stand liable unto.

Yea where Trade is not encouraged and promoted, even Agriculture it self will be much neglected, tho' it be the chief, if not the only means, whereby the Inhabitants do Subsist. Because that as thro' the Scarcity of Money, and the Poverty thereunto annexed, which as I have often intimated, will always both accompany, and be proportionable to the want of [Page 19] Manufacture and Commerce, there will never be a sufficient Complement of People to Cultivate all the Ground, that is capable of being Manured, but that much of it must be left Barren: So the price of Grain and of Fatted Cattle, being generally in proportion to the Wealth, and Treasure that a Nation is possessed of, the Rates of those will run too low, for Husbandmen to be encouraged and enabled, to make such improvements even of their Agriculted Lands, as they might by Expence upon them be brought unto. Which brief hint and suggestion, I do leave and referr unto the consideration of those who do live in Scotland, who must know better than I pretend to do, how little their best Lands are improved to what they are capable of being, and how much Ground doth lie wholly barren, by reason of the want of a sufficient Number of People, and of the deficiency in Riches of those the Nation is stockt with, to take it in and cultivate it.

Whereas it is obvious what great enlargements are made in the Agriculture, and Pasturage of England beyond what formerly was, and to what high Prizes in comparison of that which they bore before, Corn and Cattle are advanced, since the Application of the English to Trade. Nor is it to be doubted, but that as they extend their Traffick, and become thereby farther enriched, there will be a proportionable progress made in the taking in and rendring those Lands fertile which remain hitherto Barren, and in the encrease of the Price of those which are already cultivated. Nor may it be amiss under this head further to represent, that it is because of the Scots having neglected Manufactture [Page 20] and Trade, that the general Rental of that Kingdom, and the Value of Lands when Farmed, are even for the Dmiension of Territory and Ground, so much Disproportionable unto, and below what they are in England and Holland. Nor can any Mathematical proposition be more evident and certain, upon the indubitable principles of that Science, than it is sure and unquestionable both from Moral Arguments and Experience, that the current Worth of Land to be Let will be always according to the Measure of Manufacture and Trade, and in proportion to the Riches which a Nation by that means becomes possessed of. In confirmation whereof, it may not be unseasonable to take notice, how that answerably to England's enlarging its Manufacture, and extending its Trade, the value of Lands hath in equality thereunto gradually risen and swelled. So that from Twelve years purchase, which was the highest that Land went at about the middle of Queen Elizabeth's Reign, when this Nation began first to apply it self considerably to Commerce, it was risen and advanced some time ago to Twenty Years Purchase, and in several places of the Kingdom to more. Essay upon probable Methods of making a people gainers in the Balance of Trade. p. 77.For as the Admirable Author of an Essay on Ways and Means doth most pertinently observe, and confidently affirm, That there are undeniable reasons to be given, that the general Rental of Englanddid not in the year 1600exceed Six Millions per annum, but that thro' the help of that Wealth, which had flowed into the Kingdom by Foreign Trade, it had risen before the commencement of the late War, to Fourteen Millions Yearly; So none will have the Effrontery to gainsay, but that the Rental of England, [Page 21] was the year 1600 greatly encreased beyond, what it had been about half a Century before. Which the more it is seriously weighed, and duly pondred by the Nobility and Gentry of Scotland, it will not only both Justifie their Wisdom in procuring an Act of Parliament, for Trading to Africa and the Indies, and in their having joyned so freely, and contributed so Liberally, for the forming a Stock, and raising a Treasure, that may be sufficient as well to Uphold, and Promote as to Begin it, but it may also animate their Zeal, and raise their Courage for the Maintaining and Protecting of it.

But to shut up this particular, it is to be ascribed to the neglect of Trade, and their falling below their Neighbours in Riches and Treasure, which is the Natural effect of that Omission, that Scotland is not only so weak as it is in a Naval Strength, notwithstanding the variety, goodness and conveniency of its Ports, for the Ocean and Mediterranean, as well as for the Narrow Seas, and the Baltick, but that the Nation doth make so mean and inconsiderable a Figure in Europe, and that the Scots Nobility and Gentry, who for their Natural and acquired accomplishments do equal most of any Country that are of their Rank and Quality, and who for Bravour are Universally acknowledged to Come behind few or none, are nevertheless so little Valued and Caressed by Princes, and in Courts, by whom and where persons are chiefly esteemed, according to their weight in the balance of an Exchequer, and in proportion to their Rental and Capital.

This is a selection from the original text


agriculture, corn, famine, poverty, trade, want

Source text

Title: A Just and Modest Vindication of the Scots Design

Author: Robert Ferguson

Publication date: 1699

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Early English Books Online: http://eebo.chadwyck.com/home Bibliographic name / number: Wing / F742 Bibliographic name / number: Aldis, H.G. Scotland / 3859 Physical description: [31], 214 p. Copy from: Harvard University Library Reel position: Wing / 276:13

Digital edition

Original author(s): Robert Ferguson

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) title page
  • 2 ) pages 16-21


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Genre: Britain > pamphlets

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