Of Laws in relation to Commerce, considered in the
Revolutions it has met with in the World
1. Some general Considerations. Though
commerce be subject to great revolutions, yet it is possible that certain
physical causes, as the quality of the soil, or the climate, may fix its
nature for ever.
We at present carry on the trade of the Indies merely by means of the
silver which we send thither. The Romans carried annually thither about
fifty millions of sesterces;1 and
this silver, as ours is at present, was exchanged for merchandise, which
was brought to the west. Every nation that ever traded to the Indies has
constantly carried bullion and brought merchandise in return.
It is nature itself that produces this effect. The Indians have their
hearts adapted to their manner of living. Our luxury cannot be theirs; nor
theirs our wants. Their climate demands and permits hardly anything which
comes from ours. They go in a great measure naked; such clothes as they
have the country itself furnishes; and their religion, which is deeply
rooted, gives them an aversion for those things that serve for our
nourishment. They want, therefore, nothing but our bullion to serve as the
medium of value; and for this they give us merchandise in return, with
which the frugality of the people and the nature of the country furnish
them in great abundance. Those ancient authors who have mentioned the
Indies describe them just as we now find them, as to their policy,
customs, and manners.2 The Indies
have ever been the same Indies they are at present; and in every period of
time those who traded with that country carried specie thither and brought
none in return.
2. Of the People of Africa. The greatest part
of the people on the coast of Africa are savages and barbarians. The
principal reason, I believe, of this is, because the small countries
capable of being inhabited are separated from each other by large and
almost uninhabitable tracts of land. They are without industry or arts.
They have gold in abundance, which they receive immediately from the hand
of nature. Every civilised state is therefore in a condition to traffic
with them to advantage, by raising their esteem for things of no value,
and receiving a very high price in return.
3. That the Wants of the People in the South are
different from those of the North. In Europe there is a kind of
balance between the southern and northern nations. The first have every
convenience of life, and few of its wants: the last have many wants, and
few conveniences. To one nature has given much, and demands but little; to
the other she has given but little, and demands a great deal. The
equilibrium is maintained by the laziness of the southern nations, and by
the industry and activity which she has given to those in the north. The
latter are obliged to undergo excessive labour, without which they would
want everything, and degenerate into barbarians. This has neutralised
slavery to the people of the south: as they can easily dispense with
riches, they can more easily dispense with liberty. But the people of the
north have need of liberty, for this can best procure them the means of
satisfying all those wants which they have received from nature. The
people of the north, then, are in a forced state, if they are not either
free or barbarians. Almost all the people of the south are, in some
measure, in a state of violence, if they are not slaves.
4. The principal Difference between the Commerce
of the Ancients and the Moderns. The world has found itself, from time
to time, in different situations; by which the face of commerce has been
altered. The trade of Europe is, at present, carried on principally from
the north to the south; and the difference of climate is the cause that
the several nations have great occasion for the merchandise of each other.
For example, the liquors of the south, which are carried to the north,
form a commerce little known to the ancients. Thus the burden of vessels,
which was formerly computed by measures of corn, is at present determined
by tuns of liquor.
The ancient commerce, so far as it is known to us, was carried on from
one port in the Mediterranean to another; and was almost wholly confined
to the south. Now the people of the same climate, having nearly the same
things of their own, have not the same need of trading among themselves as
with those of a different climate. The commerce of Europe was therefore
formerly less extended than at present.
This does not at all contradict what I have said of our commerce to the
Indies: for here the prodigious difference of climate destroys all
relation between their wants and ours.
5. Other Differences. Commerce is sometimes
destroyed by conquerors, sometimes cramped by monarchs; it traverses the
earth, flies from the places where it is oppressed, and stays where it has
liberty to breath: it reigns at present where nothing was formerly to be
seen but deserts, seas, and rocks; and where it once reigned now there are
To see Colchis in its present situation, which is no more than a vast
forest, where the people are every day diminishing, and only defend their
liberty to sell themselves by piecemeal to the Turks and Persians, one
could never imagine that this country had ever, in the time of the Romans,
been full of cities, where commerce convened all the nations of the world.
We find no monument of these facts in the country itself; there are no
traces of them, except in Pliny3
The history of commerce is that of the communication of people. Their
numerous defeats, and the flux and reflux of populations and devastations,
here form the most extraordinary events.
6. Of the Commerce of the Ancients. The
immense treasures of Semiramis,5
which could not be acquired in a day, give us reason to believe that the
Assyrians themselves had pillaged other rich nations, as other nations
afterwards pillaged them.
The effect of commerce is riches; the consequence of riches, luxury; and
that of luxury the perfection of arts. We find that the arts were carried
to great perfection in the time of Semiramis;6
which is a sufficient indication that a considerable commerce was then
In the empires of Asia there was a great commerce of luxury. The history
of luxury would make a fine part of that of commerce. The luxury of the
Persians was that of the Medes, as the luxury of the Medes was that of the
Great revolutions have happened in Asia. The northeast parts of Persia,
viz., Hyrcania, Margiana, Bactria, &c., were formerly full of
flourishing cities,7 which are now
no more; and the north of this empire,8
that is, the isthmus which separates the Caspian and the Euxine Seas, was
covered with cities and nations, which are now destroyed.
Eratosthenes and Aristobulus9
learned from Patroclus10 that the
merchandise of India passed by the Oxus into the sea of Pontus. Marcus
Varro11 tells us that at the time
when Pompey commanded against Mithridates, they were informed that people
went in seven days from India to the country of the Bactrians, and to the
river Icarus, which falls into the Oxus; that by this method they were
able to bring the merchandise of India across the Caspian Sea, and to
enter the mouth of Cyrus; whence it was only five days' passage to the
Phasis, a river that discharges itself into the Euxine Sea. There is no
doubt but it was by the nations inhabiting these several countries that
the great empires of the Assyrians, Medes, and Persians had communication
with the most distant parts of the east and west.
An entire stop is now put to this communication. All these countries
have been laid waste by the Tartars,12
and are still infested by this destructive nation. The Oxus no longer runs
into the Caspian Sea; the Tartars, for some private reasons, have changed
its course, and it now loses itself in the barren sands.13
The Jaxartes, which was formerly a barrier between the polite and
barbarous nations, has had its course turned in the same manner by the
Tartars, and it no longer empties itself into the sea.14
Seleucus Nicator formed the project of joining the Euxine to the Caspian
Sea.15 This project, which would
have greatly facilitated the commerce of those days, vanished at his
death.16 We are not certain it
could have been executed in the isthmus which separates the two seas. This
country is at present very little known; it is depopulated, and full of
forests; however, water is not wanting, for an infinite number of rivers
roll into it from Mount Caucasus; but as this mountain forms the north of
the isthmus, and extends like two arms17
towards the south, it would have been a grand obstacle to such an
enterprise, especially in those times, when they had not the art of making
It may be imagined that Seleucus would have joined the two seas in the
very place where Peter I has since joined them; that is, in that neck of
land where the Tanais approaches the Volga; but the north of the Caspian
Sea was not then discovered.
While the empires of Asia enjoyed the commerce of luxury, the Tyrians
had the commerce of economy, which they extended throughout the world.
Bochard has employed the first book of his Canaan in enumerating
all the colonies which they sent into all the countries bordering upon the
sea; they passed the pillars of Hercules, and made establishments on the
coasts of the ocean.18
In those times their pilots were obliged to follow the coasts, which
were, if I may so express myself, their compass. Voyages were long and
painful. The laborious voyage of Ulysses has been the fruitful subject of
the finest poem in the world, next to that which alone has the preference.
The little knowledge which the greatest part of the world had of those
who were far distant from them favoured the nations engaged in the
economical commerce. They managed trade with as much obscurity as they
pleased; they had all the advantages which the most intelligent nations
could take over the most ignorant.
The Egyptians — a people who by their religion and their manners
were averse to all communication with strangers — had scarcely at
that time any foreign trade. They enjoyed a fruitful soil and great
plenty. Their country was the Japan of those times; it possessed
everything within itself.
So little jealous were these people of commerce, that they left that of
the Red Sea to all the petty nations that had any harbours in it. Here
they suffered the Idumeans, the Syrians and the Jews to have fleets.
Solomon employed in this navigation the Tyrians, who knew those seas.19
Josephus20 says that this nation,
being entirely employed in agriculture, knew little of navigation: the
Jews, therefore, traded only occasionally in the Red Sea. They took from
the Idumeans Eloth and Eziongeber, from whom they received this commerce;
they lost these two cities, and with them lost this commerce.
It was not so with the Phoenicians: theirs was not a commerce of luxury;
nor was their trade owing to conquest; their frugality, their abilities,
their industry, their perils, and the hardships they suffered, rendered
them necessary to all the nations of the world.
Before Alexander, the people bordering on the Red Sea traded only in
this sea, and in that of Africa. The astonishment which filled the globe
at the discovery of the Indian Sea, under that conqueror, is a sufficient
proof of this. I have observed21
that bullion was always carried to the Indies, and never any brought
thence; now the Jewish fleets, which brought gold and silver by the way of
the Red Sea, returned from Africa, and not from the Indies.22
Besides, this navigation was made on the eastern coast of Africa; for
the state of navigation at that time is a convincing proof that they did
not sail to a very distant shore.
I am not ignorant that the fleets of Solomon and Jehoshaphat returned
only every three years; but I do not see that the time taken up in the
voyage is any proof of the greatness of the distance.
Pliny and Strabo inform us that the junks of India and the Red Sea were
twenty days in performing a voyage which a Greek or Roman vessel would
accomplish in seven.23 In this
proportion, a voyage of one year, made by the fleets of Greece or Rome,
would take very nearly three when performed by those of Solomon. Two ships
of unequal swiftness do not perform their voyage in a time proportionate
to their swiftness. Slowness is frequently the cause of much greater
slowness. When it becomes necessary to follow the coast, and to be
incessantly in a different position, when they must wait for a fair wind
to get out of a gulf, and for another to proceed, a good sailor takes the
advantage of every favourable moment, while the other still continues in a
difficult situation, and waits many days for another change.
The slowness of the Indian vessels, which in an equal time could make
but the third of the way of those of the Greeks and Romans, may be
explained by what we every day see in our modern navigation. The Indian
vessels, which were built with a kind of sea-rushes, drew less water than
those of Greece and Rome, which were of wood and joined with iron.
We may compare these Indian vessels to those at present made use of in
ports of little depth of water. Such are those of Venice, and even of all
Italy in general.24 of the Baltic,
and of the province of Holland.25
Their ships, which ought to be able to go in and out of port, are built
round and broad at the bottom; while those of other nations, who have good
harbours, are formed to sink deep into the water. This mechanism renders
these last-mentioned vessels able to sail much nearer the wind; while the
first can hardly sail, except the wind be nearly in the poop. A ship that
sinks deep into the water sails towards the same side with almost every
wind; this proceeds from the resistance which the vessel, while driven by
the wind, meets with from the water, from which it receives a strong
support; and from the length of the vessel which presents its side to the
wind, while, from the form of the helm, the prow is turned to the point
proposed; so that she can sail very near the wind, or, in other words,
very near the point whence the wind blows. But when the hull is round and
broad at the bottom, and consequently draws little water, it no longer
finds this steady support; the wind drives the vessel, which is incapable
of resistance, and can run them but with a small variation from the point
opposite to the wind. Whence it follows that broad-bottomed vessels are
longer in performing voyages.
1. They lose much time in waiting for the wind, especially if they are
obliged frequently to change their course, 2. They sail much slower,
because not having a proper support from a depth of water, they cannot
carry so much sail. If this be the case at a time when the arts are
everywhere known, at a time when art corrects the defects of nature, and
even of art itself; if at this time, I say, we find this difference, how
great must that have been in the navigation of the ancients?
I cannot yet leave this subject. The Indian vessels were small, and
those of the Greeks and Romans, if we except those machines built for
ostentation, much less than ours. Now, the smaller the vessel the greater
danger it encounters from foul weather. A tempest that would swallow up a
small vessel would only make a large one roll. The more one body surpasses
another in size, the more its surface is relatively small. Whence it
follows that in a small ship there is a less proportion, that is, a
greater difference in respect to the surface of the vessel, compared with
the weight or lading she can carry, than in a large one. We know that it
is a pretty general practice to make the weight of the lading equal to
that of half the water the vessel could contain. Suppose a vessel will
contain eight hundred tons, her lading then must be four hundred; and that
of a vessel which would hold but four hundred tons of water would be two
hundred tons. Thus the largeness of the first ship will be to the weight
she carries as 8 to 4, and that of the second as 4 to 2. Let us suppose,
then, that the surface of the greater is to the surface of the smaller as
8 to 6; the surface of the latter will be to her weight as 6 to 2,26
while the surface of the former will be to her weight only as 8 to 4.
Therefore as the winds and waves act only upon the surface, the large
vessel will, by her weight, resist their impetuosity much more than the
7. Of the Commerce of the Greeks. The first
Greeks were all pirates. Minos, who enjoyed the empire of the sea, was
only more successful, perhaps, than others in piracy; for his maritime
dominion extended no farther than round his own isle. But when the Greeks
became a great people, the Athenians obtained the real dominion of the
sea; because this trading and victorious nation gave laws to the most
potent monarch of that time,27 and
humbled the maritime powers of Syria, of the isle of Cyprus, and
But this Athenian lordship of the sea deserves to be more particularly
mentioned. "Athens," says Xenophon,28
"rules the sea; but as the country of Attica is joined to the
continent, it is ravaged by enemies while the Athenians are engaged in
distant expeditions. Their leaders suffer their lands to be destroyed, and
secure their wealth by sending it to some island. The populace, who are
not possessed of lands, have no uneasiness. But if the Athenians inhabited
an island, and, besides this, enjoyed the empire of the sea, they would,
so long as they were possessed of these advantages, be able to annoy
others, and at the same time to be out of all danger of being annoyed."
One would imagine that Xenophon was speaking of England.
The Athenians, a people whose heads were filled with ambitious projects;
the Athenians, who augmented their jealousy instead of increasing their
influence; who were more attentive to extend their maritime empire than to
enjoy it; whose political government was such that the common people
distributed the public revenues among themselves, while the rich were in a
state of oppression; the Athenians, I say, did not carry on so extensive a
commerce as might be expected from the produce of their mines, from the
multitude of their slaves, from the number of their seamen, from their
influence over the cities of Greece, and, above all, from the excellent
institutions of Solon. Their trade was almost wholly confined to Greece
and to the Euxine Sea, whence they drew their subsistence.
Corinth was admirably situated; it separated two seas, and opened and
shut the Peloponnesus; it was the key of Greece, and a city of the
greatest importance, at a time when the people of Greece were a world, and
the cities of Greece nations. Its trade was more extensive than that of
Athens, having a port to receive the merchandise of Asia, and another
those of Italy; for the great difficulties which attended the doubling
Cape Malea, where the meeting of opposite winds causes shipwrecks,29
induced every one to go to Corinth, and they could even convey their
vessels over land from one sea to the other. Never was there a city in
which the works of art were carried to so high a degree of perfection. But
here religion finished the corruption which their opulence began. They
erected a temple to Venus, in which more than a thousand courtesans were
consecrated to that deity; from this seminary came the greatest part of
those celebrated beauties whose history Athenæus has presumed to
commit to writing.
It seems that in Homer's time the opulence of Greece centred in Rhodes,
Corinth, and Orchomenus; "Jupiter," he says, "loved the
Rhodians, and made them a very wealthy nation."30
On Corinth he bestows the epithet of rich.31
In like manner, when he speaks of cities that have plenty of gold, he
mentions Orchomenus, to which he joins Thebes in Egypt. Rhodes and Corinth
preserved their power; but Orchomenus lost hers. The situation of
Orchomenus in the neighbourhood of the Hellespont, the Propontis, and the
Euxine Sea makes us naturally imagine that she was indebted for her
opulence to a trade along that maritime coast, which had given rise to the
fable of the golden fleece; and, indeed, the name of Minyeios has
been given to Orchomenus as well as to the Argonauts.32
But these seas becoming afterwards more frequented, the Greeks planted
along the coasts a greater number of colonies, which traded with the
barbarous nations, and at the same time preserved an intercourse with
their mother country. In consequence of this, Orchomenus began to decline,
till at length it was lost in the crowd of the other cities of Greece.
Before Homer's time the Greeks had scarcely any trade but among
themselves, and with a few barbarous nations; in proportion, however, as
they formed new colonies, they extended their dominion. Greece was a large
peninsula, the capes of which seemed to have kept off the seas, while its
gulfs opened on all sides to receive them. if we cast an eye on Greece, we
shall find, in a pretty compact country, a considerable extent of
sea-coast. Her innumerable colonies formed an immense circle round her;
and there she beheld, in some measure, the whole civilised world. Did she
penetrate into Sicily and Italy, she formed new nations. Did she navigate
towards the sea of Pontus, the coast of Asia Minor, or that of Africa, she
acted in the same manner. Her cities increased in prosperity in proportion
as they happened to have new people in their neighbourhood. And what was
extremely beautiful, she was surrounded on every side with a prodigious
number of islands, drawn, as it were, in a line of circumvallation.
What a source of prosperity must Greece have found in those games with
which she entertained, in some measure, the whole globe; in those temples,
to which all the kings of the earth sent their offerings; in those
festivals, at which such a concourse of people used to assemble from all
parts; in those oracles, to which the attention of all mankind was
directed; and, in short, in that exquisite taste for the polite arts,
which she carried to such a height that to expect ever to surpass her
would be only betraying our ignorance!
8. Of Alexander: his Conquests. Four great
events happened in the reign of Alexander which entirely changed the face
of commerce: the taking of Tyre, the conquest of Egypt, that likewise of
the Indies, and the discovery of the sea which lies south of that country.
The empire of Persia extended to the Indus.33
Darius, long before Alexander, had sent some vessels, which sailed down
this river, and passed even into the Red Sea.34
How then were the Greeks the first who traded with the Indies by the
south? Had not the Persians done this before? Did they make no advantage
of seas which were so near them, of the very seas that washed their
coasts? Alexander, it is true, conquered the Indies; but was it necessary
for him to conquer a country in order to trade with it? This is what I
shall now examine.
Ariana,35 which extended from the
Persian Gulf as far as the Indus, and from the South Sea to the mountains
of Paropamisus, depended indeed, in some measure, on the empire of Persia;
but in the southern part it was barren, scorched, rude, and uncultivated.
Tradition relates36 that the armies
of Semiramis and Cyrus perished in these deserts; and Alexander, who
caused his fleet to follow him, could not avoid losing in this place a
great part of his army. The Persians left the whole coast to the
Ichthyophagi,37 the Oritæ,
and other barbarous nations. Besides, the Persians were no great sailors,38
and their very religion debarred them from entertaining any such notion as
that of a maritime commerce. The voyage undertaken by Darius's direction
upon the Indus and the Indian Sea proceeded rather from the capriciousness
of a prince vainly ambitious of showing his power than from any settled
regular project. It was attended with no consequence either to the
advantage of commerce or of navigation. They emerged from their ignorance
only to plunge into it again.
Besides, it was a received opinion39
before the expedition of Alexander that the southern parts of India were
uninhabitable.40 This proceeded
from a tradition that Semiramis41
had brought back thence only twenty men, and Cyrus but seven.
Alexander entered by the north. His design was to march towards the
east; but having found a part of the south full of great nations, cities,
and rivers, he attempted to conquer it, and succeeded.
He then formed a design of uniting the Indies to the western nations by
a maritime commerce, as he had already united them by the colonies he had
established by land.
He ordered a fleet to be built on the Hydaspes, then fell down that
river, entered the Indus, and sailed even to its mouth. He left his army
and his fleet at Patala, went himself with a few vessels to view the sea,
and marked the places where he would have ports to be opened and arsenals
erected. Upon his return from Patala he separated the fleet, and took the
route by land, for the mutual support of fleet and army. The fleet
followed the coast from the Indus along the banks of the country of the
Oritæ, of the Ichthyophagi, of Carmania and Persia. He caused wells
to be dug, built cities, and would not suffer the Ichthyophagi to live on
fish,42 being desirous of having
the borders of the sea inhabited by civilised nations. Nearchus and
Onesecritus wrote a journal of this voyage, which was performed in ten
months. They arrived at Susa, where they found Alexander, who gave an
entertainment to his whole army.
This prince had founded Alexandria, with a view of securing his conquest
of Egypt; this was a key to open it, in the very place where the kings his
predecessors had a key to shut it;43
and he had not the least thought of a commerce of which the discovery of
the Indian Sea could alone give him the idea.
It even seems that after his discovery he had no new design in regard to
Alexandria. He had, indeed, a general scheme of opening a trade between
the East Indies and the western parts of his empire; but as for the
project of conducting this commerce through Egypt, his knowledge was too
imperfect to be able to form any such design. It is true he had seen the
Indus, he had seen the Nile, but he knew nothing of the Arabian seas
between the two rivers. Scarcely had he returned from India when he fitted
out new fleets, and navigated on the Euleus,44
the Tigris, the Euphrates, and the ocean; he removed the cataracts, with
which the Persians had encumbered those rivers; and he discovered that the
Persian Gulf was a branch of the main sea. But as he went to view this sea45
in the same manner as he had done in respect to that of India; as he
caused a port to be opened for a thousand ships, and arsenals to be
erected at Babylon; as he sent five hundred talents into Phoenicia and
Syria, to draw mariners into this service whom he intended to distribute
in the colonies along the coast; in fine, as he caused immense works to be
erected on the Euphrates, and the other rivers of Assyria, there could be
no doubt but he designed to carry on the commerce of India by the way of
Babylon and the Persian Gulf.
There are some who pretend that Alexander wanted to subdue Arabia,46
and had formed a design to make it the seat of his empire: but how could
he have pitched upon a place with which he was entirely unacquainted?47
Besides, of all countries, this would have been the most inconvenient to
him; for it would have separated him from the rest of his empire. The
Caliphs, who made distant conquests, soon withdrew from Arabia to reside
9. Of the Commerce of the Grecian Kings after the
Death of Alexander. At the time when Alexander made the conquest of
Egypt, they had but a very imperfect idea of the Red Sea, and none at all
of the ocean, which, joining this sea, on one side washes the coast of
Africa, and on the other that of Arabia; nay, they thought it impossible
to sail round the peninsula of Arabia. They who attempted it on each side
had relinquished their design. "How is it possible," said they,48
"to navigate to the southern coast of Arabia, when Cambyses' army,
which traversed it on the north side, almost entirely perished; and the
forces which Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, sent to the assistance of Seleucus
Nicator at Babylon, underwent incredible hardships, and, upon account of
the heat, could march only in the night?"
The Persians were entire strangers to navigation. When they had subdued
Egypt, they introduced the same spirit into that country as prevailed in
Persia: hence, so great was the supineness of the Persians in this
respect, that the Grecian kings found them quite strangers, not only to
the commerce of the Tyrians, Idumeans, and the Jews on the ocean, but even
to the navigation of the Red Sea. I am apt to think that the destruction
of the first Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar, together with the subversion of
several petty nations and towns bordering on the Red Sea, had obliterated
all their former knowledge of commerce.
Egypt, at the time of the Persian monarchy, did not front the Red Sea;
it contained only that long narrow neck of land which the Nile covers with
its inundations, and is enclosed on both sides by a chain of mountains.49
They were, therefore, under the necessity of making a second discovery of
the ocean and the Red Sea; and this discovery engaged the curiosity of the
They ascended the Nile, and hunted after elephants in the countries
situated between that river and the sea; by this progression they traced
the sea-coast; and as the discoveries were made by the Greeks, the names
are all Grecian, and the temples are con- secrated to Greek divinities.50
The Greeks settled in Egypt were able to command a most extensive
commerce; they were masters of all the harbours on the Red Sea; Tyre, the
rival of every trading nation, was no more; they were not constrained by
the ancient superstitions51 on the
country; in short, Egypt had become the centre of the world.
The kings of Syria left the commerce of the south to those of Egypt, and
attached themselves only to the northern trade, which was carried on by
means of the Oxus and the Caspian Sea. They then imagined that this sea
was part of the northern ocean; and Alexander,52
some time before his death, had fitted out a fleet53
in order to discover whether it communicated with the ocean by the Euxine
Sea, or some other eastern sea towards India. After him, Seleucus and
Antiochus applied themselves to make discoveries in it, with particular
attention; and with this view they scoured it with their fleets.54
That part which Seleucus surveyed was called the Seleucidian Sea; that
which Antiochus discovered received the name of the Sea of Antiochus.
Attentive to the projects they might have formed on that side, they
neglected the seas on the south; whether it was that the Ptolemies, by
means of their fleets on the Red Sea, had already become the masters of
it, or that they discovered an invincible aversion in the Persians against
engaging in maritime affairs. The southern coasts of Persia supplied them
with no seamen; there had been none in those parts, except towards the
latter end of Alexander's reign. But the Egyptian kings, being masters of
the Isle of Cyprus, of Phoenicia, and of a great number of towns on the
coast of Asia Minor, were possessed of all sorts of conveniences for
undertaking maritime expeditions. They had no occasion to force; they had
only to follow the genius and bent of their subjects.
I am surprised, I confess, at the obstinacy with which the ancients
believed that the Caspian Sea was a part of the ocean. The expeditions of
Alexander, of the kings of Syria, of the Parthians and the Romans, could
not make them change their sentiments; notwithstanding these nations
described the Caspian Sea with wonderful exactness: but men are generally
tenacious of their errors. When only the south of this sea was known, it
was at first taken for the ocean; in proportion as they advanced along the
banks of the northern coast, instead of imagining it a great lake, they
still believed it to be the ocean, that here made a sort of bay: surveying
the coast, their discoveries never went eastward beyond the Jaxartes, nor
westward farther than the extremity of Albania. The sea towards the north
was shallow, and of course very unfit for navigation.55
Hence it was that they always looked upon this as the ocean.
The land army of Alexander had been in the east only as far as the
Hypanis, which is the last of those rivers that fall into the Indus: thus
the first trade which the Greeks carried on with the Indies was confined
to a very small part of the country. Seleucus Nicator penetrated as far as
the Ganges, and thereby discovered the sea into which this river falls,
that is to say, the Bay of Bengal.56
The moderns discover countries by voyages at sea; the ancients discovered
seas by conquests at land.
Strabo,57 notwithstanding the
testimony of Apollodorus, seems to doubt whether the Grecian kings of
Bactria proceeded farther than Seleucus and Alexander.58
Were it even true that they went no farther to the east than Seleucus, yet
they went farther towards the south; they discovered Siger, and the ports
on the coast of Malabar, which gave rise to the navigation I am going to
Pliny informs us that the navigation of the Indies was successively
carried on in three different ways.60
At first they sailed from the Cape of Siagre to the island of Patalena,
which is at the mouth of the Indus. This we find was the course that
Alexander's fleet steered to the Indies. They took afterwards a shorter
and more certain course, by sailing from the same cape or promontory to
Siger:61 this can be no other than
the kingdom of Siger mentioned by Strabo,62
and discovered by the Grecian kings of Bactria. Pliny, by saying that this
way was shorter than the other, can mean only that the voyage was made in
less time: for, as Siger was discovered by the kings of Bactria, it must
have been farther than the Indus: by this passage they must therefore have
avoided the winding of certain coasts, and taken advantage of particular
winds. The merchants at last took a third way; they sailed to Canes, or
Ocelis, ports situated at the entrance of the Red Sea; whence by a west
wind they arrived at Muziris, the first staple town of the Indies, and
thence to the other ports. Here we see that instead of sailing to the
mouth of the Red Sea as far as Siagre, by coasting Arabia Felix to the
north-east, they steered directly from west to east, from one side to the
other, by means of the monsoons, whose regular course they discovered by
sailing in these latitudes. The ancients never lost sight of the coasts,
except when they took advantage of these and the trade-winds, which were
to them a kind of compass.63
Pliny64 says that they set sail
for the Indies in the middle of summer and returned towards the end of
December, or in the beginning of January. This is entirely conformable to
our naval journals. In that part of the Indian Ocean which is between the
Peninsula of Africa, and that on this side the Ganges, there are two
monsoons; the first, during which the winds blow from west to east, begins
in the month of August or September; and the second, during which the wind
is in the east, begins in January. Thus we set sail from Africa for
Malabar at the season of the year that Ptolemy's fleet used to put to sea
thence; and we return too at the same time as they.
Alexander's fleet was seven months in sailing from Patala to Susa. It
set out in the month of July, that is, at a season when no ship dare now
put to sea to return from the Indies. Between these two monsoons there is
an interval during which the winds vary; when a north wind, meeting with
the common winds, raises, especially near the coasts, the most terrible
tempests. These continue during the months of June, July, and August.
Alexander's fleet, therefore, setting sail from Patala in the month of
July, must have been exposed to many storms, and the voyage must have been
long, because they sailed against the monsoon.
Pliny says that they set out for the Indies at the end of summer; thus
they spent the time proper for taking advantage of the monsoon in their
passage from Alexandria to the Red Sea.
Observe here, I pray, how navigation has, little by little, arrived at
perfection. Darius's fleet was two years and a half in falling down the
Indus and going to the Red Sea.65
Afterwards the fleet of Alexander,66
descending the Indus, arrived at Susa, in ten months, having sailed three
months on the Indus, and seven on the Indian Ocean; at last the passage
from the coast of Malabar to the Red Sea was made in forty days.67
Strabo,68 who accounts for their
ignorance of the countries between the Hypanis and the Ganges, says there
were very few of those who sailed from Egypt to the Indies that ever
proceeded so far as the Ganges. Their fleets, in fact, never went thither:
they sailed with the western monsoons from the mouth of the Red Sea to the
coast of Malabar. They cast anchor in the ports along that coast, and
never attempted to get round the peninsula on this side the Ganges by Cape
Comorin and the coast of Coromandel. The plan of navigation laid down by
the kings of Egypt and the Romans was to set out and return the same year.69
Thus it is demonstrable that the commerce of the Greeks and Romans to
the Indies was much less extensive than ours. We know immense countries,
which to them were entirely unknown; we traffic with all the Indian
nations; we even manage their trade and carry on their commerce. But this
commerce of the ancients was carried on with far greater facility than
ours. And if the moderns were to trade only with the coast of Guzerat and
Malabar, and, without seeking for the southern isles, were satisfied with
what these islanders brought them, they would certainly prefer the way of
Egypt to that of the Cape of Good Hope. Strabo informs us70
that they traded thus with the people of Taprobane.
10. Of the Circuit of Africa. We find from
history that before the discovery of the mariner's compass four attempts
were made to sail round the coast of Africa. The Phoenicians sent by Necho71
and Eudoxus,72 flying from the
wrath of Ptolemy Lathyrus, set out from the Red Sea, and succeeded.
Sataspes73 sent by Xerxes, and
Hanno by the Carthaginians, set out from the Pillars of Hercules, and
failed in the attempt.
The capital point in surrounding Africa was to discover and double the
Cape of Good Hope. Those who set out from the Red Sea found this cape
nearer by half than it would have been in setting out from the
Mediterranean. The shore from the Red Sea is not so shallow as that from
the cape to Hercules' Pillars.74
The discovery of the cape by Hercules' Pillars was owing to the invention
of the compass, which permitted them to leave the coast of Africa, and to
launch out into the vast ocean, in order to sail towards the island of St.
Helena, or towards the coast of Brazil.75
It was, therefore, possible for them to sail from the Red Sea into the
Mediterranean, but not to set out from the Mediterranean to return by the
Thus, without making this grand circuit, after which they could hardly
hope to return, it was most natural to trade to the east of Africa by the
Red Sea, and to the western coast by Hercules' Pillars.
The Grecian kings of Egypt discovered at first, in the Red Sea, that
part of the coast of Africa which extends from the bottom of the gulf,
where stands the town of Heroum, as far as Dira, that is, to the strait
now known by the name of Babelmandel. Thence to the promontory of
Aromatia, situate at the entrance of the Red Sea,76
the coast had never been surveyed by navigators: and this is evident from
what Artemidorus tells us,77 that
they were acquainted with the places on that coast, but knew not their
distances: the reason of which is, they successively gained a knowledge of
those ports by land, without sailing from one to the other.
Beyond this promontory, at which the coast along the ocean commenced,
they knew nothing, as we learn from Eratosthenes and Artemidorus.78
Such was the knowledge they had of the coasts of Africa in Strabo's
time, that is, in the reign of Augustus. But after the prince's decease,
the Romans found out the two capes Raptum and Prassum, of which Strabo
makes no mention, because they had not as yet been discovered. It is plain
that both those names are of Roman origin.
Ptolemy, the geographer, flourished under Adrian and Antoninus Pius; and
the author of the Periplus of the Red Sea, whoever he was, lived a
little after. Yet the former limits known Africa to Cape Prassum,79
which is in about the 14th degree of south latitude; while the author of
the Periplus80 confines it
to Cape Raptum, which is nearly in the tenth degree of the same latitude.
In all likelihood the latter took his limit from a place then frequented,
and Ptolemy his from a place with which there was no longer any
What confirms me in this notion is that the people about Cape Prassum
were Anthropophagi.81 Ptolemy takes
notice82 of a great number of
places between the port or emporium Aromatum and Cape Raptum, but leaves
an entire blank between Capes Raptum and Prassum. The great profits of the
East India trade must have occasioned a neglect of that of Africa. In
fine, the Romans never had any settled navigation; they had discovered
these several ports by land expeditions, and by means of ships driven on
that coast; and as at present we are well acquainted with the maritime
parts of Africa, but know very little of the inland country, the ancients,
on the contrary, had a very good knowledge of the inland parts, but were
almost strangers to the coasts.83
I said that the Phoenicians sent by Necho and Eudoxus under Ptolemy
Lathyrus had made the circuit of Africa; but at the time of Ptolemy, the
geographer, those two voyages must have been looked upon as fabulous,
since he places after84 the Sinus
Magnus, which I apprehend to be the Gulf of Siam, an unknown country,
extending from Asia to Africa, and terminating at Cape Prassum, so that
the Indian Ocean would have been no more than a lake. The ancients who
discovered the Indies towards the north, advancing eastward, placed this
unknown country to the south.
11. Of Carthage and Marseilles. The law of
nations which prevailed at Carthage was very extraordinary: all strangers
who traded to Sardinia and towards Hercules' Pillars this haughty republic
sentenced to be drowned. Her civil polity was equally surprising; she
forbade the Sardinians to cultivate their lands, upon pain of death. She
increased her power by her riches, and afterwards her riches by her power.
Being mistress of the coasts of Africa, which are washed by the
Mediterranean, she extended herself along the ocean. Hanno, by order of
the senate of Carthage, distributed thirty thousand Carthaginians from
Hercules' Pillars as far as Cerne. This place, he says, is as distant from
Hercules' Pillars as the latter from Carthage. This situation is extremely
remarkable. It lets us see that Hanno limited his settlements to the 25th
degree of north latitude; that is, to two or three degrees south of the
Hanno being at Cerne undertook another voyage, with a view of making
further discoveries towards the south. He took but little notice of the
continent. He followed the coast for twenty-six days, when he was obliged
to return for want of provisions. The Carthaginians, it seems, made no use
of this second enterprise. Scylax says85
that the sea is not navigable beyond Cerne, because it is shallow, full of
mud and sea-weeds:86 and, in fact,
there are many of these in those latitudes.87
The Carthaginian merchants mentioned by Scylax might find obstacles which
Hanno, who had sixty vessels of fifty oars each, had surmounted.
Difficulties are at most but relative; besides, we ought not to confound
an enterprise in which bravery and resolution must be exerted with things
that require no extraordinary conduct.
The relation of Hanno's voyage is a fine fragment of antiquity. It was
written by the very man that performed it.
His recital is not mingled with ostentation. Great commanders write
their actions with simplicity; because they receive more glory from facts
than from words.
The style is agreeable to the subject; he deals not in the marvellous.
All he says of the climate, of the soil, the behaviour, the manners of the
inhabitants, correspond with what is every day seen on this coast of
Africa; one would imagine it the journal of a modern sailor.
He observed from his fleet that in the day-time there was a prodigious
silence on the continent, that in the night he heard the sound of various
musical instruments, and that fires might then be everywhere seen, some
larger than others.88 Our relations
are conformable to this; it has been discovered that in the day the
savages retire into the forests to avoid the heat of the sun, that they
light up great fires in the night to disperse the beasts of prey, and that
they are passionately fond of music and dancing.
The same writer describes a volcano with all the phenomena of Vesuvius;
and relates that he captured two hairy women, who chose to die rather than
follow the Carthaginians, and whose skins he carried to Carthage. This has
been found not void of probability.
This narration is so much the more valuable as it is a monument of Punic
antiquity; and hence alone it has been regarded as fabulous. For the
Romans retained their hatred of the Carthaginians, even after they had
destroyed them. But it was victory alone that decided whether we ought to
say the Punic or the Roman faith.
Some moderns89 have imbibed these
prejudices. What has become, say they, of the cities described by Hanno,
of which even in Pliny's time there remained no vestiges? But it would
have been a wonder indeed if any such vestiges had remained. Was it a
Corinth or Athens that Hanno built on those coasts? He left Carthaginian
families in such places as were most commodious for trade, and secured
them as well as his hurry would permit against savages and wild beasts.
The calamities of the Carthaginians put a period to the navigation of
Africa; these families must necessarily then either perish or become
savages. Besides, were the ruins of these cities even still in being, who
is it that would venture into the woods and marshes to make the discovery?
We find, however, in Scylax and Polybius that the Carthaginians had
considerable settlements on those coasts. These are the vestiges of the
cities of Hanno; there are no others, for the same reason that there are
no others of Carthage itself.
The Carthaginians were in the high road to wealth; and had they gone so
far as four degrees of north latitude, and fifteen of longitude, they
would have discovered the Gold Coast. They would then have had a trade of
much greater importance than that which is carried on at present on that
coast, at a time when America seems to have degraded the riches of all
other countries. They would there have found treasures of which they could
never have been deprived by the Romans.
Very surprising things have been said of the riches of Spain. If we may
believe Aristotle,90 the
Phoenicians who arrived at Tartessus found so much silver there that their
ships could not hold it all; and they made of this metal their meanest
utensils. The Carthaginians, according to Diodorus,91
found so much gold and silver in the Pyrenean mountains, that they adorned
the anchors of their ships with it. But no foundation can be built on such
popular reports. Let us therefore examine the facts themselves.
We find in a fragment of Polybius, cited by Strabo,92
that the silver mines at the source of the river Bætis, in which
forty thousand men were employed, produced to the Romans twenty-five
thousand drachmas a day, that is, about five million livres a year, at
fifty livres to the mark. The mountains that contained these mines were
called the Silver Mountains:93
which shows they were the Potosi of those times. At present, the mines of
Hanover do not employ a fourth part of the workmen, and yet they yield
more. But as the Romans had not many copper mines, and but few of silver;
and as the Greeks knew none but the Attic mines, which were of little
value, they might well be astonished at their abundance.
In the war that broke out for the succession of Spain, a man called the
Marquis of Rhodes, of whom it was said that he was ruined in gold mines
and enriched in hospitals,94
proposed to the court of France to open the Pyrenean mines. He alleged the
example of the Tyrians, the Carthaginians, and the Romans. He was
permitted to search, but sought in vain; he still alleged, and found
The Carthaginians, being masters of the gold and silver trade, were
willing to be so of the lead and pewter. These metals were carried by land
from the ports of Gaul upon the ocean to those of the Mediterranean. The
Carthaginians were desirous of receiving them at the first hand; they sent
Himilco to make a settlement in the isles called Cassiterides,95
which are imagined to be those of Scilly.
These voyages from Bætica into England have made some persons
imagine that the Carthaginians knew the compass: but it is very certain
that they followed the coasts. There needs no other proof than Himilco's
being four months in sailing from the mouth of the Bætis to England;
besides, the famous piece of history of the Carthaginian96
pilot who, being followed by a Roman vessel, ran aground, that he might
not show her the way to England,97
plainly intimates that those vessels were very near the shore when they
fell in with each other.
The ancients might have performed voyages that would make one imagine
they had the compass, though they had not. If a pilot was far from land,
and during his voyage had such serene weather that in the night he could
always see a polar star and in the day the rising and setting of the sun,
it is certain he might regulate his course as well as we do now by the
compass: but this must be a fortuitous case, and not a regular method of
We see in the treaty which put an end to the first Punic war that
Carthage was principally attentive to preserve the empire of the sea, and
Rome that of the land. Hanno,98 in
his negotiation with the Romans, declared that they should not be suffered
even to wash their hands in the sea of Sicily; they were not permitted to
sail beyond the promontorium pulchrum; they were forbidden to
trade in Sicily, Sardinia, and Africa, except at Carthage:99
an exception that proves there was no design to favour them in their trade
with that city.
In early times there had been very great wars between Carthage and
Marseilles100 on the subject of
fishing. After the peace they entered jointly into economical commerce.
Marseilles at length grew jealous, especially as, being equal to her rival
in industry, she had become inferior to her in power. This is the motive
of her great fidelity to the Romans. The war between the latter and the
Carthaginians in Spain was a source of riches to Marseilles, which had now
become their magazine. The ruin of Carthage and Corinth still increased
the glory of Marseilles, and had it not been for the civil wars, in which
this republic ought on no account to have engaged, she would have been
happy under the protection of the Romans, who were not the least jealous
of her commerce.
12. The Isle of Delos. Mithridates. Upon the
destruction of Corinth by the Romans, the merchants retired to Delos, an
island which from religious considerations was looked upon as a place of
safety:101 besides, it was
extremely well situated for the commerce of Italy and Asia, which, since
the reduction of Africa and the weakening of Greece, had grown more
From the earliest times the Greeks, as we have already observed, sent
colonies to Propontis and to the Euxine Sea — colonies which retained
their laws and liberties under the Persians. Alexander, having undertaken
his expedition against the barbarians only, did not molest these people.102
Neither does it appear that the kings of Pontus, who were masters of many
of those colonies, ever deprived them of their own civil government.103
The power of those kings increased as soon as they subdued those cities.104
Mithridates found himself able to hire troops on every side; to repair his
frequent losses; to have a multitude of workmen, ships, and military
machines; to procure himself allies; to bribe those of the Romans, and
even the Romans themselves; to keep the barbarians of Asia and Europe in
his pay;105 to continue the war
for many years, and of course to discipline his troops, he found himself
able to train them to arms, to instruct them in the military art of the
Romans,106 and to form
considerable bodies out of their deserters; in a word, he found himself
able to sustain great losses, and to be frequently defeated, without being
ruined;107 neither would he have
been ruined if the voluptuous and barbarous king had not destroyed, in his
prosperous days, what had been done by the great prince in times of
Thus it was that when the Romans had arrived at their highest pitch of
grandeur, and seemed to have nothing to apprehend but from the ambition of
their own subjects, Mithridates once more ventured to contest the mighty
point, which the overthrow of Philip, of Antiochus, and of Perseus had
already decided. Never was there a more destructive war: the two
contending parties, being possessed of great power, and receiving
alternate advantages, the inhabitants of Greece and of Asia fell a
sacrifice in the quarrel, either as foes, or as friends of Mithridates.
Delos was involved in the general fatality, and commerce failed on every
side: which was a necessary consequence, the people themselves being
The Romans, in pursuance of a system of which I have spoken elsewhere,108
acting as destroyers, that they might not appear as conquerors, demolished
Carthage and Corinth; a practice by which they would have ruined
themselves had they not subdued the world. When the kings of Pontus became
masters of the Greek colonies on the Euxine Sea, they took care not to
destroy what was to be the foundation of their own grandeur.
13. Of the Genius of the Romans as to Maritime
Affairs. The Romans laid no stress on anything but their land forces,
who were disciplined to stand firm, to fight on one spot, and there
bravely to die. They could not like the practice of seamen, who first
offer to fight, then fly, then return, constantly avoid danger, often make
use of stratagem, and seldom of force. This was not suitable to the genius
of the Greeks109 much less to that
of the Romans.
They destined therefore to the sea only those citizens who were not
considerable enough to have a place in their legions.110
Their marines were commonly freedmen.
At this time we have neither the same esteem for land forces nor the
same contempt for those of the sea. In the former, art has decreased;111
in the latter, it has augmented:112
now things are generally esteemed in proportion to the degree of ability
requisite to discharge them.
14. Of the Genius of the Romans with respect to
Commerce. The Romans were never distinguished by a jealousy for trade.
They attacked Carthage as a rival, not as a commercial nation. They
favoured trading cities that were not subject to them. Thus they increased
the power of Marseilles by the cession of a large territory. They were
vastly afraid of barbarians, but had not the least apprehension from a
trading people. Their genius, their glory, their military education, and
the very form of their government estranged them from commerce.
In the city, they were employed only about war, elections, factions, and
law-suits; in the country, about agriculture; and as for the provinces, a
severe and tyrannical government was incompatible with commerce.
But their political constitution was not more opposed to trade than
their law of nations. "The people," says Pomponius, the
civilian,113 "with whom we
have neither friendship, nor hospitality nor alliance, are not our
enemies; however, if anything belonging to us falls into their hands, they
are the proprietors of it; freemen become their slaves; and they are upon
the same terms with respect to us."
Their civil law was not less oppressive. The law of Constantine,114
after having stigmatised as bastards the children of a mean rank who had
been married to those of a superior station, confounds women who retail
merchandise with slaves, with the mistresses of taverns, with actresses,
with the daughters of those who keep public stews, or who had been
condemned to fight in the amphitheatre; this had its origin in the ancient
institutions of the Romans.
I am not ignorant that men prepossessed with these two ideas (that
commerce is of the greatest service to a state, and that the Romans had
the best-regulated government in the world) have believed that these
people greatly honoured and encouraged commerce; but the truth is, they
seldom troubled their heads about it.
15. Of the Commerce of the Romans with the
Barbarians. The Romans having erected a vast empire in Europe, Asia,
and Africa, the weakness of the people and the tyranny of their laws
united all the parts of this immense body. The Roman policy was then to
avoid all communication with those nations whom they had not subdued: the
fear of carrying to them the art of conquering made them neglect the art
of enriching themselves. They made laws to hinder all commerce with
barbarians. "Let nobody," said Valens and Gratian,115
"send wine, oil, or other liquors to the barbarians, though it be
only for them to taste." "Let no one carry gold to them,"
add Gratian, Valentinian, and Theodosius;116
"rather, if they have any, let our subjects deprive them of it by
stratagem." The exportation of iron was prohibited on pain of death.
Domitian, a prince of great timidity, ordered the vines in Gaul to be
pulled up,117 from fear, no doubt,
lest their wines should draw thither the barbarians. Probus and Julian,
who had no such fears, gave orders for their being planted again.
I am sensible that upon the declension of the Roman empire the
barbarians obliged the Romans to establish staple towns, and to trade with
them. But even this is a proof that the minds of the Romans were averse to
16. Of the Commerce of the Romans with Arabia and
the Indies. The trade to Arabia Felix, and that to the Indies, were
the two branches, and almost the only ones, of their foreign commerce. The
Arabians were possessed of immense riches, which they found in their seas
and forests; and as they sold much and purchased little, they drew to
themselves the gold and silver of the Romans.119
Augustus,120 being well apprised
of that opulence, resolved they should be either his friends or his
enemies. With this view he sent Ælius Gallus from Egypt into Arabia.
This commander found the people indolent, peaceable, and unskilled in war.
He fought battles, laid sieges to towns, and lost but seven of his men by
the sword; but the perfidy of his guides, long marches, the climate, want
of provisions, distempers, and ill-conduct, caused the ruin of his army.
He was therefore obliged to be content with trading to Arabia, in the
same manner as other nations; that is, with giving them gold and silver in
exchange for their commodities. The Europeans trade with them still in the
same manner; the caravans of Aleppo and the royal vessel of Suez carry
thither immense sums.121
Nature had formed the Arabs for commerce, not for war; but when those
quiet people came to be near neighbours to the Parthians and the Romans,
they acted as auxiliaries to both nations. Ælius Gallus found them a
trading people; Mahomet happened to find them trained to war; he inspired
them with enthusiasm, which led them to glory and conquest.
The commerce of the Romans to the Indies was very considerable. Strabo122
had been informed in Egypt that they employed in this navigation one
hundred and twenty vessels; this commerce was carried on entirely with
bullion. They sent thither annually fifty millions of sesterces. Pliny123
says that the merchandise brought thence was sold at Rome at cent.
per cent profit. He speaks, I believe, too generally; if this trade had
been so vastly profitable, everybody would have been willing to engage in
it, and then it would have been at an end.
It will admit of a question, whether the trade to Arabia and the Indies
was of any advantage to the Romans. They were obliged to export their
bullion thither, though they had not, like us, the resource of America,
which supplies what we send away. I am persuaded that one of the reasons
of their increasing the value of their specie by establishing base coin
was the scarcity of silver, owing to the continual exportation of it to
the Indies: and though the commodities of this country were sold at Rome
at the rate of cent. per cent, this profit of the Romans, being
obtained from the Romans themselves, could not enrich the empire.
It may be alleged, on the other hand, that this commerce increased the
Roman navigation, and of course their power; that new merchandise
augmented their inland trade, gave encouragement to the arts, and
employment to the industrious; that the number of subjects multiplied in
proportion to the new means of support; that this new commerce was
productive of luxury, which I have proved to be as favourable to a
monarchical government as fatal to a commonwealth; that this establishment
was of the same date as the fall of their republic; that the luxury of
Rome had become necessary; and that it was extremely proper that a city
which had accumulated all the wealth of the universe should refund it by
Strabo says124 that the Romans
carried on a far more extensive commerce with the Indies than the kings of
Egypt; but it is very extraordinary that those people who were so little
acquainted with commerce should have paid more attention to that of India
than the Egyptian kings, whose dominions lay so conveniently for it. The
reason of this must be explained.
After the death of Alexander, the kings of Egypt established a maritime
commerce with the Indies; while the kings of Syria, who were possessed of
the more eastern provinces, and consequently of the Indies, maintained
that commerce of which we have taken notice in the sixth chapter, which
was carried on partly by land, and partly by rivers, and had been further
facilitated by means of the Macedonian colonies; insomuch that Europe had
communication with the Indies both by Egypt and by Syria. The dismembering
of the latter kingdom, whence was formed that of Bactriana, did not prove
in any way prejudicial to this commerce. Marinus the Tyrian, quoted by
Ptolemy,125 mentions the
discoveries made in India by means of some Macedonian merchants, who found
out new roads, which had been unknown to kings in their military
expeditions. We find in Ptolemy126
that they went from Peter's tower127
as far as Sera; and the discovery made by mercantile people of so distant
a mart, situated in the north-east part of China, was a kind of prodigy.
Hence, under the kings of Syria and Bactriana, merchandise was conveyed to
the west from the southern parts of India, by the river Indus, the Oxus,
and the Caspian Sea; while those of the more eastern and northern parts
were transported from Sera, Peter's tower, and other staples, as far as
the Euphrates. Those merchants directed their route nearly by the fortieth
degree of north latitude, through countries situated to the west of China,
more civilised at that time than at present, because they had not as yet
been infested by the Tartars.
Now while the Syrian empire was extending its trade to such a distance
by land, Egypt did not greatly enlarge its maritime commerce.
The Parthians soon after appeared, and founded their empire; and when
Egypt fell under the power of the Romans, this empire was at its height,
and had received its whole extension.
The Romans and Parthians were two rival nations, that fought not for
dominion but for their very existence. Between the two empires deserts
were formed and armies were always stationed on the frontiers; so that
instead of there being any commerce, there was not so much as
communication between them. Ambition, jealousy, religion, national
antipathy, and difference of manners completed the separation. Thus the
trade from east to west, which had formerly so many channels, was reduced
to one; and Alexandria becoming the only staple, the trade to this city
was immensely enlarged.
We shall say but one word of their inland trade. Its principal branch
was the corn brought to Rome for the subsistence of the people; but this
was rather a political affair than a point of commerce. On this account
the sailors were favoured with some privileges, because the safety of the
empire depended on their vigilance.128
17. Of Commerce after the Destruction of the
Western Empire. After the invasion of the Roman empire one effect of
the general calamity was the destruction of commerce. The barbarous
nations at first regarded it only as an opportunity for robbery; and when
they had subdued the Romans, they honoured it no more than agriculture,
and the other professions of a conquered people.
Soon was the commerce of Europe almost entirely lost. The nobility, who
had everywhere the direction of affairs, were in no pain about it.
The laws of the Visigoths129
permitted private people to occupy half the beds of great rivers, provided
the other half remained free for nets and boats. There must have been very
little trade in countries conquered by these barbarians.
In those times were established the ridiculous rights of escheatage and
shipwrecks. These men thought that, as strangers were not united to them
by any civil law, they owed them on the one hand no kind of justice, and
on the other no sort of pity.
In the narrow bounds which nature had originally prescribed to the
people of the north, all were strangers to them: and in their poverty they
regarded all only as contributing to their riches. Being established,
before their conquest, on the coasts of a sea of very little breadth, and
full of rocks, from these very rocks they drew their subsistence.
But the Romans, who made laws for all the world, had established the
most humane ones with regard to shipwrecks.130
They suppressed the rapine of those who inhabited the coasts, and what was
more still, the rapacity of their treasuries.131
18. A particular Regulation. The law of the
Visigoths made, however, one regulation in favour of commerce.132
It ordained that foreign merchants should be judged, in the differences
that arose among themselves, by the laws and by judges of their own
nation. This was founded on an established custom among all mixed people,
that every man should live under his own law — a custom of which I
shall speak more at large in another place.
19. Of Commerce after the Decay of the Roman
Power in the East. The Mahomedans appeared, conquered, extended, and
dispersed themselves. Egypt had particular sovereigns; these carried on
the commerce of India, and being possessed of the merchandise of this
country, drew to themselves the riches of all other nations. The sultans
of Egypt were the most powerful princes of those times. History informs us
with what a constant and well-regulated force they stopped the ardour, the
fire, and the impetuosity of the crusades.
20. How Commerce broke through the Barbarism of
Europe. Aristotle's philosophy being carried to the west, pleased the
subtle geniuses who were the virtuosi of those times of ignorance. The
schoolmen were infatuated with it, and borrowed from that philosopher133
a great many notions on lending upon interest, whereas its source might
have been easily traced in the gospel; in short, they condemned it
absolutely and in all cases. Hence commerce, which was the profession only
of mean persons, became that of knaves; for whenever a thing is forbidden,
which nature permits or necessity requires, those who do it are looked
upon as dishonest.
Commerce was transferred to a nation covered with infamy, and soon
ranked with the most shameful usury, with monopolies, with the levying of
subsidies, and with all the dishonest means of acquiring wealth.
The Jews, enriched by their exactions, were pillaged by the tyranny of
princes; which pleased indeed, but did not ease, the people.134
What passed in England may serve to give us an idea of what was done in
other countries. King John135
having imprisoned the Jews, in order to obtain their wealth, there were
few who had not at least one of their eyes plucked out. Thus did that king
administer justice. A certain Jew, who had a tooth pulled out every day
for seven days successively, gave ten thousand marks of silver for the
eighth. Henry III extorted from Aaron, a Jew at York, fourteen thousand
marks of silver, and ten thousand for the queen, in those times they did
by violence what is now done in Poland with some semblance of moderation.
As princes could not dive into the purses of their subjects because of
their privileges, they put the Jews to the torture, who were not
considered as citizens.
At last a custom was introduced of confiscating the effects of those
Jews who embraced Christianity. This ridiculous custom is known only by
the law which suppressed it.136
The most vain and trifling reasons were given in justification of that
proceeding; it was alleged that it was proper to try them, in order to be
certain that they had entirely shaken off the slavery of the devil. But it
is evident that this confiscation was a species of the right of
amortisation, to recompense the prince, or the lords, for the taxes levied
on the Jews, which ceased on their embracing Christianity.137
In those times, men, like lands, were regarded as property. I cannot help
remarking, by the way, how this nation has been sported with from one age
to another: at one time, their effects were confiscated when they were
willing to become Christians; and at another, if they refused to turn
Christians, they were ordered to be burned.
In the meantime, commerce was seen to arise from the bosom of vexation
and despair. The Jews, proscribed by turns from every country, found out
the way of saving their effects. Thus they rendered their retreats for
ever fixed; for though princes might have been willing to get rid of their
persons, yet they did not choose to get rid of their money.
The Jews invented letters of exchange;138
commerce, by this method, became capable of eluding violence, and of
maintaining everywhere its ground; the richest merchant having none but
invisible effects, which he could convey imperceptibly wherever he
The Theologians were obliged to limit their principles; and commerce,
which they had before connected by main force with knavery, reentered, if
I may so express myself, the bosom of probity.
Thus we owe to the speculations of the schoolmen all the misfortunes
which accompanied the destruction of commerce;139
and to the avarice of princes, the establishment of a practice which puts
it in some measure out of their power.
From this time it became necessary that princes should govern with more
prudence than they themselves could ever have imagined; for great
exertions of authority were, in the event, found to be impolitic; and from
experience it is manifest that nothing but the goodness and lenity of a
government can make it flourish.
We begin to be cured of Machiavelism, and recover from it every day.
More moderation has become necessary in the councils of princes. What
would formerly have been called a master-stroke in politics would be now,
independent of the horror it might occasion, the greatest imprudence.
Happy is it for men that they are in a situation in which, though their
passions prompt them to be wicked, it is, nevertheless, to their interest
to be humane and virtuous.
21. The Discovery of two new Worlds, and in what
Manner Europe is affected by it. The compass opened, if I may so
express myself, the universe. Asia and Africa were found, of which only
some borders were known; and America, of which we knew nothing.
The Portuguese, sailing on the Atlantic Ocean, discovered the most
southern point of Africa; they saw a vast sea, which carried them to the
East Indies. Their danger upon this sea, the discovery of Mozambique,
Melinda, and Calicut, have been sung by Camoens, whose poems make us feel
something of the charms of the Odyssey and the magnificence of the
The Venetians had hitherto carried on the trade of the Indies through
the Turkish dominions, and pursued it in the midst of oppressions and
discouragements. By the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope, and those
which were made some time after, Italy was no longer the centre of the
trading world; it was, if I may be permitted the expression, only a corner
of the universe, and is so still. The commerce even of the Levant
depending now on that of the great trading nations to both the Indies,
Italy even in that branch can no longer be considered as a principal.
The Portuguese traded to the Indies in right of conquest. The
constraining laws which the Dutch at present impose on the commerce of the
little Indian princes had been established before by the Portuguese.140
The fortune of the house of Austria was prodigious. Charles V succeeded
to the possession of Burgundy, Castile, and Aragon; he arrived afterwards
at the imperial dignity; and to procure him a new kind of grandeur, the
globe extended itself, and there was seen a new world paying him
Christopher Columbus discovered America; and though Spain sent thither
only a force so small that the least prince in Europe could have sent the
same, yet it subdued two vast empires, and other great states.
While the Spaniards discovered and conquered the west, the Portuguese
pushed their conquests and discoveries in the east. These two nations met
each other; they had recourse to Pope Alexander VI, who made the
celebrated line of partition, and determined the great suit.
But the other nations of Europe would not suffer them quietly to enjoy
their shares. The Dutch chased the Portuguese from almost all their
settlements in the East Indies; and several other nations planted colonies
The Spaniards considered these newly-discovered countries as the subject
of conquest; while others, more refined in their views, found them to be
the proper subjects of commerce, and upon this principle directed their
proceedings. Hence several nations have conducted themselves with so much
wisdom that they have given a kind of sovereignty to companies of
merchants, who, governing these far-distant countries only with a view to
trade, have made a great accessory power without embarrassing the
The colonies they have formed are under a kind of dependence, of which
there are but very few instances in all the colonies of the ancients;
whether we consider them as holdings of the state itself, or of some
trading company established in the state.
The design of these colonies is to trade on more advantageous conditions
than could otherwise be done with the neighbouring people, with whom all
advantages are reciprocal. It has been established that the metropolis,141
or mother country, alone shall trade in the colonies, and that from very
good reason; because the design of the settlement was the extension of
commerce, not the foundation of a city or of a new empire.
Thus it is still a fundamental law of Europe that all commerce with a
foreign colony shall be regarded as a mere monopoly, punishable by the
laws of the country; and in this case we are not to be directed by the
laws and precedents of the ancients, which are not at all applicable.142
It is likewise acknowledged that a commerce established between the
mother countries does not include a permission to trade in the colonies;
for these always continue in a state of prohibition.
The disadvantage of a colony that loses the liberty of commerce is
visibly compensated by the protection of the mother country, who defends
it by her arms, or supports it by her laws.
Hence follows a third law of Europe, that when a foreign commerce with a
colony is prohibited, it is not lawful to trade in those seas, except in
such cases as are excepted by treaty. Nations who are, with respect to the
whole globe, what individuals are in a state, are governed like the latter
by the laws of nature, and by particular laws of their own making. One
nation may resign to another the sea, as well as the land. The
Carthaginians forbade the Romans to sail beyond certain limits,143
as the Greeks had obliged the King of Persia to keep as far distant from
the sea-coast as a horse could gallop.144
The great distance of our colonies is not an inconvenience that affects
their safety; for if the mother country, on whom they depend for their
defence, is remote, no less remote are those nations who rival the mother
country, and by whom they may be afraid of being conquered.
Besides, this distance is the cause that those who are established there
cannot conform to the manner of living in a climate so different from
their own; they are obliged therefore to draw from the mother country all
the conveniences of life. The Carthaginians,145
to render the Sardinians and Corsicans more dependent, forbade their
planting, sowing, or doing anything of the kind, under pain of death; so
that they supplied them with necessaries from Africa.
The Europeans have compassed the same thing, without having recourse to
such severe laws. Our colonies in the Caribbean islands are under an
admirable regulation in this respect; the subject of their commerce is
what we neither have nor can produce; and they want what is the subject of
A consequence of the discovery of America was the connecting Asia and
Africa with Europe; it furnished materials for a trade with that vast part
of Asia known by the name of the East Indies. Silver, that metal so useful
as the medium of commerce, became now as merchandise the basis of the
greatest commerce in the world. In fine, the navigation to Africa became
necessary in order to furnish us with men to labour in the mines, and to
cultivate the lands of America.
Europe has arrived at so high a degree of power that nothing in history
can be compared with it, whether we consider the immensity of its
expenses, the grandeur of its engagements, the number of its troops, and
the regular payments even of those that are least serviceable, and which
are kept only for ostentation.
Father Du Halde says146 that the
interior trade of China is much greater than that of all Europe. That
might be, if our foreign trade did not augment our inland commerce. Europe
carries on the trade and navigation of the other three parts of the world;
as France, England, and Holland do nearly that of Europe.
22. Of the Riches which Spain drew from America.
If Europe has derived so many advantages from the American trade, it seems
natural to imagine that Spain must have derived much greater.147
She drew from the newly- discovered world so prodigious a quantity of gold
and silver, that all we had before could not be compared with it.
But (what one could never have expected) this great kingdom was
everywhere baffled by its misfortunes. Philip II, who succeeded Charles V,
was obliged to make the celebrated bankruptcy known to all the world.
There never was a prince who suffered more from the murmurs, the
insolence, and the revolt of troops constantly ill-paid.
From that time the monarchy of Spain has been incessantly declining.
This has been owing to an interior and physical defect in the nature of
those riches, which renders them vain — a defect which increases
Gold and silver are either a fictitious or a representative wealth. The
representative signs of wealth are extremely durable, and, in their own
nature, but little subject to decay. But the more they are multiplied, the
more they lose their value, because the fewer are the things which they
The Spaniards, after the conquest of Mexico and Peru, abandoned their
natural riches, in pursuit of a representative wealth which daily degraded
itself. Gold and silver were extremely scarce in Europe, and Spain
becoming all of a sudden mistress of a prodigious quantity of these
metals, conceived hopes to which she had never before aspired. The wealth
she found in the conquered countries, great as it was, did not, however,
equal that of their mines. The Indians concealed part of it; and besides,
these people, who made no other use of gold and silver than to give
magnificence to the temples of their gods and to the palaces of their
kings, sought not for it with an avarice like ours. In short, they had not
the secret of drawing these metals from every mine; but only from those in
which the separation might be made with fire: they were strangers to the
manner of making use of mercury, and perhaps to mercury itself.
However, it was not long before the specie of Europe was doubled; this
appeared from the price of commodities, which everywhere was doubled.
The Spaniards raked into the mines, scooped out mountains, invented
machines to draw out water, to break the ore, and separate it; and as they
sported with the lives of the Indians, they forced them to labour without
mercy. The specie of Europe soon doubled, and the profit of Spain
diminished in the same proportion; they had every year the same quantity
of metal, which had become by one-half less precious.
In double the time the specie still doubled, and the profit still
diminished another half.
It diminished even more than half: let us see in what manner.
To extract the gold from the mines, to give it the requisite
preparations, and to import it into Europe, must be attended with some
certain expense. I will suppose this to be as 1 to 64. When the specie was
once doubled, and consequently became by one-half less precious, the
expense was as 2 to 64. Thus the galoons which brought to Spain the same
quantity of gold, brought a thing which really was of less value by
one-half, though the expenses attending it had been twice as high.
If we proceed doubling and doubling, we shall find in this progression
the cause of the impotency of the wealth of Spain.
It is about two hundred years since they have worked their Indian mines.
I suppose the quantity of specie at present in the trading world is to
that before the discovery of the Indies as 32 is to 1; that is, it has
been doubled five times: in two hundred years more the same quantity will
be to that before the discovery as 64 is to 1; that is, it will be doubled
once more. Now, at present, fifty quintals of ore yield four, five, and
six ounces of gold;148 and when it
yields only two, the miner receives no more from it than his expenses. In
two hundred years, when the miner will extract only four, this too will
only defray his charges. There will then be but little profit to be drawn
from the gold mines. The same reasoning will hold good of silver, except
that the working of the silver mines is a little more advantageous than
those of gold.
But, if mines should be discovered so fruitful as to give a much greater
profit, the more fruitful they may be, the sooner the profit will cease.
The Portuguese in Brazil have found mines of gold so rich149
that they must necessarily very soon make a considerable diminution in the
profits of those of Spain, as well as in their
I have frequently heard people deplore the blindness of the court of
France, who repulsed Christopher Columbus, when he made the proposal of
discovering the Indies. Indeed they did, though perhaps without design, an
act of the greatest wisdom. Spain has behaved like the foolish king who
desired that everything he touched might be converted into gold, and who
was obliged to beg of the gods to put an end to his misery.
The companies and banks established in many nations have put a finishing
stroke to the lowering of gold and silver as a sign of representation of
riches; for by new fictions they have multiplied in such a manner the
signs of wealth, that gold and silver having this office only in part have
become less precious.
Thus public credit serves instead of mines, and diminishes the profit
which the Spaniards drew from theirs.
True it is that the Dutch trade to the East Indies has increased, in
some measure, the value of the Spanish merchandise: for as they carry
bullion, and give it in exchange for the merchandise of the East, they
ease the Spaniards of part of a commodity which in Europe abounds too
And this trade, in which Spain seems to be only indirectly concerned, is
as advantageous to that nation as to those who are directly employed in
carrying it on.
From what has been said we may form a judgment of the last order of the
council of Spain, which prohibits the making use of gold and silver in
gildings, and other superfluities; a decree as ridiculous as it would be
for the states of Holland to prohibit the consumption of spices.
My reasoning does not hold good against all mines; those of Germany and
Hungary, which produce little more than the expense of working them, are
extremely useful. They are found in the principal state; they employ many
thousand men, who there consume their superfluous commodities, and they
are properly a manufacture of the country.
The mines of Germany and Hungary promote the culture of land; the
working of those of Mexico and Peru destroys it.
The Indies and Spain are two powers under the same master; but the
Indies are the principal, while Spain is only an accessory, it is in vain
for politics to attempt to bring back the principal to the accessory; the
Indies will always draw Spain to themselves.
Of the merchandise, to the value of about fifty millions of livres,
annually sent to the Indies, Spain furnishes only two millions and a half:
the Indies trade for fifty millions, the Spaniards for two and a half.
That must be a bad kind of riches which depends on accident, and not on
the industry of a nation, on the number of its inhabitants, and on the
cultivation of its lands. The king of Spain, who receives great sums from
his custom-house at Cadiz, is in this respect only a rich individual in a
state extremely poor. Everything passes between strangers and himself,
while his subjects have scarcely any share in it; this commerce is
independent both of the good and bad fortune of his kingdom.
Were some provinces of Castile able to give him a sum equal to that of
the custom-house of Cadiz, his power would be much greater; his riches
would be the effect of the wealth of the country; these provinces would
animate all the others, and they would be altogether more capable of
supporting their respective charges; instead of a great treasury he would
have a great people.
23. A Problem, it is not for me to decide the
question whether, if Spain be not herself able to carry on the trade of
the Indies, it would not be better to leave it open to strangers. I will
only say that it is for their advantage to load this commerce with as few
obstacles as politics will permit. When the merchandise which several
nations send to the Indies is very dear, the inhabitants of that country
give a great deal of their commodities, which are gold and silver, for
very little of those of foreigners; the contrary to this happens when they
are at a low price, it would perhaps be of use that these nations should
undersell each other, to the end that the merchandise carried to the
Indies might be always cheap. These are principles which deserve to be
examined, without separating them, however, from other considerations: the
safety of the Indies, the advantages of only one custom-house, the danger
of making great alterations, and the foreseen inconveniences, which are
often less dangerous than those which cannot be foreseen.
1. Pliny, vi. 23.
2. See Pliny, vi. 19, and Strabo, xv.
3. Book vi. 4, 5.
4. Book xi.
5. Diodorus, ii.
6. Ibid., 7, 8, 9.
7. Pliny, vi. 16, and Strabo, xi.
8. Strabo, xi.
10. The authority of Patroclus is of
great weight, as appears from a passage in Strabo, ii.
11. Pliny, vi. 17. See also Strabo,
xi, upon the passage by which the merchandise was conveyed from the Phasis
to the Cyrus.
12. There must have been very great
changes in that country since the time of Ptolemy, who gives us an account
of so many rivers that empty themselves into the east side of the Caspian
Sea. In the Czar's chart we find only the river of Astrabat: in that of M.
Bathaisi there is none at all.
13. See Jenkinson's account of this,
in the Collection of Voyages to the North, iv.
14. I am disposed to think that hence
Lake Aral was formed.
15. Claudius Cæsar, in Pliny,
16. He was slain by Ptolemy Ceraunus.
17. See Strabo, xi.
18. They founded Tartessus, and made
a settlement at Cadiz.
19. I Kings, 9. 26; II Chron., 8. 17.
20. Against Appian.
21. Chapter 1 of this book.
22. The proportion between gold and
silver, as settled in Europe, may sometimes render it profitable to take
gold instead of silver into the East Indies; but the advantage is very
23. See Pliny, vi. 22, and Strabo,
24. They are mostly shallow; but
Sicily has excellent ports.
25. I say the province of Holland;
for the ports of Zealand are deep enough.
26. That is, to compare magnitudes of
the same kind, the action or pressure of the fluid upon the ship will be
to the resistance of the same ship as, &c.
27. The King of Persia.
28. On the Athenian Republic,
29. See Strabo, viii.
30. Iliad, ii. 668.
31. Ibid., 570.
32. Strabo, ix, p. 414.
33. Strabo, xv.
34. Herodotus, Melpomene, iv.
35. Strabo, xv.
36. Ibid., xv.
37. Pliny, vi. 33, Strabo, xv.
38. They sailed not upon the rivers,
lest they should defile the elements — Hyde, Religion of the
Persians. Even to this day they have no maritime commerce. Those who
take to the sea are treated by them as Atheists.
39. Strabo, xv.
40. Herodotus, Melpomene, iv.
44, says that Darius conquered the Indies; this must be understood only to
mean Ariana; and even this was only an ideal conquest.
41. Strabo, xv.
42. This cannot be understood of all
the Ichthyophagi, who inhabited a coast of ten thousand furlongs in
extent. How was it possible for Alexander to have maintained them? How
could he command their submission? This can be only understood of some
particular tribes. Nearchus, in his book Rerum Indicarum, says
that at the extremity of this coast, on the side of Persia, he had found
some people who were less Ichthyophagi than the others. I should think
that Alexander's prohibition related to these people, or to some other
tribe still more bordering on Persia.
43. Alexandria was founded on a flat
shore, called Rhacotis, where, in ancient times, the kings had kept a
garrison to prevent all strangers, and more particularly the Greeks, from
entering the country. — Pliny, vi. 10; Strabo, xviii.
44. Arrian, De Expedit. Alex.
46. Strabo, vi, towards the end.
47. Seeing Babylon overflowed, he
looked upon the neighbouring country of Arabia as an island. —
Aristobulus, in Strabo, xvi.
48. See Rerum Indicarum.
49. Strabo, xvi.
50. Strabo, xvi.
51. These gave them an aversion to
52. Pliny, ii. 67, vi. 9, 13; Strabo,
xi., p. 507; Arrian, De Expedit. Alex., iii, p 74, v, p. 104.
53. Arrian, De Expedit. Alex.,
54. Pliny, ii. 67.
55. See the Czar's Chart.
56. Pliny, vi. 17.
57. Book xv.
58. Apollonius Adrumatinus in Strabo,
59. The Macedonians of Bactria,
India, and Ariana, having separated themselves from Syria, formed a great
60. Book vi. 23.
62. Sigertidis regnum, xi.
63. The monsoons blow part of the
year from one quarter, and part from another; the trade winds blow the
whole year round from the same quarter.
64. Book vi. 23.
65. Herodotus, Melpomene, iv.
66. Pliny, vi. 23.
68. Book xv.
69. Pliny, vi. 23.
70. Book xv.
71. He was desirous of conquering it.
— Herodotus, iv. 42.
72. Pliny, ii. 67; Pomponius Mela,
73. Herodotus, Melpomene, iv.
74. Add to this what I shall say in
chapter 11 of this book on the navigation of Hanno.
75. In the months of October,
November, December, and January the wind in the Atlantic Ocean is found to
blow north-east; our ships therefore either cross the line, and to avoid
the wind, which is there generally east, they direct their course to the
south: or else they enter into the torrid zone, in those places where the
wind is west.
76. The sea to which we give this
name was called by the ancients the Gulf of Arabia; the name of Red Sea
they gave to that part of the ocean which borders on this gulf.
77. Strabo, xvi.
78. Ibid. Artemidorus settled
the borders of the known coast at the place called Austricornu; and
79. Strabo, i. 7; iv. 9; table 4 of
80. This Periplus is
attributed to Arrian.
81. Ptolemy, iv. 9.
82. Book iv. 7, 8.
83. See what exact descriptions
Strabo and Ptolemy have given us of the different parts of Africa. Their
knowledge was owing to the several wars which the two most powerful
nations in the world had waged with the people of Africa, to the alliances
they had contracted, and to the trade they had carried on with those
84. Book vii. 3.
85. See his Periplus, under
the article on Carthage.
86. See Herodotus, Melpomene,
iv. 43, on the obstacles which Sataspes encountered.
87. See the charts and relations in
the first volume of Collection of Voyages that Contributed to the
Establishment of the East India Company, part i, p. 201. This weed
covers the surface of the water in such a manner as to be scarcely
perceived, and ships can only pass through it with a stiff gale.
88. Pliny, v. i, tells us the same
thing, speaking of Mount Atlas: Noctibus micare crebris ignibus,
tibiarum cantu timpanorumque sonitu strepere, neminem interdiu cerni.
89. Mr. Dodwell. See his Dissertation
on Hanno's Periplus.
90. Of Wonderful Things.
91. Book vi.
92. Book iii.
93. Mons argentarius.
94. He had some share in their
95. See Festus Avienus.
96. Strabo, iii, towards the end.
97. He was rewarded by the senate of
98. Freinshemius, Supplement to
Livy, dec. 2, vi.
99. In the parts subject to the
100. Justin, xliii. 5.
101. See Strabo, x.
102. He confirmed the liberty of the
city of Amisus, an Athenian colony which had enjoyed a popular government,
even under the kings of Persia. Lucullus having taken Sinone and Amisus,
restored them to their liberty, and recalled the inhabitants, who had fled
on board their ships.
103. See what Appian writes
concerning the Phanagoreans, the Amisians, and the Synopians, in his
treatise Of the War against Mithridates.
104. See Appian, in regard to the
immense treasures which Mithridates employed in his wars, those which he
had buried, those which he frequently lost by the treachery of his own
people, and those which were found after his death.
105. See Appian Of the War
107. He lost at one time 170,000
men, yet he soon recruited his armies.
108. In the Considerations on
the Causes of the Rise and Declension of the Roman Grandeur.
109. As Plato has observed. Laws,
110. Polybius, v.
111. See the Considerations on
the Causes of the Rise and Declension of the Roman Grandeur.
113. Leg. 5, § 2, ff. De
114. Quæ mercimoniis
publice præfuit — Leg. 1, Cod. de natural. liberis.
115. Leg. ad barbaricum. Cod. quæ
res exportari non debeant.
116. Leg. 2, Cod. de
commerc. et mercator.
117. Procopius, War of the
118. See the Considerations on
the Causes of the Rise and Declension of the Roman Grandeur.
119. Pliny, vi. 28, and Strabo, xvi.
121. The caravans of Aleppo and Suez
carry thither annually to the value of about two millions of livres, and
as much more clandestinely; the royal vessel of Suez carries thither also
122. Book ii, p. 181, ed. 1587.
123. Book vi. 23.
124. He says, book ii, that the
Romans employed a hundred and twenty ships in that trade; and, in book
xvii, that the Grecian kings scarcely employed twenty.
125. Book i, 2.
126. Book i, 13.
127. Our best maps place Peter's
tower in the hundredth degree of longitude, and about the fortieth of
128. Suetonius, Life of Claudius,
18; Leg. 7. Cod. Theodos. de naviculariis.
129. Book viii, tit. 4, § 9.
130. Toto titulo, ff. de
incend, ruin. et naufrag.; Cod. de naufragiis; Leg. 3, ff. ad leg.
Cornel, de sicariis.
131. Leg. 1, Cod. de
132. Book xi, tit. 3, § 2.
133. See Aristotle, Politics,
i. 9, 10.
134. See in Marca Hispanica,
the constitutions of Aragon, in the years 1228 and 1231; and in Brussel,
the agreement, in the year 1206, between the King, the Countess of
Champagne, and Guy of Dampierre.
135. Stow, Survey of London,
iii, p. 54.
136. The edict passed at Baville,
4th of April, 1392.
137. In France the Jews were slaves
in mortmain, and the lords their successors. Mr. Brussel mentions an
agreement made in the year 1206, between the King and Thibaut, Count of
Champagne, by which it was agreed that the Jews of the one should not lend
in the lands of the other.
138. It is known that under Philip
Augustus and Philip the Long, the Jews who were chased from France took
refuge in Lombardy, and that there they gave to foreign merchants and
travellers secret letters, drawn upon those to whom they had entrusted
their effects in France, which were accepted.
139. See Nov. 83 of the
Emperor Leo, which revokes the law of Basil his father. This law of Basil
is in Hermenopulus, under the name of Leo, iii, tit. 7, § 27.
140. See the account of Pirard, part
141. This, in the language of the
ancients, is the state which founded the colony.
142. Except the Carthaginians, as we
see by the treaty which put an end to the first Punic war.
143. Polybius, iii.
144. The King of Persia obliged
himself by treaty not to sail with any vessel of war beyond the Cyanean
rocks and the Chelidonean isles. — Plutarch, Cimon.
145. Aristotle, Of Wonderful
Things; Livy, dec. 2, vii.
146. Book ii, p. 170.
147. This has been already shown in
a small treatise written by the author about twenty years ago; which has
been almost entirely incorporated in the present work.
148. See Frezier, Voyages.
149. According to Lord Anson, Europe
receives every year from Brazil two millions sterling in gold, which is
found in sand at the foot of the mountains, or in the beds of rivers. When
I wrote the little treatise mentioned in the first note of this chapter,
the returns from Brazil were far from being so considerable an item as
they are at present.
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