**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


No. 174 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

Numbers are so much the Measure of every thing that is valuable, that it is not possible to demonstrate the Success of any Action, or the Prudence of any Undertaking, without them. I say this in Answer to what Sir ROGER is pleased to say, That little that is truly noble can be expected from one who is ever poring on his Cashbook, or ballancing his Accounts. When I have my Returns from abroad, I can tell to a Shilling, by the Help of Numbers, the Profit or Loss by my Adventure; but I ought also to be able to shew that I had Reason for making it, either from my own Experience or that of other People, or from a reasonable Presumption that my Returns will be sufficient to answer my Expence and Hazard; and this is never to be done without the Skill of Numbers. For Instance, if I am to trade to Turkey, I ought beforehand to know the Demand of our Manufactures there, as well as of their Silks in England, and the customary Prices that are given for both in each Country. I ought to have a clear Knowledge of these Matters beforehand, that I may presume upon sufficient Returns to answer the Charge of the Cargo I have fitted out, the Freight and Assurance out and home, the Custom to the Queen, and the Interest of my own Money, and besides all these Expences a reasonable Profit to my self. Now what is there of Scandal in this Skill? What has the Merchant done, that he should be so little in the good Graces of Sir ROGER? He throws down no Man’s Enclosures, and tramples upon no Man’s Corn; he takes nothing from the industrious Labourer; he pays the poor Man for his Work; he communicates his Profit with Mankind; by the Preparation of his Cargo and the Manufacture of his Returns, he furnishes Employment and Subsistence to greater Numbers than the richest Nobleman; and even the Nobleman is obliged to him for finding out foreign Markets for the Produce of his Estate, and for making a great Addition to his Rents; and yet ’tis certain, that none of all these Things could be done by him without the Exercise of his Skill in Numbers.

This is the Oeconomy of the Merchant; and the Conduct of the Gentleman must be the same, unless by scorning to be the Steward, he resolves the Steward shall be the Gentleman. The Gentleman, no more than the Merchant, is able, without the Help of Numbers, to account for the Success of any Action, or the Prudence of any Adventure. If, for Instance, the Chace is his whole Adventure, his only Returns must be the Stag’s Horns in the great Hall, and the Fox’s Nose upon the Stable Door. Without Doubt Sir ROGER knows the full Value of these Returns; and if beforehand he had computed the Charges of the Chace, a Gentleman of his Discretion would certainly have hanged up all his Dogs, he would never have brought back so many fine Horses to the Kennel, he would never have gone so often, like a Blast, over Fields of Corn. If such too had been the Conduct of all his Ancestors, he might truly have boasted at this Day, that the Antiquity of his Family had never been sullied by a Trade; a Merchant had never been permitted with his whole Estate to purchase a Room for his Picture in the Gallery of the COVERLEYS, or to claim his Descent from the Maid of Honour. But ’tis very happy for Sir ROGER that the Merchant paid so dear for his Ambition. ‘Tis the Misfortune of many other Gentlemen to turn out of the Seats of their Ancestors, to make way for such new Masters as have been more exact in their Accounts than themselves; and certainly he deserves the Estate a great deal better, who has got it by his Industry, than he who has lost it by his Negligence.


[Footnote 1: Punica fides.]