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weighed out or culled out; and warily to provide, that while we make forth to that which is better, we meet not with that which is worse.1
The discommodities of usury are, First, that it makes fewer merchants. For were it not for this lazy trade of usury, money would not lie still, but would in great part be employed upon merchandizing; which is the vena porta2 of wealth in a state. The second, that it makes poor merchants. For as a farmer cannot husband his ground so well if he sit at a great rent; so the merchant cannot drive his trade so well, if he sit at great usury. The third is incident to the other two ;3 and that is the decay of customs of kings or states, which ebb or flow with merchandizing. The fourth, that it bringeth the treasure of a realm or state into a few hands. For the usurer being at certainties, and others at uncertainties at the end of the game4 most of the money will be in the box; and ever a state flourisheth when wealth is more equally spread.5 The fifth, that it beats down the price of land; for the employment of money is chiefly either merchandizing or purchasing; and usury waylays both. The sixth, that it doth dull and damp all industries, improvements, and new inventions, wherein money would be stirring, if it were not for this slug. The last, that it is the canker and ruin of many men's estates; which in process of time breeds a public poverty.
On the other side, the commodities of usury are, first, that howsoever usury in some respect hindereth merchandizing, yet in some other it advanceth it; for it is certain that the greatest part of trade is driven by young merchants, upon borrowing at interest; so as if the usurer either call in or keep back his money, there will ensue presently a great stand of trade. The second is, that were it not for this easy borrowing upon interest, men's necessities would draw upon them a most sudden undoing; in that they would be forced to sell their means (be it lands or goods) far under foot;1 and so, whereas usury doth but gnaw upon them, bad markets2 would swallow them quite up. As for mortgaging or pawning, it will little mend the matter: for either men will not take pawns without use; or if they do, they will look precisely for the forfeiture. I remember a cruel monied man in the country, that would say, The devil take this usury, it keep us from forfeitures of mortgages and bonds. The third and last is, that it is a vanity to conceive that there would be ordinary borrowing without profit; and it is impossible to conceive the number of inconveniences that will ensue, if borrowing be cramped. Therefore to speak of the abolishing of usury is idle. All states have ever had it, in one kind or rate, or other. So as that opinion roust be sent to Utopia.
1 ne dam famore feramur in melius, intercipiamur et incidamus in pejus.
3 See p. 145, note 2.
8 dw)rum priorum appendix qucedam.
* So Ed. 1639. The original has gaine; the translation, injins ludt.
6 quumpecunke dispergantur non conserventur.
To speak now of the reformation and reiglement of usury; how the discommodities of it may be best avoided, and the commodities retained. It appears by the balance of commodities and discommodities of usury,3 two things are to be reconciled. The one, that the tooth of usury be grinded, that it bite not too much; the other, that there be left open a means to invite monied men to lend to the merchants, for the continuing and quickening of trade. This cannot be done, except you introduce two several sorts of usury, a less and a greater. For if you reduce usury to one low rate, it will ease the common borrower, but the merchant will be to seek for money. And it is to be noted, that the trade of merchandize, being the most lucrative, may bear usury at a good rate: other contracts not so.
1 nimis vilipretio.
2 distmctiones prapropera. 8 quod uwdo fecimus.
To serve both intentions, the way would be briefly thus. That there be two rates of usury; the one free, and general for all; the other under licence only, to certain persons and in certain places of merchandizing. First therefore, let usury in general be reduced to five in the hundred; and let that rate be proclaimed to be free and current; and let the state shut itself out to take any penalty for the same.1 This will preserve borrowing from any general stop or dryness. This will ease infinite borrowers in the country.2 This will, in good part, raise the price of land, because land purchased at sixteen years' purchase will yield six in the hundred, and somewhat more; whereas this rate of interest yields but five.3 This by like reason will encourage and edge industrious and profitable improvements; because many will rather venture in that kind than take five in the hundred, especially having been used to greater profit. Secondly, let there be certain persons licensed to lend to known merchants upon usury at a higher rate; and let it be with the cautions following. Let the rate be, even with the merchant himself, somewhat more easy than that he used formerly to pay; for by that means all borrowers shall have some ease by this reformation, be he merchant, or whosoever. Let it be no bank or common stock, but every man be master of his own money. Not that I altogether mislike banks, but they will hardly be brooked, in regard of certain suspicions.1 Let the state be answered some small matter for the licence, and the rest left to the lender; for if the abatement be but small, it will no whit discourage the lender. For he, for example, that took before ten or nine in the hundred, will sooner descend to eight in the hundred, than give over his trade of usury, and go from certain gains to gains of hazard. Let these licensed lenders be in number indefinite, but restrained to certain principal cities and towns of merchandizing; for then they will be hardly able to colour other men's monies in the country: so as the licence of nine will not suck away the current rate of five;2 for no man will lend his monies far off, nor put them into unknown hands.
i mulcta omm renunciet.
2 rare ei alibi degentibus.
8 Quandoquidem annuus valor pradiorum, hie apud nos in Anglia, excedei ilium famoris ad hanc propor&onsm redact!, quantum annuu t valor eae librarum excedit ilium quinque tantum.
If it be objected that this doth in a sort authorize usury, which before was in some places but permissive; the answer is, that it is better to mitigate usury by declaration, than to suffer it to rage by connivance.3 XLII. Of Youth And Age.
1 These two sentences are omitted in Uie translation.
2 tin enim,pnett!ztu licentuirum, itpportunitaiem non habebuntpecuniat aliorum pro suis commodaruli: nec novem out ocio librarum proportion licentid munita, yencralem ilbim quinque librarum absorbebit. To " colour another man's money" is to pass it for one's own. See Whateley's edition of Bacon's Essays, p. 382.
8 The last paragraph is omitted in the translation.
A Man that is young in years may be old in hours, if he have lost no time. But that happeneth rarely. Generally, youth is like the first cogitations, not so wise as the second. For there is a youth in thoughts, as well as in ages. And yet the invention of young men is more lively than that of old; and imaginations stream into their minds better, and as it were more divinely. Natures that have much heat and great and violent desires and perturbations, are not ripe for action till they have passed the meridian of their years; as it was with Julius Caesar, and Septimius Severus. Of the latter of whom it is said, Juventutem egit erroribus, imo furoribus, plenam; [He passed a youth full of errors, yea of madnesses.] And yet he was the ablest1 emperor, almost, of all the list. But reposed natures may do well in youth. As it is seen in Augustus Caesar, Cosmus Duke of Florence, Gaston de Fois, and others. On the other side, heat and vivacity in age is an excellent composition for business. Young men are fitter to invent than to judge; fitter for execution than for counsel; and fitter for new projects than for settled business.2 For the experience of age,3 iu things that fall within the compass of it, directeth them; but in new things, abuseth them. The errors of young men are the ruin of business; but the errors of aged men amount but to this, that more might have been done, or sooner. Young men, in the conduct and manage of actions, embrace more than
3 et ad negotia nova melius adhibentur quam ad consueta.