Davenant’s earlier writings on foreign trade are less political, but they reveal the same fears of the threat of Dutch rivalry to England’s trade. In An Essay on the East India Trade (1771, vol. 1, pp. 83–123) published in 1696, he argued that English textiles need not be protected against Indian goods. Some passages in this work have given rise to the myth that Davenant was an early free trader. His whole argument, however, is conceived in terms of the balance of trade, and he takes the line, as did earlier writers, such as Thomas Mun, that even if the “particular” balance with India is adverse, this is more than compensated for through the interdependence of different branches of international trade and that it is the country’s “general” balance of trade alone that matters. Two years later, in 1698, he elaborated this argument and applied it also to the “losing” trade with France in Discourses on the Public Revenues, and on the Trade of England, Part II (1771, vol. 1, pp. 343–459; vol. 2, pp. 1–162). He obtained some reward for these services from the East India Company and may also have been remunerated for his strong advocacy of the case of the Royal African Company in Reflections Upon the Constitution and Management of the Trade to Africa (1771, vol. 5, pp. 71–343), published in 1709.
CHARLES DAVENANT (1656-1714), English economist, eldest son of Sir William Davenant, the poet, was born in London , and educated at Cheam grammar school and Balliol College, Oxford , but left the university without taking a degree. At the age of nineteen he had composed a tragedy, Circe , which met with some success, but he soon turned his attention to law, and having taken the degree of ., he became a member of Doctors' Commons . He was member of parliament successively for St Ives, Cornwall , and for Great Bedwyn. He held the post of commissioner of excise from 1683 to 1689, and that of inspectorgeneral of exports and imports from 1705 till his death in 1714. He was also secretary to the commission appointed to treat for the union with Scotland . As an economist, he must be classed as a strong supporter of the mercantile theory, and in his economic pamphlets - as distinct from his political writings - he takes up an eclectic position, recommending governmental restrictions on colonial commerce as strongly as he advocates freedom of exchange at home. Of his writings, a complete edition of which was published in London in 1771, the following are the more important: - An Essay the East India Trade (1697); Two Discourses on the Public Revenues and Trade of England (1698); An Essay on the probable means of making the people gainers in the balance of Trade (1699); A Discourse on Grants and Resumptions and Essays on the Balance of Power (1701).
Again, some works of the highest use to multitudes can be effectually executed by the joint labours of many, which the separate labours of the same number could never have executed. The joint force of many can repel dangers arising from savage beasts or bands of robbers which might have been fatal to many individuals were they separately to encounter them. The joint labours of twenty men will cultivate forests or drain marshes, for farms to each one, and provide houses for habitation and inclosures for their flocks, much sooner than the separate labours of the same number. By concert and alternate relief they can keep a perpetual watch, which without concert they could not accomplish. *71