Montesquieu
 

XX.7 How commerce of economy has sometimes been constrained

Laws have been made in cer­tain monar­chies which are well desi­gned to hum­ble sta­tes enga­ged in com­merce of eco­nomy. They have for­bid­den mer­chants to import any mer­chan­dise except that pro­du­ced in their own coun­try ; they have per­mit­ted them to come and trade only in ships made in the coun­tries from which they hail.

The state that impo­ses these laws must be in a posi­tion to trade easily ; other­wise it will do itself at least as much harm. It is bet­ter to deal with a nation that makes few demands, and which the needs of com­merce make in some sense depen­dent ; with a nation which, by the breadth of its views or its busi­ness, knows where it can place all its excess mer­chan­dise ; which is rich and can take in many com­mo­di­ties ; which will pay for them promptly ; which moreo­ver finds it, so to speak, neces­sary to be depen­da­ble ; which is paci­fic by prin­ci­ple ; which seeks to pro­fit and not to conquer : it is bet­ter, I say, to deal with this nation than with other nations, ever rivals, which would not offer all these advan­ta­ges.