a small excerpt from ‘a general history of the robberies and murders of the most notorious pyrates,’ likely by daniel defoe (published under the name of captain charles johnson) (1724). more prescient on the issue of employment than on the bottomless fish supply, of course.
We have given a few Instances in the Course of this History of the Inducements Men have to engage themselves headlong in a Life of so much Peril to themselves, and so destructive to the Navigation of the trading World; to remedy which Evil there seems to be but two Ways, either to find Employment for the great Number of Seamen turn’d adrift at the Conclusion of a War, and thereby prevent their running into such Undertakings, or to guard sufficiently the Coast of Africa, the West-Indies, and other Places whereto Pyrates resort.
I cannot but take notice in this Place, that during this long Peace, I have not so much as heard of a Dutch pyrate: It is not that I take them to be honester than their neighbors; but when we account for it, it will, perhaps, be a Reproach to our selves for our want of Industry: The reasons I take to be, that after a War, when the Dutch Ships are laid up, they have a Fishery, where their Seamen find immediate Business, and as comfortable Bread as they had before. Had ours the same Recourse in their Necessities, I’m certain we should find the same Effect from it; for a Fishery is a Trade that cannot be overstock’d; the Sea is wide enough for us all, we need not quarrel for Elbow-room: Its stores are infinite, and will ever reward the Labourer… if there was a publick Spirit among us, it would be well worth our while to establish a National Fishery, which would be the best Means in the World to prevent Pyracy, employ a Number of the Poor, and ease the Nation of a great Burthen, by lowering the Price of Provision in general, as well as of several other Commodities.
As Custom is a second Nature, it is no Wonder that, when an honest Livlyhood is not easily had, they run into one so like their own; so it may be said, that Privateers in a time of War are a Nursery for Pyrates against a Peace.
other wisdom from the same era (jonathan swift & microcredit): due diligence h/t marginal revolution & marginal revolution
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