The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IV. Prose and Poetry: Sir Thomas North to Michael Drayton.

XV. Early Writings on Politics and Economics

§ 12. The Mercantile System

The early seventeenth century was a period of transition, when the power of capital was beginning to make itself felt in many directions. There was great difficulty in finding any practical reconciliation of the aims of maintaining the social stability on which comfort depends, and yet of giving sufficient scope for progress and change. The storm which broke out in the civil war was the most obvious result of the efforts of the Stewarts to exercise a mediating influence, and to organise a well-ordered system of industry and trade. Eventually, the interplay and conscious interdependence of interests in all parts of the country in carrying out the common object of building up a national mercantile marine gave cohesion to the economic activities of the realm, but this was effected by the parliaments of the Restoration period and of the Whig ascendency, not through the personal government of the crown. Patriotic sentiment found satisfaction in the success of the efforts to develop material resources of every kind, and to render them conducive to national power.