The Spectator’s spokesperson for trade was the character ‘Sir Andrew Freeport’, whose values echo the dominant ideology of the British empire as one based upon peace: ‘His Notions of Trade are noble and generous, and… he calls the Sea the British Common. He is acquainted with Commerce in all its Parts, and will tell you that it is a stupid and barbarous Way to extend Dominion by Arms; for true Power is to be got by Arts and Industry.’1 In this issue, Addison’s paean to the hub of Britain’s commercial networks, the Royal Exchange, was part of a wider vindication of the new urban commercial class to sceptics who looked to land as the traditional foundations of Britain’s wealth. Addison’s paper in this issue naturalises the spread of goods around the globe but, more importantly, naturalises Britain’s role as the centre of this worldwide commerce.
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- Joseph Addison, The Spectator, no. 69 (19 May 1711)
Stephen H. Gregg
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number