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The Mercantile Library or Complete English Tradesman

The mercantile library or, Complete English tradesman: Directing him in the several parts and progressions of trade, from his first entring upon business, to his leaving off. Containing the following subjects, viz. shewing what a complete tradesman should understand. 1. Of his setting out. 2. Of writing to correspondents. 3. Of the trading style. 4. Needful to have a general knowledge of all business. 5. Of diligence and application. 6. Of over-trading. 7. Of breaking in time. 8. Causes of a tradesmans ruin. 9. Of innocent diversions commonly so called. 10. Of expensive living, &c. 11. Of suretiship. 12. Of early marrying. 13. Of trusting to servants: duty of a master. 14. Of compositions. 15. Duty of creditors and debtors in this case. 16. Heads of the last bankrupt act. 17. Tradesmens characters inviolable. 18. Of partnership. 19. Of honest dealing and veracity. 20. Of customary frauds in trade. 21. English silks how improv'd. 22. Of fine shops, &c. 23. Tradesmens wives, should be let into the knowledge of business, and not be above it. 24. Of noble families who owe their rise to trade. 25. Dignity of trade in England. 26. Of the English inland trade. 27. Of credit in trade. 28. Of punctual paying bills, &c. calculated for the use of all traders

Printed for J. and A. Kelburn (Dublin; 1766)

This book is, in the preface, attributed to Daniel Defoe.

Acknowledgements are made to his extensive knowledge but he is criticised for being too "verbose and circumlocutory". It is said that he had to be paid so much a sheet and half as much again after­ wards "to lop off excrecences, or abstract it". In this edition, it is stated, the luxuriances are pared away.

Nevertheless space is found for homilies on the evils of shopkeepers who keep horses, learn dog-language, of barbers being abroad on Saturdays, cornfactors on Wednesdays and Fridays or of shopkeepers hunting on market day. It is even stated in a chapter heading that many a tradesman has been ruined by marrying too soon, even a good wife.

There is however more practical help in a chapter on the statute, Anno 5. Geo.II, in relation to bankrupts, in one on customary frauds of trade, which are deprecated, and in the supplement devoted to bookkeeping.

Daniel Defoe was born at Cripplegate. He was at one time a horse factor, was out with Monmouth in 1685 but, unlike some of his fellow students, did not pay the usual penalty. He was a trooper in a volunteer regiment which escorted William and Mary to London in 1689 and became a bankrupt in 1692. In 1695 he was appointed accountant to the commissioners of the glass duty, an office he held until 1699. His political activities and publications brought him to the pillory and a year in Newgate prison. His Robinson Crusoe was published in 1719 and was written from accounts by Capt. Rogers, who released Alexander Selkirk, and from the latter's own accounts published elsewhere.

He died in Ropemakers Alley, Moorfields, in 1731 and was buried in Bunhill Fields.

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This article was originally prepared by the library team in the mid-twentieth century to introduce the rare books and facsimiles in our collection to a wider audience. It is not intended as a piece of scholarly analysis and should not be read as such.

Historical Accounting Literature

The ICAEW collection of historical accounting literature currently comprises around 3,000 volumes and includes works published from the 15th century to the early 20th century. The collection includes books and journals in a variety of languages.

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