By Bram Dijkstra

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Extra resources for Defoe and Economics: The Fortunes of Roxana in the History of Interpretation

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170) Thus while the gentleman's estate is at best in stasis, a stagnant pond incapable of growth, 'the Merchant has his Estate continually flowing'. In The Complete English Tradesman Defoe was to give an even more striking elaboration of this metaphor: It is evident where the difference lies, an Estate's apond, but a Trade is aspring; The first if it keeps full, and the water wholesom, by the ordinary supplies and dreins from the neighbouring grounds, 'tis well, and 'tis all that is expected; but the other is an inexhausted current, which not only fills the pond and keeps it full, but is continually running over, and fills all the lower ponds and places about it.

But Defoe knew perfectly wen, as he was quick to acknowledge, that the human desire after personal gain was too great to permit such Utopian schemes. Instead it was better for whoever was in a position to do so effectively, to rescue capital out of the hands of those who had inherited the mentality of the feudal Lords. Let those who were capable of depredating the aristocracy in order to gain capital for business ventures, do so to the very extent of their ability, before that capital had entirely gone to waste.

Defoe's purpose in making Roxana divulge this particular incident is to demonstrate to the reader that she is perfectly capable of exercising rational coercive control over those subordinate to her. In The Complete English Tradesman Defoe time and again emphasised the need for the tradesman' s stritt and absolute government over his servants and apprentices. The master-servant relationship, though it could be informal and amiable most of the time, should always be enforced, and, if necessary, with a ruthless assertion of discipline.

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