The Hartlib Papers

Title:Copy Extract, Privy Counsellor Of Elector Brandenburg To Hartlib

An Extract of a Letter from Berlin of a Privy Counsellour of the Elector of Brandenburg to Mr S. Hartlib.
By yesterdayes Post there was sent unto me from Hamburg a printed Copy of a New fruit=bearing Society (: for such was its title:) published in the name of the King of Dennemarck: The Contents Whereof are as followeth: A Society is to be distributed in certain classes, according to the differing ages of those that are to be entered: as for example the first should be of Children of 8 yeares of age and lesse; the other from 8 yeares to 16 inclusive; and so further, allwayes advancing eight yeares: And he that would have a place therin, [i?] should pay at the least 100. Rixdollers. ready money; of which he is to have not only 5 per cent. yearely Interest; but he is also to partake of the Interest of those that shall come to die in the Company of his Classis: For allwayes those members, that survive in every classis, are to share amongst themselves that part or Interest that did belong to their deceased fellowes, where if there should die many out of one Classis, he that survives longest, would increase his 100. Rixdollers Interest, yearely unto some thousand Rixdollers: But then, it is true, when he dyes, his heires do receave nothing either from the Principall or Interest, but the principalll remaineth to the King, who is to paÿ tho the[H? alters] Creditors their yearely Interest out of his surest Revenues, at certain places appointed thereunto: And when the said Creditors shall come to die all one after another, then is the King to Keep the Principall wholly et solelÿ to himself, nor is he bound to pay to any, any thing thereof in the least, but may erect, if he pleases, another such Companie, upon the same conditions. This Society is said to have its rise in Italie, from where it was brought over first to the King by one Paul Klingenberger, (: who is also constituted a Commissioner of this Society by the King, as appeareth by the printed order:) But it would not take effect hetherto either in Italie or in Denmarck though perhaps there may be some that would enter themselves hereafter (especially if the Peace bee concluded betweene[H? alters] the two - Commonwealths) seeing[H? alters] that the Project thereof was drawne up but the 1th of May of the last yeare and perhaps sett forth in print but lately, because there was neither titel[H? alters] nor ought to it, but it was published only thus barely. If this Project had taken effect, the King would have gotten in a very short time sixteen hundred thousand Rixdollers; for which he should have payd noe[H? alters] more, then eighty thousand Rixdollers yearely Interest. For seeing he would have no more Classes in it, at the first, then eight[H? alters], and in every classis no more then 2000. places, whereof every one should be bought but with 100. Rixdollers: The whole Classis would amount to 200000 Rixdollers: for which he payeth no more for their yearely Interest, then 10000. Rixdollers, at 5 per cent. and so to all 8. Classes, but 80000. Rixdollers. But it seemes the people will not trust to the peace of the country as yet, there beeing many, that have learned to their owne losse and dammage, how uncertain and douubtfull[altered from dubtfull] a bussiness it is, for privat men, to trust great Persons and Princes with great[altered] summes of money, because many times they doe receave nothing again either of the Principall or Interest. Otherwise the Project is pretty well contrived and cleered, containing 6 sheets

and a halfe of paper, in quarto neither doth it lack reason, being that many one may chance in a very short time, to gett again both principall and Interest doubble [d?] and trebble, nay, it may chance, few times told without any prejudice to his heires, though they should receave nothing more from the Companie after his death. But if one should buy severall places, and lay down a round summe of money, and then perhaps presently die after, he would not inrich his Inheritors but his fellow-members of the same society, who are otherwise to share amongst themselves that Interest, that did belong unto him as long as there is any remaining of that Classis, of which he was a Member. So that the hope of profit of those that are Members of the company, doth consist in the speedy death of their fellow members and participants: but on the Kings side it consisteth in the timely decease, of the whole company, beeing he is not bound in the least to repay any thing, either of the Principall or Interest, to their Heires. But how he will perswade any one, that Knowes how to put forth his money upon Interest any Way else, I cannot tell.
   I hope you will perceave sufficiently by this, what the condition of this Society is. NN. will be able to gett you a printed copy of it. And I could wish, that Mr Potter had sett down his Advice, which [H?: you have sent] mee about <left margin: a Bank of Lands> so clerely, as this Project is sett downe, and then a man might have beene able perhaps to judge the better of it, whether it be practicable or no?