The Hartlib Papers

Title:Printed Pamphlet, 'The Profitable Intelligencer', [Gabriel Plattes]
Ref:Full text (sig. A1-4)
Notes:Published by Samuel Hartlib. No title page. Also included in 3rd edition of Samuel Hartlib his Legacie (1655). [Not listed in HDC list of The Publications of Samuel Hartlib, Turnbull]

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                    The profitable
          Communicating his Knowledge for the Ge-
          nerall good of the Common-wealth and all Posterity.
Containing many rare Secrets and Experiments (having reference to a larger Book) which being Well observed, and industriously practised, according to the Directions therein by all the Inhabitants of England in generall, will recover the Wealth of the Kingdom now so miserably wasted by these unnaturall Wars, and make it the most flourishing Countrey in the world, and cause more naked to be clothed, more hungry to be fed, more poore Virgins to be preferred in marriage, more sick to be healed, then Suttons Hospitall, the Savoy, and all the Hospitals and liberall Gifts in England have ever performed, by certain wayes which require no charge nor labour, but what every active person shall be double payed for.
[MS note: June 29 1644]
 A Copie of the Letter, wherein the Discourse entituled, Mercurius Ltificans, was sent enclosed to the Authors most worthy, and highly honoured Friend, Mr. Samuel Hartlib.
   YOur cordiall love to the Kingdoms good, being so clearly expressed to the world, not onely by your pen, but also by your constant practice in promoting of all good designes which tend to the generall good of the Common-wealth, hath emboldned me to send you this enclosed Copie, desiring that you will be pleased to take care, that it may be forthwith Printed, and published, together with this Letter, which may be all contrived into one sheet of paper, if the Printer be skillful: neither the Printer needs to fear any losse, nor you any dishonour by promoting of this laudable designe: for I have shewed the Copie to the learned, as well as the unlearned, to the rich as well as the poore, and all approve of it, and desire to have it as soon as it shall be published: they think it is a fine experiment to make good bread of an old shooe: and though they differ in opinion concerning other affairs, yet they all love to eat bread with one consent; and if they shall agree to practise according to their profession, which is to do their best endeavours to further the good of the publick, then certainly, the cards will turn, and we shall all win our money again by concord, which we have lost by discord, yea and twice as much more. And though many of these living things which I would have to be put to the best uses, seem to be triviall, that is for want of understanding in the Readers, for in Genoa as I have been credibly informed, it is an usuall practice, to but barren land for little or nothing, and to carry good earth to it, and cover it so deep, as a spade or a plough may work upon it; but this practice would never countervail the first charge, unlesse they did usually practice another strange work, which is so common there, that if an horse or a beast do dung in any street, or high-way, it is a marvell if some boy or girle do not take if up, before it be cold, so carefull are they, that the fertilitie of the Kingdom [catchword: should]
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should not be diminished: And though these boyes, and girles get nothing but pinnes and paines, or some other trifles, yet in the generall the whole Countrey is made rich, and plentifull: Even as we see in a Bee-hive, though every Bee bring but a drop of honey at a time, yet it maketh up a weightie masse, and many of these masses put together, do make up the great masse, which I have seen at Sturbridge Fayre, which is able to amaze a man, that beholdeth it.
   When this Book is published, then I desire you to think of the best way you can possibly imagine, that all the Inhabitants of the whole Kingdom may have knowledge of it generally; for knowledge that concerneth the publick good, ought not to be concealed in the brests of a few. As for the large Book, to which this little one hath relation, there is no thinking of publishing of it, till we have obtained a Committee to examine witnesses, and to print their Depositions in it: for Projectors have cast so many bitter things into the publick Fountain, whereof all have drunk, and their minks are so poysoned, that there is no other way to unpoysoneth them, but to win their beleef and willingnesse to practice, by such depositions of Gentlemen of qualitie, which know the same as well as I my self, and some of them have taught me, and I have taught others severall Secrets, and some few I know myself still, and no man else in the Kingdom, for ought that can be proved; all which reserved Knowledge in particular Brests is against the Wealth of the Publick, and therefore ought to be made common to all, or else this Designe cannot prosper, nor the Kingdom flourish according to my desire. As for your particular Encouragement I need say no more, but that by furthering of this friendly Advertisement, and the perfecting of the Books to which it belongeth, you shall become a Furtherer of the most Charitable Designe that is now on foot in England, besides the great and manifold Benefit that shall redound thereby to the Common-wealth. For I dare undertake that by the right Improvement of the severall Directions and Experiments, that shall be discovered, you shall undoubtedly cause more naked to be cloathed, more hungry to be fed, more poore Virgins to be preferred in marriage, then Suttons Hospitall, the Savoy, of all the Hospitals or Liberal Gifts in England have ever performed. So I rest,
                              Your Bounden Servant,
                               Gabriel Plattes.
 Westminster this 14. of
   May. 1644.
   WHen I perused the severall Mercuries which go abroad, to wit, Mercurius Civicus, Merc. Aulicus, Merc. Britanicus, Merc. Clicus,, Merc. Veridicus, Mercurius Vapulans, &c. I as sorry that so much Wit, Labour and Study should be so slighted, and produce no better effect; for I have seen them before they were a week old, to be carelessly hurled up and down, and sometimes torn in peeces to light Tobacco, and other uses not fit to be named. Whereupon I resolved to try a Conclusion, to write a Mercurie that no man should so abuse, but he that is an enemie to himself, and to the Common-wealth. And therefore I have ordered the matter so, that no man in the Kingdom, which hath so much learning as to read it, or so much understanding as to hear it read with attention, but he may learn to gain a [catchword: thousand]
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thousand times the price of it to himself, besides that generall good to the Publick. But before I tell my Readers what lasting and particular Benefits they are to expect, if they will follow those Directions which shall be given them by the following Discourse: Let all men that love themselves, of the Common-wealth, and Posteritie, take speciall notice of a certain Book of Husbandry, intituled, The Treasure House of Nature unlocked, and set wide open to the world, &c. where they may plainly see, that as God is infinite, and men are infinite by propagation, so the fruits of the Earth for their food, and cloathing are infinite, if men will consent to put to their helping hands to this commendable Designe.
   The summe of the Good consisteth in shewing how this Kingdom may maintain double the number of people which it doth now, and in farre greater plentie: But whereas the price will be five shillings, and every mans purse is not troubled with superfluitie of Crowns, whom if concerneth; To the end that no man be discouraged, I intend to give a Book to every publick Library in the Kingdome, where any man may read it, and write out what he pleaseth freely. Also I intend as soon as if shall be printed, that in Westminster-Hall, and else-where at certain Signes then to be set up, the said Book shall be sold for five shillings, or lent for two pence a week, to every one that shall leave the money, or put in securitie to returne it safe to the owner.
   The reason why it is not already printed, is for that it containeth many rare Secrets for the Health and Wealth of Men, and such as will seem so strange, and incredible to most men, that they will be likely to slight it, to the great prejudice of the Common-wealth.
   Whereupon I am resolved to wait the Lord of Heaven and Earths leasure, till such time as he shall be graciously pleased to afford so much leasure to the high and Honourable Court of Parliament to hear such witnesses as I shall produce, to the end that the Depositions being printed in the same Book, every Subject in the Kingdom, as well in great Cities and Towns Corporate, as in the Countrey, may be satisfied concerning the truth thereof, and so be more apt to yeeld unanimous consent, which is all that is wanting for the full accomplishment of this laudable work. And if any man be extraordinarily desirous to further satisfie concerning this businesse for the present, he may be allowed to peruse the written Copies before the printing, as many have already done to their great contentment.
   And I wish no man to think that this is a device to exhaust his purse; for the truth is, I wrote the same for no other cause, but because I saw that all those books, which were formerly written upon this Subject, were written by men which had not attained to any considerable Perfection in the Knowledge of Nature, and such as had but a glimmering light of such great Secrets, as Nature hath heretofore locked up in her Store-house, and so were ignorant in the fundamentall points and causes of Vegetation and Multiplication. Whereupon I concluded that the Teachers and the Teached were nothing else but the blind leading [catchword: of]
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of the blind, by which we all fell into the ditch; I mean we lived in want and miserie, when we might more easily have lived in plentie and prosperitie.
   This is the first Pamphlet that I wrote since the beginning of this Parliament, and I intend if shall be the last; let every one make use of it, whom it concerneth freely; which is every one that drweth breath in this Common-wealth, or shall draw breath in future ages in it: It is sufficient for me that I have not buried my talent.
   As for the particular way, whereby this wonderfull improvement may be brought to passe, here is no roome in this penny book; therefore I will onely shew how every one in the Kingdom, as well in great Cities, as in the Countrey towns may be an helper in this happie work, and raise some considerable gain to himself, and that great Citie which in former times devoured the fatnesse of the whole Kingdom; may yeeld a considerable retribution yeerly without any mans prejudice, so that the fertilitie of the Countrey needs not be so much diminished as in former times.
   And therefore every one is desired to take this one thing into consideration, that as any parcell of good land, being kept in a pasture, and having the dung, which it breedeth, spent upon it, doth continue fertill for ever, without any other addition: so the excrements,and materials, which any family produceth, being well contrived, will produce yeerly as much bread, and drink, as that family spendeth for ever.
   But the better to stir up all poore maid-servants to put to their helping hand, let them be pleased to understand, that I taught a poore woman to get 3 pounds a yeer, which she hath continued many yeers, without any considerable labour; or neglecting her other occasions, and thus she practised.
   When she washed, and swept roomes at her neighbours houses, instead of casting many materials to the common dunghill, she took them home with her at night, and laid them in a corner, and once a yeer, she sold them for above 3. lb. Besides she laid aside every yeer as many linen rags as yeelded her fourty shillings, and her labour in receiving her five pounds from the Bargeman, or thereabout every yeer, was almost as much as all her other labour, I mean extraordinarie labour.
   If young poore maid-servants will imitate her industrie, I will tell them the whole Secret, to the intent that besides the benefit tot he publick, every one may get herself a considerable portion; and to the end that many may be industrious in this laudable way, and that many thousands may remember me, and my posterity in their prayers, I will first speak a good word for them to all generations to come, to wit, that such an one, which by her wit, industrie, and providence, getteth herself a portion of twenty or fourty pounds (which she may easily do in a certain number of yeers, not very many) deserveth as good a marriage as one that hath an hundred pounds given her by her parents, and friends.
   And to the end that this may not seem to be a ridiculous relation, I will shew [catchword: the]
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the reasons of it, and also the experience, and lastly declare the severall materials which I taught her to reserve.
   As for the reasons, they are thus discovered, viz. the vegetable spirit of the world, by which all things do encrease and multiply, is sometimes cloathed with a grosse, and earthly sculencie, as in dung, and more in some dung, then in other: sometimes it is more purified from its earthly sculencie, and then it is far more effectuall, as we see by experience in London, that a load of shavings of horn is sold for 50 shillings, or 3. li. a load of woollen rags is sold for 30. or 40. s. when as a load of common dung is sold for a peny, and many times for nothing but carriage away; the book formerly mentioned, will further satisfie any one that is inquisitive, so I will proceed to declare the severall materials which I taught her to reserve: as for the linen rags she reserved those before I knew her, and sold them yearly to the Paper-Mils, and I seeing her industrie, thought it a good deed, to advise her to reserve all the shreads, and rags of woollen cloth as well old as new, all the shreads, and pieces of leather of all kinds as well old as knew, all the horns, and hoofs of beasts of all kinds, whether shaven, or not, that came in her way, all the hair, and to take up all the old shoes, and peeces of leather which happened in her way, as she went about her ordinarie occasions, and to work as often as she could, at the houses of Taylors, Shoomakers, Sadlers, &c.
   For I have found by experience, that a load of the best common dung, will not produce corn worth twentie shillings at three crops, unlesse corn be very dear, and if it be far carried, then the labour, rent, and seed, will consume the gains, wheras a load of any of these materials formerly mentioned, will produce wheat, and other corn, worth above 10. li. though the price be reasonable.
   These things being well considered, there is great reason why these materials should not be fondly cast away to the common dunghill in great Cities, or other places, whereas the greatest part thereof is utterly lost; and though some of them go to the dunghill, yet they serve onely to enrich land, which lieth neer to great Cities, where there is no need of them, whereas being reserved by themselves, they will quit the cost to be carried 20 or 30 miles, and so make land fertill, which beareth not half the quantitie for want of dung.
   And whereas I have found by experience, that a load of any manner of seeds, whatsoever, doth contain as much of the vegetable spirit of the world, as ten loads of common dung, I could wish, that all such young men-servants, as have no Stocks not Trades, should get them services, in great Innes, or to be Bayliffs of Husbandrie to great men, and to reserve all the hay seeds that come within their reach, and all the foot that is swept down out of the chimneys, that they can get, and once in a yeer to get so much blood at any Butchers, or Poulterers houses, as will make them into a paste, and then to adde so much cow-dung, dried to them, as being tempered with urine, will be sufficient to make the whole masse apt to be formed into the form [catchword: of]
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of bricks, loaves, or cheeses, and then they are to be laid up in a dry place, till they be throughly rotten, and that a small quantitie thereof being made into powder will not produce any thing suddenly, being spread in a garden or other open place where the rain may fall upon it, without the help of new seed, then though their common dung will yeeld no price at all in that place, but rather they are forced to pay money to have is carried away, yet this will give them a large price, after that the vertue thereof is known.
   And if any such men-servants have means to farm certain Acres of barren land, which lieth so remote from dung, that the annuall rent thereof is little, then by setting of wheat, or other grain, by my directions in my book formerly mentioned, they may make one quarter, or one pounds worth of corn, to yeeld 40. quarters, or 40 pounds worth of corn in lesse time then one yeer, and as much over, and above, as shall pay all charges, and workmen nobly, and also as much rent as any ordinary Farmer can affoord to give yeerly for it, by which means he may in a few yeers get a considerable Stock, and be as likely to thrive as he that hath twice so much given him by his parents, or friends; and I could wish all such men to marry with such women as by their wit, industrie, and providence have gotten themselves portions by my directions in this little book: and let the other which have portions given do the like, and try conclusions whether of them thriveth better.
   If any one should be seen to cast away good bread, when so many poore people want it, then all the world would cry shame upon him; but why should not the casting away of any of these materials fondly, be reputed a more hainous sin, when as they will produce divers times their weight of as good bread as any Prince eateth.
   I have seen by experience, that Salt-peter is the most rich compost in the world, to multiply corn, and I have seen fiftie pounds worth of Salt-peter extracted out of a vault at Dowgate, not very spatious, which was formerly an house of office, and not emptied till the matter was throughly rotten, why may not the same thing be done by Art, which was formerly done by Nature, and accident? I have been credibly informed that such a work is ordinarily done, in the Kingdom of China, and also at the City of Paris in France, and I see no reason why English men should not have as much wit as they.
   If any man hath convenient roome to build two houses of office, and to close up the one whilest he useth the other, then there can be no question, but that instead of the charge of emptying, and noysomnesse of the smell, he may have it emptied for nothing, and feel the sweet smell of money very gratefull to most men, and that in as great quantitie, or greater, then he receiveth for his ordinarie edifices: besides that he will shew himself to be a good member of the body politick, or Common-wealth, wherein he liveth: but he must beware, that the matter do lie drie, and that no adventitious moisture come to it, either from beneath, or from above, which will be somewhat more chargeable in moist grounds, then where the earth is very drie by its own nature.
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   And whereas it is clear as the Sun, that the flesh and blood of a beast is five times as good as the dung of a beast, and that the skinne, haire, wooll, horns, and hoofes, are ten times as good as the dung; and that these things are at the least the third part of the fertilitie and wealth of the Kingdom, and that these things are for the most part lost, and cast away for want of generall knowledge: I could wish that every Housholder in the Kingdome would make use of this book, and let it be common for all his familie, to read, or heare it read, to the end that some considerable quantitie thereof might be preserved, the price is but a penny, the soots in everie ones chimney will pay him againe, for a bushell of soote will produce two bushels of wheat, if it be well ordered, because aboundeth much with the vegetable spirit of the world, by which all sublunarie things do encrease and multiply.
   And whereas there is much food of all kinds spoiled for want of looking, as mustie corne, mouldie cheese, stinking flesh, and fish, also if any man have any horses, or beasts, that die by accident, let all men be pleased to receive instructions in the said book formerly mentioned, how to recover some considerable share of their losses; and if any one cannot find out some way or other to benefit himself more of lesse, by the reading of the said book, besides the good to the publick, let him lay the blame no where else but upon the weaknesse of his own understanding, for it will be proved against him, that some have advanced their revenues above a thousand pounds per annum, by some small part of the skill contained in the said book. And if every poore servant cannot get themselves portions of considerable value, by reason that their masters houses afford not store of such materials, not spare roome to lay them in, then let them get five shillings a yeer, that they may do in the poorest house in the Kingdome, yea the poorest beggars, that go from doore to doore, may get more then that, so shall they get themselves every year a suit of clothes, if they but them at the second hand, and shew their love to the Common-wealth; and perhaps some good minded man, seeing their industrie, may disburse money for the accomplishing of one crop, and take it again with interest, or without interest, out of the first part that is sold, so will the remainder afford them a considerable portion. And though that waste paper of all sorts, either white, or brown, or written, or printed, be not verie good to make barren land fertill, yet it will make good passe-board, the white is worth three farthings a pound, and the other an half penny a pound to make brown passe-board good to cover bookes, and all other things where the colour is hidden in the work, and therefore worthy to be reserved, for in some houses it is of very considerable value.
   And let all men be pleased to take into serious consideration, that as in everie centurie of yeers there do more people die, then are in the world at any one time; so in everie centurie of yeers, there is more Wealth lost fondly for want of knowledge in England, in the compleat Art of Agriculture, then is in the Kingdone at any one time, yea though an Inventorie were taken, and valued at Michaelmas, when the whole yeers fruits are engrossed together, which summe will double [catchword: through-]
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throughout the whole Kingdome, (especially in the Countrey) to the like Inventorie taken at Mayday, when the yeers fruits are almost wasted, and little remaining but hopes, which are not usually put into Inventories.
   Whereas it will plainly appear to all rationall men, that I wish well to all in generall, let them be pleased to accept of one friendly advertisement more, for a parting blowe, Christ saith, he that is not with me, is against me, admitting of no neutralitie: and I say, that whosoever doth not according to is abilitie, and opportunitie, further this blessed work, more or lesse, liveth in a destructive way to the Common-wealth, or body politick, whereof he is a member, though an unworthy one, and justly deserveth to be cut off after admonition, which an ingenious publication of this book will perform in such manner, that whosoever shall fondly cast away any materials, which will produce bread, cannot expect any other sentence at the great day of account, but the very same which all those are like to receive, which have taken childrens bread, and cast it tothe dogs.
   Now for my conclusion, I will make bold to borrow it out of Geber his book, an Arabian Prince, and a famous Phylosopher, because my wit will not serve to endite a better: he when he had found out the profound Art of transmutation of metals, said, Facilius est aurum construere quam destruere: and I say, that it is more easie for any Kingdome to live in happinesse, plentie, and prosperitie, if all were willing, then to live in miserie, indigence, and adversitie; he being over-joyed, and straying his wit for an admirable expression of his thankfulnesse to the sacred Deitie, for bestowing upon him that great knowledge, said thus: Est donum Dei altissime, qui cui vult, largitur & subtrahit, benedictus ergo sit Deus sublimis, gloriosus, & omnipotens, & bendictum sit ejus nomen, in secula seculorum: And all that have seen this Copie before the printing, are confident that it will do more good in the world, then ever the Phylosophers Stone did yet since the world began, whereupon I suppose I may lawfully make use of his conclusion.
               Psal. 41. vers. 1.
     Blessed is he that considereth poore and needie: the Lord will deliver him in the time of trouble.
               Printed according to Order.
           For T.U. at the Bible in Woodstreet.