chapter  1
9 Pages

Counsellors to government

As part of our attempt to forestall treating the concerns of contemporary economics as natural and perennial, we need to investigate what earlier writers thought they were doing when writing on topics such as money and wealth. We can take an important step in this direction by paying attention to the practices and conceptions of counselling that typified early modern England. The key point to make in this regard is that counsel on trade was organized around two discursive figures: the counsellor who gave counsel, and the statesman who was projected as both the target of counsel and the agent capable of enacting the changes called for, whether by laws, policy, or good example. It is therefore necessary to distinguish between, on the one hand, the counsellor and statesman as tropes of argumentation and, on the other hand, the historical figures who actually counselled and conducted the business of government.