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By the late seventeenth century, the English commercial economy had become dependent on a national market in which diverse activities were integrated over ever wider fields. Whereas in the late Middle Ages each of the major towns was a replica of its rivals, urban centers were now parts of a large, interconnected network in which each element had distinct functions to perform.[99] In this new economic order the insights of Marshall and Fox had a special place. As political economists such as Charles Davenant had come to recognize, a well-developed division of labor meant that human beings could not survive without the assistance of others to supply their wants. Commerce had the capacity to bring men together in peaceable intercourse, where, in addition to depending on judgment of their own self-interest,

[t]hey will find, that no trading nation ever did subsist, and carry on its business by real stock; that trust and confidence in each other, are as necessary to link and hold a couple together, as obedience, love, friendship, or the intercourse of speech. And when experience has taught each man how weak he is, depending only upon himself, he will be willing to help others, and call upon the assistance of his neighbours.[100]

Economic development, at first the source of social conflict, had become a wellspring of social cohesion. Davenant, of course, refers only to the market for trade and credit and neglects the market for labor, which did not always bring men together in harmonious and mutually beneficial relations. Even though he disregards the world of the servant, he tells us a penetrating truth about the world of the spirit. Its history in the later seventeenth century is one of political and religious rivalry transformed into economic and social cooperation. It is a view that sees economic activity itself, optimistically, as an example of “Love’s Increase.[101]


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