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A merchant is a business person who trades in commodities produced by other people in order to earn a profit. The status of the merchant has varied during different periods of history and among different societies.
- Quotes are arranged alphabetically by author
A - F
- It is when merchants dispute about their own rules that they invoke the law.
- Brett, J., Robinson v. Mollett (1875), L. R. 7 Eng. & Ir. Ap. 817.
- Merchants know perfectly well what they mean when they express themselves, not in the language of lawyers, but in the language of courteous mercantile communication.
- Lord Cairns, Shepherd v. Harrison (1871), L. R. 5 Eng. & Ir. App. Cas. 133.
- The horseman serves the horse,
The neatherd serves the neat,
The merchant serves the purse,
The eater serves his meat;
'T is the day of the chattel,
Web to weave, and corn to grind;
Things are in the saddle,
And ride mankind.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Ode,” Complete Works (1883), vol. 9, p. 73.
G - L
- Among the principal criticisms leveled against the merchants was the charge that their profit implied a mortgage on time, which was supposed to belong to God alone. For example, we have the following remarks of a lector-general of the Franciscan order in the fourteenth century concerning a disputed question: "Question: is a merchant entitled... to demand a greater payment from one who cannot settle his account immediately than from one who can? The answer argued for is no, because in doing so he would be selling time and would be committing usury by selling what does not belong to him."
...The whole of economic life at the dawn of commercial capitalism is here being called into question.
- Jacques Le Goff, Time, Work, and Culture in the Middle Ages (1982)
M - R
- Some confidence there must be between merchant and manufacturer. In matters exclusively within the province of the manufacturer the merchant relies on the manufacturer's skill, and he does so all the more readily when he has had the benefit of that skill before.
- Lord Macnaghten, Drummond v. Van Ingen (1887), L. R. 12 Ap. Cas. 297.
- All merchants may enter or leave England unharmed and without fear, and may stay or travel within it, by land or water, for purposes of trade, free from all illegal exactions, in accordance with ancient and lawful customs. This, however, does not apply in time of war to merchants from a country that is at war with us. Any such merchants found in our country at the outbreak of war shall be detained without injury to their persons or property, until we or our chief justice have discovered how our own merchants are being treated in the country at war with us. If our own merchants are safe they shall be safe too.
- Magna Carta, Clause 41.
- When I see a merchant over-polite to his customers, begging them to taste a little brandy and throwing half his goods on the counter,—thinks I, that man has an axe to grind.
- Merchant and pirate were for a long period one and the same person. Even today mercantile morality is really nothing but a refinement of piratical morality.
- Friedrich Nietzsche, as quoted in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations (1919), p. 997
- This inhumanity of mercenary commerce is the more notable because it is a fulfilment of the law that the corruption of the best is the worst. … And this is the ultimate lesson which the leader of English intellect meant for us … in the tale of the "Merchant of Venice"; in which the true and incorrupt merchant,—kind and free, beyond every other Shakespearian conception of men,—is opposed to the corrupted merchant, or usurer; the lesson being deepened by the expression of the strange hatred which the corrupted merchant bears to the pure one, mixed with intense scorn.
- John Ruskin, Unto This Last (1860)
S - Z
- The word commission sounds sweet in a merchant's ear.
- Sir W. Scott, The Gratitudine (1801), 3 Rob. Adm. Rep. 240.
- When profit diminishes, merchants are very apt to complain that trade decays; though the diminution of profit is the natural effect of its prosperity, or of a greater stock being employed in it than before.
- Our merchants and master-manufacturers complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price, and thereby lessening the sale of their goods both at home and abroad. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people.
- A merchant, it has been said very properly, is not necessarily the citizen of any particular country.