In 1711, Joseph Addison, the great English essayist, visited the Royal Exchange and described the seemingly endless variety of people from many different countries who pursued trade in the City of London. ‘I am infinitely delighted in mixing with these several ministers of commerce, as they are distinguished by their different walks and different languages.’
Addison was noted for his equanimity of temper, and his moderation in politics. He described himself as what we might today term a global citizen: ‘I am a Dane, Swede or Frenchman at different times; or rather fancy myself like the old philosopher, who upon being asked what countryman he was, replied that he was a citizen of the world.’
London has been a centre of global finance for at least 300 years. It would be complacent to assume its continued prosperity, but there are reasons modestly to hope for its success, even after Brexit.