The title page to the book.
'Advice to the Unwary', published in 1780, examines the economic and political consequences of the smuggling trade. As the book outlines, illicit trading had at that time made 'gigantic strides from the sea coasts, into the very heart of the country'. The author describes many of the damaging effects of smuggling, for example the unemployment among 'fair traders', such as silk-weavers and thread manufacturers, whose goods were unable to compete with cheap illicit imports; and the illegal trade of Geneva (or gin) which helped to cause widespread alcoholism throughout English society. He also emphasises the falling profits of the East India Company, which were to a large extent the result of smuggling.
The author sets out to remind his readers of the most recent (1779) Act of Parliament against smuggling. He hopes that if individuals are forewarned of the dangers of smuggling, 'the law will no longer be a dead letter or useless form, [and] a very powerful association may be formed, to watch the motions of smugglers of every denomination, and to inform against, and bring them to condign punishment.'