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commerce gave birth to a maritime carried the British standard to Madpower, compared with which every rid and Paris. other maritime power, ancient or mo- It was the peculiar structure of the dern, sinks into insignificance; under English constitution, during this cenwhich Scotland, after ages of enmity, tury and a half of prosperity and glory, was at length united to England, not that produced so remarkable a uniformerely by legal bonds, but by indis- mity in the objects of the national posoluble ties of interest and affection ; licy. These objects were pursued alike under wbich, in America, the British by the Republicans and the Royalists; colonies rapidly became far mightier by the Roundheads and the Cavaliers; and wealthier than the realms which by the Whigs, during the seventy years Cortes and Pizarro added to the domi- of their rule that followed the Revonions of Charles V.; under which, in lution, and the Tories, during the Asia, British adventurers founded an sixty years that succeeded the accesempire not less splendid, and more sion of George III. The policy was durable, than that of Alexander," that of protection to all the national was not the policy of any particular interests, whether landed, commercial, party or section of the community, colonial, or manufacturing. Under this and thence its long duration and un- system they all grew and prospered, exampled success.
alike and abreast, in the marvellous It was not introduced-it grew. manner which the peneil of Macaulay Like the old constitution, of which it has sketched in the opening of his was the emanation, it arose from the History. It was hard to say whether wants and necessities of all classes of agriculture, manufactures, colonies, or men during a long series of ages. It shipping throve and prospered most was first proclaimed in energetic terms during that unique period. The by the vigour of Cromwell; the cry world had never seen anything like it of the national representatives for before: it is doubtful if it will ever markets to native industry, of the see anything like it again. Under its merchants, for protection to their shelter, the various interests of the emships, produced the Navigation Laws, pire were knit together in so close a and laid the foundation of the colonial manner, that they not only all grew and empire of England. Amidst all his prospered together, but it was univerinsouciance and folly in the drawing- sally felt that their interests were room of the Duchess of Portsmouth, entirely dependent on each other. The and the boudoirs of the Duchess of toast “The plough, the loom, and the Cleveland, it was steadily pursued by sail,” was drunk with as much enCharles II. James II. did not lose sight thusiasm in the farmers' club as in the of this same system, anidst all his merchant's saloon. As varied as the infatuation and cruelty; when direct interests with which they were charging the campaign of Jeffreys in the ed, the policy of government was yet west, he was as steadily bent on perfectly steady in following out one upholding and extending the navy as principle—the protection of the prowhen, amidst the thunders of war, he ductive classes, whether by land or combated de Ruyter and van Tromp water, whether at home or abroad. on the coast of Holland. William III., The legislature represented and Anne, and the Georges, pursued the embodied all these interests, and carsame system. It directed the policy ried out this policy. It gave them a of Somers and Godolphin ; it ruled the stability and consistency which had diplomacy of Walpole and Chatham; never been seen in the world before. it guided the measures of Bute and Nominally the representatives of cerNorth ; it directed the genius of Pitt tain towns and counties in the British and Fox. It was for it that Marl. islands, the House of Commons graborough conquered, and Wolfe fell; dually became really the representathat Blake combated, and Hawke tives of the varied interests of the destroyed ; that Nelson launched the whole British empire. The nominathunderbolt of war, and Wellington tion boroughs afforded an inlet alike
* MACAU LAY'S History, i. 1-2.
to native talent and foreign interests. whom it seems impracticable to amalGatton and Old Sarum, or similar gamate with Saxon institutions; and close boroughs, afforded an entrance of the Scottish Highlanders, whom to the legislature, not only to the genius chivalrous honour for a short period of Pitt and Fox, of Burke and Sheri- alienated from the established governdan, but to the wealth of Jamaica, ment—unanimity unprecedented dur. the rising energy of Canada, the aged ing the whole period pervaded the civilisation of Hindostan. Experi- British empire. All foreign colonies enced protection reconciled all interests were desirous to be admitted into the to a government under which all pro- great protecting confederacy; the spered ; matual dependence made all French and Dutch planters in secret sensible of the necessity of common prayed for the defeat of their defenders unanimity. The statute-book and when the standard of St George apnational treaties, from the Revolution proached their shores. The Hindoos, in 1688 to the close of the war with with heroic constancy, alike in proNapoleon in 1815, exhibit the most sperous and adverse fortune, maindecisive proof of the working of these tained their fidelity: Canada stood varied, but not conflicting interests, in firm during the most dangerous crisis the national councils. If you con- of our history; and the flame of template the general protection loyalty burned as steadily on the afforded to agriculture and the landed banks of the St Lawrence, on the interest, you would imagine the House mountains of Jamaica, and on the of Commons had been entirely com- shores of the Ganges, as in the crowded posed of squires. If you examine the emporiums of London, or the smiling innumerable enactments, fiscal and fields of Yorkshire. prohibitory, for the protection of But there is a limit imposed by nature manufactures, you would suppose it to all earthly things. The growth of had been entirely under the govern- empires is restrained, after they have ment of manufacturers. If you con- reached a certain stature, by laws as template the steady protection inva- certain as those which arrest that of inriably given to the mercantile navy, dividuals. If a state does not find the you would suppose it had been chiefly causes of its ruin in foreign disaster, directed by shipowners. If you cast it will inevitably find it. in internal your eyes on the protection constantly opinion. This arises so naturally and given by discriminating fiscal duties evidently from the constitution of the to colonial industry, and the vast human mind, that it may be regarded efforts made, both by sea and land, in as a fixed law of nature in all counthe field and in the cabinet, to en- tries where intellectual activity has courage and extend our colonial de- been called forth, and as one of the pendencies, you would conclude, not most powerful agents in the governonly that they were represented, but ment, by supreme Wisdom, of human that their representatives had a ma- affairs. This principle is to be found jority in the legislature.
in the tendency of original thought to The reason of this prodigy was, that differ from the current opinion with all interests had, in the course of ages, which it is surrounded, and of party and the silent effects of time, worked ambition to decry the system of those their way into the legislature, and all by whom it is excluded from power. enjoyed in fair proportion a reasonable Universally it will be found that influence on government. Human the greatest exertions of human intelwisdom could no more ab ante have lect have been made in direct opposiframed such a system, than it could tion to the current of general opinion; have framed the British constitution. and that public thought in one age is By accident, or rather the good pro- in general but the echo of solitary vidence of God, it grew up from the meditation in that which has preceded wants of men during a series of gene- it. Illustrations of this crowd on the rations ; and its effects appeared in reflecting mind from every period of this, that-except in the cases of the history. The instances of Luther American war, where unfortunate standing forth alone to shake down, circumstances produced a departure Samson-like, the pillar of the corruptfrom the system ; of the Irish Celts, ed Romish faith ; of Bacon's opening, amid all the despotism of the Aristo- the colonies, in war, in peace, at home telian philosophy, his inductive philo- and abroad, we had been running sophy; of Galileo maintaining the blindfold to destruction. True, we had motion of the earth even when sur- become great, and glorious, and free rounded by the terrors of the Italian under this abominable system; true, Inquisition ; of Copernicus asserting it had been accompanied by a growth the true system of the heavens in op- of national strength, and an amount position to the belief of two thousand of national happiness, unparalleled in years; of Malthus bringing forward any former age or country; but that the paradox of the danger of human was all by accident. Philosophy had increase in opposition to the previous marked it with the sign of reprobageneral opinion of mankind; of Vol- tion-prosperity had poured upon us taire combating alone the giant power by chance in the midst of universal of the Roman Catholic hierarchy; of misgovernment. By all the rules of Rousseau running a course against the calculation we should have been dewhole ideas of his age—will imme- stroyed, though, strange to say, no diately occur to every reader. Many symptoms of destruction had yet of these great men adopted erroneous appeared amongst us. According to opinions, and, in consequence, did as every principle of philosophy, the much evil to their own or the next age patient should long ago have been as others did good ; but they were all dead of the mortal disease under which characterised by one mark. Their he laboured : the only provoking opinions were original, and directly thing was, that he was still walking adverse to public opinion around them. about in robust and florid health. Theclose of the nineteenth century was Circumstances occurred at the same no exception to the general principle. time, early in this century, which had Following out those doctrines of free- the most powerful effect in exasperatdom from restraint of every kind, ing the Opposition party throughout which in France had arisen from the the country, and inducing them to natural resistance of men to the nu- embrace, universally and ardently, the merous fetters of the monarchy, and new philosophy, which condemned in which had been brought forward by such unmeasured terms the whole sysTurgot and the Economists, in the tem of government pursued by their boudoirs of Madame Pompadour antagonists. For half a century, since and the coteries of Paris,-- Adam the long dominion of the Whigs was Smith broached the principle of Free terminated in 1761 by George III., Trade, with the exceptions of grain the Tories had been, with the excepand shipping. The first he excepted, tion of a few months, constantly in because it was essential to national office. Though their system of govsubsistence; the second, because it ernment in religion, in social affairs, was the pillar of national defence. in foreign relations, was nothing but The new philosophy was ardently a continuation of that which the Whigs embraced by the liberal party, who, had introduced, and according to which chagrined by long exclusion from the government had been conducted office, were rejoiced to find a tangible from 1688 to 1760, yet, in the ardour and plausible ground whereon to at- of their zeal for the overthrow of their tack the whole existing system of adversaries, the liberal party embraced government. From them it gradually on every point the opposite side. The extended to nearly all the ardent descendants of Lord Russel became part of the community, ever eager to the advocates of Roman Catholic embrace doctrines at variance with emancipation ; the followers of Marlprevious and vulgar belief, and not yet borough and Godolphin, the partisans enlightened by experience as to the of submission to France; the succeseffect of the new system. It was sors of Walpole and Chatham, the soon discovered that for a century and advocates of free trade and colonial a half we had been proceeding on false neglect. These feelings, embraced principles. The whole policy of gov- from the influence of a determination ernment since the days of Cromwell to find fault with government in every had been erroneous; in politics, in particular, were worked up to the social government, in diplomacy, in highest pitch by the glorious result of the war with France, and the appar- riches, both in town and country, had ently interminable lease of power ac- increased so prodigiously, that the quired by their adversaries from the holders of it had acquired a preponoverthrow of Napoleon. That memo- derance over the classes in the state rable event, so opposite to that which yet engaged in the toilsome and hazthey had all so long in public predict- ardous work of production. The owned, so entirely the reverse of that ers of realised capital had become so which many had in secret wished, numerous and weighty, from the beneproduced a profound impression on ficial effects of the protective system the Whig party. Their feelings were under which the country had so long only the more acute, that, amidst the flourished, that they formed an importamult of national exultation, they tant class apart, which began to look were forced to suppress them, and to to its separate interests.
The conwear the countenance of satisfaction, sumers had become so numerous and when the bitterness of disappointment affluent, that they were enabled to was in their hearts. To the extreme bid defiance to the producers. The asperity of these feelings, and the uni- maxim became prevalent, "Take care versal twist which they gave to the of the consumer, and let the producer minds of the whole liberal party in take care of himself." Thence the Great Britain, the subsequent general clamour for free trade. Having passed change in their political principles the labour of production, during which is to be ascribed ; and, in the practical they, or their fathers, had strenuously application of these principles, the supported the protective principles, by real cause of our present distressed which they were making their money, condition is to be found.
the next thing was to support the While one set of causes thus pre- opposite principles, by which the value pared, in the triumph of Conservative of the made money might be augmented. and protective principles, the strongest This was to be done by free trade and possible reaction against them, and a contracted currency. Having made prognosticated, at no distant period, millions by protection, the object now their general banishment from popular was to add a half to every million thought, another, and a not less power. by raising its value. The way to ful set, flowing from the same cause, do this seemed to be by cheapening gave these principles the means of the price of every other article, and acquiring a political supremacy, and raising the price of money: in other raling the government of the state. words, the system of cheapening The old policy of England, it has been everything without reference to its already observed, for a hundred and effect on the interests of production. fifty years, had been to take care of the Parliamentary reform, for which producers, and let the consumers take the Whigs, disappointed by long care of themselves. Such had been exclusion from office, laboured strenuthe effects of this protective policy, ously, in conjunction with the com. that, before the close of the Revolution- mercial and moneyed classes, enriched ary war, during which it received its by protection, gave them the means of full development, the producingclasses, carrying both objects into execution, both in town and country, had become because it made two-thirds of the so rich and powerful, that it was easy House of Commons the representato see they would ere long give à tives of burghs. The cry of cheap preponderance to urban over rural bread was seductive to all classes in industry. The vast flood of agricul- towns : —to the employer, because it tural riches poured for expenditure opened the prospect of reducing the into towns; that of the manufacturers price of labour, and to the operative, and merchants seldom left it. The because it presents that of lowering that great manufacturing and mercantile of provisions. To these two objects, places, during a century, had advanced accordingly, of raising the value of in population tenfold, in wealth thirty- money and lowering the remunerafold. The result of this change was tion of industry, the Reform parliavery curious, and in the highest degree ment, the organ of the moneyed inimportant. Under the shadow of pro- terest and consuming classes, has, tection to industry in all its branches, through all the changes of party, been perfectly steady. It is no wonder it counterpart in the great political rehas been so, for it was the first-born action of the Whig party, of which of those interests. Twenty years be- Macaulay is himself the brightest orfore the cry for reform convulsed the nament. nation-in 1810—the Bullion Com- That this is the true explanation mittee brought forward the principle of of the strange and tortuous policy, both a metallic, and, consequently, a con- in domestic and foreign affairs, under tracted currency; and they recommend- which the nation has so long suffered, ed its adoption in the very crisis of the is apparent on the slightest survey of war, when Wellington lay at Torres political affairs in the last and present Vedras, and when the monetary crisis century. to which it must have led would have The old principle of the English conmade us a province of France. Re- stitution, which had worked itself into form was the consequence of the existence, or grown up from the neceschange in the currency, not its cause. sities of men, during a long course of The whole time from 1819 to 1831, years, was, that the whole interests ofthe with the exception of 1824 and 1825, state should be represented, and that the was one uninterrupted period of suffer- House of Commons was the assembly ing. Such was the misery it produced in which the representatives of all that the minds of men were prepared those varied interests were to be found. for any change. A chaos of una- For the admission of these varied nimity was produced by a chaos of interests, a varied system of electoral suffering.
qualifications, admitting all interests, Thus, by a singular and most inte- poble, mercantile, industrial, popuresting chain of causes and effects, it lar, landed, and colonial, was indiswas the triumph of Conservative and pensable. In the old House of Comprotective principles in the latter years mons, all these classes found a of the war, and the entire demonstra- place for their representatives, and tion thus afforded of their justice and thence the commercial protection it expedience, which was the imme- afforded to industry. According to diate cause of their subsequent aban- the new system, a vast majority of donment, and all the misery which seats was to be allotted to one class has thence arisen, and with which we only, the householders and shopkeepare still everywhere surrounded. For ers of towns. That class was the it at once turned all the intellectual moneyed and consuming class; and energies of the great liberal party to thence the whole subsequent course of oppose, in every particular, the system British policy, which has been to by which their opponents had been sacrifice everything to their integlorified, and concentrated all the rests. energies of the now powerful moneyed The old maxim of government, alike classes to swell, by a change of policy, with Whigs and Tories, was, that the fortunes on which their conse- native industry of all sorts, and espequence depended, and which had cially agricultural industry, was to arisen from the long prevalence of the be protected, and that foreign comopposite system. For such is the ten- petition was to be admitted only in dency to action and reaction, in all so far as was not inconsistent with this vigorous and intellectual communities, primary object. The new philosophy that truth itself is for long no security taught, and the modern liberals carried against their occurrence. On the con- into execution, a different principle. trary, so vehement are the passions They went on the maxim that the inteexcited by a great and lasting
triumph rests of the consumers alone were to be of one party, even though in the right, considered: that to cheapen everything that the victory of truth, whether in was the great object; and that it politics or religion, is often the imme- mattered not how severely the prodiate cause of the subsequent triumph ducers of articles suffered, provided of error. The great Roman Catho- those who purchased them were enlic reaction against the Reforma- abled to do so at a reduced rate. This tion, which Ranke has so clearly policy, long lauded in abstract writings elucidated,
olay has so and reviews, was at length carried powerfully ,
its exact into execution by Sir R. Peel, by the