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Centesimal Proportions of the British and Foreign Tonnage employed in the Import
Trade of the United Kingdom from 1820 to 1844.
-PORTER'S Progress of the Nation, 416, 2d edition. Mr Porter himself tells us that clined (p. 410) from 65 to 5238, while the centesimal proportion of our trade that of our colonies has increased with the European powers has de- thus,
Such has been the working of the ficial operation of their principles. We reciprocity system, as compared with accept the instance, and proceed to the protective and colonial-in other inquire into the comparative value of words, free trade in shipping with the American protected trade with some particular nations—in twenty our own colonies, and the American years. And it is from this experience free trade with the United States, both of the effects of the partial adoption of at this time and in the respective prothese principles that the Free-traders gress of each for the last twenty-five now propose to make it universal ! years.
America is the country to which, The foreign and British tonnage in comparison with Great Britain, the with the United States, Canada, and Free-traders constantly refer for a the West Indies, in the year 1847, demonstration of the justice and bene- stood thus, viz. :
So that, while our West India and It is easy to see how it has hapNorth American colonies, under this pened that, in competition with the protective system, support 1,196,854 shipowners of every country, the Britons of British shipping against 3,724 tish shipowners have suffered so much of foreign, or 300 to 1 nearly; the under the partial operation of the American trade with the United States free-trade principles which the recionly maintains 437,095 of British procity system has afforded. It is the against 651,189 of foreign; in other inevitable fate of the old and the words, about 2 to 3 nearly! But the rich state, in shipbuilding and agriFree-traders think it better to adopt culture, to be undersold by the young the system which makes the foreign and the poor one. The reason is, shipping to the British as 3 to 2, than that the old state, by the very magniuphold the one which has brought the tude of its wealth, the amount of its foreign shipping to the British, in the transactions, the number of its inhacolonial trade, as 1 to 300!
bitants, the multitude of its fabrics, Observe, too, the decisive proof is obliged to pay much higher for which the same return affords of the labour and materials of all sorts than vast superiority, in every point of the young and the poor one. Maview, of our colonial trade to our chinery and the steam-engine comforeign, even in the hands of our best pensate, and more than compensate, free-trade customers, the Americans. this superiority in regard to manufacFor while less than 3,000,000 of souls tured articles. England undersells between the West India and North Hindostan, where wages are a penny American colonies furnished employ. or twopence a day, by the work of ment to 1,197,000 tons of British and steam-power looms working on cotton foreign shipping, of which 1,193,000 raised on the banks of the Ganges. was British; twenty millions of Ame But there is no steam-power loom in ricans in the United States only fur- shipbuilding any more than in agrinished employment to 1,088,284 tons culture. Great things in nautical of shipping, in all of which no more affairs, as in rural economy, can be than 437,095 were British! And this effected only by the labour of man's is the pet instance of the Free-traders— hands and the sweat of his brow, in their favourite cheval de bataille-to the last ages of civilisation, as in the demonstrate the great superiority of first. It would appear to be a perfree and foreign over protected and manent law of nature, to which there colonial trade !
is no exception in any age of the Again, if we take the comparative world, or any stage of human progress, progress of British and American ton that the chief branches of industry on nage in conducting the trade of the which the subsistence and defence of United States, since the reciprocity nations rest — agriculture, and the system was begun in 1823, the same naval and military arts—are pursued conclusion is forced upon the mind. more cheaply, and with more success Not only is the American shipping, by young and rising than old and throughout the whole period, superior opulent states. History is full of exto the British in the proportion gene- amples in which the manufactures of rally of 3 to 1, but this superiority rich and ancient nations have obtained in their favour remains undiminished an undisputed supremacy over the in any material degree. We take the fabrics of poor and rising ones; but it following returns from Mr Porter:- presents still more examples of the
encroachments made on the industry British
American and power of old nations by the agritons inwards. tons inwards.
cultural produce, or naval and mili1823
63,606 165,699 tary efforts, of young ones. It is this 1826
47,711 151,765 law of nature which provides for the 1829
64,343 162,367 decay and ruin of nations when they 1832 95,203 167,359
are approaching the limit of their 1835 86,383 226,483
allotted space of existence, and should 1838 83,203 357,467
give place to others entering on the 1841
121,777 294,170 1844 206,183 338,737
career which they have terminated. 1845 224,089
No efforts of human energy or virtue
444,609 1846 205,123 435,399
can prolong, for any considerable
period, this allotted space. But it is persist in, and even extend, a system the peculiar reproach of free trade, which, without diminishing in the whether applied to agriculture or slightest degree the jealousy of Connautical affairs, that it tends to tinental nations at our manufacturing shorten, instead of prolonging, the superiority, has inflicted a serious and life of the nation to which it is ap- gratuitous wound on the naval replied, by oppressing instead of reliey. sources by which alone that superioring those vital branches of industry ity can be maintained ? on which its existence depends, and We have recently made a very great thus both aggravates the natural evils stride in free-trade principles, by the incident to old age, and accelerates sacrifice of our agricultural protection, the approach of the political society and the throwing open the English to the tomb.
markets to cultivators of all nations. When Mr Huskisson, in 1823, intro- In the three last months of 1846 and duced the Reciprocity System, he did even of 1847, in consequence of the not dispute that it would injure our import duties being removed, above maritime interests; but he contended £30,000,000 sterling was sent out that it would open a new field for our of the country to purchase foreign manufactures,—that the time had now grain; and the moderate duty of eight arrived when the Protective System shillings a quarter has since been recould no longer be maintained, and it imposed on wheat, yet it terminates had become indispensable to sacrifice in February next, and corn from all to a certain extent our maritime in- quarters will then be admitted for the terests, in order to preserve the chief nominal duty of one shilling a quarter. vents on Continental Europe for the We have abandoned the protection industry of our artisans. The sacri- of our colonies to conciliate the slavefice was made, and the tables already growing states, and augment the margiven show with what fatal effect to ket for Manchester goods in Cuba and our shipping interest. Has it extended Brazil. With what disastrous effects the market for our manufactures, or these changes have been attended, diminished the jealousy with which upon the best interests of the empire, they are regarded by the states of need be told to none who are familiar Continental Europe? Let the Zoll- with the total ruin which has in converein league, at the head of which sequence overtaken our West India Prussia has placed herself, and which colonies, and the unprecedented dishas imposed duties to an amount, in tress which prevails in all the great practical operation, of fifty per cent seats of our manufacturing industry. on our manufactures, give the answer. The loss of half the realised wealth of The exports which we send to the Liverpool, Manchester, and Glasgow, states of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and the creation of nearly a hundred and Prussia, are still, after a quarter thousand persons, including dependof a century's experience of the im- ants, in a state of pauperism, in each mense impulse it has given to their of those once rich and prosperous maritime interests, and corresponding cities, is the price which, in a year and depression to ours, a perfect trifle.* a half, we have paid for the adoption Our exports to America are less than by Sir R. Peel of Mr Cobden's printhey were fifteen years ago, despite ciples of free trade, and Mr Jones the boasted conciliatory effect of Loyd's principles of a fettered curtwenty years' reciprocity.f What can rency. Have we, in consequence, be more injudicious, therefore, than to reaped any countervailing advantage,
* Exports from Great Britain-to 1844 Sweden
152,824 Denmark . . . 286,679 Prussia
505,384 Porter's Progress of the Nation, p. 366, 2d edition. + Exports to United States of America:1836
or does the increase of our export of adding a fifth to the apparent tonand import trade show any benefit nage of all British vessels, subsequent derived to the nation, to compensate to that date. This change was clearly such dreadful wounds inflicted on its proved by the witnesses examined internal prosperity, in the attempt to before the Commons' committee; but disarm the jealousy, of foreign manu- though Mr Porter, in his last edition facturers ? So far from it, our ex- of the Progress of the Nation, menports and imports have steadily tions the change, (p. 368,) he makes declined since free-trade principles no allusion to it in comparing the were introduced. All the main sources amount of British and foreign tonnage of our strength have diminished since since 1834. Of course a fifth must Sir R. Peel abandoned protection in be deducted from British tonnage, as July 1846.* In adopting these prin compared with foreign, since that ciples, we have gratuitously inflicted time; and what overwhelming force a grievous wound on our own people, does this give to the facts, already without having obtained for them the strong, in regard to the effect of the shadow even of a benefit to compen- reciprocity system on our maritime sate the evil.
interests! Such have been the effects of free. The second is, that the tonnage trade principles on the comparative with countries near Great Britain, prosperity of British and foreign ship- such as France, Belgium, and Holping, on the showing of the Free- land, includes steam vessels carrying traders themselves, and according to passengers, and their repeated voythe figures which their great statis- ages. In this way a boat, measuring tician, Mr Porter, has prepared and 148 tons, and carrying passengers published at the Board of Trade. We chiefly, comes to figure in the returns were unwilling to mix up a great na- for 24,000 tons! It is evident that tional question, such as the repeal of this important circumstance deprives the Navigation Laws, with any sub- the returns of such near states of all ordinate examination as to the accuracy value in the estimate of the comparaor inaccuracy of the view of our mari- tive amount of tonnage engaged in time affairs which these figures exhibit the trade with different countries. Such is the strength of the case, that That with France will appear greatest it will admit of almost any concession; in spring 1848, in consequence of the and the opponents of their repeal have number of large vessels then employ. no occasion to go farther than to the ed in bringing back English residents statistics of their adversaries for the expelled by, or terrified at the Revolumost decisive refutation of their prin- tion-though that circumstance was ciples. But there are two observa- putting a stop to nearly all the comtions on the tables published by the mercial intercourse between the two Board of Trade, so important that countries. As steam navigation has they cannot be passed over in silence. so immensely increased since 1834, The first is, that in 1834, when Mr when the changes in the measurement Poulett Thomson was president of was introduced-and Great Britain, the Board of Trade, a regulation was from its store of coal and iron, enjoys made by the Board as to the measure- more of that traffic than all Europe put ment of vessels, which had the effect together-this is another circumstance
-Porter's Parl. Tables ; and Parl. Paper, 3d April 1848.
which militates against the returns as which has revived Chartism, and exhibiting a fair view of our trade, rendered it so menacing in the land. compared with that of foreign nations, We should like to see how long a especially with near countries, and legislature, elected by universal suffully justifies Mr Porter's admission, frage, would allow Spitalfields and when examined before the Lords' Macclesfield to be pauperised by Lyons committee, that " considerable fallacy silks, and Manchester invaded by is to be found in the returns.” Un- Rouen cottons, and the shipwrights of fortunately for the Free-traders, how- Hull and Sunderland to be ruined by ever, who had the preparation of them Baltic shipbuilders. As the operative in their hands, these fallacies all point classes have obtained the ascendency one way-viz. to augment the appa- in the principal Continental states, a rent advantages of free trade in ship- similar jealousy of foreign interference
with industry may with certainty be Such as free-trade principles are, looked for in Continental Europe. Can they are evidently not likely to re- any thing be more insane, therefore, main, if these islands are excepted, than to persist in a policy fraught, as long in the ascendant either in the every thing around us demonstrates, Old or the New World. The American with such ruinous social injury to ourtariff shows us how little we have to selves, and which the progress of poexpect from Transatlantic favour to litical change on the Continent renders our manufactures : the savage expul incapable of producing the ultimate sion of English labourers from France, benefits, in exchange for those evils how far the principles of “Liberty, which their authors hold out as the inEquality, and Fraternity," are likely ducing causes of the measures which to be acted upon by our enthusiastic have produced them? and democratic neighbours on the While the political changes which Continent of Europe. It is clear have recently occurred on the Contifrom the communist and socialist nent of Europe have rendered any reprinciples now in the ascendant, both ciprocity of advantages utterly hopeat Paris, Berlin, and Vienna, that less from the most violent adoption of the interests of labour will above all free-trade principles, they have augthings be considered by their gov- mented in a proportional degree the ernments in future times, and that the dangers to this country of foreign agmost rigorous measures, in the form gression, and the risk to be appreof fiscal regulations, if not absolute hended from any diminution of our prohibition, may shortly be expected naval resources. The days have in France, Italy, and Germany, gone by when the dream of a freeagainst manufactures of any sort trade millenium, in which a reciprowhich interfere, or seem to interfere, city of advantages is to extinguish all with the interests of the dominant feelings of hostility, and war is to be multitude of operatives. Why does our looked back to as a relic of the pregovernment adhere so strongly, in the Adamite world, can with safety be inface of the clearest evidence of their dulged. It is rather too late to think ruinous tendency, to the present system of the termination of the angry pasof free trade and a fettered currency? sions of men, when Europe, in its Because it works well for the great length and breadth, is devastated alike capitalists, who desire to have money by civil dissension and foreign wardear, and the great manufacturers, fare; when barricades have so recently who wish to have labour cheap, and been ereeted in all its chief capitals ; because a majority of the House of when bloodshed is hourly expected in Commons has been placed by the Re- Paris and Berlin ; when the Emperor form Bill under their influence. Give of Austria has fled to Innspruck; when the operatives the majority, and the every station in London was, only a opposite interest will instantly pre- few days ago, occupied by armed batvail. A successful Chartist revolt talions; and when a furious war, would at once send the whole free rousing the passions of whole races trade and fettered currency measures of men, is raging on the Mincio and by the board in three months. In truth, the Elbe. Threatened by a raging it is the disasters they have produced fire in all the countries by which we