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Our brass and copper manufactures have nearly doubled their amount. Our export of iron still retains the Mediterranean market, and, under the effect of a great increasing demand and consumption, both foreign and domestic, is becoming one of the staples of the country, and an almost equal rival of Swedish iron in quality. Our woollen manufactures will be found on an average of the last five years to exceed the like average during the best years of the war; whilst our gross exports of cotton manufactures, now forming our principal export to the continent of Europe as well as to America, have advanced from sixteen to twenty-one millions.
Our commerce with the United States has been necessarily affected by the diminished means of this great consumer. The seller has necessarily suffered by the impaired wealth of the principal buyer. But under the extent and variety of her soil and produce, under the elastic spirit, the unwearied activity, and the invincible industry, of her citizens (the vis insita originis of this British scion,) the government of the United States is rapidly. returning to its former condition; and as our commerce shared in the late reverses, so is it participating in her happier restoration. The American revenue from customs, in the year 1819, was about seventeen millions of dollars. In 1820 it approached towards twenty millions. Upon making up the accounts to the close of the present year, it may be calculated from all credible report to exceed twenty-two millions. Our commerce with Asia, Africa, and America, not being colonial, though very considerable at present, is still greater in prospect than in possession. Fortune has here thrown up the vast and unbroken field of South American
The opening of the East India trade, and the recent extension of the privileges of the private traders, have laid the basis of a commerce, which the activity and enterprise of British merchants will push to an incalculable extent. We see this trade almost in its infancy; but it must not be forgotten, that it was his majesty's present ministers who opened it to the general merchant.
The general character of our internal trade and manufactures affords a spectacle no less splendid and grateful. The just criterion of their actual condition is in the state of our current consumption. But through every branch of this consumption, whether affecting necessaries, conveniencies, or luxuries, there is the same indisputable argument of the continuing opulence of the country. In tea, coffee, tobacco, malt, and British spirits, salt, leather, candles, soap, bricks, tiles, &c. the current consumption maintains at least the average of former years, and under most of the above heads exceeds it. The proof in detail of this proposition has been given in a 'fornier part of these observations. Suffice it here to call the attention of the reader to a most important conclusion: Of the twenty-six millions annually produced by the excise, the amount of the taxes upon fermented liquors and their materials, added to those of tea, coffee, and tobacco only, exceed twenty millions. Of so much consequence is the continuing domestic consumption of these articles which, though thus few in amount, exceed by more than two-fold the produce of our customs.
Whilst such is the condition of our foreign commerce, internal trade, manufactures, and revenue, the administration of our foreign relations has in every respect upholden the honor of the country, and confirmed our national security under the general treaties of Europe. In the local contentions of European powers, we have at once respected the independence of nations, and retained entire our own friendly relations. Under a laudable prudence we have contented ourselves with the performance of our own duties, and have seen no obligation unnecessarily to involve the country by the hostile assertion of principles not proportionately affecting ourselves. The event has justified our policy. Our wise forbearance has saved us from the humiliation of a vain ostentation of our power, and from the costly prosecution of remote interests. Under this system, all our foreign relations with friendly states continue unimpaired. In Europe, Asia, and America, we have a voice or a vote proportionate to the dignity of our empire, and to the reputation of our strength, wisdom, and moderation.
Under our Home Department, may it not be fearlessly asserted by the friends of his Majesty's ministers, that the general aspect of Great Britain, so far as regards the public tranquillity, is every thing which the most ardent lover of his country could desire. The administration of the laws is no longer interrupted by factious clamors against the local magistracy of the country. The essential and strongest interests of all societies, religion, morals, and public peace, are secured by laws, formidable only to the guilty, and operating upon them more by a salutary intimidation and restraint than by an actual application. No one at the present day, either singly by himself, or as the leader of a field-mob, can any longer defy the laws of the state, or calumniate its most sacred institutions. The state, or any of its corporate orders, may apply with security to the juries of the country. If the condition of the sister-kingdom be not equally satisfactory, it is matter perltaps rather of regret for the present than of just apprehension for the future. It is impossible but that her misguided peasantry must shortly return to the protection of a paternal government.
Under the head of the Colonial Department, and the general
administration of our shipping avd mercantile interests by the Board of Trade, every person connected with these objects cannot refuse to acknowledge his obligations to his Majesty's ministers. If Canada, in common with the United States, suffer under the operation of our corn-laws, she suffers from the necessity of the supreme government not to sacrifice a greater interest in favor of one of minor consideration. It is not that Canada is sacrificed to Great Britain, but that Great Britain cannot be sacrificed to Canada. Under circumstances of the most obvious policy, we withhold from our Canadian subjects not a right but a grace. But where is the person amongst us who, under the existing depression of British agriculture, can venture to propose any relaxation of the prohibitory system? If the amount of colonial corn be not considerable, there prevails still a current opinion, mistaken, perhaps, but certainly popular, that any excess in the market, however small, affects the value of the whole quantity in a proportion far greater than its own amount. But there are circumstances, in which it is necessary to concede to impressions probably erroneous, and certainly exceeding the just measure of their causes. Our immense interests in Jamaica are placed in a state of security beyond apprehension. The free ports in Malta and the Mediter. ranean are extending the sphere of the colonial markets into the Greek islands and the Turkish empire. Under an intelligent system of administration we are eradicatingall the vices of an old vicious government in the Ionian Islands, and are gradually raising that power to a certain station in the political and commercial system of Europe. The Cape of Good Hope holds forth a fair promise of great future advantage, whilst New South Wales already assists the merchants and manufacturers of the mother country : her fine wool already excels that of Saxony and Spain, and when assisted by a larger capital, and by a more intelligent culture, may possibly reach the British market at such a moderate price, as greatly to abridge the necessity of foreign importation. The direct trade from India to Europe is receiving every assistance from government and the Board of Control.
If we cannot reap all that is expected from the free trade between England and the East Indies, it at least will not be imputed to the indifference or negligence of his Majesty's ministers that we have not got all that we could. But Hope has necessarily a longer reach than Possibility.
The beneficial labors of the Board of Trade will be better understood when they enter more distinctly into our practical ssystem. But two of the benefits of this branch of the public service to general commerce are sufficiently large, and sufficiently above the surface, to appeal with effect to every mercantile eye. The enlargement of the transit and warehousing system; the opening of the ports of the country, so as to render them the depôt and emporium of foreign commodities of every kind; the assisting our own merchants to take assorted cargoes of foreign and domestic goods, and the enabling foreign merchants to employ our ship-owners as carriers of foreign produce from British ports, will be most important contributions to the general commerce of the country, and must greatly extend our navigation and carrying trade, and the sale and consumption of our own manufactures. The consolidation and simplification of our Navigation Laws, with the revision and suppression of some of the obsolete enactments, will equally facilitate mercantile business at home, and conciliate the good will of foreigners. A third object of the recent labors of this Boardma revision of the lights, harbourdues, and pilotage, and, in due time, of the dock-system, which now press so heavily both upon British and foreign shipping, will, it is presumed, become a boon equally acceptable to the mercantile and shipping interests.
A last effort of the Board of Trade, in concurrence with the ministers, who direct and assist its operations, and in which it is to be hoped they will succeed in the course of the ensuing session, is the revision and amendment of the prohibitory system in general, and the substitution of protecting duties in exchange for the existing actual prohibitions. This object, or the attempt at least, has long been in favor with every good and moral man, and possesses the strong recommendation of being equally adapted to advance the interests of our revenue, and to cut off a source of much vice and misery. Under the known operation of wealth and luxury, and of the vanity and emulation to which they lead, prohibitions of articles of foreign manufacture excite only a more determined purpose to possess them. Their cost renders them a distinction, and vanity is, perhaps, as coarse as hunger in its food and fuel. The difficulty enhances only the price, and the large reward creates and animates the spirit of smuggling. Hence the prohibition is productive of little other consequence, as regards the high and opulent classes, but that of exciting in them a spirit in opposition to itself; and of creating, maintaining, and highly rewarding, the criminal occupation of the smuggler, and all the immoral habits connected with a life of outrage against the laws. But substitute protecting duties, and you avoid all this mischief, and at the same time effect the object of the prohibition. The opulent classes will pay the high prices under the protecting duties, as they pay the smuggler, but the revenue will gain the advantage, and not the illicit trader. The fair dealer loses nothing, as, under the prohibiting or protecting system, the present consumers will equally have the articles; and under both can have them only at the same high price ; but the goveșnment and the public morals gain. Smuggling must nearly cease, and with it the large cost of the present preventive system.
Such, therefore, is the general condition of public affairs with which we have to enter upon the commencement of a new year.
After this brief and plain statement of what has been done, and what has been omitted, and through what difficulties, and under i what embarrassments, is it too much for a candid observer to .conclude, that his Majesty's ministers are fully entitled to the praise of a zealous performance of all their public duties ; and are so much the more justly entitled to this praise from a generous and discerning public, inasmuch as they have themselves declined to vindicate or assert their just and obvious claims. Is it too much to say, that there is something peculiarly grateful to the English character in this effectual prosecution of business without pretension in this sober, steady, victory over the most appalling difficulties, without the levity and vanity of a triumph ? Is it unreasonable to express a confident assurance, that the future annalist, if not the passing generation, will recognise the public obligation to the ministers of George the Fourth, and will hereafter enumerate them among those wise and substantial, but unpretending and untalking benefactors, who in times of great peril and difficulty-in times of much vaporing and frothinesswhen every popular leader has his new measure, and all the infinite variety of political wisdom is reduced into theories--when every one assumes to be the builder of a system, and every stone is marked with the builder's name ---when British officers follow in the train of a mob against the police of the country, and wise men come from the East to show how cheaply a nation can be governed—is it too much to claim for his Majesty's ministers the praise of those, who, nihil non agentes quod reipublicæ necesse fuit, et sine ulla ostentatione agendi, deserve the more applause from others, as, under the most unequivocal public services, they least assume it for themselves. De Agrippa et Mecenate qui postea judicabunt, sentiendum et prædicandum est, vix quosque reperiri posse, qui, in tantis rerum periculis, tam multa et magna, et cum tam minima perturbatione hominum atque rerum, pro Senatu Populoque Romano, re atque actu