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manufactures. Their reciprocity is all on one side. They will thankfully take every thing, but give nothing. We admit this is unreasonable-absurd—and, in the end, impolitic. We only assert it as a fact, and we must deal with mankind as they are, not risk hazardous innovations upon speculations of what they should be. We abandoned our navigation laws in order to conciliate Prussia, and she immediately met us with the Prusso-Germanic league, which arrayed five-and-twenty millions of Germans in a hostile commercial combination against this country, and practically loaded all British manufactures, through the whole extent of their territories, with an ad valorem duty of fifty per cent. We equalised the duties on French and Portuguese wines in the hope that the Cabinet of the Tuileries would make a similar concession in favour of the manufactures of this country; but we have looked in vain for any reduction of the French duties on British iron or cotton goods. We concluded a reciprocity treaty in 1826 with Sweden and Norway, as usual all on one side; and hardly a year has since elapsed which has not been marked with a fresh imposition of duties on British goods and manufactures in the Scandinavian harbours. We have taken Belgium and Portugal under our peculiar protection as revolutionary states, and, in fact, solely propped up their existence during the last seven years; and, in return, they have loaded our manufactures with such progressively increasing duties, that the British exports to both these countries are now L.500,000 a-year less than they were prior to 1830, when our revolutionary protection commenced. These facts demonstrate on how precarious a footing any hopes are rested of our obtaining any concessions in favour of British manufactures from any relaxation, how important soever on our part, on foreign agricultural industry, and how obstinately other nations cling to the system of prohibitory protections to their own manufactures, notwithstanding the most unreserved advances on our part to a more liberal system of commercial policy.
But even if it were otherwise, and we possessed a perfect security that by abolishing the duties on foreign corn,
we should succeed in obtaining a free importation for our goods into the northern states, we positively denyand here is the vital point of the argument-that such extension of the foreign market would, upon the whole, afford any benefit to the British manufacturers. No one, indeed, can for an instant doubt that if our manufacturers could retain the home market for their produce at its present level, and at the same time obtain, by the free importation of foreign grain, a proportional extension of the foreign market for their produce in the great grain states of the Continent, they would be very great gainers indeed by the change. But would they be able to do this? And would not the transference of our orders for grain from domestic to foreign agriculturists necessarily induce as great a diminution in the home market for our manufactures as it occasioned an increase in the foreign? That is the vital point of the case; but, nevertheless, it is continually overlooked by the opponents of the Corn Laws, who uniformly hold out an extension of the foreign sale for our manufactures, upon the whole, as a necessary and immediate result of the abolition of our duties on foreign grain, wilfully shutting their eyes to the simultaneous and equal decline of the home market. But is it not as clear as any proposition in arithmetic, that the quantity required for the wants of our people remaining the same, no advantage could possibly accrue to our manufacturers by transferring their encouragement to agriculture from the home market to foreign states? If, in consequence of living in great part on Polish grain, the Polish landholders and cultivators are so much enriched as to be able to purchase a greater quantity of our manufactures, it is quite clear that the British farmers, who at present exclusively supply the home market, would be impoverished to the same extent, and that what is gained at the one end would be lost at the other. If the grain at present consumed by the inhabitants of the United Kingdom is five-and-twenty millions of quarters, all raised by the home growers, which is, probably, not far from the mark, and, in consequence of the abolition of the Corn Laws, five millions of these quarters were to come to be habitually provided for us by foreign states, the
market for our manufactures would in no degree be extended. British agriculture would produce five millions of quarters less, and Polish agriculture five millions of quarters more; but still the supply of five-and-twenty millions of quarters would remain the same, and the extension of our foreign exports, by the creation of five millions of quarters of new foreign grain, would be exactly compensated by the contraction of the home market for five millions of quarters previously in the course of annual production in the British Islands.
But, in truth, this is putting the argument a great deal too favourably for the anti-Corn Law party; for nothing can be clearer than that, by such a transfer of agriculture from the British islands to the shores of the Vistula, the possible, or perhaps probable extension of the market for our manufactures, by the increased wealth thrown into foreign states, would bear no sort of proportion to the certain diminution of the home market from the depression of our agriculture. Mr Smith has long ago stated, that the most profitable trade for every state is that which is carried on between the town and the country, and that the home market for our manufactures is worth all foreign markets put together. It is a much more profitable thing to have a good market in our next-door neighbour than in a distant state. The habits of our own people are formed to the consumption of our own manufactures in the first instance, and the purchase of foreign luxuries only in the second. In foreign coun
tries the case is the reverse: their principal consumption is of their own articles of luxury. A much larger proportion of the wealth derived from the sale of their produce will be employed in the purchase of our manufactures if they are fed by their own farmers than if they are fed by those of foreign states. If ten millions' worth of Baltic grain is purchased for the supply of the British market, a considerable part of it will, no doubt, return to our operatives in the shape of an extended demand for British manufactures. But a much larger proportion of the same sum will take that profitable direction, if it is laid out in the purchase of grain raised in Great Britain and Ireland. The reason is obvious. British manufactures are a necessary to the British farmers and cultivators. But to the foreign landholders or cultivators great part of our manufactures are unknown luxuries. A large portion of the agricultural wealth on the Continent will be spent on Continental luxuries, and a comparatively small proportion will be directed towards the purchase of articles manufactured in the British Islands.
Further, it appears, from the most correct calculations which have recently been made, that the total amount of agricultural produce annually raised in Great Britain and Ireland, is two hundred and forty-six millions sterling; and the total amount of its manufactures annually reared is only one hundred and forty-eight millions. This fact demonstrates, in the most striking manner, both how much
* Estimate of the Value of Produce and Property annually raised in Great Britain and Ireland, by the Combination of Capital with all animate and inanimate power.*
superior the agricultural interest in the state still is to the manufacturing, notwithstanding the enormous increase of manufactures of all sorts of late years, and also the essential injury which would be inflicted upon our manufacturers themselves, if, by a change of policy injurious to our own agriculturists, any serious diminution were to take place in the home market for our manufactures; for it appears, from the Parliamentary returns, that the total export of British manufactures, on an average of three years, ending
in 1837, two of which were the most prosperous that ever were known, was about L.48,500,000, the numbers being as stated below.*
Considerably more than two-thirds, therefore, of our whole manufactures are raised for the supply of the home market; and of the total wealth of the British islands, which amounts at present to above five hundred millions a. year, hardly a twelfth part is produced by the manufactures for the export sales, the numbers being as follows:
Total property annually produced,
It is quite clear, therefore, that, notwithstanding the high-sounding representations which they make of their immense importance to the national wealth, and the vast masses of wealth which they exhibit in particular districts, the manufactures for the export sales hardly produce a twelfth part of the annual income derived from the industry of the nation, and will bear no proportion, either in point of magnitude or importance, either to the agriculturists or the manufacturers for the home market. The former produce at least five times, the latter about double, the wealth annually cre
Families employed in Agriculture.
ated by the manufacturers for the export sales. Nothing, therefore, could be so impolitic, nay, so absolutely insane, as to adopt any measure calculated to injure the interests of a class producing nine-tenths of the national wealth for the sake of one producing only one-tenth.
The same conclusions are derivable from the survey of the different employments of our population. It appears from the Population Returns of 1821 that the total number of families employed in manufactures, agriculture, and neutral employment stood as follows:
Paper, furniture, colours, printing and book apparatus, &c.
Declared value of British and Irish Produce and Manufactures exported, 1835, L.47,372,000; 1836, L.53,368,000; 1837, L.47,262,000.
Pebrer's Statistical Tables, p. 350.
In other words, all the families dependent upon our foreign manufactures are not a fifth-part of those dependent upon the agriculture and home manufactures of the kingdom; and even adding to the latter class the whole of those employed in the foreign trade connected with our export manufactures, it may safely be concluded that the population employed in agriculture and the home trade, and the branches of industry dependent on them, is at least six times as numerous as those engaged in the manufactures for the foreign markets and the employments connected with that branch of industry.
Further, when the working-classes are so exceedingly willing to impose upon the British farmers the burden of unrestrained foreign competition, are they equally ready to give them the benefit of a similar burden of restrictions existing in favour of their own industry? They are not. Their reciprocity, like that of the modern Liberals, is all on the one side. We hear a great deal of the necessity and expedience of allowing Polish wheat to come in duty-free to the British harbours; but we do hear nothing from these gentlemen of the proprie ty of admitting French silks, Swiss chintzes, Silesian calicoes, or Saxon cloths, on the same terms to the Bri
tish market. Yet it is evident that the British manufacturers are much better able to withstand a free impor tation with foreigners than the British cultivators; for in capital and machinery England is far in advance of any other country in the world, and capital and machinery are capable of effecting an almost indefinite reduction in manufactures, but they can effect a very trifling reduction in the cost of raising the necessaries of life. The proof of this is decisive. Indian cotton, manufactured in Glasgow or Manchester by British steam-looms, is capable of underselling Hindoo manufacture in the Hindoo market even when manufactured by persons receiving only threepence a-day of wages; but we should like to see what profit could be made by exporting British wheat to Hamburgh or Dantzic. The load of public and private debt, therefore, and the high prices incident to great opulence and an advanced state of civilisation, must always operate with much more severity upon the cultivator in an old commercial state, than upon the manufacturer, and, consequently, there is much more reason for contending that the latter should be exposed to free competition with foreigners than the former. Nevertheless, the whole popular clamour is directed the other way, and intended to deluge with
foreign competition the British cultivator, who cannot withstand foreign competition instead of the British manufacturer who can. Perhaps, the most effectual way to stop the senseless clamour on this subject would be for the agricultural interest to besiege Parliament with petitions that, in the event of the Corn Laws being repealed, all duties on foreign manufactures should at the same time be swept
We have been unwillingly driven into these details. We are solicitous
to avoid any question which may have the appearance even of espousing the cause of one class of society in opposition to another, when, in fact, it is in the united interests of all that the only durable foundation for national prosperity is to be found. The investigation of the comparative importance of the different classes, and the proportions in which they respectively contribute to the wealth of the State, is none of our seeking. It has been forced upon us by the clamours and reckless demands of a furious multitude calling for the instant repeal of the Corn Laws. We have, on repeated occasions, shown ourselves fully alive to the vast importance of our foreign commerce and shipping, as well as to the paramount necessity of reconsidering that one-sided reciprocity system under which our commercial interests have so long languished, and which, securing to foreign nations all the benefits of our liberality, and to ourselves all the evils of their restrictions, perpetuates a state of things which must, ere long, extinguish both the maritime power, and commercial greatness of Great Britain.* But, when a fierce demand is made by a particular class in the community for a total repeal of all the duties which at present protect the industry of our agriculturists, we are naturally driven to enquire what is the relative proportion of the class advocating this innovation to the other classes in the community whose interests they propose materially to injure; and the result is, that the class who thus insist that every thing should be sacrificed to their demands, are not a seventh-part of the whole population, and do not create a tenth-part of the
whole wealth annually produced by the nation.
Holding it, therefore, as clear that the manufactures raised for the export sale are not a half of those which are consumed in the home market, the question comes to be, even with reference to the interests of the manufacturing classes themselves-Is it wise or prudent to force on a change which may seriously affect the prosperity of those classes whose productive industry constitutes the main-spring from which the wealth is obtained by which these manufactures for the home market are purchased? Is it prudent to advocate measures which may extend the market for that class of our manufacturers who produce forty-eight millions' worth of goods, by levelling a deadly blow at the interests of those classes who take off a hundred millions a-year worth of goods? Considered merely as a matter of pounds, shillings, and pence, as a calculation of profit and loss, it is surely an unwise thing to attempt to push the lesser market at the expense of the greater-to seek to extend a distant market of half the dimensions by crippling a nearer one of double.
But the case becomes incomparably stronger, and, in fact, altogether invincible, when it is recollected what is the difference between the description of persons who constitute the foreign and compose the home market. The foreign market is, in great part, composed of individuals owing allegiance to independent potentates, and who either have been, or may become, our inveterate enemies. The home market is made up of our own countrymen, brothers, and friends, the bone of our bone, and flesh of our fleshthe sinews of the state, by whom its independence is to be maintained against foreign invasion, and its prosperity secured against domestic calamity. What will the operatives of Birmingham, Manchester, or Glasgow, gain by doubling the growth of corn in Poland, Prussia, or the Ukraine? Nothing but this that they will augment the resources and revenue of the Czar, who wields at his pleasure the whole power both of Russia, Poland, and Prussia, and enable him to pur
See in particular the Colonial and Reciprocity Systems,-Blackwood's Magazine, Sept. 1838.