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to the praise of not having sacrificed general principles to the urgency of a temporary embarrassment. Their hands were untied when the occasion was favorable. Accordingly, they were then enabled to consider this system of preference upon its own merits. On the one side, were the interests of the colonists, the capitals of the ship-owners actually employed, and the national objects of our naval resources, and our navigation laws. On the other side, were the undeniable interests of the general trader, and the fair expectations of the northern powers of Europe. In the recent act of parliament, it is presumed that these objects are consulted in a degree due to their several importance. It is always a matter of great practical difficulty to repeal a protective system. This difficulty is not wholly removed by the circumstance of Government having acted with due foresight and precaution, and having reserved to itself the full right to make the repeal. The difficult question of prudence still intervenes. Much actual capital is necessarily employed; great interests adapt themselves to existing channels of trade; adventure and speculation imprudently extend their prospect beyond the licensed limit. The boundary itself, depending upon the duration of a fluctuating state of things, is perhaps, as in this case, uncertain ; and the error of expatiating beyond the line granted belongs rather to reasonable expectation, than to unwarranted folly. If ministers had to contend with these difficulties, let them rather receive the just praise of having done so much, than incur any reprehension that they have been unable to do more. It is one thing to prune, and another to cut down. It is one thing to perform a simple operation, and another to meddle with a principle or movement in a piece of complicate machinery, so connected in all its joints, that a new modification introduced into one part renders it necessary to carry a new relative adaptation throughout the whole. All amendments in our commercial system are necessarily of this nature. We have not to repair a movement, but to re-construct a machine.
The next subject of consideration was the possible augmentation of our export trade from and to India. His majesty's ministers were most anxious to effect this important purpose, and they afforded a most earnest attention to every sober proposal upon it. It is true, that their expectations were less sanguine than those of the popular advocates for this increase. A large mutual consumption of produce and manufactures can only occur between nations of the same general wants and habits. The largest dealer with a manufacturing nation is, necessarily, a people of the same original habits with itself, but which people, from the effect of some incidental circumstance, are in a different stage of social progress. Hence, the largest customer of England is America; her people having the same objects of comfort, convenience, and luxury, with the natives of Great Britain ; but being as yet only in the agricultural state of society, they necessarily find it more profitable to confine their own industry to the growth of raw produce, and to take their manufactures from England. But the relative state of England and the East Indies is precisely the contrary. A people of a temperate latitude, and a people of the tropics; a highly civilised people, and a nearly barbarous people; a people living only on rice, and abstaining from animal food, and a people pursuing luxury through all its endless variety. A people without the means, almost the desire, of applying to any use either the growth of our soil, or the produce of our manufactures. A people, by the immense population of their country, and the simplicity of their habits, working up their own raw produce so cheaply, as almost to render it a moral miracle, that the machinery of Europe can compete in any slight degree with their hand-work. A people, in fine, to whom the glass, leather, paper, printed goods, earthenware, salt, soap, spirits, wine, cutlery, and woollens of Europe, must be all nearly totally useless. Under such circumstances, it is impossible to anticipate any large consumption amongst the millions of our Indian population. In fact, the main consumption in India of European manufacture is, and always must be, by her own European subjects. But so long as India, under the policy of the Company, shall continue to be a factory, her European consumption will be that of a factory only. It is a waste of words to insist longer upon a principle so obvious. These considerations, doubtless, pressed with a due force upon the minds of his majesty's ministers. They could not resist the conclusion, that not only under present circumstances, but under circumstances at least half a century to come, they must not anticipate any considerable augmentation in our exports to the East Indies. But they deemed it a duty to concede to the sanguine representations of the mercantile and shipping interests. Accordingly, by a recent act, they have established a direct trade between India and Europe, and have opened it to the private trader as well as to the Company. By this measure, they have accomplished all within their power for the possible establishment of an active and adventurous trade, directly from the ports of the East Indies to those of Europe. The treaty with the United States of America, and their admission under that treaty to our ports in the East Indies, had already paved the way for the establishment of this active commerce; and was infusing into our Indian settlements that large mercantile and adventurous spirit, which is possibly the only promising means for the gradual civilisation, and for the formation into European habits, of that vast member of our empire. Our own traders became, pardonably enough, but perhaps unreasonably, jealous of the activity of the commerce between India and Europe by means of American vessels. The new act remedies this alleged mischief. Our own traders may now supply Europe directly with the produce of India. In process of time, this opening may lead to important results. But upon such a subject it is impossible to anticipate the events of futurity. There can exist but one wish upon
it. The next head for the consideration of the Board, was the proposed new system for the equal admission of French wines with those of Portugal. Enough has already been said upon the general nature of this proposition in a former part of these observations. It has been before observed, that the value of the Brazil trade must now be comprehended in that of Portugal; and that the addition of this large component portion of her empire, has raised the value of our Portuguese trade from its former annual value of about six hundred thousand pounds to four millions. Before the opening of the Brazils to British commerce, the annual value of the British exports to Portugal did not reach to half their present amount. Since our free admission into the Brazils, our annual exports under the head of Portuguese trade have attained to four millions.
If the preference of Portugal to France, by the Methuen treaty, were considered as a just policy under the former condition of our Portuguese trade, how much strength has the affirmative of this question received, when, as at present, the introduction of the Brazils into the sphere of British commerce has so greatly augmented the value of this trade !
The trade, moreover, between Great Britain and Portugal does not now stand alone upon the Methuen treaty. The basis of this commerce has been enlarged by the treaty with Portugal, of 1810; by an act of parliament passed to confirm it, and by the repeal of certain provisions of our navigation act in order to carry it into effect. By the 51st of George the Third, the produce, raw and manufactured, of the Portuguese colonies in South America, is allowed to be imported into Great Britain directly, in their own ships. This is a relaxation of the third section of the Navigation act, which prohibits all importations from the continents of Asia, Africa, and America, except in British-built vessels only.
If the advocates for the proposed new system appear to undervalue our commerce with Portugal, they appear equally to over-rate the probable advantages of an augmented mercantile intercourse with France. The experiment has been tried; and if it has not altogether failed, the result has certainly not been such as to recommend an experiment so costly as that of putting to peril our Portuguese and Brazilian commerce.
In 1787, Mr. Pitt actually made the experiment, by a most considerable reduction on the duties of French wines. The sanguine expectations of the British merchants under this new system wholly failed. Under its operation, our exports to France never
exceeded seven hundred thousand pounds annually. The causes of this failure are indeed perfectly intelligible. France has the same common commercial objects with ourselves. ment has to protect its own manufactures, her silks, her cottons, her woollens, her own hardware, and her own produce. We possess nothing so peculiar to ourselves as are her wines to France; and we have therefore nothing of which France is in either absolute want, or to which her government can give a preference, without a proportionate sacrifice from their own subjects. Under such circumstances, it is nearly impossible that our exports to France can much exceed their actual amount. These reflections have doubtless possessed their due weight upon the Board of Trade; and if nothing has been done under this head, but a most attentive consideration of the reports made by parliamentary committees upon foreign trade, it is because the subject is full of the most extreme difficulty and embarrassment.
Such therefore is the general state of the nation under the several departments in which the public business appears more conveniently to arrange itself. , Under the department of Finance, it has been made to appear, that from the year 1816 to the present period ministers have persevered in a continued course of reduction and retrenchment. In the year 1816, the total of the annual expenditure for army, navy, ordnance, and miscellaneous, the four main heads of the public annual service, was twenty-four millions eight hundred and eighty-seven thousand pounds. The total for the same services for 1821 was eighteen millions. A reduction of nearly seven millions annual expenditure. But it is unnecessary to repeat what has been so amply explained in a former part of these observations. Suffice it to say under the summary of finance, that, through every branch of the public service, the retrenchment has
sincere effectual. A few weeks only will pass before the country will acknowledge, that this solicitude to reduce the burthens of the people, and to relieve the commerce, agriculture, and manufactures of the kingdom, has not relaxed since the conclusion of the last session of parliament, and that more has since been reduced in every department of the public service, than any reasonable expectation could anticipate. As regards the reduction, indeed, made in one branch of the public service, the difficulties of ministers have possibly changed their aspect. Instead of having to excuse the actual expenditure, they will hereafter have to justify the attempted reduction.
But his majesty's ministers do not require to be informed, that, under a free constitution like our own, the value of public opinion is not to be overlooked. If it be the character of a light and inconstant mind to be diverted from the performance of grave
and invidious duties by a mistaken popular clamor, it is no less a measure
of prudence not to undervalue the aid of public opinion. It is equally an extreme to follow wheresoever the popular tempest may drive; or purposely to take a course in its teeth, where both prudence and virtue allow the use of its concurrent aid. It happily belongs to the nature of a free government and an intelligent people, that public opinion is never long misled. What the first statesman, as well as the first orator of the Roman empire, observed of the nature of general truth, is equally just with regard to the particular truths of human conduct :-Opinionum commenta delet dies, naturæ judicia confirmat. Parties and prejudices pass away, whilst the effects of wise and moderate measures necessarily enter into the future weal of the state, and, in their visible good, make an effectual, though perhaps tardy appeal, to the gratitude of a generous nation.
Whilst the administration of the finances is entitled to the praise of a just economy, the integrity of all the great national resources must excite the warm satisfaction of every well-wisher to his country.
Under all the heads of these resources-our foreign trade, our internal trade and manufactures, our internal consumptionand the correspondence of our revenue with our expenditure, the general aspect is such as to excite satisfaction for the present, and à just confidence for the future. Of the three main branches of our foreign commerce, our European trade, our trade with the United States, and our trade with Asia, Africa, and America, not being colonial, the first holds forth an actual considerable increase; the second justifies the expectation of a speedy return to its former large amount; whilst the third already exceeds every reasonable expectation. If we follow the natural order of the component members of our European commerce, our trade with Portugal, including the Brazils, has augmented from two millions to four millions. The political state of Spain has affected in some degree its external relations; but her exclusive tariff has been in great part recalled, and our dealings with her, under the circumstance of our own wool-tax, exceed what could reasonably be anticipated. Our commerce with France, Holland, the Netherlands, and Germany, equals the average amount of
If our exportation of colonial produce to the continent of Europe be not so great in amount as during some of the war years, and the two years following immediately on the peace, the cause is in the resumption by foreign states of their own colonies. It will be found, however, that our exportation of raw sugar is greatly on the increase ; whilst our refined sugars have gradually advanced, since the year 1814, from one million and a half to two millions; and our export of cotton yarn has increased during the same period from little more than one million annually to two millions two hundred thousand pounds.
any former year.