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In a former article on this subject (No. 63. Art. III.), we supposed that, were the trade to France thrown open, and silks, wines, cambrics, &c. admitted, on payment of reasonable duties, the British silk manufacture would not be able to stand the competition, and that the capital invested in it would have to be gradually transferred to some more lucrative employment. We are now, however, inclined to think, that even this trifling inconvenience would not be experienced. The greater part of the silk manufactured in France is of foreign growth; but while the French manufacturer only pays an equal duty of about 2s.6d. per pound on both raw and thrown silk, the English manufacturer has to pay 5s. 6d. per pound of duty on the former, and 155. on the latter ! No wonder, when such an immense advantage is given to the French, that they should be able to beat us out of tke foreign market, and even to smuggle a considerable quantity into this country. But, Mr Ellice, Member for Coventry, one of the principal seats of the silk manufacture, distinctly and explicitly stated, in his speech on Mr Bennet's motion for an Inquiry into the State of the Manufacturing Districts, that if Ministers would take off the tax on the raw material, he would consent, on the part of his constituents, to open the ports for a free trade with France in articles of silk munufacture.

I do not,' said the honourable gentleman, speak unadvisedly; and I am certain that in that case this country would at « least furnish as much as she would receive.'

It is in vain, therefore, to attempt to set up a clamour about the injury that would be done to the silk interest, by tbrowing open the trade with France. But, supposing that the silk trade could not be carried on under a liberal system, that would not in the least affect our opinion of the propriety of recurring to the sound principle of unrestricted intercourse. A branch of industry which can only support itself in the absence of all competition, had much better be abandoned. Neither the French

p. Ton.

Duty on Portugal and Spanish wines imported in a British vessel

L.95 11 0 Ditto on Portugal and Spanish wines imported in a Foreign vessel

98 16 0 Duty on Madeira wine in a British vessel

96 13 0 Ditto on Marleira wine in a Foreign vessel

99 16 6 Duty on wine imported from the Cape

of Good Hope, is exactly one third of Foreign vessel 32 18 8 the duty on Portugal and Spanish British vessel 31 17

wines. Duty on German and Huvgary wines in a British vessel 118 3 6 in a Foreign vessel

122 10 0

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nor the Spaniards would send us their silks, wines, brandies, &c. gratis : And the capital and industry which is now employ-; ed in the production of such commodities as would, under a different system, be imported from abroad, would then be devoted to the production of the articles which foreigners would not fail to require as an equivalent. It is obvious, therefore, that the abolition of all restrictions and prohibitions whatever, would prodigiously augment the productive energies of the country. As long as we cooperate with nature, we cannot be undersold by foreigners. And if, instead of absurdly endeavouring to raise at home what might be more cheaply imported from abroad, we were to employ our capital and industry exclusively in those branches in which our insular situation, our inexhaustible supplies of coal, and our improved machinery, give us a natural and real advantage, we should be secured a-, gainst those injurious revulsions and changes in the ordinary channels of trade, which, in a fully peopled and highly manufacturing country, never fail to occasion the most wide-spread misery and distress. Lorsque nous condamnons nos terres à

nous donner ce qu'elles produisent avec désavantage, aux dé

pens de ce qu'elles produisent plus volontiers; lorsque nous • achetons fort cher, ce que nous payerions à fort bon marché, o si nous le tirions des lieux où il est produit avec avantage,

nous dévenons nous mêmes victimes de notre propre polie. « Le comble de l'habileté est de tirer le parti le plus avantageux des forces de la nature ; et le comble de la démence est de lutter contre elles ; car c'est employer nos peines à détruire une partie . des forces qu'elle voudroit nous prêter.' +

• Commerce,' to use the words of another able writer, . is s an exchange of equivalents--a bartering between nations of • one commodity for another. It is self-evident, therefore, that • if we were to adopt the principle of free intercourse, and to • import a considerable quantity of raw or manufactured pro

duce, we should have to export a considerable quantity of something else in order to pay for it. In whatever degree our unrestricted external trade might lead us to receive commodi

ties from other countries, in the same degree it would render • those countries customers for our commodities--would pro-,

mote our manufactures and extend our trade. As air ex• pands, in proportion as the surrounding pressure is removed,

so commerce flourishes as legislative interference is withdrawn. ( Whatever natural facilities we may possess, for carrying on

the several branches of industry; and whatever may be our

† Say, Traité d'Economie Politique. Ed. 4me, p. 177.

*

o acquired advantages of skill, capital, and machinery; free in• tercourse is necessary to give them their most efficient opera• tion, and to allow them scope for their full development. • When any given portion of capital can, in England, fabricate • a greater quantity of woollens or of cottons than in France, * and can in France produce a greater supply of corn or wine • than in England; then the absence of all regulation is all that o is necessary to establish between the two countries an active • and mutually beneficial commerce.

It will no doubt be contended, that to throw open our ports to the importation of French commodities, without having previously stipulated that they should at the same time relinquish their restrictions and prohibitions, instead of extending the market for our manufactures, would only drain us of our bullion. But our practical Statesmen need not give themselves much ununeasiness on this head. We have neither gold nor silver mines; and whatever additional quantities of bullion might be exported to France, must previously have been obtained by an equally increased exportation of some species of our produce to the countries possessed of the precious metals. It is mere error and delusion to suppose it possible to drain any State of its bullion. Gold and silver are never exported to destroy, but always to find their level. Nor, although the utmost freedom was given to import all sorts of French products, would a single ounce of bullion be sent to that kingdom, unless its real price was higher there than here, and, consequently, unless its exportation was advantageous.

Nothing, therefore, but our own absurd regulations--our being prohibited from purchasing from the French those commodities which we do not raise at home, and with which they could supply us cheaper than any other people, prevents us from maintaining a vastly greater and more advantageous intercourse with that country than with any other in the world. It is completely in our power to open a new and boundless market for our surplus products. We may, if we choose, immediately double or triple the number of the foreign consumers of British manufactures. Nor is it at all necessary, in order to bring about this most desirable result, that we should attempt to negociate a commercial treaty with France. It is extremely probable, indeed, that such an attempt would, at the present moment, prove unsuccessful; and it is therefore fortunate that it is of very seconds ary importance. All that is required to lay the foundation of

q commerce which would give an immediate stimulus to the lan

* Torrens on the External Corn Trade, 2d ed. p. 296.

guishing industry of the country, and of which it is impossible to estimate the future extent, is to consent to act, as a nation, on the same principles which regulate the conduct of every prudent individual-or, which is the same thing, to buy in the cheapest market. This is all the sacrifice that we are called on to make. The French, we may depend upon it, will not refuse to sell; and as there can be no selling without an equat buying--no exportation without a proportional importation--' by acting on a liberal system ourselves, we shall not only reap a very great immediate advantage, but shall inevitably compel them to abandon their restrictions.

In supposing that the French would not refuse to sell, we pay them, it must be confessed, a compliment which, if applied to this country, would be altogether undeserved. We not only refuse to admit French commodities, but we prevent our merchants from exporting those for which there is a very great demand in France !

Were it not for the enormous duty of about 70 per cent. with which exported coal is burden ed, that article would find a ready market in France. But Ministers having resolved that we should neither drink the wines and brandies, nor clothe ourselves with the silks and cambrics, of our ingenious neighbours, appear to have thought it only reasonable that they, in their turn, should be prevented from warming themselves with our fuel.- We are totally unable to divine any other reason for this absurd prohibition. What should we think of the policy of the South Americans, were they to prohibit the exportation of bullion ? Yet we believe there is just as good reason to apprehend the exhaustion of the mines of Mexico and Peru, as of those of Durham and Cumberland

This illiberal policy is disadvantageous in many other respects besides being fatal to our commerce.

Our

open and avowed jealousy of the commercial prosperity of other countries, and the power to which we have attained, excites at once their illwill and their envy; and disposes them as well to manifest an unaccomodating spirit on occasion of any petty quarrel, as to adopt retaliatory measures on our trade. This has been especially the case with France. But, if things were left to their natural course, the connexion between the two countries would be so intimate--the one would constitute so near, so advantageous, and so extensive a market for the produce of the otherthat they could not remain long at war without occasioning the most extensively ruinous distress---distress which no government would be willing to inflict on its subjects, and to which, though it were willing, it is probable no people would be dis.

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posed to submit. By doing away all restrictions on the trade with France, the two nations would acquire one common interest. And we should thus not only cause a prodigiously increased demand for our products, and a proportionable augmentation of the comforts of all classes, but, in a great measure, secure ourselves against the risk of future hostilities. Les peuples ne s'entrehaissent jamais; and we trust the period is now arrived when a selfish and repulsive system of policy will no longer be permitted to

• Make enemies of nations who had else,

Like kindred drops, been mingled into one, The late glorious revolution in Spain, will not only give additional strength to the cause of freedom in this and every other country; but if we avail ourselves of the opportunity which it presents, it may also be rendered of the very greatest service to our commerce. During the period when Ferdinand was ema ployed in the appropriate task of embroidering petticoats for ihe Virgin, the Cortes did every thing in their power to promote a free intercourse with this country. No sooner, however, Had the Cortes been put down, anıl the Usurper restoreil, than our cotton woods were strictly excluded from the Peninsula; and a duty of from 26 to 43 per cent. imposed on the two finer qualities of our woollens, and of 130 per cent. on the inferior qualities. This put an entire stop to the operations of the fair trader :-- But there is every reason to hope that the Cortes will again return to their former policy; and that a generous and liberal conduct on our part, will be sufficient to give a vastly greater extent to the commerce with Spain.

But it is not in Europe and America only that the abandonnient of the exclusive system would give fresh vigour to conmerce.--It has been nearly as destructive to our intercourse with the Eastern nations, as to that with France and the Baltic. The disadvantages under which our commerce with China is at present carried on, have, it is said, impressed even the practical statesmen of the Board of Trade with a conviction of the necessity of making some partial relaxation in the East India Comp:uny's monopoly. But this can be of no material service. If Government are really desirous that the surplus produce of this country should find a vent in the immense market of China, it is indispensably requisite that the freest scope should be given to competition, and that every exclusive privilege, granted to any particular class of traders, should be done away. It is certain, indeed, that if the monopoly is not entirely abolislrcıl, we shall yery soon be deprived of the share we at present possess of the China trade.-- Noiwithstanding every advantage derived from

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