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because we impugn the principle in every respect, that we euter into the examination ; but we feel sensible that po abstract propositions are so liable to qualifications and limits, and require to be marked in all their relations with so much accuracy, as those which profess to direct and regulate the course of national wealth.

It strikes the mind on a first attention to this question, that there are some species of commercial intercourse to which the policy of freedom must apply unlimitedly. The natural productions not common to countries must be interchanged or they cannot be possessed. We must admit the peculiar products of hotter climates: cotton, rice, tea, coffee, sugar, spices, many drugs and fruits, wine and oil, or we must be wholly deprived of their use. We may return for this wealth of warmer regions, some productions to them equally strange; as, iron, lead, coal, tar, timber, salt fish and provisions.

A second motive for the importation of foreign commodities may be one of convenience more than of necessity. This country produces fax, hemp, tallow, as well as Russia; tobacco and wheat, like the United States; wool, in common with Spain and Germany, &c. Yet its limited extent and occupied cultivation may not enable us to raise them in sufficient quantity for the actual industry and consumption ; and their admission becomes therefore a matter of expedience.

When mankind are at ease upon the great object of the necessaries of life, and abundantly supplied with rude produce, an indefinite scope is given to labour and art to form and combine raw materials according to the general convenience, taste, and humour, This exercise of the hands and mind is common to all men and places. In the conversion of unwrought into wrought commodities lies the great field in which legislators have endeavoured to appropriate by regulations—understood to operate as encouragements—the largest portion of skilful industry and production.

It has been by means of complete prohibition, or the contenient expedient of taxes on importation, that governments have aimed to effect this appropriation of wealth. The duties imposed upon commodities which we cannot produce, as cotton, rice, coffee, are to be considered as merely financial : such as are laid upon productions common to the growth of this country, as flax, wool, deals, are protective as well as financial. The prohibition and duties laid upon some raw and all wrought articles

, are designed to advance the home production and manufacture ; as in the instance of grain, wrought wool, linen, cotton, silk, re

We notice these distinctions and motives of legislation, as they

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quandre and at this day prevail in every stage of society :-in China and

act, the present the general outlines of the restrictive system. In levy

ing a duty upon exotic productions, the sole object must necesSalles sarily be to collect the highest contribution to the public revenue.

On that class of articles which are alike the produce of the two Dus is countries having intercourse, it becomes a matter of policy to

impose yuch duties as shall bring up the cheaper foreign prois quel duction to a price equivalent to the cost of growing at home.

With regard to wrought goods, the manufacture of which requires

small space and occupies a numerous and usually wealthy popugedecem lation, giving much value in a little bulk, it has been held the

soundest policy to engross the largest possible portion of such mm 21 de productions. Either all foreign fabrics have been prohibited,

or duties have been placed upon their introduction so heavy as to
exclude the chance of an equal competition with the home ma-

These principles of restriction, exclusion, and encouragement,
occurred at periods of the earliest application of the mind to the
means of advancing the public wealth, and have been the rule of
conduct for governments for centuries past. They appear in the
oldest enactments of the statute book, commencing with our first
Edwards and Henrys ; were long inculcated as incontrovertible,
Turkey, in England, France, and the United States, the most

ancient and the last instituted ;-under every form, the freest and etofit the most arbitrary governments alike act upon the system.

This has been tenaciously adhered to in practice, though for more than half a century all writers upon commercial policy have held an opposite argument, every one, from the time of Quesnay and Smith, however differing on other points, agreeing in this one principle, that general freedom of trade is the surest and more rapid way to wealth. It is maintained that to force the consumer to pay dearer for home productions than he can purchase from abroad, is not to promote the national advantage, but the interest of the producer at the expense of that of the consumer. It is asserted, that the freest admission of foreign products and manufactures will best assist, in the early stages of society, the progress of agriculture, till the accumulation of capi

tal necessarily raises manufactures, foreign commerce, and navigaof the tion. In the advanced state, every individual, intent on the in

crease of his own advantage and fortunes, and left to the unre-
strained pursuit of his interest, will follow it with most zeal and
effect: and from prevalent private success results the general

A main principle insisted upon by the advocates of freedom
of commerce, is, that no industry or source of wealth is lost by


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the declension or disappearance of a home manufacture, in consequence of the opening of the country to the admission of a like foreign fabric possessing a superiority ; because something must be given in payment for the new importation, and the labourers in the declining manufacture will transfer themselves to the production of this other object required to effect the exchange.

The truth of this position rests upon the power of the home manufacturer to find occupation in some other labour, which will afford the value wanted to give in exchange for the new foreign imports. We must retain yet in our possession a sufficient diversity of departments of industry, or some of so much magnitude as to receive the labourers dislodged from their usual employment by the introduction of foreign commodities. It can hardly be expected that any material new opening for labour can at this day be discovered; those remaining departments of industry, therefore, must be productive of objects, which will be received in other countries to an extent to pay for our new importations; and those increased in proportion to our transferred labour.

The restrictive system of these islands or the natural progress of industry securely followed, has raised up a great variety of manufactures. It is difficult to say how many of these might be affected by an 'open commercial intercourse with other countries; but assuming that the most obvious are silk, fine woollen, certain linens, lace, gloves, mirrors, &c., it is to be determined whether those branches in which we are yet unrivalled, cotton, hardware, common woollen, and others would receive such increase by the necessity of paying for foreign importations, as to afford employment for the industrious classes, whose callings would be injured by their introduction. If by the free reception of foreign wrought silk, woollen, and linen, labour to the value of ten millions be displaced from home manufactures, would the augmented demand for cottons and hardware, to pay for the foreign commodities, give an equally considerable new employment? If by the free importation of foreign grain, labour to the value of ten millions be disengaged from agriculture

, would it find ready demand and wages in manufacturing or other industry to a like extent? If we assume the labour displaced in manufactures and agriculture at twenty millions, the cap! tal disengaged by that amount of labour must be estimated to be near two hundred millions. We take these sums by way of illustration without pretending to approximate to the probable fact: the carrying into effect of a perfectly free intercourse of commerce would unsettle and dislodge a far greater value of labour and capital. Every path of industry in this country is probably stocked with capital nearly adequate to reach the increase of pro


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duction necessary to meet any new demand; and the actual labour in most employments is capable of being rendered more productive without additional aid. Labour and capital have an elasticity, which, within certain bounds, adapt them to various degrees of production; and from their conjoint efforts any required increase is as often derived as from extraneous additions. The great capital and labour now in the cotton manufacture gradually sprung from its own resources, not from attraction from other employments.

The transition from one description of labour to another would not be easy. A man accustomed for a number of years to a particular kind of work cannot readily pass over to another altogether different. Persons, especially of the class of life of artizans and labourers, are slow to form and slow to change their habits ; the skill which they tardily acquire, they tenaciously adhere to, and come with difficulty to learn any other. A farmer's labourer will not readily become a mechanic; a silk-weaver be made a cutler ; a lace-maker or glover be converted into a maker of woollens.

Not only would a change of occupation be requisite, but also of the seat of industry. The Norfolk farming labourer might have to make hose in Leicester or Nottingham; the East Lothian cottager to weave muslins at Glasgow or checks at Carhisle ; and the Spitalfields weaver to become a japanner at Birmingham or a cotton spinner at Manchester. Whole districts of Ireland might have to interchange residence with those of England and Scotland, the north with the south, and the east with the west, with the rapidity of a horde of Tartars. There must be a transference of the disengaged people to the seats of retained manufacture, or the retained manufacture must extend to their residence. The latter is scarcely practicable, when the convenience or necessity is considered of concentration in manufacturing industry of the several connected processes and branches.

The advocates of freedom of trade meet this objection by inculcating a gradual change, according to the nature of the industry which they see must be lost. If the silk and kerseymere weavers cannot convert their skill to a beneficial use in other employments, they are willing to allow a period equal to the probable lives of the silk and kerseymere weavers.

Even then the opening of a foreign import of silk and kerseymere must overtake numbers of those exercising these trades; and it will be incumbent, first, to inquire whether this positive loss is likely to be accompanied with any commensurate benefit.

While the peculiar skill of many trades cannot be turned to any other manufacture, the capital to a considerable extent, which employs that skill, and which is, in a great degree, fixed in machi



nery, buildiugs, implements, &c. is applicable to no other object, and must be lost. In the uncertainty, with all quarters of the world open, how far a manufacture njay be affected, the capital in many branches will be retained in a delusive hope till it decays within the hand. The knowledge of a particular business which is frequently conjoined with capital, and leaves a double advantage in the remuneration of the skill and the interest of the nioney, causes an unwillingness to remove to other departments of industry in ignorance of their nature and with but a chance of improvement. In such transitions, especially in the smaller, which, in the aggregate, form the most considerable portion of capital, more is wasted than transferred ; and all is commonly wrecked in the gulf of bankruptcy.

If, however, an universal freedom of trade be sound in policy, and have eventual advantages, it cannot be doubted that these passing evils must be incurred to reach a good superior to the sacrifice. Let us, therefore, assume that all restrictions are withdrawn, and that we have placed ourselves in this desired situation.

When we come to receive from Germany linen, and from France silk manufactures, and return to those countries their value in exchange, the home consumers of linen and silk may be immediately benefited by the cheaper supply of these commodities. In repaying Germany and France, likewise, they may find quite as profitable a market for the products of their industry as they enjoyed before among the home linen and silk manufacturers. With the same portion of capital and labour they will procure a greater supply of linen and silk, or with a less portion the same supply as before ; but that part of the population hitherto engaged in those manufactures will be thrown out of employment.

Our manufacturers and artisans could supply themselves from Poland more abundantly with corn for the same portion of capital and labour which they now give for that grain here; but they must perceive that the home farmers and labourers who previously raised that coru would be deprived of their employment. The foreign countries may improve. They may bring up a population to furnish the new demand; or could our linen, silk, and agricultural labourers, thus disengaged, transfer themselves to Germany, France, and Poland, and occupy this new field of industry, their situation, as far as employment was concerned, might be the same: and the sum of prosperity in the world might possibly be increased ; but England would possess diminished population and wealth.

It is not easy to foresee a probable augmentation of industry in this country on the admission of foreign commodities to give


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