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of banishment of industry, although actuated otherwise than by over-national or religious zeal.
After the loss of many valuable sources of productive industry, the exclusion of our remaining manufactures from those countries which will probably supply us with the commodities no longer produced by ourselves, and the necessity of draining specie from other quarters to pay for our new importations, it is not to be sup posed that the nation's powers of ministering to its consumption will be left the same. "They must depend upon its production. Adam Smith has shewn the source of wealth to be labour; and consequently the more labour abounds in a country, the greater is its wealth. What is meant by wealth is the mass of material objects suited to consumption, and formed by labour: and the preservation of the labour which creates them, as products, must be indispensable to their continued existence and renewal. cording as it partakes of art, this labour is more or less valuable; in a certain advanced degree we term it skill, and in a higher gradation talent. If, then, the possession of labour in its most extensive and comprehensive sense, be the criterion of national wealth, must there not be an impolicy in that measure which will circumscribe its action and diminish its worth? Freedom of trade seems more peculiarly to favour the interests of merchants trading with foreign states, and most to prejudice certain branches of manufacture and agriculture; but of the labour constituting wealth, -the commercial, which interchanges commodities, however useful and important,-is still subordinate to the manufacturing and agricultural, which produce those commodities : and the greater the produce of agriculture and manufacture, which is raised and interchanged in a given country, the greater must be its affluence.
Were we to suppose Great Britain, France, or any other large country, effectually shut out from communication with any other parts of the world, the soil might support a larger population than at present, and labour exerted to its greatest extent might be productive of abundant wealth without any foreign commerce; while much of the produce of the labour, manufacturing and agricultural, might be appropriated by the government for objects of public revenue. Each country within itself might stand in a pecusiarly artificial situation; and, with a large public revenue levied, prices be comparatively higher than amongst other nations. A free admission of cheaper foreign commodities must then loosen every internal trading connexion, and the fall of price essentially injure the productiveness of the former revenue. This country is partly thus circumstanced: and China is, in many respects, yet more so. After the provision of necessaries, the disposable labour ap
plied to superfluities is usually employed upon manufactures. This manual labour, with the skill belonging to it, is common to all countries, transferable, and daily migratory. The advocates of free trade often fall into an important error in their zealous ex-. hortations to allow an unrestrained interchange of the productions in which each country excels. This, as far as belongs to natural objects, and especially the products of different climates, we hold to be unquestionably right. But they go farther, and join all manufactured articles. This country, amongst the endless variety of its commercial stores, numbers very few which can be called peculiar to the soil, or in which we have any natural advantage whatever over the greater part of the world. Our commerce is artificial, arising mainly from the application of labour and skill to raw materials, a talent acquirable by all men, and in all countries; and which has successively existed in a prominent degree in Italy, Holland, France, and other parts of Europe; and is in many respects possessed at this day in common by all. The slightest examination of the history of commerce shews how many manufactures, and also natural productions of homogeneous climates have owed their introduction amongst a people to special encouragement, and have risen by protection till they flourished in self-supported excellence and extension. Because interference and encouragements may be carried to an extreme, are they, therefore, in all cases, impolitic and injurious ? Are governments to be considered as having done every thing, when, in fact, they have done nothing whatever?
We incline to think, that while husbandry, manufactures, and commerce possess an inherent source of life and motion, and a ris medicatrir to remedy many occurring evils, the wisdom of legislation may yet be necessary to create, advance, and preserve them, in many conditions of mankind. We do not believe that industry, left to itself, will, in all cases, take the best, the surest, or nearest course to perfection, although we are disposed to confide in it and allow much to its spontaneous action. The desire of man to better his condition, which is so particularly insisted on, does not appear always in a state of excitement. An external impulse must then be given. How often do states, midway in civilization and affluence, appear in a dormant and stationary situation? Who that has visited the provincial districts of this country but must have observed in some this moral excitement in great vigour, in others the faculties continuing dull and inert ? M. Sismondi, one of the most zealous and competent supporters of free trade, states* of certain parts of France : on remarque que les paysans sont demeurés dans
Nouvcaux Principes d'Economie Politique : livre üii. chap. v.
une profonde ignorance, attachés à leurs habitudes, à leurs routines agricoles, et incapables de suivre la inarche de la civilisation du reste de la France.' What remedy does he suggest? One of interference, of force, or privilege, despairing of improvement till * une autre classe de paysans, animés de plus d'espoir et eclairés de plus de lumières, se trouvera mêlée avec ces cultivateurs ; et que ceux-ci verront enfin la possibilité d'un progrès devant eux, au lieu de regarder toujours en arrière.' A large and productive country, enjoying many advantages of climate, containing great and flourishing manufacturing districts, with the most various and extensive agricultural cultivation, without internal obstruction, is a world within itself, enjoying perfect freedom of commerce: yet in one, blessed with these favourable circumstances almost beyond any other on the globe, is there found · dans plusieurs provinces, une population stationnaire depuis quatre ou cinq siècles, fort en arrière de toute la nation, qui ne songe point à devenir plus riche, qui ne tente point de changer d'état, le fils exactement à la place où se trouvait son père:' and all this, as he remarks, ‘ dans un pays comme la France, où tout avance, où tout chemine avec activité.' Might not this country, on the withdrawing of all exclusions, restrictions, and prohibitions, come eventually to stand, with relation to the rest of the world, as ' les provinces au midi de la Loire' stand with relation to the rest of France ?
While we are friendly to the most general adoption of unrestrained intercourse between different nations, consistent with the preservation of the actual industry, skill, and capital, we are far from uniting with those who malign that system which has mainly contributed to the agriculture, manufactures, and commerce of this and many other countries; and may be necessary, in many respects, to their preservation. Whence did it proceed that Italy flourished in commerce in the middle ages, but because the ignorance of any other route forced the produce of the East Indies through that channel ? Could Italy now prevent the passage of the Cape of Good Hope, would she not still possess many simliar advantages ? This external restriction and monopoly gave undoubted prosperity; arising, however, from accidental and uncontrollable circumstances. The system and practice of Colbert led to brilliant results : has the system of the Economists yet produced any?
It behoves us tenderly to meddle with existing manufactures and branches of commerce, and rather to seek to give them encouragement and impulse. It may not be prudent to open our ports without a concurrent similar procedure on the part of other countries. A reciprocal interchange of commodities, without shaking the settled branches of trade, might be serviceable: but without
stipulating a reciprocation, we might lose most valuable sources of wealth, and receive in return for these momentous sacrifices no advantage whatever. Some commodities we cannot grow or produce, and others could not be brought forward without great expense, and to apply restrictions to such was never attempted. Fine woollen could not be made here within ten per cent. of the cost of French in capital and labour; yet we should not be willing for the sake of having woollen cloth a trifle cheaper to be exposed to the loss of so important a branch of industry, and to disturb capital in so ancient an employment. It would seem to be a more fitting object to endeavour to raise our less advanced manufactures to an equality with foreign, rather than by admitting the latter at once to close these springs of wealth altogether.
A superiority in a manufacture arises from skill, the result of manual dexterity, of chemical or mechanical ability, individual or co-operative. This, at times, will proceed from accident, or, when numbers are engaged in an employment, it will occur to the observing and reflecting : it becomes manifest in the qualities of finer texture, in brighter or more permanent colours, and in method of finishing. These are niceties and refinements, the effect of long labour and attention applied in a particular direction. It may be the interest of a nation to preserve within itself, when at a moderate cost of restriction, the rudiments of all manufactures. Practice will confer skill, opportunity give rise to invention, and perseverance and the growth of wealth bestow importance and stability.
The French manufacturers will tell us of the advantages which they possessed throughout the continent by the war, and the decrees of Buonaparte excluding all competition on our part. It is singular that the impulse which our commerce derived from the constrained circumstances of the war should be extolled by the same persons, and in the same breath that they make the strongest exhortations for the removal of all restraints. As if that forced state in which we then were was productive of advantages, while now a free and unconstrained system is that which alone can serve us! It is alike strange that at the same time we are told that Norway does not take our manufactures, because we do not receive her timber, we are assured that we may expect to take from France her silks, although she will not receive our manufactures. Why does not Norway send her timber to buy specie, and with that specie purchase our commodities ? If she cannot, (and it cannot be said timber is not a marketable article,) is it not to a certain extent an experimental proof that we shall not be able to collect specie to pay France for her silks ?
In giving full scope to liberty of trade with countries maintaining the prohibitive system, we may export our raw produce, and receive back wrought commodities : we may export wool, because the country to which we export presents a stronger demand and a higher price than our home trade. And why? Because that country excludes wrought woollens, and retains within itself a necessity of supply for its manufacturing industry. Would not such external prohibitive regulations, coupled with perfect freedom on our part, cause our raw articles to be returned to us wrought? The French woollen manufacturer, secured in the exclusive supply of his own extensive population, would have the additional opening to him of this market; while our own woollen manufacturer, instead of having the range of his vent enlarged, would find it contracted. The greater the demand, the greater the production : augmented production leads to more minute division of labour and perfection of manufacture: the fabric becomes not only better but cheaper. If, then, the consequen be to increase the advantage of the foreign manufacturer, must not the event be further to depress, and eventually supplant our own fabrics, first the finer kinds, and finally the coarse ? All that value which was created by the labour and skill of the woollen manufactory in this country, (estimated to be near twenty millions in value,) would be lost; and it would be difficult to say by what equal creation of value it would be replaced.
Florence owed her splendour to the woollen manufacture, with which she supplied the world. Its prevalence in that city cannot perhaps be more forcibly shewn, than by an incidental observation made by Machiavelli, in the narrative of his perambulation of the city at the period of the plague of 1527 ; the circumstance he mentions as, on that occasion, first occurring, and most powerfully striking him, was the stillness prevailing in place of the former sounds of the preparation of this manufacture :—Dove per lo strepito de' camati fischi e ragionamenti ciompeschi assordare quasi solea, trovai grande e non molto desiderato silenzio.'* Could he revisit his native city, he would still find the same silence reigning, not proceeding from plague, nor yet from the diversion of the channel of the East India trade, nor yet from cheaper labour, nor from want of acquirable capital, art, or talent for such an object. The spirit of the woollen manufacture, by a kind
Descrizione della Peste di Firenze dell' anno, 1527. Other passages may be found generally as strongly contrasting the desolation of lost commerce with its past activity and life.--Le pulite e belle contrade, che piène di ricchi e mobili cittadini essere solevano, sono ora puzzolenti e brutte, di poveri ripiene; per la improutitadine de' quali e paurose strida difficilinente e con timore si va. Sono serrate le botteghe, gli esercizi fermi, i Fori tolti via, prostrate le leggi. I ragionamenti ch' esser solevano iu piazza onorevo e in mercato utili, in cose miserabili e meste si convertono.'