Imatges de pÓgina
[ocr errors]

ther just to apply a little of their been greatly dimmed. The doctrines alarm to this subject; and he would which proved liberty to be essential ask them whether there were not just to commercial prosperity, were not as solid grounds for that alarm about indeed absolutely denied, but they the effects which might follow the were represented as unfit for the purrejection of these petitions ; it was, poses of practical regulation. The unfortunately, too much the fashion deadly enmities which reigned among to cry up the distresses and the fore the members of the European combearance of the artisans alone, forget- monwealth, had led each into the hating the claims of the more scattered, bit of considering an injury done to and no less meritorious, peasantry another as equivalent to a benefit obto fear the resentments of the one, tained for itself. Cool reflection and because they were a more organized severe experience were now fast openand more collected community than ing the eyes of the British public. the other, who were more thinly Not only was it now generally admitspread over a larger surface. Unless ted, that nations would gain most by their feelings were to be falsified, and freely opening their ports to each themselves to be lessened in the eyes other ; but it was even recognized, of the country, he thought that ho- that though one side denied this recinourable gentlemen ought to consider procity, the other would consult its what had oecurred last night as a so- advantage in not retaliating. Petitions lemn discussion of the merits of a from the cities of London and of Glasquestion, which was now sought to gox were laid before the House of be got rid of without one tittle of ar- Commons, in which the most liberal gument beyond what had been en- sentiments were expressed upon these deavoured to be then sustained. subjects. It was in the House of

Notwithstanding the strength of Lords, however, that the discussion this appeal, the fate of the question was carried on upon the most extended was from the first decided. The op- scale, being introduced by Lord Lansponents of agricultural inquiry had downe, a nobleman early imbued with mustered their strength, and Mr Ro- profound principles of commercial binson’s limitation was voted by 251, economy. "On moving on the 26th of while there were against it only 108, May for a committee of the Lords to a considerably smaller number than inquire into the subject, he entered had voted the night before for gene- at large into the improvements of ral inquiry. The possibility of any which it might be susceptible. He important change in the corn laws meant to confine the proposition he was thus evaded. Before the close of had to make, to the appointment of a the session, the committee presented committee on the foreign trade of the a report, which will be found in the country. He had chosen this course, Appendix, but upon which no legis- because he was convinced that any lative measure was founded.

more extensive inquiry would only The commerce of Great Britain oc- open an arena, into which every chicupied also, during this session, a large valrous political economist would hasshare of public attention. Those ten to take his stand; into which every lights of political economy, which theory would be introduced, and had shone so bright towards the close where every opposing interest would of the last century, and seemed to be have found a field of combat. In any guiding the nations into a more en- committee of general inquiry, useful larged and liberal system, had of late discussion would be impracticable,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

endless contests would arise, and in- of creating that demand, was to enccuquiries would be pursued without rage and to extend our foreign trade leading to any result. Nothing, how- by removing some of those restricever, could be farther from his inten- tions by which it was shackled. In tion, than to favour any one class or looking towards such a relaxation, pursuit in preference to another. This two things ought to be taken into indeed was impracticable, in conse- consideration by their lordships: first, quence of the intimate mutual depen- the necessity of raising our revenue; dence between them. The experience and, secondly, the justice and expeof the last ten years could not be diency of consulting those interests thrown away on their lordships, and which were vested in our existing he trusted it would not on the coun- trade, on the faith of the continuance try. In the year 1815, they had seen of the regulations under which it was the distress of the agricultural body now carried on. But those things visited on the other interests of the were not to be lost sight of-they community. They had afterwards ought not to prevent changes which found the distress of the manufactu- higher interests and a wiser policy dering interest visited on the growers manded. They ought, in short, to of corn and the raisers of every kind recollect that liberty of trade should of agricultural produce. From these be the rule, and restraint only the exalternate visitations, who could fail to ception. He would first of all vensee that the order of nature had link- ture to say, that there ought to be no ed together all the interests of men prohibitory duties, as such, that in society? Commerce and manufac- where a manufacture could not be tures had made the country what it carried on, or a production raised, but was, and by them it must be maintain. under the protection of a prohibitory ed in the rank to which it had been duty, that manufacture or that proraised. No axiom was more true than duce must be brought to market at a this that it was by growing what the loss. The name of strict prohibition territory of a country could grow might therefore in commerce be got most cheaply, and by receiving from rid of altogether; but he did not see other countries what it could not the same objection to protecting duproduce except at too great an ex- He would even suggest a cerpense, that the greatest degree of tain relaxation in the navigation laws, happiness was to be communicated though not such as could justly give to the greatest extent of population. rise to any jealousy. He would proHe was aware that the question could pose to allow produce from all parts not be considered in a mere abstract of Europe to be imported, without manner; that there were many pre- making it necessary that it should be judices to be removed, and many con- altogether in English-built ships, or in flicting interests to be reconciled, be ships belonging to the nation whence fore any improvement could be effect the produce comes. At present a vesed. Nations had been expending their sel which had taken part of its cargo capital instead of their revenue, and in a French port, and which aftera numerous population had been call- wards had proceeded to a Flemish ed into existence by a demand for port for the remainder, could not enlabour which no longer existed. The ter a British port. All that he would most obvious remedy was to create a propose would be to allow such a vesdemand for our labour and our manu- sel to make good its assortinent in factures; and the most obvious mode differeot ports in Europe, and still to



[ocr errors]

have the right of entering this coun- sure was expressly of a temporary try. He would make one exception nature, and was necessarily to be to this relaxation of the navigation brought under review in March next. laws—he would not allow the impor- The interests now vested in the tim. tation of colonial produce in this man- ber-trade to our North-American co

The third point to which he lonies, grew out of what was consider. would advert, was one of no inconsi- ed as a temporary arrangement, and derable importance in itself, and of had of course no security against a still greater consequence from the change which the general interests of principle which it involved—he meant the nation might require. The Amean entire freedom of the transit trade. rican merchants represent, that, from Whatever brought the foreign mer- the length and difficulty of the voyage chant to this country, and made it a to North America, the larger part of general mart-a depot for the mer- the value of the timber thence imchandise of the world, which might ported consists of freight; and that be done consistently with the levying the mere circumstance of the proxiof a small duty, was valuable to our mity of the northern ports of Europe, trade, and enriched the industrious by enabling ships to repeat their voypopulation of our ports. Such free- ages frequently in the course of a dom of transit allowed of assortment year, would reduce the number of of cargoes for foreign markets, and British vessels employed in the timthus extended our trade in general. ber-trade to one-third. They thereA duty of 15 per cent on the impor- fore said, that whereas it was expetation of foreign linens, was, during dient that they should be employedthe war, thought necessary to pro- and whereas they could not be so emtect the linen manufactures of Ire- ployed if they procure timber where land. No injury resulted from that it is cheapest and best—they there. arrangement while we engrossed the fore should import it of the worst commerce of the world ; but now the quality, and from the greatest discase was altered, and

tance. And let their lordships consiinterested in the linen manufacture of der what the article was that was thus Ireland, thought a relaxation of the to be raised in price, while it was detransit duty advisable. If we refused teriorated in quality. It was the raw to admit German linen without the material of our houses, of our bridges, paymentofa transit duty, the foreigner of our canals, and of our shipping itwould rather go to Germany for the self; and so inconsistent were the pearticle; he would then either pay the titioners, that they asked to continue duty which we imposed, or take a less duties which increased the expense valuable article as a substitute; and of their own trade. Suppose it were as linen might be a necessary article proposed, on the same plea, to bring in the assortment of his cargo, this our cotton from the East Indies, induty would drive him away altogether, stead of importing from America, he even when desirous of obtaining other did not see on what grounds those articles which our soil or industry could resist such a proposition who could supply. He now came to a argued that we ought to import our point which involved important inte- timber from Canada rather than from rests—he meant the state of the trade Norway. The committee would conwith the north of Europe, and the du- sider how much of the duty might be ties imposed on the importation of taken off the timber from the north, timber from that quarter. The mea- and what regulations might be adopt

many who were

[ocr errors]

ed to reserve to Canada the supply of the time that he doubled Cape Horn, masts, for which its timber was pecu- or the Cape of Good Hope, he found liarly fitted. It deserved serious con- his commercial operations cramped, sideration how much more we paid and his enterprize restrained ; not by for the timber from Canada than we the nature of the country, for it was should pay for that from the north of rich and adapted to commerce ; not Europe. By a calculation which he by the indisposition of the people to had made, the difference was not less trade, for they were numerous, industhan 500,000l. annually for the whole trious, and disposed to exchange their country, and in the port of London productions for ours ; not by the difalone 100,000l. had been paid on ac- ficulties of the seas, for, by the tradecount of this prohibitory duty. He winds and the monsoons, navigation would now advert to another subject was easy and secure; but he was purof great importance—the state of our sued, and all his schemes defeated, by trade with France, and particularly the statute-book. If the private trade in the article of wine. Their lord. were perfectly unrestricted, much ships must know that a duty of 1431. smaller vessels might be employed, 18s. was imposed upon the tun of and many merchants would engage French wine, while only 95l. was im- in it who could not fit out a ship of posed upon Spanish and Portuguese 500 tons burden. There existed many wines. There had been a falling off in nations perfectly accessible to smaller the duty in the last year of 220,0001. vessels, who were now never visited. Now, although the government of They composed a population of upFrance was not disposed to enter in- ward of 70,000,000; and he would beg to any commercial treaty, or to make leave to read a passage from a book any liberal arrangement for receiving lately published, (Mr Crawford's Hisour manufactures in exchange for tory of the Indian Archipelago) shewtheir wine, he would not allow but ing the facilities for commerce in the that some change should be made in Eastern seas, the great wealth which our present trade with that country. they offered, and the little trade What he had said with regard to the that was now carried on in them. wines of France, would apply likewise He was the more disposed to be santo its silks : and if our own manufac- guine in these expectations, when he turers in silk were to suffertemporarily contemplated the benefits which had by a removal of the prohibitory duties, arisen from a free trade in the only this was a case in which he would will- quarter where it had yet been peringly agree to a large parliamentary mitted. Their lordships would recolgrant for the purpose of indemnity. lect that six years ago, when the trade He now came to a subject which, to the East Indies was not open, there with whatever difficulties it might be was no independent British tonnage surrounded, had at least this advan- on the other side of the Cape of Good tage, that it would relieve and benefit Hope. At present he was happy to the shipping interest. It would be inform them that there were in the impossible for their lordships not to re- Eastern seas 20,000 tons of shipping collect and to apply the fact that from in the service of the East India Comone of the largest, most fertile, and pany, but 61,000 in the service of the most populous portions of the globe, free trade. The free trade employed that immense space which lay between 4720 British seamen, whilst the trade Africa and America, the general Bri- of the East India Company employed tish merchant was excluded. From only 2550 of them. Yet it was a peculiar hardship, that in countries where inhabitants of the two countries, by the British had established an unpre- the utmost good faith, kindness, and cedented power, and where they ex- liberality. To cement that connexion ercised an uncontrolled dominion, an would not be a difficult task for this American should be at liberty to carry country, as there was none better calon a trade in which it was not allow. culated to inspire the South Ameried to an Englishman to engage. The cans with sentiments of respect and trade to which he alluded was the ex- affection. It was only necessary that portation of tea, which he understood we should repeal the restrictions unwas more than ten to one in favour der which we had hitherto guarded of the American merchant: nor was our intercourse with them, and stand this at all surprising ; for he not only before them as a country ready to rederived a benefit from the liberty ceive their produce on the most fawhich he possessed of assorting his vourable terms. And why should cargo when and where he pleased; they not repeal these restrictions ? but also from the liberty which he en- Their lordships, he was sure, were joyed of supplying France, Holland, well aware that, in the year previous and other parts of the continent, with to the commencement of the unforthat commodity, tea, which the East tunate war which terminated in the India Company did not choose to do establishment of American indepenthemselves, and would not allow any dence, our exports to the United of their fellow-countrymen to do for States did not amount to more than them. So fully was he convinced of 3,000,000l. ; whereas at present they the inexpediency of such a restric- amounted to no less a sum than thirty tion, that nothing could induce him · millions. This was the consequence to believe that the East India Com- of free trade. The noble marquis pany would not, if applied to, allow then strongly urged the cultivation Englishmen to supply France, and of friendly relations with Ireland, as Holland, and Germany, with tea from there was no country better fitted to Canton, as readily as she allowed give employment to our capital, and Ameriean merchants to do so. He become a great consumer of our mawas not prepared to say that the Bri- nufactured goods. Though he was tish Government ought to exert its in- not very sanguine in his expectations fluence to procure the immediate inde- of immediate relief to the present dispendence of South America—by no tress of the country, he could not, means: but he was prepared to say, with the feelings which he entertained that, considering the manner in which regarding British enterprize, British the trade of its subjects had increased skill, and British ingenuity, abandon at Buenos Ayres, where it was liable the hope of ultimate relief to our disto no restrictions during the years tressed situation, whilst there was any 1810, 1811, and 1812–considering part of the globe unexplored, or only that since the latter of these periods partially explored, to which our trade it had even increased there to a two- could penetrate. Our merchants, if fold amount, and that similar results they were now oppressed with the had taken place in every other part difficulties which he had before deof that great continent where British scribed, were not, however, deprived manufactures had been introduced, it of that high character, that good faith, was bound by every tie of feeling and and that persevering industry, which of interest to cement the connexion had always distinguished them. which already subsisted between the The Earl of Liverpool, in rising to

« AnteriorContinua »