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In 1703, by the Methuen Treaty with Portugal, English woollen goods, which had previously been prohibited, were allowed entrance at a duty of fifteen per cent., Portuguese wines to pay in England a duty less by a third than those of France. This treaty conflicting with the proposed AngloFrench treaty, Parliament refused to ratify this last, fearing lest the Portuguese should retaliate on our woollen goods to the loss of our manufacture and sheep farmers. An additional reason for the preference was that the trade with Portugal was an exchange of goods, while that with France meant an export of bullion, so much dreaded by the economists of that day. France retorted by high tariffs. The idea remained that commerce with France exhausted the nation. Between 1686 and 1716 the commerce between the two countries is said to have sunk nearly by half.
Up to nearly the middle of the century, though the woollen manufactures were prosperous, the cloth was made for the most part in the houses of the farmers who raised the sheep (men who would be for William against the Stuarts and the East India Company with its cotton goods). The weaving and spinning were done either by the farmers and their families, or by the very small agricultural folk who used the trade to eke out a living torn from the land. It took six or eight spinners to prepare enough yarn for one weaver. When in 1733 Kay's fly shuttle doubled the speed of the loom, it was worse. They were dependent on the ancient spinning wheel. The weaver in his farmhouse worked up the yarn spun by the women at home or in the nearby cottages. Then the woven cloth was carried to the mills, where it was fulled, beaten by hammers so as to be felted and condensed. The mills were driven by water power, the hammers falling by their own weight. When power was used to weave and spin, and coal furnished the motive power, the industry moved to the coalfields of the north.
The English woollen cloth was so far superior to the French that when France made a grant to the American Revolutionary Congress for clothing the troops, the agent spent it in English cloth.
The manufacture of linen as a cloth was not carried on in England, but in Scotland and Ireland. The cultivation and preparation of the flax was part of the farm industry.
In 1707 the Union with Scotland destroyed a market for French goods and opened one for Scottish goods which had previously been excluded from England. After the Union a good trade sprang up between England, Scotland and the colonies in linen and woollen goods. The silk manufacture, poplin and ribbon, was also introduced into England by the Huguenots.
As Holland benefited by the prohibition of the East India calicoes, so attack on the woollen manufactures resulted in the export of raw or half-manufactured wool to France, and the emigration of the workers. The introduction of Indian muslins interfered with the linen trade.
The iron manufacture depended on the wealth of wood in the district, as the use of uncoked coal was not possible in the furnaces of the time. Sheffield kept its iron trade and cutlery business because there was plenty of timber, water power and ironstone in the district. It was a free town without the restrictions of trade guilds. Ironmaking was started in America under like conditions early in the century, and a certain amount was imported to England. Owing to the destruction of the woods in England, the ironmaking was decreasing in the first half of the century, much being brought from Sweden and even from Russia.
In 1735 Abraham Darby made iron by the use of coal at Coalbrookdale in Shropshire, in 1760 Roebuck used blowing engines at the Carron works in Stirlingshire, and in 1783 puddling was invented. Other industries and discoveries early in the century were the making of cast iron and cast steel, the making of brass and bronze, the smelting of copper, and the making of tinplate. Brass and steel wire in Birmingham came later. The making of pottery and glass for export to Europe and America, and the import of china from the East, increased enormously during the century. Towards the middle of the century the English manufactures of china grew up, and the making of paper, which had hitherto been imported from France and Italy, began. Salt was also an important article for export to France.
ii. The Trade of France.—To put it shortly, at the opening of the eighteenth century British industry in both islands was far behind France and Holland in manufacture. It was literally manufacture. The weaving and spinning industries were carried on under antique conditions, the roads were very bad, the facilities for transport poor, canals and means of water transport were non-existent or little used. England for the most part was an agricultural country, exporting corn and raw materials, and in great part pastoral. The awakening came from immigrant aliens, men of courage and skill who had fled from persecution, which under pretence of religion oppressed commercial rivals. There was no machinery except the windmill and a little use of water-power.
About 1700 the total tonnage of English merchant ships was less than 300,000 tons, about 3,300 ships in all. By 1800 there were 16,000 ships, with a tonnage of a million and a half tons. They were little ships according to our ideas. When Captain Cook started in 1772 it was with the Resolution of 462 tons and the Endeavour of 366 tons. But there was a great extent of docks, and of bonding and warehouse open for them. In 1709 a floating dock was opened at Liverpool.
Leaving the dealings of the Western Europeans with their colonies and with other continents, and the subject of the Navigation Acts, which strongly affected them, for a later page, I refer to France and French trade. At the opening of the eighteenth century France, with her double outlook on the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, held an especially advantageous position for commerce of all kinds, whether East or West. If the eyes of the French people had not been directed to the lands of their continental neighbours, they would hardly have permitted Great Britain to become mistress of the seas and, through her supremacy on that element, controller of the destinies of France.
British sea-power, breaking in upon the supremacy of Holland, checked and ruined the commerce of France. Yet at the opening of the eighteenth century this commerce was very great and widespread. It consisted of the exchange of articles of home production of a great variety in character as compared with the narrow range of materials for export of Britain and Holland, countries which depended for their prosperity largely upon their profits as marine carriers.
Starting with Brittany, for example, there was a trade in cloth of twelve million livres, thread one million, horses one million, honey and wax, grain, cattle, wood, paper, materials for hemp, fish, butter of 600,000 livres. Nantes exported to the American colonies Irish salt beef, flour, lard, wine, cloth, oil, butter, candles, clothing, building materials, household utensils. She imported sugar, for the most part refined in France, cocoa, ginger, indigo, cassia and hides, and carried slaves from Guinea to the West Indies. It was estimated that a ship with a cargo worth 100,000 livres returned in fifteen months with a value of 300,000 livres. Most of the ports of France discharged their return cargoes at Nantes because of the good market. This trade increased with the development of the sugar production in the West Indies after the Seven Years' War. Montesquieu supports slavery sarcastically by the argument used by politicians in all times on occasion : “Le sucre serait trop cher si l'on ne faisait travailler la plante qui le produit par des esclaves.” Improvement of the harbours and of the navigation of the Loire increased the population of Nantes from 42,000 in 1700 to 70,000 in 1766.
During the war of the Austrian Succession the Dutch supplied the French West Indies and continued to do so after the peace.
About thirty ships were employed in the East India trade, and more than thirty in the cod fishing. Their home trade with Spain, Portugal, Africa, England, Germany and the North represented a tonnage of about 100,000 tons. To these countries they exported paper, fabrics, lace, sugar, mercury, hardware and salt; and imported wool, skins, precious metals, fruits and Brazil wood. The imports from England and the North were charcoal, herrings, hides, tallow, pewter, lead, copper, steel, iron, horn, planks, masts and cordage.
St. Malo traded with England in lead, copperas, gall nuts, charcoal and draperies in exchange for wine, brandy, oil, honey, poultry and cloth; and with Holland, Spain and the North, Canada and the Antilles. Her seamen did contraband trade with Africa and Spanish America. They had privilege of trade in Asia for the Compagnie des Indes Orientales. From 1701-18, when Spain was allied to France, the St. Malo sailors did an active trade in Chili and Peru. They made such profits that in 1709, in the darkest day of defeat for France, they could lend the king sixty million livres. But the trade with England and Holland went under the foreign flag.
Touraine, Maine and Anjou furnished wine, hemp, flax, prunes, fruits, charcoal, slate, iron, glass, etc., for France, Spain and Portugal, Orleans being the great entrepôt of the Loire. But the manufacture of silks, cloth, tanned skins diminished at the end of the 17th century, as after the Revocation England and Holland made them.
Normandy was a centre of great agricultural wealth, and its manufacture of cloth and woollen fabrics, lace, glass, etc., etc., gave it great prosperity under Colbert. But the last two wars of Louis XIV. ruined its trade, reducing the people to a terrible state of misery. The trade of Caen as a port was destroyed by the Revocation. Lille was a great depôt for commerce with the rest of France, Spain, Holland, Italy, England and the North to the value of four to five millions of livres. Champagne, besides wines and other chief products, sold sheep to the number of more than 1,600,000 and of wool three to four millions livres weight per year. Lorraine traded in iron, salt, lace, wood, glass, hides and bearskins.
Lyons exported its silks and other products to Italy and Spain to the amount of some seven millions of livres, besides a great trade with the interior of France, Germany, Holland, England and the East. The trade of Marseilles both East and West was enormous, comprising an immense variety of articles for exchange. The value of its merchandize in 1728 was estimated at 19,902,000 livres, in 1776 at 172,443,000 livres.
According to the intendant of Barville the principal subjects of trade of Languedoc (in livres) were draperies, 5,300,000 ; silks one and a half millions, taffetas and ribbons 600,000, wines 830,000, brandy 440,000, animals 600,000, lambskins 400,000. Their imports were from Brittany, Normandy and Auvergne linen cloth 1,480,000, from Auvergne and Limousin cattle and sheep 1,340,000, from Marseilles and Bordeaux salt fish 350,000, besides a smuggling trade in East Indian cotton cloths to the amount of some 300,000 livres.
The trade of Bordeaux with the French colonies in America employed 24 to 28 ships, of which more than half were for Martinique for cargoes of sugar, cotton, indigo and cocoa. Its business was valued at about thirteen millions of livres in 1717