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Tories. The Turnpike Road Act which made travelling barely possible was passed in 1751. This Act, in contrast to French practice, assessed farmers and proprietors in equal proportion for the maintenance of public roads.
Even when the greater circulation of money brought about increased trade, the coarse woollen goods had to compete with the better English cloth and French damasks and silks. For the first twenty years the Scots really suffered from the taxation customs and competition, and the Union was thoroughly unpopular, either people hating and despising the other. But when the progress began it was very great and quick, the trade with the American colonies and the West Indies bringing great wealth to Glasgow and other Scottish ports until temporarily ruined by the American War.
The great impetus given to trade was undoubtedly due to the absence of any snobbish vanity on the part of the Scottish aristocracy. They not only entered freely into trade but did not disdain the humble offices by which they might climb to success. They served as apprentices, as shopmen, as mechanics, making trade a national industry, as it should be in all healthy countries, open to all. Litigation was the only other opening to a profession. In this also the Scots became pre-eminent. They might study medicine at Leyden or Paris.
The material for trade was at first very limited. By about 1725 the linen industry was becoming a staple in Glasgow, with the making of woollen plaids and the curing of salmon and other fish. But Glasgow had no direct communication with London until 1788. The burghers did unpaid guard in turn. Then Mrs. Henry Fletcher of Saltoun, travelling in Holland, learnt the making of fine linen and set up machinery at home, and in 1735 Hervey of Glasgow learnt the secret of tape-making in the same way and brought two looms and a workman from Haarlem. Bleaching was learnt from French weavers from St. Quentin, and cambric-weaving. Paisley had a small trade in spinning fine yarn, an art brought from Holland, the yarn sold to English pedlars, and in making sewing thread, an art imported by the enterprise of Christian Shaw, then Mrs. Miller, a woman at whose instigation five women had been burnt as witches in 1697; Greenock had salmon and herring fisheries ; Dundee a little trade in coarse plaids sold in Germany; Aberdeen made stockings from tarred wool; Stirling and Musselburgh woollen goods, and Dunfermline fine linen. The ninety-three ships, built in foreign countries, some 6,000 tons in all, took as exports grey oats and barley, dried fish, stockings, rope, candles and serges; to England were sent slate, coal, fish, Galloway nags, black cattle and linen cloth.
Towards the middle of the century carpet weaving, and glass and china manufacturies began to spring up. But wages were stationary from about 1640 to 1740, when the great expansion of industry began. The linen had hitherto been sent to Holland for whitening, the process taking from six to eight months. Then Home, of Edinburgh, reduced the time by half by the use of a weak solution of sulphuric acid. In 1785 the French chemist Berthollet made use of chlorine, then recently discovered, for bleaching. The linen industry grew so fast in Scotland that about 1730 the Duke of Argyll and others formed a Company for linen manufacture and imported flax seed. In a few years it gave up the linen factories and became the British Linen Companies Bank.
In a very short time the spinning wheel replaced the spindle and distaff; linen spinning and weaving were being carried on in twenty-five counties, and linen manufacture set up in the remotest parts of Scotland. Much of the flax was brought from northern Europe and much linen was exported. Scotland, now free of the markets of England and her colonial possessions, had her foot on the ladder, and was ready to take part in the extraordinary growth of trade of the latter part of the century.*
Meanwhile England, now obtaining the command of the sea, was building up her woollen and other manufactures, and her world exports through the carrying trade of her great merchant shipping to the East Indies and West, to the American colonies and the Newfoundland fisheries which were such a sore point of irritation between great Britain and France.
1 The same growth would have been the destiny of Ireland if her industries, fishing, shipping, cattle, wool, glass, etc., etc., had not been successively destroyed and the morale of her people, condemned to idleness, ruined for centuries by savage laws and infamous misrule in the interests of both parts of the larger island. It has been an exploitation in the interests of trade of religious hatred, carried down to our day by a section of the Scots who have always been disloyal to the British Crown.
iv. Tariffs and Transport.-Essentials for the successful growth of commerce are freedom from oppressive tariffs, sufficient means of quick transport, and sound finance.
Before the Union of 1707 the trade of Scotland was checked by prohibitory or very heavy hostile tariffs directed against any goods which might compete with English trade, while manufactures of various kinds were prohibited for the same reason both in Ireland and in the American colonies. For instance, the British industry in hat-making of beaver and other hair was strong enough to obtain an Act prohibiting the making of hats in America. In 1750 the tanners of Sheffield petitioned against a Bill allowing the import of iron from America, on the ground that the coppices would remain intact, and the supply of oak bark be stopped. Of course, at the same time the islands fought all foreign countries with heavy or prohibitive tariffs. As an example of this, when the frame knitter was invented to replace or compete with hand knitting in the English cottages it was fitted for weaving silk stockings. But as it was found that the weavers could not compete with the French manufacture, French goods were in 1754 prohibited.
Apart from such retaliatory tariffs and walls of prohibition common to all countries, Great Britain, after the Union, had great advantage over France in her freedom from internal tariffs and tolls on merchandise in transit. While trade was practically free from internal tolls throughout the British Isles, French trade suffered enormously from this cause. The internal tolls and the conditions of transport in France were two of the many causes which brought about the Revolution of 1789. To this the endless succession of local and seigniorial impositions throughout France must, as an obstruction to trade and source of irritation, have contributed greatly. A commission of 1724 abolished 2,120 of these tolls and left 1,430. According to another report the number was nearly double. Turgot and Necker each named a commission to examine the validity of the tolls. The evils remained. When Necker, in 1779, set up his commission there were about 5,000 of them. The work was not finished in 1789.
Wine paid more than grain. In 1775 the Government, in order to find out exactly the number of the tolls which weighed upon the goods, charged a commissaire of the gates of Paris to go and sell wine at Rouen. This wine of the Midi had already paid customs duties at Valence and Lyons, a seigniorial due at Alais, at Giverdon, the customs of the five great farms, at Oigoin, an octroi at Decize, five tolls at Nevers, an octroi at Poids de Fer and La Charité, three tolls and an octroi at Cogne and Nemours, two seigniorial tolls at Moret and three octrois at Melun.
The story of the transport was on similar lines. In the islands the roads, no doubt, were very bad, dangerous, founderous, unfit for good wheeled traffic, requiring smiths for repair and shoeing at short distances. From London to Edinburgh the one coach took twelve to sixteen days. Goods were sent by slow waggon, unless there was convenience of transit by navigable river. When William Murray, afterwards Lord Mansfield, went in 1717 to London, he rode and sold his horse on arrival to pay expenses. The pack horse and the riding horse were a main means of conveyance. England, as in everything else, was behind France and Holland in her transport, save and so far as she had inherited and kept up her highways from preChristian Rome. Neglected as it was, it was to this inheritance that she owed her country life, and to her merchant shipping her predominance in trade.
Transport is the kernel of trade progress. Holland and France had made canals. But it was past the middle of the century before, in 1761, the Duke of Bridgwater built the canal to carry coal from his pits at Worsley to Manchester, and later to Runcorn, crossing the river Irwell by a very high aqueduct. Then Brindley built the Grand Trunk Canal, followed by canals all over the country, and improved roads.
But there was no system in the islands of forced labour on the roads for the benefit of government. The whole parish, says a writer about 1750, is of common right bound to repair the highway within its limits. The inhabitants are the men solely, in the eye and regard of the common law, liable to it. Neglect was punishable by indictment or presentment at Quarter Sessions or other lesser Courts at the instance of the County Surveyor. If the parishioners are indicted for neglect, they must, if they plead that they are not bound to repair, show who is liable. If it cannot be found who is responsible, the whole county is liable. The inhabitants, he says, suffer from the neglect of duty or partiality of the surveyors, not in the way of requiring extra work, but of neglecting what should be done. There were no exemptions from the duty of repair. If the highway is founderous, travellers may break in upon the crops, the injury to the innocent individual giving way to the salus populi, the essence of the common law.
In France, on the other hand, the roads rested on the central authority of the Crown and on seigniorial rights. There were decrees of the Crown in May, 1705, and in May, 1720, for the reconstruction of roads. But Louis XIV. left the finances in such a condition that nothing much was done during the first years of Louis XV. In the second half of the century, by means of the forced labour of the corvée, they were improved. The corvée was of two kinds. There was the seigniorial corvée, an ancient institution dating back to Roman times, for working the local roads necessary for the use of the vicinity. In this service all combined for the common benefit. The royal corvée was modern. Colbert had made it a little more regular for the strategic roads on the frontier provinces, but he dreaded the abuse of the system. Its success in Alsace led to an extension of it for the main roads in other parts.
From this royal corvée for the great main roads of through traffic the churchmen, the nobles and their servitors and the bourgeois of the towns were exempt. It fell heavily only on persons taxable living in non-free towns, burghs and villages. This work had to be performed for thirty days in each year, divided between spring and autumn. Those summoned must bring their tools, beasts and carriages. Children under twelve years of age were required to carry the stones. The work could not be compounded for in money. The intendants and their subordinates exempted whom they pleased, increasing or lessening the burden at their pleasure. The peasants who bore nearly the whole burden had to serve at distances of from nine to twelve miles for roads which were of little or no use for their carts for local business. It was very unpopular and greatly criticized.
When he became Contrôleur-Général, Turgot tried to include the proprietors and nobles in the corvée, replacing the work by a tax on all proprietors of lands taxable and non-taxable. But many Parlements, composed of or under the control of exempt