Imatges de pàgina

them. The rise of prices, which has gold, in which the great increase of been made greater in Great Britain production has taken place, being fifthan on the Continent, and must teen times as valuable as silver, which continue to be so, may, and probably the mines of Potosi and Mexico chiefly will, occasion an over-production on yielded. But still it has been and the part of our manufacturers which must be gradual, and, above all, it is the rise of prices elsewhere may not not liable to be withdrawn. Those enable their customers abroad to take frightful crises with which the expeoff. The great emigration' at home rience of the last thirty years bas must seriously affect the labour mar- rendered us so familiar, arising from ket, and the prices of production here enterprise being violently stimulated may come to be so high that not only at one time by a copious issue of may our manufacturers be unable to paper based on a large store of gold in compete with foreign nations in the the coffers of the Bank, and as rapidly supply of the foreign markets, but cast down at another in consequence even to keep their ground in that of of a serious drain setting in upon the their own.

As the advantage which metallic treasures of the country, Sir R. Peel looked for by the adop- from the necessities of foreign war or tion of the cheapening system, and the effects of a bad harvest, will be no which, in his estimation, was more longer heard of. We may have, and than sufficient to counteract all the pre- doubtless will have, commercial dissent evils with which it was attended, tress arising from the glutting of was the ultimate extension of our markets and over - production; but markets abroad from increased cheap- these terrible social spasms-monetary ness of production at home; so it is crises, arising from the sudden convery possible, nay, perhaps probable, traction of a circulation based on that the reversal of his monetary po- gold, and of necessity drawn in when licy may be followed in both cases by it disappears will be numbered the opposite set of consequences, and among the things which have been. that the impulse at present given to

But while we never can be suffi. industry of all sorts by the general ciently thankful for the probable cesrise of prices may be the forerunner sation of this terrific scourge, the of a serious and lasting check to it, creation of human legislation and the from the enhanced cost of production punishment of human selfishness, it acting more stringently on this country is not unmixed good which will arise than on rival states.

from this change in prices which is But there is one very great and going on around us; and many consepeculiar advantage which will un- quences vital to our independencedoubtedly arise from the rise of prices it may be, our existence as a nation, owing to California and Australia, cannot fail to result from their operathat it will be comparatively gradual, tion for any length of time. and on that very account prove last- The first, and without doubt the ing. As it arises from an annual in- most important of these is, the great crease in the supplies of specie which impulse which the enhancement of the are to form the monetary circulation price of rural labour must give to the of the whole world, so its effects must already immense proportion of our be very much diffused, and a plethora national subsistence which we derive of currency in any particular country from foreign nations. Lightly as, is less likely to occur than when it while basking in the sunshine of peace was founded on paper, which is ca- and prosperity, we may make of this pable of increase in a particular state circumstance, it is the one which has to any extent. The rise of prices proved fatal to the greatest states which followed the discovery of the which have preceded us on the theamines of Mexico and Peru in the six- tre of the world, and which now most teenth century was so gradual that seriously menaces our own. The vast it was not perceived at the time, importations of foreign grain into the and it only became evident when, heart of the empire were the real cause after the lapse of a century, it was of the ruin of Rome in ancient times; found that prices of all sorts had been and it is going on at such an accelequadrupled. The rise in our times rated rate amongst us at this time, that has been much more sudden, owing to it is difficult to see how a similar ca

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tastrophe is to be avoided in our own affect our mercantile and royal navy land. Already we import annually than any other branch of industry, from eight to ten millions of quarters save agriculture; and the effects which of grain from foreign parts, being have already taken place from the nearly four times its average amount competition of states, where labour before Free Trade was introduced ; was cheaper from money being scarcer, and although there was a considerable are sufficient to warrant the most sericheck to importation of grain, owing ous apprehensions of what must ensue to the bad harvest the north of when the competition is continued Europe in the year 1852, it is again with the wages of labour much higher with the slight rise of prices in this in this than in any of the adjoining country, at this time going on at such states which vie with us in nautical a rate as warrants the most gloomy enterprise. From the table quoted presages as to our future dependence below, it appears that, from the date on foreign supplies for the staple food of the introduction of the reciprocity of our people. In this change there system in 1823, down to the repeal of is not only the utmost possible danger the navigation laws in 1849, foreign to our national independence, since our shipping had materially encroached chief supplies of wheat and wheaten upon British, in the conducting of our flour come from two countries, Russia own trade: for the former had inand America, which may any day creased from 926 to 3.531, or nearly unite to shut their harbours against 400 per cent.; while the latter had us; but there must eventually accrue only increased from 3.202 to 9.669, or a serious diminution of the home mar- 300 per cent. But this change, alarmket for our manufacturers, owing to ing as it is upon the future interests the cutting off of the chief source of of our shipping, is as nothing to that wealth to the cultivators of the soil, which has ensued since the repeal of their best purchasers.

the navigation laws, and commenceIn the next place, the effect of this 'ment of the great emigration from enhanced price of labour will be as the British Islands ; for, during the seriously felt by our shipping as our three years that have since elapsed, agricultural interest. This is a most foreign shipping has advanced from serious consideration ; for the navy 4.334 to 6.159, that is, about 50 is a branch of industry to which, per cent; and British from 9.669 to equally as to the cultivation of the soil, 9.820, that is, about oto per cent. the aid of machinery is in a great de- The superior growth of foreign to gree inapplicable, and in which the home shipping in carrying on our own rude appliance of stout arms and bold trade, also is, at this very moment, hearts is worth all the art in the rapidly on the increase, as appears world. The high price of, and dearth from the tables showing the compain, the supply of labour, therefore, rative progress of the two in this will more immediately and directly very year :*

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18:22, 1823,+ 1824, . 1825, 1826, 1827, 1828, 1829 1830, 1831, 1832, 1833, 1834, 1835, 1836,

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British. Foreign. 3,202,807 926,603 1837,

5,164,393 2,042,648 3,287,835 1,146,567 1838,

5,661,623 2,434,469 3,151,359 1,506,401 1839,

6,198,261 2,779,461 3,937,159 1,865,378 1840,

6,490,485 2,949,182 3,688,068 1,386,556 1841,

6,790,490 2,648,057 3,974,583 1,529,685 1842,

6,669,995 2,457,479 4,100,754 1,242,738 1843,

7,181,179 2,643,383 4,247,714 1,440,853 1844, . 7,500,285 2,846,481 4,282,189 1,517,196 1845,

8,346,090 3,531,215 4,668,249 1,770,662 1816,

8,688,113 3,727,438 4,415,249 1,291,202 1817,

9,712,464 4,566,732 4,428,088 1,520,686 1848,

9,289,560 4,017,066 4,594,588 1,686,732 1849,

9,669,638 4,334,750 4,862,675 1,772,260 1850,

9,442,544 5,062,520 5,037,059 2,084,019 1851,

9,820,876 6,159,322 -Parliamentary Returns, March 1853. | Reciprocity system introduced.

We should fall into the most enor- removal of the debris, and those of his mous error, therefore, if we should neighbours are daily carrying off more imagine that our maritime interests and more of the lucrative but ruinous are in a safe and desirable state, be- profits. cause freights are high, and wages of As this encroaching of foreign shipseamen extravagant at this moment. ping on our own, in the export of laThat state of matters is, without bourers and import of food, is owing doubt, in the general case, an unequi- to causes of a durable, and now irrevocal proof of prosperity, and the best mediable nature amongst us, so it commentary on the wisdom of the may not only be expected to continue, measures which have brought about but increase. The more that foreign such an auspicious condition of things. corn comes in, the more must our agBut it must be obvious to all, on the ricultural labourers go out, because most cursory survey, that the present their employers will be unable, by the rise in everything connected with our forcible reduction of price of the imshipping is not only not founded on ported article, to make any profit by durable causes of prosperity, but the their labour. The more that the rovery reverse ; and that it portends bust and healthy inhabitants of the not the superiority of our commercial country emigrate, the greater will be navy over that of other nations, but the difficulty experienced in finding that of theirs over us. It arises from hands for either our commercial or the vast exportation of our labourers, royal navy, and the higher the wages and importation of their food; neither received by those who can be got to of which is either a cause or an indi- convey our inhabitants across the Atcation of public wellbeing. When lantic. It is in them, not among the a nation comes to export annually comparatively weak and effeminate 350,000 of its labourers, and to im- inhabitants of inland towns, that the port eight or ten millions of quarters nursery of a powerful race of seamen of grain for the food of those who re- is to be found. The higher our seamain, it is clear that the nation is not in men's wages, and the greater the a very safe or desirable position. Its profits made by the shipping interest, situation resembles the estate of the the greater will be the inducement spendthrift, which is for the time vivi- for foreign shipowners, who can both fied and improved by the extravagant build and navigate their vessels cheapexpenditure and wasting away of the er than we can, to engage in the gainsubstance of a prodigal heir. And the ful traffic to be made in the scattering temporary impulse given to shipping abroad the huge fragments of the Briand seafaring persons by this waste- tish empire. Thus, one step in the ful system of crossing and recrossing downward progress, by natural conthe sea, with men going out and food sequence, induces another; one deep coming in, such as it is, has already calls on another ; and no stop can be proved more advantageous to foreign anticipated in the progress of decomstates than ourselves, for the propor- position, till the vast fabric is at last tion of it which ney enjoy is every resolved into its original elements, and day becoming greater.

So that we the work of destruction can bring no have not even the poor consolation of more profit, because there is nothing being able to say, that, if we are ex- left to destroy. porting our people, and importing our The danger, it is to be observed, to food, we are, at least, gaining some- be apprehended from this encroachthing from the wasteful traffic: for ment of foreign shipping on our own, foreign states, which may any day in carrying on our own trade, is not become our enemies, are daily en- that ours will decay, but that theirs croaching more and more on our sea- will increase faster than our own, and men and ships in conducting it. We then our means of defence as a mari. are like a proprietor who is pulling time power, and existence as an inde. down his castle so rapidly that his pendent state, may come to be delabourers make a gainful trade in the stroyed. If our shipping doubles in mean time by carting away the stones; ten years, and that of our Continental but, unfortunately, the process of de- rivals quadruples in the same period, molition has become so rapid that his it is evident that the time is not far own waggons are not adequate to the distant, and may be calculated with mathematical certainty, when the stance of this age of wonders that it latter will first equal and then exceed has at one blow re-established the cothe former. As soon as this effect lonial, and reduced to its just proportakes place, our means of existence tion the foreign trade system, and that as an independent power are not only the very party who have so long threatened, but at an end : because decried our colonies as useless and our rival maritime neighbours may burdensome limbs of the empire, which any day, by declaring war, and with it would be our wisdom to lop off as drawing their shipping from our trade, speedily as possible, are now driven deprive us at once of the means of to those very colonies to find the only carrying on above the half of our com- solutions of the difficulties in which merce, and consequently reduce us to their Free-Trade policy has landed the necessity of submission without the State. firing a shot. This danger is obviously But it is not unmixed good even to most seriously increased by the large our manufacturers that has arisen proportion of the food of the nation, from the great monetary and social already above a fifth, which comes changes which are going on around from foreign parts. How many years' us. Gold and emigration threaten purchase would any man give for the them with dangers and evils as well independence of England, if we have as the other classes of society, and arrived at that point that the half of they may perhaps find it even more the food of our people is imported difficult to withstand the competition from foreign parts, and the half of of foreign rivals under the elevated our trade carried on in foreign bot- prices on which we are now entering, toms? And yet is there any one who than under the cheapening system of can deny that that is the rock on

former days. which we are obviously drifting, as In the first place, the general rise in certainly as the progress of the sun is the wages of labour, which already from east to west : nay, that our pre- has amounted in the manufacturing sent prosperity is mainly owing to districts to 40 per cent, must tell, and the rapidity with which we are ad- that powerfully, on the cost at which vancing in our perilous course ? we can raise manufactured articles.

Our manufacturers may perhaps Every one engaged in business knows imagine that these dangers threaten how large a part of the cost of producthe agricultural and shipping interests tion, the raw material, and the wages more than themselves, and that the of the labour employed upon it, comrapid growth of our colonies in Aus- pose, and how close a shave it often is tralia, or of exports to the gold regions to extract any profit at all, if the cost of America, will for long enable them of the production of either is enhanced to drive a profitable trade amidst the without a proportional rise in the price decline of the other great national finally received for the manufactured interests. There is no doubt that this article. When both are advanced, as effect will for a considerable period they must and assuredly will be by the take place.

Oar exports to Aus- effects of the influx of gold, they must tralia this year will probably turn be exposed to difficulty, unless they £4,000,000 sterling, and in ten years can raise the price of the manufactured may, at the present rate of progress, article in the same proportion. This amount to ten millions; and it is not might have been easily done under a the less true that the great advantages system of Protection, because import we have over other countries in ca- duties would have covered the differpital, coal, iron, and machinery, may ence of the cost of production in this long enable us to retain the virtual and the neighbouring states. But as monopoly of this growing trade, not- Protection, though still kept up to a withstanding all the competition of certain extent to support our manurival states. So far there is a very facturers, is not on such a scale as to cheering prospect, and it is the more cover a great difference in the cost of so because it arises from the growing production, it becomes a very serious prosperity of our own colonies, our matter for the consideration of our own flesh and blood, not the rise of manufacturers, how they are to withrival or hostile nations. It is not the stand the competition of foreign manu. least surprising or memorable circum- facturers under high prices, either in

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the supply of foreign markets, or in Nay, in the supply of foreign marthe preservation of our own. For kets the same danger threatens us. nothing can be more certain than that It is in vain to expect that our manuprices will be raised much more in our facturers are to preserve their advanmanufacturing towns than in those of tages in the supply of the foreign marthe Continent, simply becanse we are kets, if the price of labour is materially much richer than they are; can both higher here than it is elsewhere. Custake off and require a much larger tomers invariably look for the cheapest quantity of the precious metals for persons to supply them; and if the carrying on our trade; have a much foreign manufacturers can meet their larger paper currency, which ample demands cheaper than the English supplies of specie keep out and render ones can do, it is not to be supposed that stable; and because the drain of emi- they will not give them the preference. gration is felt with ten times the force This all depends, of course, on the fact upon our labour market that it exer- of the wages of labour in Great Bricises on any other, simply because our tain being higher than in the adjoining emigration is, in proportion to the states of the Continent. The experinumber of our people, ten times ence of the last few months may congreater than theirs.

vince us how likely this is to occur ; In the next place, it is to be recol- and if the records of the war, when the lected that although all classes feel currency of England was so much themselves greatly benefited and re- augmented by the issue of paper, are lieved from the effects of the great consulted, it will be found that in all rise of prices, the more especially from such circumstances the wages of laits contrast to the long and dreary bour are infinitely more enhanced in period of low prices which had pre- the rich and commercial old states, ceded it, yet this result, in its effect than in the poor and agricultural upon industry, as well manufactur- young ones. ing as nautical, cannot be expected to These are some of the industrial be durable. Beyond all question, the effects which may be anticipated from difference in the cost of production in the great monetary revolution which different countries, under the new is now going on around us, from the scale, will soon proclaim themselves. vast produce of the Californian and The present universal stimulus arising Australian mines. But there are from the general rise of prices cannot other effects of a social character continue. The effects of the beating which are still more important, and down of important branches of our the consideration of which is necesindustry by foreign competition, must sary to complete the review of the make themselves felt upon our manu- consequences it is destined to produce, facturers for the home market. If and is in the course of producing, upon the agricultural and the shipping in- society in this country and over the terests, those great and important world. branches of our industry, are seriously The first and perhaps the most imdepressed by the effects of Free Trade portant of these is the influence which and high prices, how are the manu- it will have in diminishing the weight facturers for the home market to be and influence of realised capital; in a supported ? This is a question of the word, in undoing all, in this respect, very highest importance, for it is hope- that the legislation of the preceding less to look for an extensive market thirty years had done. No one who for our industry, if the sources from considers the changes which went on which the funds for their maintenance in British society during the thirty come are cut off; and how are these years that money was constantly besources to be filled up, if the industry coming more and labour less valuable, which creates the funds for their sup- can doubt that they were the mainport is dried up? The home market spring of the changes in the balance is well known to be double all the of political power and the constitution foreign markets in the world put to- of the state which have occurred. It gether; and if the home market is was this constant increase in the value rendered unprofitable, how is the chief of realised capital, and decline in that market for our manufacturers to be of the produce of industry, which went maintained ?

on for so long a time, that occasioned

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