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United States of America, and with an abundance of productions suited to our wants which they are naturally desirous of exchanging for the products of our mines and looms." •
Thus it distinctly appears, both from the Parliamentary returns and the admissions of the most able and well informed advocates for the reciprocity system, that the anticipated and promised extension of our foreign trade, from the adoption of that system, has not taken place; that so far from it, our trade has rapidly and signally declined, during the last fiveand-twenty years, with the old states of Europe, fifteen of which have been spent under the reciprocity system; and, therefore, that we have gratuitously inflicted a severe wound upon our own maritime interests, without having purchased thereby any equivalent advantage, either for our foreign trade or our home manufactures.
Nevertheless, it is certain that our foreign trade and intercourse with all the world has upon the whole increased, and in many quarters most rapidly, during the last twenty years.
Where, then, it may be asked, have the British merchants found a compensation, as they unquestionably must
have done, for the decline of their trade with the old state of Europe: The answer to this is to be found in tlio prodigious simultaneous increase of our colonial trade. It is there that the real strength of Great Britain is to be found. It is there that an antidote has been silently prepared for all the errors of our modern commercial policy; and it is by confounding the growth of our distant colonies, and the immense trade which has sprung up from their influence, with the effects of the Reciprocity System in our intercourse with the European states, that its advocates have been able to conceal from the world the real tendency of their system. The number of ships built for the United Kingdom and its possessions in Europe, is just about the same as it was twenty-five years ago, while that for the trade to the colonies has, during the same period, nearly quadrupled.
An examination of the quarters of the world in which our trade has increased, demonstrates clearly that it is in our intercourse with our own colonies that the compensation for the decline of our trade with Europe itself has been found.
From Mr Porter's Tables it appears that from 1802 to 1835, the trade of
With the British colonies in
With the United States of Ame-
And that with India has increased
It is perfectly clear, therefore, that the reciprocity system has had no tendency to check the serious decay which is going forward in our European trade, while the restrictive system, which is still applied with undiminished force to our colonies, at least in their intercourse with the parent state, has had as little effect in checking the rapid and astonishing srrowth, both of our shipping and foreign trade, with those distant parts of the empire. Nothing but the most obstinate adherence to theory, and the most perverse blindness to facts, can enable any person to resist the conclusion
that it is in our intercourse with our colonies that the real sinews of British strength are to be found; that the reciprocity system is wholly unable to preserve our European trade from decay, while it is utterly ruinous to our shipping interests employed in commerce with these countries; and therefore that our true interest is to be found in cultivating, with the most assiduous care, our colonial dependencies, in our intercourse with whom we employ only our own shipping, and in our commercial intercourse with which we experience the benefit of a trade sharing in the rapid extension and
• Porter, II., p. 101.
unchecked growth of these vigorous rican possessions, whose situation has offshoots of the empire.
now become of such overwhelming Let us now direct the attention of interest from the manifest dangers, our readers to the following impor- from foreign and domestic enemies, tant facts regarding our trade with with which they are threatened: Canada, and our other North Ame.
Comparative view of the British shipping, employed in the trade of each
of the British North American colonies in the year 1836,
And the value of the trade with these important possessions may be judged of by the following
Table, showing the comparative view of the trade of the United Kingdom, with the Canadas and the other British North American Colonies, in the year 1836.
Lastly, the rapid growth of this trade may be judged of by the following Table showing the trade of the United Kingdom with the Canadas alone, from 1827 to 1836.
Thus, while our trade with Prussia, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, to increase which we have sacrificed the navigation laws, and inflicted a grievous wound upon our maritime strength, has either declined, or been altogether stationary for the last two years, that with our Nortli American colonies has tripled during the same period, and now employs no less than 560,000 tons of our shipping; more than a fifth part of the whole British shipping employed in our foreign trade to every part of the world.
And here arises a most important observation, decisive as to the difference upon our maritime strength between the trade carried on under the reciprocity svstcm, and in the most favourable circumstances, with a foreign country, and that maintained with our own colonies.
The trade with the United States of America, it has been seen, takes off about eleven millions of our manufactures, but in doing so employs only 86,000 tons of our shipping, the remaining 266,000 being carried on in American bottoms.
The trade with Canada takes off only L.2,700,000 worth of our manufactures, but in doing so gives employment to no less than 560,000 tons of our shipping, besidos 560,000 tons employed in the course of trade by Canada, itself.
Now, the trade to our North American colonies has tripled within the last ten years. If it goes on at the same rate in the next ten, and draws after it a similar increase of British
tonnage, the exports to those possessions in 1818 will be no less than L.8,100,000, and give employment to upwards of 1,500,000 tons of shippmg; upwards of a half, in all probability, of the whole British shipping employed in our foreign trade at that period—the whole British tonnage at present employed being 2,400,000 tons.
Nothing can more clearly illustrate the vital difference between the importance of the colonial trade and that conducted with an independent foreign state. It is so great, indeed, as to appear almost miraculous, and to demonstrate, beyond the possibility of doubt, that no reliance can be placed on foreign trade with independent states, as a foundation for maritime strength, hut that the empire of the seas is for ever destined to the possessor of the most extensive and powerful colonial dominions.
There is nothing peculiar in the situation of the Canadas which has given rise to this extraordinary proof of the superior efficacy of colonial trade to that of foreign independent states, both in encouraging domestic industry and forming a nursery for naval strength. At the opposite extremity of the globe, in Australia, a progress still more wonderful and gratifying has taken place, sufficient to demonstrate that if ignorance or infatuation does not make us throw away our advantages, Great Britain still possesses the means of maintaining her maritime supremacy and station among the nations of the earth.
Table showing the progress of the British trade and tonnage, with New Holland, from 1820 to 1836.
Thus it appears that while the tonnage employed in the trade with Australia has increased in the last sixteen years from 1,291 to 19,195 tons, or about sixteen-fold, the value of the exports has increased from L. 124,232 to L.835,6:57, or about seven-fold.
If the same proportion should continue for the next ten years, in the year 1848 the tonnage employed in the trade with Australia will be 300,000 tons; and the value of the exports to that colony between five and six millions sterling.
And if it should continue for the next twenty years, the tonnage in 1858 will be, even on the'most moderate computation, 1,500,000 tons, and the value of the exports above twenty millions sterling.
Startling and extravagant as these results will probably appear to almost all our readers, they are no more than a fair application to the future of the experience of the past—the only safe and sound principle on which political, equally with physical reasoning, can be founded; and if they appear, as they really do, chimerical, it is only because the elements of national strength and greatness, involved in the progress of a great colonial empire, greatly exceed any thing which even the imagination of the most ardent speculator can venture to suggest.
And if it be said that, long before such halcyon days can arrive, Canada and Australia will have thrown off their connexion with the mother state, and declared themselves independent, the answer is obvious. By so doing, they will indeed deprive us of that great and extraordinary advantage to our maritime strength which arises from the possession of flourishing colonial
dominions ; but they cannot deprive us of that dependence upon our trade and shipping which is necessarily inherent in all infant and rising states, whether colonial or independent. With such states, even after they have emaneipa ted themselves, the reciprocity system cannot fail to be advautageous to Great Britain, because their interests are necessarily wound up with the growth of agriculture and the rural manufactures; and therefore it neither can be their interest, nor will they possess the power, to attempt to rival the parent state, either in the finer manufactures or in mari time exertion. The United States of America, it has been seen, notwithstanding their great ambition for a naval force, and their having been finmore than half a century independent, are not yet able to compete with Great Britain in the carrying on of their own trade, and accordingly British shipping is continually making greater advances over the American in the conduct of the commercial intercourse between the two countries. The same must be the case, in a still greater degree, with our colonies in North America and Australia, because they are behind America in the career of civilisation, and therefore must be for a longer period dependent upon the mother country both for the supply of their manufactures and the carrying on of their trade.
The details, which have now been given will explain how the reciprocity advocates have for so long a period succeeded in blinding the people of this country to the real tendency of the policy of the commercial system wh ich has been pursued for the last fifteen years. And how it happened that, amidst the constant complaints of the ship-owners, their intorests were declining and almost destroyed, and their property ruined by the operation of that system, the President of the Board of Trade was always able to meet them by Parliamentary Returns, which snowed that the trade and shipping of the empire, taken as a whole, was, notwithstanding, on the increase. It was evidently by confounding together the exports to our colonies with the exports to the reciprocity countries, that the official advocates of the new system were so long able to mystify and delude the world. They constantly told us that our exports were increasing, and our tonnage getting larger every year, but they did not tell us, what was nevertheless the case, that the countries with whom our trade was increasing were our own colonies or distant states, with whom we have no reciprocity treaties, and that the countries with whom it was diminishing were the European nations in our neighbourhood with whom we had concluded reciprocity treaties, and to propitiate whom we have been content to sacrifice three-fourths of our shipping employed in the Baltic trade. It is by separating the great mass of our export trade and foreign tonnage into its component parts, and showing in what quarters it has increased, and in what diminished, that the real tendency of the system which we have been pursuing is brought to light; and it is distinctly made to appear that the reciprocity advocates have succeeded in bolstering up their system solely by concealing its effects upon us in the countries with whom it has been carried into execution, under the cover of the vast increase with those to whom it has not been applied, or who stand in the situation of colonies to the mother country.
And, what is not a little singular, and perhaps unparalleledjn such investigations, the reciprocity advocates have succeeded with a large portion of the public in maintaining the credit of their system, and decrying the value of our colonial trade, solely in consequence of the effect of the great increase of that very colonial trade in concealing the operation of their favourite reciprocity principles.
It is a mistake to say that these results demonstrate that practical experience is at variance with principle in this particular. There is in reality no contradiction between them. Mr
Huskisson's principles were quite well founded in the abstract, and on the supposition that the prices of different commodities were the same in all countries, and that all were to enter the field of commercial regulation with hands unfettered—with hearts unimpassioned—and without any great vested interests already existing which depended on the continuance of the former system of trade. But his grand error consisted in this, that he overlooked the paramount necessity in all countries of attending to the national security and defence in preference to the national wealth. The vast difference in the cost of producing the same article in different countries, and the consequent necessity of protecting by fiscal regulations those branches of industry, if essential to the national independence, which are conducted at a disadvantage—and the absolute necessity of getting some compensation in return for a reciprocity concession, not by a reciprocity in regard to that one article, but in regard to some other article in which the disadvantage lies on the side of the country to whom the concession is made.
Nothing can be clearer than that the national defence and independence is of more importance than the mere growth of any particular branch of trade or manufacture. The considerations already urged on this subject are so obvious and important as to render it perfectly unnecessary to enlarge farther upon it. It is no doubt a very good thing to be rich, but it is also a very good thing to be independent. It is an advantage to have wealth, if we also possess the means of defending it; but if we are destitute of that security it will rather prove a curse, by alluring rival or hostile nations to encroach upon or plunder our possessions. No country in reality is in so dangerous and precarious a state as one which has a vast foreign trade and no adequate means of defence; because its wealth exposes it to violence which it has not the means of resisting.
The two grand articles in the trade of which it is of paramount importance that a maritime state should, at all hazards, maintain its superiority, are grain and shipping. The former is necessary for the subsistence of its people—the latter is an essential element in its national defence and inde