« ПредишнаНапред »
pendence. It is in vain to say that a free trade can ever, consistently with the national security, be maintained in either of these articles. If we are dependent on foreign supplies for grain, we cannot maintain even the shadow of independence; because foreign nations can at any moment, by simply closing their harbours, reduce our people to desperation, and our Government to submission. If we have not a powerful navy, we are equally liable to be subverted by having our harbours blockaded, and our foreign manufactures converted into a source of the most ruinous weakness, by being suddenly doprived of all vent for their industry. A great commercial state, therefore, that would maintain its independence, must, at all hazards, and even, if necessary, at the sacrifice of part of its wealth, preserve itself from fulling into a state of dependence upon either foreign grain or foreign shipping. If it does not do so it is liable to have all its wealth at any moment wrested from it by tho mere stoppage of the foreign supplies, or vent for produce on which it depended, and tho resources on which it mainly relied for the subsistence of its people turned into the certain instrument of its subjugation. In considering the application of the reciprocity system also, it seems to be equally material to keep in view the essential distinction between the price at which different commodities can be reared in different countries, and not to run away with the idea that we have got a real reciprocity for our people, or entered into a commercial treaty on equal terms with our neighbours, merely because we have agreed to admit some particular artiebs of manufacture on the samo terms with them. Every thing depends upon the relative price at which that article can be reared in the two countries. If the article can be reared cheaper abroad than at home, it is a perfect delusion to say, that we have entered into a fair reciprocity treaty, because we admit that article on the same terms with them. Real reciprocity consists not in admitting tho same article into our ports on the same terms on which our neighbours receive ours, but in obtaining admittance for a corresponding article on our side in which we have a corresponding adYantago oyer them. Unless this is
done, reciprocity is a perfect mockery, becauso it is all on our side. For example, France produces abundance of wine in admirable quality, and England produces iron and cotton goods in similar quantity and quality. Real reciprocity would consist in a commercial treaty, whereby, in consideration of the wines of France being admitted into England at a low duty, tho iron and cotton goods of England should bo admitted at a low duty into France. There would be no reciprocity in France saying to England, we will admit your wines on the samo terms oh which you admit ours; or in England saying to Franco, we will admit your cotton goods on the samo terms on which you admit ours. The simple answer to such a proposal would be, that the cotton manufactures of France would be ruined by the superior capital and skill of those of England, and that tho sour wines of England would be immediately extinguished by the claret and Champagne of France. In like manner, there would be no reciprocity in Poland or Prussia proclaiming a free trade in corn, or an interchange of equal duties with England; because that is an article in which we never can compete with them, from the weight of the national debt and the higher price of labour in this country ; or in England proclaiming a free trade in cotton goods with Prussia, because that is an article in which they never can compete witli us, from our extraordinary manufacturing advantages. But there would bo a very real reciprocity in a treaty of this description:—We will take your grain at a moderate duty, provided you take our cottons at as moderate a duty. In support of such a treaty, we might say with justice— "Nature has given you the power of raising grain at two-thirds of the price at which we can do it, in consequence of the superior cheapness of your labour and abundance of your harvests, and she has given us the means of producing cotton goods and cutlery at two-thirds of the price that you can, in consequence or the superior richness of our coal mines and excellence of our machinery. Let us then conclude a commercial treaty founded on a just appreciation of our relative situations. Do you consent to encourage our manufactures, and we will consent to encourago your farmers; and let us mutually admit the goods in which nature has given a superiority to the one and the other, on the same terms." Such a proposal might be dangerous to national independence or to the home trade, by depressing our agricultural interest, but it would at least be a fair reciprocity, and unobjectionable on the footing of commercial dealing. But it would obviously be a perfect mockery at equality for England to say to Prussia, "We are dealing with you on the footing of reciprocity, because we admit your cotton goods on the same terms on which you admit ours ;" or for Poland to say to England, " We are dealing with Great Britain on the footing of reciprocity, because we admit English grain into our harbours on the same terms on which they admit Polish." It is quite evident that in both these cases the oountry admitting and acting on such false principles would gratuitously inflict a serious evil upon itself, without any equivalent whatever, and that, running away with the name of reciprocity without tho reality, it would in a very short time, without any return whatever, consign a valuable portion of its industry to destruction.
Now this is just what we have done by deluding ourselves with tho name of reciprocity without the reality in our maritime intercourse with foreign powers. Every one knows that the Baltic powere can carry on ship-building far cheaper than England, for this plain reason, that the materials of ships—timber, cordage, hemp and tar— are produced by nature on the shores of the Balticin countries where labour is not half so dear as in the British isles. On the other hand, cotton goods and iron of all sorts can be manufactured far cheaper in Great Britain than either in France or the Baltic states, in consequence of the accumulation of capital and great skill in machinery in this country, and the incalculable advantage of our coal mines. Beat reciprocity, then, would have consisted in a treaty, whereby, in consideration of our admitting their shipping into »«r harbours on as favourable terms as they admitted ours into theirs, they consented to receive our cotton goods into their ports on the same terms as we received their cotton fabries into
ours. No person can doubt that although such a system might have been hurtful to our maritime interests, and dangerous to our national superiority, yet it would, with reference merely to national wealth, be a fair reciprocity treaty, and would in the end communicate upon the whole an equal and reciprocal benefit to the staple and natural branches of industry of both countries. But, instead of this, what have we done under the reciprocity system? We contented ourselves with issuing a proclamation, in which we said that we would admit Prussian, Danish, and Swedish shipping into our harbours on the same terms on which they received ours. We never thought of making a stipulation in return for the boon thus conferred on their shipping, in which they had the natural advantage over us, that they should concede to us a similar boon for iron and cotton goods, where we had a natural advantage over them. That would have been real reciprocity, but we contented ourselves with nominal reciprocity, which was on our own side only. The consequence has been, that the Baltic shipowners gained tho incalculable advantage of obtaining a competition on equal terms with the British shipping interest in the carrying on the intercourse between the Baltic shores and the British harbours, and sweeping off to themselves three-fourths of that valuable traffic, while the British manufacturers were not enabled in return to sell one pound worth more of their articles in the Baltic ports than before.
But this is not all. Not content with giving us no commercial advantage whatever, in return for this huge boon to their shipping interest, the continental nations have done just the reverse; and Pnissia, in particular, to propitiate whom the navigation laws— that is, the nursery for our seamen— were sacrificed, has, in return, organized the celebrated Prussian commercial league, by which more than the half of Germany has been arrayed in decided hostility to our manufacturing industry. We have repeatedly, in this Miscellany, drawn the attention of our readers to the importance of the subject of this Prussian commercial league; * and it is sufficient to observe at present, that, by this celebrated confederacy, the German states, containing twenty-six millions of inhabitants, have been combined in a league, founded on the principle of commercial hostility to England, and that the duties imposed throughout the whole extent of the league, on all goods of British manufacture, are so heavy, being practically from forty to lit'ty per cent on the prime cost, that they in reality amount to a total prohibition. In like manner, we have made similar concessions to Portugal and Belginm, but met with nothing in return but increased duties on goods of British manufacture, in so much that the exports to Portugal, which, in 1827, were L. 1,400,000, fell, till, in 1836, they averaged L. 1,085,000; and those to Belginm, which in the same year amounted to above a million, had fallen, in 1836, to L.839,276. While, on the other hand, the trade with Holland, which, in 1827, even including that with Belginm, with whom we have no reciprocity treaty, was only L.2,104,000, had risen, in 1836, with Holland aloue to L.2,509,000. * Iu short, to whatever side we turn in Continental Europe, it will be found that our concessions by reciprocity treaties, which have so deeply affected our maritime interests, have been met by nothing in return from the continental nations, but increased duties or restrictive prohibitions, and that we have maintained or encouraged our trade almost exclusively with those nations with whom we have made no such arrangements.
The principle on which this increased hostility to British manufactures has every where followed all attempts on our part to establish a more enlarged trade is founded, is very obvious. Foreign nations think, and perhaps with reason, that we have in the old age of our national existence adopted the liberal or reciprocity system, because wo thought that we had established such a superiority over other nations by the extent of our capital, and the skill of our manufactures, that we could now without risk throw down the fences of our prohibition, and proclaim an equal trade with all nations. They argue in this manner against our reciprocity advocates :—" It is very well for you
who have arrived at the summit of manufacturing greatness to commence the throwing down of prohibitions, and proclaim the liberal principle of the freedom of trade. When we have arrived at a similar elevation, and can adopt the change with as much safety, we will with pleasure follow your example. In the mean-time, you must allow us to imitate the restrictive system under which, during 170 years, your manufactures were elevated to greatness. When our capital ^is as large—our coal-mines as extensive—our skill in machinery and manufactures as great as yours—we will he very happy to meet you on terms of equality and a reciprocal trade. Till that period arrives it would be utter madness in us to admit your manufactured goods on the like terms on which you admit ours. The very fact of your now proclaiming the reciprocity system is the most decisive evidence of the immense benefit which you have so long reaped from the restrictive. We are very happy you admit our ships on the same terms as we admit yours, but the fact of your having been driven to such a concession only shows the more clearly how expedient it is that we should follow out, with additional rigour, that prohibitory policy from which you appear to be now willing to recede. Sparta could with safety dispense with walls round its capital city, but wo to the state of Peloponnesus, which, because the Spartan youtli were adequate to the defence of their country, should deem the security of walls or ramparts unnecessary for the maintenance of its national independence."
We do not say that this reasoning is well founded, nor do we assert the reverse; we mention it as a fact merely, that this is the reasoning which foreign nations employ, and on which their Governments act, and that, in the present state of the world, it is perfectly chimerical to suppose that our reciprocity concessions will ever be met by any other return, or ever in consequence be any thing else but a gratuitous and uncompensated injury to the most important branches of our national industry.
The reciprocity advocates, however, are not without an answer even to this powerful argument, founded on the absence of any return whatever for our maritime concessions in the commercial policy of any other state. They say, although it may bo desirable, if possible, to effect diplomatic arrangements, whereby the favourable admission of our manufactures might be secured in return for the favourable concessions made on our side to foreign shipping; yet, whether this advantage is gained or not, a substantial benefit accrues to British industry, by the increased importation of goods from foreign countries. The great thing, they contend, is, to increase our importations. If that can be effected, the growth of our exports must be corresponding; and the vivifying effect to British industry must be felt from one quarter or another. We do not, it is said, get the foreign goods we import for nothing. We must pay for them, cither in our own manufactures, or in money, and in either case the benefit is the same, although in the latter it is more circuitous to our domestic industry; for the money which buys foreign goods can bo acquired only by us by the salo of our own produce.
• Porter, II., 104.
We admit that this argument is plausible, and seemingly satisfactory, but, upon a closer examination, its fallacy is very apparent. It is quite true that we must purchase the money with which we pay for our foreign imports, by the disposal, some way, of our British manufactures; but it is not the less true, that if a real reciprocity system was entered into with the European states; that is to saj', if we compelled them, in return for the advantages we held out to their shipping and industry, to give corresponding advantages to our branches of industry, in which they stand at a disadvantage to us, the export of our manufactures, and the consequent encouragement to our industry would be far greater than it now is; for this plain reason, that we would ship our exports, and the produce of our industry, not only to the countries from which we buy our money, but to the countries also from whom we purchase our imports. For example, if at present we send 5,000,000 of our manufactures to South America, with which we purchase dollars to a similar amount, and then send these dollars
voL. XLIV. NO. CCLXXV.
to France, Prussia, and the other reciprocity countries with a view to purchase their industry, we gain in return for tho purchase of 10,000,000 worth of their produce ; that is, of 3,000,000 worth of dollars from South America, and 5,000,000 worth of produce from Europe, only five millions worth of our oirn manufactures off our ham Is; whereas, if we had stipulated for similar advantages to our cotton goods, in return for the advantages conferred by us upon foreign shipping, we would have been enabled to sell ten millions worth of our manufactures, viz. 5,000,000 to South America, in exchange for the bullion, and 5,000,000 worth to Prussia and the other reciprocity countries, in exchange for their goods. The difference, therefore, in this case would be nothing short of 5,000,000 lost to our manufactures in the foreign markets. In the one case, we would engage in a real interchange of commodities, both with South America and Europe; in the other, the intercourse is real only with South America; and in the intercourse with Europe we are nothing more than carriers, who effect a commercial intercourse, not with themselves, but with the South American and the German states.
This argument appears to us perfectly decisive. It is quite evident that, to justify commercial arrangements with any particular country, we must be able to show that under those arrangements, standing by themselves, a reciprocal benefit flows to the inhabitants of both. It is no answer to the objection, that these advantages, so far as domestic industry is concerned, are wholly on one side, to say that, with the other countries, at the same time commercial intercourse is carried on in which real reciprocal advantages are obtained, and that we carry the goods of the one foreign country to the other. There is, no doubt, some return for such a transaction, because the carrying trade is attended with certain advantages; but there is not nearly so great an advantage as there would be, if our own goods wero^ exported to both countries, and we gained in the intercourse with both, not only the profit of carriers, but also that of producers. If I ask Lord John to dinner, and he asks me in return, there is a real reciprocity of acts of hospitality; but if 1 ask him, and he never v
asks me in return, it is quite illusory to say that I gain an equal advantage, because I frequently cline with Mr Thomas, as well as he with me. The answer is obvious. It is, no doubt, an advantage to have the honour of his lordship's company at dinner at your own house, and to dine as often with Mr Thomas as he dines with you; but it would be much better, if you could so arrange matters, that, in addition to your equal social intercourse with MrThomas, you had the benefit, at the same time, of as many dinners from Lord John as you give to him. And this is precisely the state of the case with the reciprocity system.
Although, however, we think it perfectly clear that the reciprocity system has had the most pernicious effects upon our maritime interests, and that experience has now demonstrated that in its leading principle of giving gratuitous concessions to the shipping interests of the European states, without stipulating for any corresponding advantages to our com. mercial industry, it is proved to have been founded upon entirely erroneous principles, yet we neither assert that Mr Huskisson's principles were entirely erroneous, noradvocateareturn, even in the particulars in which we had gone astray, to the whole extent of the restrictive system.
There were two points on which Mr Huskissons principles were clearly well founded. The first was that of lowering or taking off altogether the duties on foreign raw produce, such as silk, on which important British manufacture was to bo exerted. The second was that of opening up a free commercial intercourse between our colonies and the commercial colonies of other states, reserving only the home trade to the mother country to its own shipping. The first of these was essential to the growth of our domestic manufactures on those articles of foreign produce which we could not raioe for ourselves ; and the second was equally indispensable to promote the growth of our colonies in the distant parts of our empire with which not only our national wealth, but existence, is inseparably wound up. The real error in Mr Huskisson's principles, and which has been attended with such disastrous effect, was the
departure from our navigation laws, and, above all, the deceitful principle of admitting foreign shipping into our harbours for the same duties as they admit ours, without stipulating for a corresponding advantage to some of the staple articles of our industry in return.
Nothing seems clearer than that it would be perfectly reasonable and just that we should now say to the reciprocity countries withjwhom we have concluded reciprocity treaties—
'• Fifteen yuaJKo we made great concessions in yoMBavour on foreign shipping, which hlw had the effect of quadrupling your tonnage in the British trade, and reducing our own to nearly a fourth-part of its amount before that period. We did so in the firm belief that our concession in an article so indispensable to our national security as our shipping interest would be immediately followed by a corresponding concession on your part to some of the staple branches of our industry. Have you made any similar concession to us in return for this great advantage? On the contrary, you have gone on loading our manufactures with additional burdens to protect your own, until at length you have reduced our exports to your states to a perfect trifle. We cannot submit any longer to such a state of matters. Let us understand each other. We must have either commercial war, or commercial peace. You have no right to reproach us for the corn laws any more than we have right to reproach you for your standing army. The ouo is as indispensable to our national independence as the other is to yours. We insist, then, upon a real reciprocal advantage in return for our repeal of the navigation laws. Select the article of our staple manufactures which you are willing to admit into your ports upon favourable terms, in return for the concession we have granted to your
shipping. If you do not, we will reenact the navigation laws, and you will soon find that your shipping will dwindle away to a half of its present amount. We are quite willing to have either war or peace, but not such a mongrel system as gives you all the advantages of peace, and throws upon us all the evils of war."