« PrécédentContinuer »
harbours, may be rendered popular means of uniting them in peace-the with the masses of the people. That force to protect them in war; and the these masses would make the most prosperity and extension of the far strenuous exertions to support the and distant parts of the empire, acting independence of the British flag, if a and reacting upon each other, would war actually broke out, may be con- tend only to augment their mutual sidered as certain ; but will they be and highly beneficial dependence on equally ready to make those efforts each other, and to increase the strength during peace, and when the danger is of the naval force which was to proas yet distant, which are requisite tect alike all parts of the empire. both to insure its success and shorten The British commercial policy, ever its duration ? Experience proves that since the reciprocity system began, they will not; for, though menaced may be characterised in two wordsby maritime dangers of every kind, " Colonial Neglect and European they have, in the last five-and-twenty Propitiation.” As this system has now years, let the royal navy sink down been in operation for sixteen years, one-third of what it was during the ample time has been afforded to dewar, and one-half what it was before monstrate, by experience, its effects, its commencement. The only mode, whether for good or for evil. The therefore, that is apparently prac- following statement of the effect of ticable of bringing up the royal navy this system, which commenced in 1823, to a level at all commensurate either was made by Mr Alison at the Glaswith the strength of the state or the gow dinner above referred to:dangers with which it threatened, Standing as I do in the midst of is by giving the masses some present this great commercial city, second to and personal object of advantage, none, after the metropolis, in the Briwhich is to be gained by the expense tish empire, I need not say that we are requisite for its increase. Now, no people mainly dependent on commerce object would be so generally popular, and maritime strength ; and we have or universally felt to be important, as only to look around us, and contemthat which furnished the means of plate the narrow extent of these islands, gratuitous emigration to a large pro- compared with the vast population alportion of our surplus working popu- ready crowded within their shores, to lation. Every class in the country, feel convinced that any serious and every part of the empire, would at permanent obstruction to our foreign once feel the benefit of such an ar- commerce, or decline in our maritime rangement :—the poor, by the safe power, would not only be attended with and easy means of emigration that the greatest danger to our independwould be afforded them to countries ence, but fraught with a degree of where their condition would at once wide-spread misery, perhaps unparalbecome prosperous; the landholders, lelled even in the long annals of human in the diminution of the number of suffering. But, gentlemen, when we paupers and the burden of poor- minutely examine our maritime and rates, which would be occasioned ; commercial situation, we shall find the manufacturers, in the vast in- many causes for serious alarm, and crease in the colonial market for many reasons for concluding that our their produce which would be opened policy in these respects has hitherto up; the colonies, in the boundless been mainly directed to fruitless or supply of robust and efficient labour- unattainable objects; and that, in ers with which they would be fur- their prosecution, we have overlooked nished. The increase in the popula- or neglected the certain elements of tion, now so much the object of con- strength lying in our own bosom, in cern to the mother country, would the growth of our colonial empire. If cease to be regarded with any dis- we look to our exports and tonnage requietude ; it would be considered only turns, we shall see that our maritime as the harbinger of the increased resources for the last forty years have growth of our colonial possessions, been far from keeping pace with our and an increased vent for our produce commercial growth, and that our exfor our colonial wants. The British ports to the countries whom we have navy would really become the chain made the greatest sacrifices to propi. which holds together the far distant tiate, have been constantly and rapidparts of its immense dominion; the ly declining, while those to our colonies, for whose interests we have that is, nearly tripled. This, gentledone so little, have been as constantly men, is the general result; and unand rapidly inereasing; and that it is questionably it is sufficiently alarmthe growth of the latter which has con- ing to every one who considers how cealed and counterbalanced the decay essential our maritime superiority is of the former. Let us look at our to our foreign commerce; and what total exports, imports, and tonnage in would be the condition of the British the present time, as compared with population if the empire of the seas what they were during the peace of were wrested from it, and the Thames, Amiens. They stood as follows: the Clyde, and the Mersey, were Exports. Imports. Tonnage.
blockaded by hostile fleets ? But the 1802, L.58,309.920 1.29,8:6,2:0 1.2,167,000 particulars of our trade with separate 1038, 105,170,549 61,265,320 2,-90,601
countries are far more instructive, “ Thus, gentlemen, you see, that because they demonstrate, in the while from 1802 to 1838, that is in clearest manner, where it is that the six-and-thirty years, our exports have decay of our trade and shipping is advanced froin 38 to 105, that is about going on, and where the counterpois280 per cent, and our imports from 29 ing sources of strength and revival are to 61, that is about 210 per cent, our to be found. It appears from Mr whole tonnage has only increased from Porter's Parliamentary Tables, that 21 to 28, that is about 33 per cent. since 1823, when the reciprocity sysThis broad and decisive fact is cal tem commenced, our tonnage with the culated to excite the most serious countries with whom the reciprocity alarm in every rational bosom, as treaties were concluded has been de. to the maintenance in future of the creasing in the most alarming manner, maritime superiority of Great Britain. while no increase whatever has taken For who has carried the remainder of place during the same period in the our merchandise abroad, and wasted amount of the goods which they take the remainder of our imports to our off our hands. The British and foreign shores ? Somebody must have done it. shipping employed in the trade with The conclusion is unavoidable that it Prussia, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, was done in great part by foreign since 1820, have stood as follows:states, that is, by vessels and seamen British declined with that may any day be ranged against Prussia from 539 ships to 270 us by our enemies. And, gentlemen,
16 the number of these foreign scamen
15 and vessels now employed in the Bri
66. tish trade, and the rapid encroach. And the foreign ships with Great Briments they are makiug on British ma- tain have increased during the same ritime strength, is decisively proved period in these states as follows:by the Parliamentary Tables collected Prussia with Great Britain with so much care and accuracy by Mr increased from......... ...258 to 903 Porter, at the Board of Trade: for Danish,..........
44 to 624 from them it appears that the relative Norwegian,
.558 to 785 proportions of Foreign and British Swedish,..
71 to 250, shipping employed in conducting our Such, gentlemen, is the working of the trade at these two periods were as fol. reciprocity system with these counlows:
tries; and even in regard to America BRITISH.
our trade stands thus:-
American. 1802,........11,285 1,668,060
Ships. Tons. Ships. Tons. 1838........16,119 2,785,387.
226 86,383 524 226,483.
“ Thus you see,gentlemen, that while Foreign.
our commerce with Northern Europe
is almost entirely passing into the 1802,......... 3472 447,611
hands of foreigners, nearly three838,......... 8679 1,211,066.
fourths of that with America is at this “ Thus, while the British tonnage in moment in the hands of the inhabithe last thirty-six years has advanced tants of that country! It is easy to from sixteen to twenty-seven, the see, that if we had no commercial inforeign employed in conducting our tercourse but with such foreign and trade have advanced from 44 to 121, independent states, we should, by the
very extension of our export of manu- lowing is the general result of the factures, be nursing up a foreign, and change which the tonnage of our possibly hostile, commercial navy, foreign commerce with all parts of the which would ere long wrest from us world has undergone during the last the empire of the seas. It is needless thirty-six years :to go farther into details; for the fol“ The trade of Great Britain with all Europe has declined from 1802 to 1836,
from 65 to 48 per cent. With British Colonies in America increased
18 to 26 With United American States
6 to 9 With India
33 to 5 These facts may be considered as in stipulating, that in consideration of decisive against the reciprocity sys- our admitting some article in which tem, so far as the maritime interests they had advantages over us, on the of the empire are concerned. They same terms as they admitted ours, prove, beyond the possibility of that they should do the same with doubt, after the most ample opportu- some article of our manufacture in nity of trying the system by experi. which we had the advantage, and they ence has been given, that under the had the worst of it by nature. But recipocrity system the British flag we never thought of doing this, but is gradually becoming extinct in the contented ourselves with surrendering trade with Continental Europe; and to them the whole advantages which that, if it is continued for ten or fifteen the navigation laws gave to our shipyears longer, our whole traffic with ping, without ever stipulating even Europe will be carried on in the ves- the smallest corresponding advantage sels of foreign states. Indeed, it is in favour of our cotton, hardware, or evident, from the extraordinarily rapid woollen goods, inwhich we had by nagrowth of foreign shipping in carry
ture the start of them. The consequence ing on the British commerce, that if has been that our own shipping emthe present system continues many ployed in carrying on the trade with years longer, the foreign sailors and these nations has been almost destroy. tonnage employed in carrying on our ed, while no benefit whatever hås commercial intercourse, at least with been gained in our exports to these the States of Europe, will be greater nations by the sacrifice. This decithan our own; that is to say, we sively appears from comparing our shall have nursed up a race of foreign exports to the powers with whom we seamen in our own harbours, and in concluded recipocrity treaties for the conducting our own trade, superior last ten years, during which time, in in number to those of the British consequence of the action of these islands in other words, sharpened, treaties, our shipping with them has and put into the enemy's hands, the been dwindling away to nothing. The dagger which may at any moment following table exhibits the value of pierce us to the heart.
our exports to the Baltic powers, in Real reciprocity with these coun- 1827 and 1828, and 1835 and 1836 :tries would evidently have consisted Countries.
1827. 1828. 1835. 1836. Russia,
£1,408,970 £1,318,936 £1,752,775 £1,742,433 Sweden,
46,731 42,699 105,156 113,308 Norway,
39,129 53,582 79,278 79,469 Denmark,
104,916 111,880 107,979 91,302 Prussia,
174,338 179,145 183,273 160,722. It is needless to go farther into de fallen off under this aspect in a retails, for the following statement by markable degree. The average annual the learned and indefatigable Mr Por- exports to the whole of Europe were ter, of the Board of Trade, on that less in value by nearly 20 per cent in subject is decisive :-" That part of the five years from 1832 to 1836, than
commerce,” says Mr Porter, they were in the five years that follow“ which, being carried on with the riched the close of the war; and it affords and civilized inhabitants of European strong evidence of the unsatisfactory nations, should present the greatest footing upon which our trading regufield for extension, will be seen to have lations with Europe are established,
that the exports to the United States that Russia, now with a population of of America, which, with their popula- sixty millions, takes only £1,700,000 tion of only twelve millions, are re. of our produce. From these facts we moved to a distance from us of 3000 may estimate, with perfect certainty, miles across the Atlantic, have amount- the chance which Great Britain has of ed to more than one-half of the value being able to maintain a lucrative of our shipments to the whole of Eu- commercial intercourse with the old rope, with a population fifteen times as European nations in the same stage of great as that of the United States of civilisation with herself, and influenced America, and with an abundance of by the political hostility and commerproductions suited to our wants, which cial rivalry incident to their political they are naturally desirous of ex- situation. Gentlemen, I have said, changing for the products of our mines however gloomy the prospects of our and looms." *
commercial interests with such states Thus it distinctly appears, that may be, there is not only hope but while we have completely sacrificed, confidence to be derived from another by the reciprocity treaties, our ship- quarter; and if we turn to the Coloping employed in the trade with North- nies we shall at once see whence it is ern Europe, we have derived no coun- that England is now deriving its heart's tervailing advantage whatever in our blood, and from what commercial in. exports to these countries, because tercourse our wealth and greatness in they actually, as a whole, take off, on future times is to be derived. Gentlean average of five years, less of that men, you will be astonished, your produce than they did five-and-twenty hearts will exult, at the magnitude of years ago.
It is evident, that while the returns which I am now to lay bethey have taken advantage of our sim- fore you. In the year 1836 it appears plicity to engross to themselves all the that our carrying trade between their harbours and Great Britain, they have taken Exports to the United States care to give us no corresponding ad.
of America were no less vantage whatever in our commercial
£12,425,605 intercourse with them. In fact, they
British North American have done more—the only return they
2,732,291 have made for our concession in mari.
British West Indies, 3,786,453 time affairs, has been to load our ma
Australian Colonies, 1,180,000 nufactures with additional duties.
4,285,829. Prussia has rewarded us for our ample
66 The articulate returns of the trade concessions to her by the Prusso-Ger- of each country for the years 1837 and manic league. Every year brings a 1838, have not yet been laid before the fresh ukase from the Emperor of Rus- public; but here is surely enough to sia, imposing additional duties on our excite our wonder and astonishment. goods; and even our little puppet, the You see that Canada, with its popularevolutionary Queen of Portugal, has tion that does not yet reach fifteen shown her gratitude for the aid which hundred thousand souls, takes off no put her on the throne, by nearly less than £2,800,000 of our produce, doubling the duties on every species of or nearly twice as much as Russia, British manufacture?
with its population of sixty millions. Mr Alison, after dwelling on these You see that the British West India facts, proceeded as follows to exhibit Islands, with a population of about the very different picture which the forty thousand white, and eight huncolonial trade has presented :
dred thousand black inhabitants, con“Gentlemen, I will not fatigue you sumed in 1836 no less than £3,700,000, with farther details. You see here or considerably more than twice as the astonishing facts that France, with much as France, with its population of its thirty-two millions of inhabitants, thirty-two millions. And what is most takes off only £1,500,000 worth ; that marvellous of all, and comes directly Prussia, with a population of fourteen home to the object of this night's fesmillions, takes off only £160,000 tive assembly, the Australian Colonies, worth; and, most marvellous of all, with a population scarcely at this mo
* Porter's Progress of the Nation, p. 101.
ment amounting to a hundred thou- which any person in America can sand, take off no less than £1,100,000 be clothed; but take it as the average, a-year of produce. Why, gentlemen, and make a deduction for the expenses I venture to predict, that before the above prime cost, you have a sum year 1840 the colonists of New Hol upon the whole population of eight land, reinforced as they will be by our millions, which approaches the value friends around us proceeding to New of our exports to the United States. Zealand, will consume more of British But it is not merely in clothing. Go produce and manufactures, though to any house in the Union, from their they may not number a hundred and large and wealthy cities to the most twenty thousand souls, than the sixty solitary cabin or log-house in the fomillions of the Muscovite empire. rests, you find in every corner the Such is the wonderful difference be- furniture, tools, and ornaments of Staftween the commercial intercourse we fordshire, of Warwickshire, and of the can maintain with our own descend- northern counties of England. The ants
_our own flesh and blood-the wonder ceases when we thus reflect for Anglo-Saxon race whom we have sent a moment, and we plainly perceive that forth to civilize the world--and the it can be no otherwise. The whole poinhabitants of foreign states, subjected pulation of the country is made up of to the authority of hostile govern- customers who require, and who can ments, or swayed by foreign commer. afford to pay, for our goods. This, too, cial jealousy.
is peculiar to that nation, and it is a Lord Brougham, in the debate on peculiarity as happy for them as it is the repeal of the Orders in Council in profitable for us. I know the real or 1812, has explained, with even more affected contempt with which some than his usual felicity, the causes of persons in this country treat this remarkable difference between the kinsmen of the West. 'I fear some commerce opened in our own colonies angry and jealous feelings have surand that which can be maintained with vived our former more intirnate conany other independent state in the nexion with them-feelings engenderold world. “ The extent,” says he, ed by the event of its termination, but • and swift and regular progress of which it would be wiser, as well as the American market for British goods, more manly, to forget. Nay, there is not surprising ; we can easily and are certain romantic spirits who even clearly account for it. In the nature despise the unadorned structure of of things it can be no otherwise, and their massive democratic society. But the reason lies on the very surface of to me I freely acknowledge, the sight the fact. America is an immense of one part of it brings feelings of agricultural country, where land is envý as an Englishman : I mean the plentiful and cheap ; men and labour, happy distinction that, over the whole though quickly increasing, yet still extent of that boundless continent, scarce and dear, compared with the from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, boundless regions which they occupy and from the Mississippi to the Atlanand cultivate. In such a country ma- tic Ocean, there is not one pauper to nufactures do not naturally thrive ; be found. Such are the customers every exertion, if matters be left to whom America presents to us.
The themselves, goes into other channels. rapid increase of their culture and pon This people is connected with England pulation, too, doubling in twenty-five with origin, language, manners, and or thirty years, must necessarily auginstitutions ; their tastes go along with ;
ment this demand for our goods in the their convenience, and they come to same proportion. Circumstanced as us as a matter of course for the articles the two countries are, I use no figure which they do not make themselves. of speech, but speak the simple fact Only take one fact as an example: when I say, that not an axe falls in the the negroes in the southern states are woods of America which does not put clothed in English-made goods, and it in motion some shuttle, or hammer, takes 40s. a-year thus to supply one of or wheel in England.' these unfortunate persons. This will Such is the astonishing effect of the be admitted to be the lowest sum for causes thus eloquently described by
* Parliamentary Debates, xxiii. 515.