Abbildungen der Seite


[ocr errors]

It is a long time since we en

from what will be the political economy . countered a work which we have of 1949. It by a science be meant a read with greater satisfaction to

collection of truths ascertained by expeourselves, or more honestly

riment, and on which well-informed men recommend to the discriminating

are agreed, then political economy is notice of our readers, than a small

manifestly not a science. volume published by Messrs. Seeley, Now, in the first place, science is called Sophisms of Free Trade, und

not a collection of truths ascertained Popular Political Economy Exa by experiment, and on which wellmined, by a Barrister. The author, informed men are agreed ;' and in whoever he may be, disdains all

the next place, granting that it were, party views,

political economy may still be a The following sheets (he says in his

science, though a science in a state of preface) are not written to aid a party,

progression. Metaphysics was just but to assist, if possible, in reaching the

as much a science in the time of truth on a very complex and difficult Aristotle as in the days of John subject. Protectionists will find no de Locke and Dr. Recd; yet the mefence of a high price of subsistence, and taphysics of Aristotle differed in Free-traders no acquiescence in the re many inportant respects from the commendation of unlimited and indis

metaphysics of Locke, and in some criminate imports. any who profess fundamental and essential laws from the doctrines of modern English Poli.

that of Reed and Dugald Stewart. tical Economy should condescend to cast

Indeed science, whether moral or their eyes on these pages, thoy will, no doubt, dissent from nearly all that is said

physical, so far from being a col

lection of truths in which all men are on free trade, population, pauperism, and currency. But among Political Econo agreed, is but truth evolving itself mists, as well as among their opponents,

from the misapprehensions of men by in England, France, Germany, and Ame slow degrees; truth more or less rica, are to be found those who cherish obscured at various periods in the the true spirit of inquiry. That spirit is world's history, but becoming steadily a simple devotion to THE TRUTH, what brighter as the multiplied expeever it shall turn out to be, and an entire

rience of ages contributes to disindifference to the results of inquiry, so

the mists which have darkened

perse that they be but true. Criticism and

Had our author said that the correction by such is not deprecated: it is respectfully and earnestly invited.

science of political economy has not

yet been brought to such perfection No language can be more modest

as that its principles can with safety or becoming than this. It is due,

be applied to the management of all likewise, to the writer to observe,

the fiscal and commercial affairs of that he seldom, if ever, in the course of his treatise departs from the pledge

nations, we should have agreed with

him. For the abstract principle may which is involved in it. And the

be true as a declaration of holy writ, consequence is, that his reasoning,

while the geographical and political though upon the whole sufficiently

state of a nation stands entirely in logical, so far as the assumed pre

the way of the reduction of this mises enable him to carry us, will

principle to practice. It is in this scarcely satisfy any of his readers in

way, indeed, in their eagerness to all particulars, while in some it car

work out, as they call it, some grand ries no conviction to the minds of

idea or another, that professed political many. Take, for example, the first

economists are continually falling into proposition enunciated, and try it by

practical blunders, and bringing ridia test somewhat different from that

cule on themselves and their science. which the author has applied to it.

Consider, for example, the effect of Political economy, he says, is not a science.

legislating for some one out of a

cluster of civilized nations on the The fallacy lies in using the present

principle of an axiom which stands tense instead of the future. Political

first among the postulates in the economy will be a science. The political

science of which we are speaking, -economy of Munn and Gee, in 1749, was very different from the political economy

Always buy in the cheapest market, of M‘Culloch and Mill in 1849. But it

and sell in the dearest.' Does anyis not more different than the political body deny the abstract worth of this economy of M'Culloch and Mill now is saying? or hesitate to reduce it to


cular spots.

practice in his private dealings? with rivals who save their own Surely not. If I be in want of a subjects by exacting import duties pair of shoes, and know that I can from goods fabricated or produced in purchase in Cheapside for nine shil- foreign lands? lings an article as good in every But, besides this point of view in respect as the shoemaker in St. which the maxim under consideration James's has proposed to make for must be regarded, there is yet another twelve, I will certainly go to Cheap- which, as it bears at least as much side and make my purchase there. upon the general well-being of soAnd if, with a farm equidistant be ciety, cannot be overlooked. With tween Richmond and Croydon, I find it our author deals so ingenuously, that the markets at the latter place he treats his subject so much like a range higher, on an average, than at plain man dealing with matters which the former, I will undoubtedly send all that run may read, that we conmy corn to Croydon, and there dis sider ourselves bound to transcribe pose of it.

But let us not forget his argument in extenso. He conthat in both these cases there is templates the map of the world as if nothing to be thought of beyond the wars and jealousies never had been or convenience and the profit of the could be, and proceeds to deny that, individual. Whether I buy in Cheapside or St. James's, and sell at

Free trade (if universally practised) Richmond or Croydon, I act neither

would cover the earth with industry ; for good nor for ill upon the public

whereas Protection contines it to partirevenue, nor cease to be a customer to

By dint of perpetual repetition, and for those who must like myself contri

want of contradiction, this is an assertion bute to make up the revenue. But very commonly believed. Yet it may it is not so if, selling my corn in Croy well be doubted whether it be not diadon, I be at liberty to provide myself metrically opposed both to reason and with shoes from Paris. If Parisian experience. It would not be difficult to shoes pay no duty on importation, show that the protective policy is not there is an end to the Customs' re only eminently conducive, but absolutely venue on that article of consumption. necessary, to the fair and equable diffusion I get my goods cheaper, but the of industry and wealth throughout the State is by so much the poorer;

earth ; whereas the absence of artificial

regulation tends to concentrate them in unless, indeed, she abandon the

certain favoured spots, and to leave the system of indirect taxation altoge

greater portion of the earth and the mather, and trust entirely to direct

jority of mankind without them. taxation. But direct taxation, when There are some few countries in the carried to its legitimate issue, is the world which enjoy peculiar facilities for sure mother of national poverty. the production of particular commodities; Look at Turkey, where there are, so such as the south of France for wine, to speak, no customs duties. Look Cuba for sugar, some districts of England at India under the Mahomedans,

for coals and iron. But the immeasurably where all the revenue was raised from greater portion of the surface of the hathe rent or land-tax; from monopo

bitable globe consists of countries mo

derately, and but moderately, adapted lies on salt, tobaccn, and betel-nut; and from tolls on inland transit,

for the production even of the necessaries

and comforts of life, of food, clothing, duties on goods carried through the

and lodging. These countries can, in country. Indeed you have but to

every single article that they produce, be consider the inevitable issue of ar

surpassed and undersold by some country rangements which, forcing men who or other. Put the case of such a country have property to pay for those who with moderate facilities for the production have none, operate as an induce of most things, with extraordinary faciment to individual improvidence, lities for the production of nothing. It and bring by degrees all classes

can grow wheat, but not so cheap as down to the same level of poverty.

Poland; it can grow wine, but not so For a revenue the State must have;

cheap as France or Spain; it can manuand what chance in the race after

facture, but not so cheaply as England.

First imagine that country under a sysprosperity can there be for one

tem of protection so strict as to be jealous, state, which, collecting its reve or, if you please, injudicious. It cultinues from the acquired property of vates the land and works up the produce. its subjects, endeavours to compete Its manufactures exchange for its agri

cultural products. Native industry can and will supply it with the necessaries and comforts of life. A numerous population may be employed, fed, clothed, and lodged. Industry and plenty reign. All this may be and is done under great natural disadvantages, both of soil and climate, Human industry triumphs, nevertheless, and can raise, as in the case of Holland, a great and powerful state in a morass. Foreign trade will, in the end, be introduced, supplying luxuries and carrying away superfluities.

Now, imagine that country under a system of free trade, of unrestricted imports. Except in a few favoured spots it cannot grow wheat, for Poland will undersell it in its own market; it cannot manufacture, for in cottons, hardware, woollens, and other products of manufacturing industry, England will undersell it; it cannot grow wine, for France or Spain will undersell it. Neither can it import its corn, its manufactures, or its wine from abroad, for its domestic industry being superseded and smothered, it has nothing to give in exchange. It becomes, then, in this condition,-it can neither make for itself nor buy from abroad. It goes without, or if not entirely without, it is scantily and wretchedly supplied. A starving and ragged population derive a wretched and precarious subsistence from half-cultivated land. It has neither domestic industry nor foreign trade,

Such is the natural condition of ninetenths of the countries in the world. They enjoy moderate facilities for the production of everything necessary for the sustenance of a population ; extra.. ordinary facilities for the production of little or nothing. With a generally diffused system of protection, concentrating the industry of each country on its own soil and indigenous materials, industry flourishes, wealth increases, population multiplies throughout the globe. But without such artificial regulations, population, industry, and wealth have a tendency to concentrate and confine them. selves to certain favoured spots. There, indeed, they flourish ; but over the vast area of the world at large they have a tendency to dwindle and decay. Pro. tection, instead of being, as it has been represented, a blight on universal industry, is a system of universal irrigation, diffusing industry where industry would otherwise never have tlowed, and making even the desert rejoice.

Nor let it be supposed that the commerce of the earth and the mutual interchange of commodities, will eventually suffer. On the contrary, instead of a commerce with wealth at one end and indigence at the other, it will tinally be a

commerce everywhere between opulent and populous nations, emulating and rivalling one another. Each nation, hy regarding its own interests, will promote them, and so the general interest of the whole race will be effectually furthered and secured.

This is to put the question in a very broad light indeed ; but is not the author putting it in too broad a light ? For few Political Economists go so far as to assert, that there bas never been a time in the history of nations when protection to native industry was not necessary. It is necessary to the growth and perfection of the human frame that the child when learning to walk should be held up by his mother or nurse; but who would think of going about in leading-strings after he had attained to man's estate? In like manner, though it may be judicious, under certain circumstances of unfavourable soil and climate, to foster for a time the growth in particular branches of industrial and manufacturing skill, you only cramp the energies of nations if you continue your system of protection after they have arrived at such perfection in the arts as that they can do without it. But to this state England had come long before 1846. And that she is doing well under the system of unshackled commerce is proved by the fact, that her exports for 1849 exceeded in value those of 1848 by 9,000,0001., and were in advance of those of the most favourable of all preceding years by 4,000,0001.

The exports from England are exclusively of manufactured goods, and the above statement, if correct, as we conclude that it is, serves to prove that the manufacturers of England are in a very prosperous condition. But we are not entirely a nation of manufacturers. In point of numbers there is reason to believe, that there are at least three times as many mouths in the United King. doms dependent for their food on the success of agricultural operations as there are mouths in the United Kingdom dependent on the prosperous condition of our looms. And if we add to these the mechanics and traders of various classes in our towns and villages — such as shoemakers, cabinet-makers, tailors, ship-builders,

ship-owners, &c. &c., whom the change are supposed to be open to suspicion, of system must affect for good or for but to the statements of such men as evil-it will be seen that to judge of the Rev. Mr. Huxtable and Mr. our national well-being by the esti Mechi of Tiptree farm, who have mate of our exports exclusively is hitherto advocated the principle of a to form a rash judgment. Neither free trade in corn, and profess to be will it do to trust too much to the esti sanguine as to the ultimate issue of mated value of our imports. Corn, the experiment. What do these which pays no duty, may be imported gentlemen say is the present condition for good up to a certain amount. of the agriculture of England ? and Beyond that amount, if it render under what contingencies do they home-farming difficult or impossible, assume that it will make an adequate its importation becomes a great evil. return for the labour and capital And shoes, household furniture,coats, expended on it? Mr. Huxtable, not and ships, if they come into our concealing that the existing race of markets from abroad, and sell there, English farmers are doomed, gives do so only because they displace so his receipt for cultivating land even much of home produce. Before, at present prices. Mr. Mechi, more therefore, we come to the conclusion modest, admits that present prices that Great Britain thrives in pro

will not do. Let the utmost amount portion to the growth of her export of skill be applied to the manage. trade in cottons and woollens, we ment of land, let it be drained, must be satisfied that the owners, manured, cleared of timber, peneoccupiers, and tillers of the soil, with trated by the subsoil plough--let its the innumerable small shopkeepers fertility be increased to the utmost and tradesmen who depend upon extent of which it is capable, and them, are at least not in a worse con according to the results of his expedition than they were in four or five rience, English farming cannot at the years ago. And that, we take it, is present prices be rendered profitonly to be done by gathering in

able. For no attainable amount of formation at first hand,-- in other produce will enable the English words, from inquiries set on foot by farmer to realize a profit out of his authority in every parish through

wheat at forty shillings a quarter, out the kingdom, and conducted by and forty shillings has been the parties whose position in life serves average price ever since the new law to place thein above suspicion. Why came into full operation. Indeed, should not the clergy of the Esta this gentleman goes further. “I am blished Church be called upon to do not afraid of the times,' said he, the State this service? Why should on a late occasion, to the writer of not every parish in England con

• The present pressure tribute its share to a really good and is temporary. It cannot last. Prices trustworthy statistical account of the must get up again, and when country, wherein the religious opin they reach an average of fortyions, the occupations, and ostensible eight shillings every farmer who means of subsistence at the disposal brings skill, industry, and capiof every individual in each of them tal into his business will thrive.' shall be faithfully set down? We Mr. Mechi, like other authorities recommend some influential member belonging to his school, anticipates on either side of the House to propose that a good deal of the poor land of that this be done, and we think that England will return to pasture. But we can promise him such a valuable acknowledging that the process must body of evidence on many important necessarily glut the labour market points as has never yet been laid at the outset, he gathers comfort before either House of Parliament. from the persuasion that in this case,

Meanwhile, in the absence of better too, the evil will be but transitory. sources of information, we must turn As farming improves there will arise for our estimate of the present state

an increased demand for labour, and and future prospects of agriculture the people thrown out of employ in to the declared opinions of agricul one district need only move into turists themselves,-not, be it ob another in order to find it. served, to the hustings' speeches of Mr. Mechi speaks as one having county members, whose assertions authority, and the time, money, and

this paper.


attention which he has expended on how is he to face the new demands farming operations entitles his opin which this improved system shall ions to be received with great respect. impose upon him ? But observe what it is that he tells In the good old times of Mr. Coke

Not that agriculture is thriving, of Norfolk, our leading agriculturists but that it will thrive; not that the used to affirm that farms could not prices of corn and cattle remunerate be too large. This notion seems now the grower now, but that they will to be given up, and it is asserted, on do so hereafter. When ? When the the contrary, that the present disaverage price of wheat shall ascend tress arises in a great measure out of as high as forty-eight shillings per the undue excess of land in the maquarter, and beasts and sheep keep jority of holdings over the amount pace with it. Now this is exactly of capital embarked in the farming what the Protectionists contend for, business. One of the favourite nosthough they speak their mind in a trums of the day accordingly is, that tone different from his. The Free each tenant shall relinquish a part of trader is not afraid of the times, his occupancy, and devote his entire because he believes that corn will be capital to the cultivation of the half, come dearer; the Protectionist is or the two-thirds, or the residue, afraid of the times, because he feels whatever it may be, that shall remain that present prices do not enable him to him. Probably this notion is a to live, and he sees no prospect of sound one likewise, but to what does their becoming more remunerative. it point ? Will the half-farm when What difference is between them ? worked with the whole capital proNone, except that the one takes a duce twice as much corn, turnips, sanguine, the other a gloomy, view clover, mangle, and stock, as the of the future. Both are alike dis whole farm used to do? If such be satisfied with the present.

the result of the experiment the Mr. Mechi and the free-trade agri farmer is precisely where he was, for culturists in general lay great stress it is not pretended that a double crop on the want of skill heretofore ex can be raised unless the labour and hibited by English farmers. They general outlay on the land be doupoint to the resources of the land, bled also. If the issue disappoint us, and ask, Whether it anywhere pro and the half-farm produce one quarduce the returns which might be ter less than the whole used to do, exacted from it? They denounce our farmer loses to the amount of woods, hedgerows, and commons, one-fourth,--that is to say, he gets insist upon increased drainage, and only thirty shillings where he forrecommend strict economy in saving merly got forty. See the difficulties up much that is now thrown away, and contradictions in which freeand using it as manure. They ad trade agriculturists involve themvocate the erection of warm and selves and others, while describing commodious sheds, and the use of high farming as the sure and only resteam-engines for threshing, winnow

medy for agricultural distress! They ing, and grinding; they have their do not deny that to farm higbly the recipes for feeding horses and cattle, tenant must incur a much heavier for pampering pigs, and turning outlay than under the present routine. sheep to the best account. We How, then, is he to be benefited ? put implicit faith in many of these The country at large may seem to prodoctrines. We are satisfied that it fit from the increased abundance of hedgerows were generally grubbed grain which the soil is made to proon strong soils, wet lands drained, duce. But England is not the only and the construction of farm build country in the world of which the ings more scientifically cared for, the fertility is capable of increase. And land of England might be made to if, as is more than probable, the agrigrow at least one-fourth more of culturists of Poland and America be grain than it now produces. But stimulated by our movement to take even Mr. Mechi does not pretend greater pains in the cultivation of that all this can be done except by a their soil, what will follow except very large expenditure of capital; that our markets must become conand if the farmer be unable to get on tinually more glutted and the prices at his present rate of expenditure, fall ? But present prices do not pay,

« ZurückWeiter »