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"plenty,” the great end of the free-traders, was achieved, and is yet being attained, through means diametrically opposed to those portrayed by Cobden. Did he not honestly declare that the stimulation of a foreign competition in corn would compel British farmers to expend more capital on the soil, and employ more labour, in order that they might produce at least one-fourth more than they grew under the system of protection ?i Did he not assert that, rather than fear the result of being swamped with foreign corn, we should become a cornexporting country under free trade ? ?

Free trade will undoubtedly attract an abundance of food to this country, if only there is the demand for it, and such a demand continued during our manufacturing prosperity. But it will be said there is ever a demand for food. Not, however, in the economical sense. The free-trade economist's notion of demand is something more than a mere desire. There must be existing, with this desire, the ability to pay for what you want. Obviously, therefore, if the labouring classes are to continue demanding food from the western hemisphere, and to enjoy an abundance of it, they must possess the means of acquiring it. That is, they must be efficiently employed. What are the facts ? Do you admit that, from a comparison of the export with the import trade, the labour of this country suffers a very serious loss ? and one, too, which there is proper ground for assuming, is increasing. If that is the fact, and it is not in the mere statement of the precise amount, however important in many respects, that you will be able to adduce sufficient grounds for advocating what must always be on such occasions a partial policy-you must inquire into tendencies; you must ascertain whether any of these are in active operation at the present; whether these checks which previously impeded them from coming into action are in process of being removed. Such being the fact, it is clear that the wages-fund of the United Kingdom must be decreased. And if decreased, it is not an improbable inference that the ability of the labouring community to pay their way is diminished.

i Cobden's Speeches, p. 51.

2 Ibid., p. 115: "We should be a corn-exporting country if we grew as much as we may.”

Is there anything to support this conclusion? Let us make a reference to the imports of corn during the last few years, and you will perceive that, though these imports have been increasing, as our fields have been turned out of cultivation by adverse competition, yet that they have not been increasing sufficiently enough, not even for the supposed necessaries of the existing labouring class, much less, then, for that increment which is constantly enlarging their numbers. Take the figures of last year, and you will at once perceive that there is a deficiency in the normal amount of wheatto be consumed on free-trade principles in the country at the average of 5.65 bushels per head of the population-of just two millions of quarters.

And we may here point out to the free-trader the important distinction to be made between giving the labouring masses facilities for procuring abundance, and interfering with the very means which are to procure such abundance. In other words, to indicate the erroneous and dangerous course which was pursued when “ cheapness and plenty ” were sought without reference to demand for labour. It was not the first occasion when cheap provisions, the importance of which was recognised by Huskisson, became the care of the legislator. That distinguished statesman spent the whole of his official life in the endeavour to secure steady prices to the consumer. He set aside all schemes which, however much they might cheapen food, tended to encroach upon demand for labour. Cheapness, he asseverated, was a very good thing when associated with demand; but “cheapness without demand was a sign of distress.” He foresaw the influence which cheapness in itself, without being related to production, would have upon demand. Contrary to the free-trade policy, Huskisson conserved the sphere of demand. “You must not,” he said, “injure demand by cheapening food.” Cobden said, “ Make bread cheap, and let demand take care of itself.”

1 Letter of Sir J. B. Lawes to 'Standard,' October 1887.

But what can be more absurd than to accuse the free-trader of independence? Was it not to unfetter industries—to allow of labour pursuing its “natural” channels—to improve to the very utmost the surrounding conditions of the labouring man,—that Richard Cobden laboured, and, so far as regards one generation, with the exception of the agricultural labourer, not in vain ?

It was to remove abnormal interferences, as he thought, and as he termed “unnatural,” because (as protectionists conceive, duly) restrictive, not to create them afresh, that the principle of free trade was put into operation. Is it just, then, to accuse the free-trade

principle of creating interferences ? Let the following facts be contemplated, and then you will perceive whether there is justice in the charge. When the cry of distress was raised during protection — and even when the markets were depressed – the export trade steadily and constantly increased. But during freetrade distress, our exports remain stationary. They are standing still, while the population of the country is constantly being increased. Was ever such a phenomenon known under the protective period? We challenge the free-trade theorists to adduce, out of Sir Robert Peel's experience, any single instance of it. We do so fearlessly, because we know that such an occasion cannot be brought forward. And we submit this relation of distress, with decreasing exports, to the consideration of those who, rather than argue from mere facts in the field of economy-a treacherous practice-endeavour to discover the workings of a principle of which these facts or figures are but the indications of its existence.

When this association of actual free-trade distress (in contradistinction to so-called free-trade prosperity) with decreasing exports — absolute,l when compared with the export trade under protection, which shows an increase proportioned to the increasing population; neous and dangerous course which was pursued when “cheapness and plenty” were sought without reference to demand for labour. It was not the first occasion when cheap provisions, the importance of which was recognised by Huskisson, became the care of the legislator. That distinguished statesman spent the whole of his official life in the endeavour to secure steady prices to the consumer. He set aside all schemes which, however much they might cheapen food, tended to encroach upon demand for labour. Cheapness, he asseverated, was a very good thing when associated with demand; but “cheapness without demand was a sign of distress." He foresaw the influence which cheapness in itself, without being related to production, would have upon demand. Contrary to the free-trade policy, Huskisson conserved the sphere of demand. “You must not,” he said, “injure demand by cheapening food.” Cobden said, “ Make bread cheap, and let demand take care of itself.”

1 Under protection exports increased steadily, and kept pace with increasing population-vide figure in 'Free Trade,' p. 19. Imports were more than balanced by exports. Under free trade : exports, 1850, £153,000,000; 1866, £239,000,000; 1872, £314,000,000 ; 1885, £271,000,000. Since 1875 there has been no steady increase to meet requirements of additional population. Care must be taken not to confound increased value under free trade with a proportionate increase of bulk. Bulk and price both rise, but the latter in greater intensity.

But what can be more absurd than to accuse the free-trader of independence? Was it not to unfetter industries—to allow of labour pursuing its “natural” channels—to improve to the very utmost the surrounding conditions of the labouring man,—that Richard Cobden laboured, and, so far as regards one generation, with the exception of the agricultural labourer, not in vain ?

It was to remove abnormal interferences, as he thought, and as he termed “unnatural,” because (as protectionists conceive, duly) restrictive, not to create them afresh, that the principle of free trade was put into operation. Is it just, then, to accuse the free-trade

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