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the case of trade depressions under protection. It is, on this account, that in social and commercial phenomena, because we become accustomed to the slow accumulation of effects, we are inclined to think that nothing is wrong. For the reason that there is no obvious sign.
It is the prevention of this further accumulation of these adverse effects which leads all those who have the true interests of the whole nation at heart to display their real causes and urge their counteraction.
Table showing how balance of population between town and country has not been preserved by free trade, from W. W. Good, 'Economical Fallacies' (1866), pp. 377, 378. The figures for 1871 are from
"Exclude from Berkshire, Reading; from Essex, Colchester, Brentwood, Stratford, West and East Ham; from Lincolnshire, Lincoln, Stamford, and Boston; and Norwich, which increased 15,000 (18541864), from Norfolk ;—and the result does not exceed an increase of three per cent, if there is any at all."
PARTIAL FREE TRADE AND THE PRODUCTIVE SOURCES OF THE
NATION THE SUPPOSED CONFLICT BETWEEN MANUFACTURE
AND AGRICULTURE HAS BEEN TURNED INTO A STRUGGLE
"With downcast eyes the joyless victor sate,
The Relation Between The Prices Of Corn And Meat Under Protection Destroyed By Free Trade—Free Trade Pulled Down One Monopoly To Build Another—The Final Problem To Be Considered Is, "Does Free Trade Conduce To Our SelfInterest From (1) The Material, (2) Political Aspects?"— Answered Differently By Nations, According To The Nature Of Their Surroundings—The Tendency Of Partial Free Trade To Reduce Wages Of Unskilled Labour—The Doctrine That Being Able To Employ Foreign Labour Is Significant Of Our "Prosperity," Applicable To "Luxuries" Only, And Not To "Necessaries Of Life "—Comparison Of William Huskisson And Richard Cobden's Conduct Respecting Relation Between "Cheapness And Demand For Labour" — What Protection Really Did—The Arguments Of Free-traders Derived From "depression Under Protection," And "prosperity Under Free Trade "—They Do Not Properly Consider "Prosperity Under Protection," And "decline Under Free Trade."
§ 30. So far as our internal trade is concerned, free trade has only exchanged one monopoly for another. —By making food cheaper at the expense of the productive powers of the country, the free-traders disturbed that relationship between production and consumption which had existed under the old system of protection. The protective system determined that the sources of production should be nourished. But the free-traders said," No; let production take care of itself; all our endeavours shall be concentrated on the single object of making commodities as cheap as possible to the consumer."1
There can be no doubt the free-traders anticipated that by cheapening bread the manufacturing interest would be aggrandised, and with it the major part of the labouring interest of the community. This was the free-trade intention. But whether it was to be effective or not, depended upon the precarious attitude of foreign manufacturing markets to our own. Our present object is to prove that events have not fallen out in accordance with free-trade expectations. We no longer possess a manufacturing supremacy abroad, and even our own markets are invaded by the foreigner. The possibility of this latter event, however disastrous from the protectionist's point of view, was smiled at, and even encouraged by the free-trader, who staked the prosperity of the whole nation on the single chance of manufacture increasing and maintaining her hold upon the markets of the world.1 Under these conditions, observe the effect of cheap bread upon all classes of the community. All those who were possessed of capital would be distinct gainers by the reduction in the price of bread. But it must be remarked that, though bread constantly declined, other articles of agricultural produce would tend constantly to rise in price. Even under protection, this concomitant variation took place, according to the common saying of the times, "Down corn, down horn;" "Up corn, up horn." And thus, what was but a temporary fluctuation under protection, would certainly become a permanent one under free trade. Bread would go down in price, but eggs, meat, cheese, and milk would tend to increase. The relation would now be, "Down corn, up horn;" for the farmer would be compelled, in self-interest, to induce this alteration, in order to be able to keep his income near the level it stood at when corn was dear. But even what rise took place in these commodities would not compensate the farmer for his losses over wheat; for foreign competition in these as well would constantly tend to keep prices low. On the whole, therefore, the consumer would gain, if all protective duties were abolished.
1 This is the logical conclusion of the doctrine promulgated by CoMen that foreign markets regulate the prices of the home markets. Give the foreigner, said he, the opportunity of supplying our markets and then you introduce a tendency to prevent prices from reaching an exorbitant height. In other words, you " protect" the consumer. But suppose the volume of foreign produce should increase to formidable proportions, then what is to save the productive sources of our country? Now it was the Corn Law, in the instance of agriculture, that was framed with this object in view.
1 This was the contention of the.proteetionists: that the free-traders sacrificed agriculture in order to further the interests of manufacture. In 1837, we know, for Cobden tells us so, that the manufacturers were then of the opinion that free trade would destroy agriculture. Cf. also Sir Robert Peel, Feb. 19, 1839: "And to how it is the interest of all classes, and the interest of the manufacturing classes especially, not to persevere in the fallacious notion of interfering with agricultural prosperity to their own benefit."
Free trade was intended to destroy monopoly by annihilating, as it was the free-trade intention, the greatest of all monopolies—the monopoly of the landed interest. It was thought the tendencies towards inferior sorts of monopolies would decline with it. But the event has fallen out contrary to free-trade anticipation. There remained the ability to pay a certain proportion of one's income for the necessaries of life. As other articles got cheaper, it was foreseen that butcher's-meat might, by a gradual increase in price, admit of considerable improvement. Let but the increase in price be effected imperceptibly, and people will be as little alarmed by it as they are by the slow displacement of the labour of the nation. But such could not take place unless all competition between the master-butchers ceased. It was made to do so by common consent. Thus their trade became a monopoly, and, consequently, the price of butcher's-meat has reached a monopoly price.
Free trade destroyed the farmer's interests, and directly the labouring interest, both of town and country, by making corn cheap. It destroyed one monopoly in corn, which was beneficial to the public, but it raised up another monopoly in butcher's-meat, adverse to the interests of the community at large. Nor do the profits of this monopoly go into the pockets of the farmer and landlord. It remained for an organisation to take advantage of the opportunity afforded by a general disturbance in the course of our domestic affairs, and batten upon the labour of the working classes. Now this is exactly what Cobden