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and 1851 respectively, (so far as the accounts are made up.) will show how increasingly those necessaries and comforts of life have been brought within the means of the working classes, among whom, for the reason already explained in regard to sugar, Dearly the whole of the additional quantities have been used:
1550. Bacon and hams....
350.675 Beef and pork...
7,087 315,977 Butter
180,282 319,854 344,186 Cheese.
178,959 339,314 $36,166 Rice...
244,266 401,018 396,170 Tea.
lbs. 37,355,911 51,178,215 53,965,119 Tobacco.
22,013.146 27.387,960 28,062,978 Pepper
2.679,848 3,317,883 3.303,40 Coffee
28,519,646 31,226,840 32,564,164 Scarcely of less importance, as showing what has been the progress and con. dition of the industrious classes, are the quantities of raw materials which have passed through the hands of our manufacturers, providing wages and conse quently the means of comfortable subsistence to the people:1912. 1950. I
1542 130. Cotton.. ... .lbs. 486,498,778 562,2:5,920 Silk, raw...... lbs. 3,856,867 4,885,107 Flax .....cwts. 1,130,312 1,821,578, Silk, thrown...... 363,524 394,336 Hemp ..
593,392 1,048,635 Silk, waste. .cwts. 12,716 15,484 Hides..... 523,728 591,920 Wool, &c......Ibs. 44,022,141 59,938,104
The quantities and value of some of the principal British manufactures, which have been exported in the same years, were
1851. Coals ...... ...... tons 1,866,211 3,347,607 3,477,060 Cotton goods
.yards 918,640,205 1,358,238,837 1,637,904,162 Cotton yarn. . lbs, 140,321,176 131,433,168
143,958,501 Hardware and Cutlery
343,664 Iron and steel...
920,749 Lipen goods..
84,172,585 122,397,457 128,780,369
VALUE. Coals .....
£690,424 £1,280,341 £1,302,095 Cotton goods
15,168,464 20,528,150 Cotton yarn.. ::
7,193,971 6,380,948 Hardware and Cutlery.
1,745,519 2,639,728 Iron and steel....
2,590,833 5,346,795 Linen goods.
2,615,566 3,594,944 Machinery
713,474 1,043,764 Silk goods
667,952 1,050,645 Woolen goods..
6,480,762 5,383,062 Woolen goods.
1,047,721 2,876,848 The total value of the results of British industry exported in each year from 1842 to 1850 has been as follows: 1842...... £47,381,023 | 1845...... £60,1!1,081 | 1848 .....
52,278,449 1846...... 57,786,875 1849 1844...... 58,584,292 | 1847...... 58,842,377 | 1850
Showing an increase of 50 per cent in nine years.
22,040,489 6,631,796 2,826,139 6,830,169 3,827,448 1,164,938 1,134,981 6,246,198 2,894,202
tion of the easy classes, we shall find that the remaining three-fourths have been able to buy and to use 23 lbs. per head during the year.
There are few tests of the general prosperity of a country, which are ordinarily more conclusive than that afforded by its timber trade. It is only when its various interests are in a state of buoyancy that building is extensively carried on. In 1845 and 1846 this remark would not have so well applied, because of the great demand for wood which was then caused by the extensive construction of railways; but this source of consumption has now probably subsided to its ordinary level; and if we find that tiiber is extensively demanded in the ab. sence of that or any other unusual application of it, we may feel confident that such demand can only arise from the generally prosperous condition of the people, which leads them to seek for greater comfort in their dwellings than necessarily contented them in more ordinary times.
In 1843 the quantity used of timber and deals, expressed in loads of 50 cubic feet, was 1,317,645 loads; in 1844 it was 1,485,357 loads; in 1845 and 1846, the years of railway exaggeration, we used 1,957,814 and 2,024,939 loads. The quantities since have been, in loads, 1847. 1848. 1849. 1850.
1851. 1,895,151 1,806,448 1,667,515 1,731,967
2,037,077 It thus appears that the quantity used in the year which has just closed, exceeds that of the year of greatest railway construction, and is, in fact, the largest ever experienced in this kingdom. Messrs. Churchill and Sim, extensive and well-informed wood brokers, remark upon this fact, in their yearly circular addressed to their customers, in these words:
“The year 1851 will be remarkably prominent in the records of the wood trade, when it is seen that the largest koown amount of importation has been supported by consumption in an equal degree; not only manifest by an extension of the trade in London, but including in the same very pleasing result the trade of the United Kingdom.”
It might have been imagined that through the progressive reductions in the rates of duty upon foreign wood, from 55s. to 78. 6d. per load, the demand for such would have been so great as to have displaced in part the importations from our own colonies: while on the other hand, it would have raised the cost in foreign countries so as to deprive the consumer in this kingdom of a proportion, at least, of the advantage intended for him by Parliament in reducing the duty. Neither of these consequences has been realized. It is remarked, in the circular already quoted
After the opening of the navigation laws, and the recent reduction of the discriminating import duty, it was not easy to foresee the operation of these almost simultaneous changes, and doubt hung over the future. Whether the wood of the North of Europe would displace the colonial or a large portion of the present supply! Whether our consumption, which had remained at a reduced average since 1847, would now increase? And, if so, as the supply had diminished in rather a larger ratio than the consumption, whether supplies could be increased without a rise in price sufficient of itself to check consumption? Cheapness has solved all doubt and dispelled the cloud of uncertainty; the North of Europe has yielded such abundance, that the English consumer gains in a broad sense more than the difference of reduced duty and cheaper transit; British America continues to have her large export in wood, still retaining the better half of Great Britain's wood trade; while hoine interests have prospered through all these changes in obtaining the unrestricted supply of cheap woods."
Similar inquiries made in respect of other articles of consumption would lead us to the like result; but it cannot be necessary thus to pursue the subject, since it must be evident that there cannot be one law which governs the circumstances of the sugar and timber trades, and another law which affects differently the circumstances of other trades which are necessarily placed in the same conditions.
The following figures, showing the quantities imporied for consumption of various articles used by all classes of the community in the years 1842, 1850,
Afrien, or America, in foreign ships, unless they were those of the country of which the goods were the produce, and from which they were imported.
Some other minor obstacles were placed in the way of intercourse with for-
Countries whepce imported.
Hanse Towns, Holland, France, Spain.
Hanse Towns, Holland, France, Spain. Cocoa....
Hanse Towns, Holland, France, Portugal. Coffee
Russia, Denmark, Prussia, Hanse Towns, Holland, Belgium,
France, Portugal, Spain, Italian States. Indigo ..
Russia, Hanse Towns, Holland, Belgiaid, Spain, Italian States. Logwood.
Hanse Towns, Holland, Belgium, France, Nutmegs
Holland, Belgium, France. Palm oil.
Hanse Towns, Holland, Portugal. Spain. Pepper
Hanse Towns, Holland, France, Portugal. Pimento.
Hanse Towns, Holland.
Russia, Sweden, Prussia, Hanse Towns, Holland, France, Portugal Tea..
Russia, Sweden, Norway, Prussia, Hanover, Hanse Towns, Hol
land, Belgium, France, Portugal, Spain. We may generally understand the opinions of men in business by their acts fully as well
, or better, than from their assertions. To judge from the latter we should have been led to the belief, that when their monopoly, as above described, should be removed, the shipowners of England would have no chance for success in competition with foreign rivals, but judging from their deliberate acts we are forced to the very opposite conclusion. The amount of tonnage built and registered in the United Kingdom was considerably greater in 1850 than in either of the two preceding years, viz:
1850. 181. Tons ......
125,940 121,266 137,630 149,599 And from the accounts which have reached us from time to time during 1851
, we are fully justified in believing that the tonnage newly built and registered last year will be among the largest on record.
The tonnage of British vessels engaged in the trade with foreign countries and our dependencies, in the above three years, was as follows:-
9,289,560 9,669,638 These include all vessels under the British flag, whether with cargo or in ballast. A fairer comparison will be made by taking only those ships which entered and cleared with cargo.
The tonnage of British ships which entered and cleared from ports in the United Kingdom, excluding those which came and went in ballast, in each year from 1844 to 1851, was1844. 5.691,680 | 1847...
7,444,750 | 1850........
8,039,308 1845 6,617,110 | 1848
7,574,192 | 1851....
8,535,252 1846. 6,714,156 | 1849.
It will be observed that the tonnage in 1850, the first year after the repeal of the Navigation Law, exhibits a falling off as compared with 1849, but that the ground then lost was more than regained in 1851, the largest of the series. It is further worthy of remark, that, doubtless owing to the removal of the restriction which prevented the importation of any save European produce from ports in Europe, a less proportion than usual of shipping now sails unprofitaby in ballast. The tonnage thus unprofitably engaged in 1850 was less than in 1849 by 113,845 tons, in itself no slight advantage to shipowners. These gentlemen are very much in the habit of considering that every ton of foreign shipping engaged in the trade of this country is an injury to them, and an unfair interference with their rights. It can easily be shown, however, that in this assumption there is a great deal more of selfishness displayed than of wisdom.
History and experience show us, that trade is liable, from various causes, to great and sometimes to violent fluctuations; and although we have been more than usually free from such fluctuations since the adoption of a more liberal commercial system, it would be unreasonable to suppose that the tide of our prosperity is never again to ebb. The 14,500,000 tons of shipping which entered and left our ports in 1850, may possibly be subjected hereafter to diminution, and under such circumstances it will be found of no small advantage to the British shipowner that more than five millions of the tonnage of the prosperous year came to our shores under various foreign flags. Any person may inform himself
, by consulting our custom-house returns as respects shipping, that in those years in which the trade has been most prosperous, and when the largest amount of British shipping has found employment, the proportion of foreign shipping has been the greatest, and that when, on the other hand, the trade has fallen off
, the proportion of British shipping has been greater than when a larger amount of British tonnage has found employment. In 1821 the amount of the national shipping that entered and left the ports of the United Kingdom was less than in the preceding year, and the proportion, as compared with foreign tonnage, was greater than in 1820. In 1825 we had a large trade; British shipping was employed to a greater amount than in any previous year, and the proportion of foreign to each 100 tons employed fell from 79.83 in 1821 to 67.88 in 1825. In 1826 we had a languid trade ; fewer British ships found employment, and the proportion rose to 72.67. It will hardly be contended by the advocates of the late navigation law, that a large proportion of British, when compared with foreign shipping trading to our ports is, under these circumstances, of advantage to the shipowners, who, in order to engross this large proportion, must submit to a positive decrease of employment for Their vessels. If the trade of the United Kingdom were a constant quantity, subject neither to temporary enlargement or contraction, it would even then be questionable whether the best in. terests of the country would require that it should all be carried on under the national flag, since it might well be that a part of the capital embarked in shipping might be more profitably engaged in trading with the goods they carry, and which in such case would be supplied and purchased by foreigners, by means of that part of their capital which would be no longer embarked in shipping. But, as already remarked, there is not and cannot be any such stability in commercial pursuits; and let us imagine that, if our mercantile marine were of adequate tonnage to carry on the whole trade of the country in a year of great prosperity, what would be the case when the reverse of this condition should be experienced ? Must it not be that, the tonnage being greatly beyond that which could obtain employment, our shipowners would be found competing with one another for the conveyance of the lessened quantity of merchandise, that a part of the ships would be idly rotting in our harbors, while those of them which succeeded in obtaining employment must do so through the home competition that would arise at ruinously reduced rates of freight? It is, therefore, manifestly to the interest of our shipowners that foreign vessels should be allowed to compete with them; and the only question to which they should with any degree of anxiety seek for a reply is, whether they are in a condition to bear this competition with their foreign rivals, and to stand their ground under the altered circumstances presented by the repeal of the navigation laws.
This question we are, happily, enabled to answer in the affirmative. We have shown, that, in the second year during which our shipping has been exposed to the full degree of competition, a larger amount tonnage under the national flag has entered and left our ports, with cargoes, than in any other year of our commercial history. During 1850, the first year in which the new system was in operation, a very greatly increased amount of foreign tonnage visited the kingdom, a much larger than usual proportion of the same being in ballast. This was reasonably to be expected. Our shipowners had so loudly proclaimed their inability to continue the trade in competition with their foreign rivals
, that these felt themselves invited to come and reap the golden harvest. The apporent lessening of employment for British shipping in that first year has been amply made up in the second, as shown by figures already given. "It is said apparent lessening, because, in reality, there was no such lessened employment; the tonnage that left our ports exhibited no falling off from the amount of former years, while the diminished amount of entries inwards was fully accounted for by the employment which our shipping found in branches of trade between various foreign countries, and from which trades our flag had been previously excluded, by reason of, and in retaliation for our former exclusive system. During the first six months of 1850, and before the power to do so was generally known by members of the shipping interest in this country, there entered the various ports of the United States, from foreign countries, 214 British vessels, measuring 68,127 tons; and daring the same time there left those ports, in direct and successful competition with the ships of the United States, with cargoes to various foreign countries, 204 such vessels, measuring 76,039 tons. The accounts for the second half of the year have not as yet reached this country from America, but it is fair to presume that they will show at least an equal amount of successful rivalry on our part. If this assumption should be confirmed by the fact, we shall find the diminished amount of entries inwards of British ships in 1850, more than accounted for by the new trades thus opened to us by means of our altered regulations with one single country; certainly the most important, but, as will be seen from the following figures, by no means offering the only profitable field for the employment of our ships in the indirect trade. With these statements before us, it is not possible to give in to the fears of our shipowners, so loudly expressed when the repeal of the navigation law was under discussion, that our vessels, which under the shield of protection were to be seen on every oceau and in every port, would be driven, by the more cheaply built and more cheaply navigated vessels of America and of northern Europe, from one trade after another, until they would be restricted to the coasting trade, still preserved from the intrusion of foreigners, and that, with this wholesale extinction of our mercantile marine, we should lose what is of even greater importance to us as a nation, our supremacy on the seas, and sink to the rank of a second or third-rate power among the nations. It is proved by the fact, that not only can we maintain and increase the amount of tonnage required for carrying on our ever-growing trade between the United Kingdom and every other country approachable by sea, but that we can and do successfully compete in every trade open to us that is carried on between different foreign countries
. This being the case now, we may confidently anticipate that our power of successful competition will be rendered still greater, when the spur of competition shall have produced its full effect in urging us to the adoption, as it is beginning to do, of those improvements in naval architecture of which the art is now seen to be susceptible, and which will enable us to maintain the superiority we have hitherto enjoyed; while, as regards the cost of construction, we have succeeded to a degree which, until the incentive was applied, no one thought possible
, bat which we may believe to be by no means the measure of cheapness to which it is probable we shall hereafter attain, and which will enable our shipbuilders to set all their foreign competitors, of whom they affected to feel such dread, at defiance.
The change made in our system caused a like change to be made in the system of the United States, whose navigation law was copied from and adopted in