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nion of them, it was not his intention to re- Scotland, where the good sense of the people commend, nor did the petitioners wish any seldom failed in ascertaining their best inteimmediate disturbance of those laws. He rests. He w‘is sorry to hear from Paisley was perfectly persuaded that no laws of any that a considerable number of the smaller kind could long uphold the present price of manufacturers were withdrawing in conseproduce in this country; but he felt it would quence of the state of insubordination in be highly improper at present to agitate the which that neighbourhood was thrown. -minds of the country by a discussion which without a return to order, without respect could not be followed by any immediate for the laws was perfectly restored, it was practical result. He was quite sure that impossible to expect that the possessors of, every intelligent man would condemn with capital would risk it in commercial specuhim the absurdity of opposing the interests of lations. To a people su discerning as the one class of the people to the interests of Scotch, he was surprised that the example of another. And yet a manifesto had made its a country close to them had not been suffiappearance from certain persons associated ciently convincing on this subject. What for the purpose, of endeavouring to induce was the reason that in Ireland, with its cheap Parliament to impose further restraints on food and its immense population, manufacthe importation of agricultural produce (on tures bad never been established to any ex. which object he would say nothing, as he was tent? Because the greater part of that sure it would be discountenanced by the country had always been in a state of the House), in wbich manifesto, the interests of worst insubordination and lawlessness. An the agriculturist were spoken of as of much additional proof of the necessity of security more importance than the interests of the ma to commerce and manufactures, might be nufacturer, or the interests of the merchant. found in the fact, that the very small portion Nothing could exceed the absurdity of all of manufacture existing in Ireland was carthis, and hë was persuaded that more non- ried on precisely at that little spot of it where sense in the way of political economy was tranquillity was established. He considered never broached. To assert that one class therefore, a main obstacle to our hope of was more useful in society than another, or commercial recovery, to consist in the genethat the interests of one class should be pre-. ral insubordination and insecurity which ferred to those of another, was just as foolish pervaded the country. But that was not the as it would be to say, that in the human sole obstacle. Another great obstacle was body, the heart, or the lungs, or the liver, that of which the Petitioners complained-a was more serviceable than any other organ reluctance to return to the old and estain the performance of the animal functions. blished principles on which our commercial Every person of common sense must feel prosperity was originally founded. We were that this country, highly populous as it bad now surrounded with jealous rivals. Every become, must mainly depend for the support Government was endeavouring to aggrandize of that population, and for its comparative its subjects by commerce. Nor was it surprosperity, on the cultivation of every branch prising that many parts of Europe, as well of its industry. It was most important that as America, where trade was unrestricted Parliament should consider, since we could by the fetters imposed upon it in this country, not recover what we had lost, how we should beat us in the market. In France great retain what we still possessed. To do this strides were making. He had been for some we must look back to the principles of our time a resident in that country, and he knew ancestors. The first desideratum was such it to be the fact that no Government could security and tranquillity in the country as pay more attention to the interests of comwould enable the possessor of capital to em- merce. He had that morning received a ploy it without apprehension. The second, letter from a friend at Paris, in which his and it was that to which the petitioners prin- correspondent said, “ Manufacturers of all cipally referred, was as great a freedom of kinds are more employed than they have been trade as was compatible with other and im- for years ;-the labourers are all at work ;portant considerations. The benefits to be and no branch of industry is without bread.” derived from security were incalculable. What the Petitioners wished was to draw the Without that security the distress in which a serious attention of the House to the subgreat part of the population was involved ject, and to the expediency of some legislative must be deeply aggravated. In former times interposition. They stated, that it was not the institutions of the country were respected, possible they could be expected to enter into and the laws were obeyed, while rational competition with their Continental rivals, liberty was enjoyed, and the result was, that unless some attempt were made to the old the country was the favourite theatre of com- principles of freedom of trade. At the same mercial enterprize. But a great change had time they were very far from wishing for taken place; and to him it was evident, that such a sudden alteration as might be injuriif the state of insubordination which had so ous to existing interests. It was evident that long existed were permitted to continue, the , something must be done. It was impossible most fatal consequences would ensue. He that the country could rise from its present was sorry to
hat th present state of things were beginning to be commercial system. It was a subject wholly felt as he apprehended they would be felt in divested of the prejudice of party feel
sad stato Without como
te witnout son
ing. All parties must concur in one wish. absurd reasoners had found out that the only He was convinced that no Gentleman was , true wisdom was, in spite of that benevolent more anxious to see the sound principles to ordination, to endeavour to produce at home which he had alluded carried into operation by considerable effort and at great disadthan the Right Honourable Gentleman in vantage that, which with ease, and at half whose hands at present the regulation of our the expence, mis
ght be procured elsewhere. trade was placed. He did not wish to say To some countries greater fertility of soil. any thing harsh of that Right Honourable to others greater ingenuity on the part of Gentleman's predecessor, than whom no man the people was imparted. But according to could be more zealous or desirous of doing the profound gentlemen to whom he alluded. good ; but he could not speak of him with no exchange should take place of the proequal praise. But that which was one of the duce of the one for the fabric of the other. most alarming symptoms, was the apathy Nay, they would have the Swede or Norwith which the Government in general re. wegian scratch his barren rocks, in the hope garded this subject. So far were they from of a scanty crop, rather than purchase with being sensible of the necessity of some exer- his ample forest the means of living from tion, that (as in matters of finance) they countries possessed of abundance. But to went on from year to year, trusting that the come more closely to the immediate object next year would be spontaneously productive in view. There was the duty on the imporof some favourable change, and apparently tation of wool. On what principle could with very indistinct notions of wbat the real that be defended? A tax on the raw material, condition of the country was. Whenever a He was curious to hear what Ministers question arose between two classes of the would say on the subject, when the Noblo community, Government, without seeming to Lord (Lord Milton) should bring forward the have any opinion of their own, stood by motion, of which he had that evening given until they ascertained which party could notice. He believed that this was the first give them the most effectual support. If in which in any country, where commerce the House looked back to an earlier period was protected and fostered, that such an of those wbich were still, our own times, impost bad been attempted. The woollen they would behold a different picture ; tbey manufacture especially the favourite branch would find Mr. Pitt engaged in framing a of our ancient industry—that that should be commercial treaty, and, amidst difficulties of subjected to such a burden, he strongly felt every description, boldly taking whatever as most injurious. It might be asserted, steps appeared to him to be the best calcu. that it could bear the tax. Let it be recollated to advance our commercial prosperity. lected, however, that as it was not always He wished that he could see a little of the possible to ascertain exactly how much an same spirit in the present day. Instead of animal could bear, so it was not always that Ministers were balancing one party possible to ascertain exactly how much a against another, and trying how they could manufacture could bear; and that in touchkeep their places from one year to another; ing the manufacture to which he alluded, neglecting in the mean while all those great they tampered with one of vital importance, commercial and national questions to which a single mistake about which would be their most lively attention ought to be di- fatal. He conjured the House to keep this rected. Having stated that the general in mind, when they came to the consideraobject of the Petitioners was a renewal, tion of the question which the Noble Lord under certain limitations, of the freedom of intended soon to raise; and he was happy trade, by the abolition of all injurious restric- that the subject was in such excellent hands. tions, he might, perhaps, be excused if, with. The chief manufacture of the country was at out entering into minute details, he sug- stake. When he said that the manufacture gested some of the improvements which of the country was at stake, he would add were deemed desirable. The first doctrine that the agriculture of the country was which the petitioners wished to combat was, equally at stake. The tax on the raw matethat fallacious one which had of late years rial from abroad must inevitably bring down arisen, that this country ought to subsist on the price of the raw material here. Since its own produce ; that it was wise on the the tax had been imposed, the trade had part of every country to raise within itself fallen immensely; and he had no doubt the the produce requisite for its consumption. price of wool would fall also. Many persons Now really it was most absurd to contend, would contenid that the home market was that if a country, by selling any article of every thing, and that the foreign market was manufacture could purchase the produce nothing. Suppose it should turn out that which it might require, at half the expence manufacturers in all parts of the Continent, at which that produce could be raised, it where they were thriving in consequence of should nevertheless be precluded from doing the cheapness of labour and the freedom of so. It was one of the wise dispensations of the raw material from duty, should beat us Providence to give to different parts of the entirely out of the foreign market, in wbat world different climates and different advan state would the interests of agriculture then tages; probably with the great moral pur- be at home? If the woollen manufacture pose of bringing human beings together for were to sink, wool of home growth must be the mutual relief of their wants. But these exported in immeuse quantities, similar to
those in which our Princes formerly paid was quite impossible to suppose that ladies their subsidies, and would of course be would not procure French gloves or shoes in deteriorated in value. The tax, therefore, this way if they could not get them in any would eventually be as injurious to the other; and thus the revenue suffered with. farmer as to the manufacturer. Under all out the attainment of the object which the these circumstances, be certainly had felt probibition contemplated. He did not wish the greatest surprise to find his Majesty's to make any general sweeping assertions ; Government, without having heard a word but he must observe, that Honourable Genon the subject, declare their determination tlemen, in agreeing to cite the Navigation not to countenance any alteration in the law. Laws as affording a protection to com. A tax on the raw material was contrary to merce were much mistaken. Their tendency the practice of this country in all times, was to injure commerce. For instance, until the extreme prosperity which existed coals—50 necessary to our manufactures-. during the late war, when every old prin might, but for the Navigation Laws, be ciple was borne down, when it mattered not, brought to our ports at half their present commanding the seas as we did, whether we price by Dutch or German vessels. The imposed a duty on wool, or on any other principle of the Navigation Laws was, that commodity necessary to our manufactures, no produce should be imported into this counand when we could neglect with impunity try except in our own vessels, or in the vessels those maxims which we must now re-esta- of that country to which the produce beblish if we wish to avert a portion of the longed. He thought that no restriction evils that threatened the country. Another ought to be held on foreign ships importing important point was, such a revision of the into this country, whether the produce was of regulations respecting the revenue as would their own or any other country. When this show where our old principles had been restriction was imposed, he was sure that deviated from, accompanied by a determina- those who framed it did not clearly see the tion to correct those aberrations unless very advantage of a free intercourse between this cogent reasons could be shown for persever and other nations. The freedom of the ing in them. Every endeavour should be transit trade was also a most desirable made to abolish restriction as far as it was object. The importation of every commo. practicable to do so. For instance, in the dity for re-exportation ought to be allowed, article of timber. Why not allow the Nor- and any opposition to this principle was a wegians, the Poles, the Russians, to import restriction of our commercial transactions. their timber into this country, which would He was not aware that a regulation of this necessarily cause a great consumption of sort would interfere with the interests of any British manufactures and great employment Gentleman or set of Gentlemen in this counof British shipping? And here he would try; but if it so happened that it did, he felt observe, that the restrictive system had not convinced that the House, or any Committee only driven us out of the continental market, to whom the subject was referred, would but had communicated a character of seve. give every attention to any representations rity to our commercial regulations generally which should be made to them. But upon a injurious to us. He was sure that our re- subject of this kind, he hoped Gentlemen strictions, and especially those on the impor- would go into an inquiry, without any pretation of timber, had created many enemies judice or party feelings, looking only to the who possessed considerable means of annoy- advancement of the commerce of the counance. On that subject he would not, how- try, and not listening or yielding to any inteever, say more, as he had reason to hope rest without considering the justice of the that the Gentlemen opposite had made up objections which should be made. A great their minds to allow at least of some alte objection had been made to the transit of ration in the existing law.-Another de. German linens, and petitions had been presirable step would be to do away totally sented against its importation even for exporprohibition as much as possible. Where tation. A vague and idle notion existed that protection for particular manufactures was this would injure the linen trade of Ireland ; considered to be necessary, it ought to be in that that trade was in fact at stake, if such the form of duty and not in that of prohibi- an importation were allowed. Å Noble tion. Prohibition had no doubt seriously Lord who was interested in this trade, was injured the revenue by the encouragement so strongly of this opinion, that the question which it gave to smuggling. The Customs was decided against the importation. The had fallen off a million and a half in the House should, however, consider, without course of the last year.- He was sure that a looking to the right or to the left, that their good deal of that defalcation might be great object ought to be to use every possible ascribed to prohibition. Nothing could be means to revive the trade and commerce of more absurd than to suppose any prohibition the United Kingdom. He was aware that would prevent the introduction of articles the Linen Trade of Ireland deserved their that were in demand. The fact was, that at greatest attention, and ought to be encou· an advance of 20 or 25 per cent. all light raged by every possible means; there was prohibited articles might be had at our doors. no trade which was more entitled to protecHe would not say what sex was the more to tion, but the transit to which he allnded blame, but such was the fact. Indeed, it could by no means affect that trade. The MONTHLY Mag. No. 340.
consumption of German linen bere was the tension of this trade : first, that it would open only means by which the Irish Linen Trade a facility of smuggling in the China seas; could be affected.- What, in the mean time, and secondly, that such an extended interwas the effect of this prohibition ?-If we course on the part of this couniry, would were to send goods to foreign markets, they derange existing regulations, and involve the must be made up of assorted articles. Suppose India Government in difficulties with the Gowe send to the French colonies, what were we vernment of China. He knew that it was it to send but such articles as would suit the difficult matter to manage the Government of market? There was a time when we sent China. But to these two objections be would our fleets under convoys, and when no give what he conceived to be an unansweraother country could oppose us ; then we ble argument. What was there now to precould send out what we pleased; but now vent the Americans from trading between that exclusive monopoly was at an end.- China and Amsterdam ? It was a thing Every nation was as free as we were to go daily done. If then this was the case, he to the different markets, therefore we were should like to know what injury was likely bound to exert ourselves, to procure a market to be done to the India Company by English as well as our neighbours. It was also of vessels carrying on a similar trade? It was importance that we should alter our com- urged on former occasions, that English vesmercial regulations with respect to France. sels would enter into smuggling transactions. He was aware that strong prejudices existed Suppose them to do so, there was a means against us in that country, not to speak of of catching them at some time. The vessels those existing here. But he did not think it and their commanders were known, besides would be difficult in a little time to remove there were securities given which could althose prejudices. Here he felt it necessary ways be come at. But where was the remedy to state, that he by no means blamed the No. against a foreigner who smuggled goods from ble Lord (Castlereagh), who lately conducted China to England, or elsewbere? He came, negociations between this country and deposited his cargo, was off, and nobody France, for not having stipulated for, or could find him or make him responsible in forced any commercial concessions. It was any other way for what he had done. Then desirable that all restrictive regulations came the argument, that such an extension between the trade of England and France of trade would involve the India Governmens should be removed, but to do so we must in difficulty with that of China, but it was begin at home. It would be unfair to at known that the Americans had for a consitempt a negociation for a commercial inter- derable time carried on that trade without course, while we kept our ports shut against being involved in any such difficulty, at least, them. Let it be considered that it was not we had not heard of any--why could not by a restrictive system that this country had this country be allowed to carry it on in a grown to such a pitch of greatness, but, on similar manner ? Why should not it be the contrary, that such a system was a bar open to our own merchants as well as to to that greatness. It was necessary also to foreigners? Beside, this trade would give to remove an impression which our system of this country a commercial intercourse with commerce had made abroad. We were the Spanish Colonies in South America. The looked up to as the first commercial nation trade in the Indian seas would be wonderfully in the world, and it was therefore believed improved if opened to the spirit and enterthat we had adopted our restrictive or pro- prize of British merchants. That trade was tecting system, from a conviction of its bene- now carried on by Americans, whose vessels ficial effects on our commerce. This in- went from port to Port unrestricted as to pression it was our interest as well as our their tonnage or any other disqualification to duty to remove, by altering our commercial which British traders were subject. Let regulations with foreign powers. The next this trade be thrown open, and it was impoint to which he would direct the attention possible to say what advantages may not be of the House, was an extension of our trade derived to this country from it-from the inwith India. He was aware that this was a genuity, enterprize and industry of the merdelicate subject; that it was one concerning chants of Liverpool, Bristol, Glasgow, and which we had to deal not with a foreign our other commercial sea ports. At all power, but a power at home. But he felt events, enough was known to shew that it persuaded if the Gentlemen who conduct the would be an improvement to the commerce of affairs of that Company had a fair case made the country. He begged pardon for having out to them; if it was clearly shewn that trespassed so long on the attention of the the trade between this country could be ex- House. He was sure, that whatever propotended without injury to their interests, their sition of this nature was proposed to the concurrence would be easily obtained. At Company, they would meet it with that fair. all events, he was sure they would come ness and deliberation which the discussion of fairly forward and argue the subject--and if so important a subject demanded. He beupon inquiry, such extension should be shewn lieved that he had pretty generally pointed to be injurious to their interests, he would be out those alterations which be conceived the last man in the House or the country to practicable in our commercial system. He press his suggestion. He was aware that was sure the house would feel with him, that there were two great objections to the ex- the circumstances of the times were such as
to call for the minutest inquiry, on their mitting to privations in the quantity or parts, into every possible means of improving quality of commodities; and thus rendering this trade and commerce. It was their duty what ought to be the source of mutual to shew to the country, that nothing practi- benefit and harmony among States, a concable was left undone to contribute to re- stantly recurring occasion of jealousy and lieve those distresses under which so many hostility. laboured. It was natural when any portion that the prevailing prejudices in favour of of the country felt distress, that they should the protective or restrictive system, may be apply by petition to Parliament for relief, traced to the erroneous supposition that every and it was the duty of Parliament to shew importation of foreign commodities occathat they adopted every means in their power sions a diminution or discouragement of our of affording it. He knew very well, that own productions to the same extent ; whereas there were many hard and severe distresses, it may be clearly shown that, although the which it was out of the power of any Parlia, particular description of production which ment to remedy. He recollected the lines of could not stand against unrestrained foreign the Poet
competition would be discouraged, yet as “How small of all the ills which men endure, no importation could be continued for any The part which Kings or Lords can cause or cure."
length of time, without a corresponding But it was the duty of Parliament to turn
exportation, direct or indirect, there would their minds seriously to the question --to
be an encouragement, for the purpose of that shew the people that their wants were not
exportation, of some other production to neglected-to let them see that no party, which our situation might be better suited ; feeling or prejudice operated, but that all, thus affording at least an equal, and probably however differing on other points, were
a greater and certainly a more beneficial united on this; by doing this, they would do
employment to our own capital and labour. more to quiet that disturbed feeling, to set at
That of the numerous protective and prorest those angry passions which arose in a
hibitory duties of onr commercial code, it great measure from distress, than could be
may be proved that, while all operate as a done by any other means. The Honourable
very heavy tax on the community at large, Gentleman, after moving that the Petition be
very few are of any ultimate benefit to the received, sat down amidst loud cheers from
classes in whose favour they were originally all sides of the House.
instituted, and none to the extent of the loss To the Honourable the House of Commons
occasioned by them to other classes. of the United Kingdom of Great Britain
That among the other evils of the restricand Ireland
tive or protective system, not the least is, THE HUMBLE PETITION OF THE UNDERSIGN.
that the artificial protection of one branch of ED MERCHANTS OF THE CITY OF LONDON, industry or source of production against · Sheweth,
foreign competition, is set up as a ground of That foreign commerce is eminently con. claim by other branches for similar protecducive to the wealth and prosperity of a tion; so that if the reasoning upon which country, by enabling it to import the com
these restrictive or prohibitory regulations modities for the production of which the soil,
are founded, were followed out consistently, climate, capital, and industry of other coun- it would not stop short of excluding us from tries are best calculated, and to export in all foreign commerce whatsoever.. And the payment those articles for which its own
same train of argument, which, with corressituation is better adapted.
ponding prohibitions and protective duties, That freedom from restraint is calculated
should exclude us from foreign trade, might to give the utmost extension to foreign be brought forward to justify the re-enacttrade, and the best direction to the capital ment of restrictions upon the interchange of and industry of the country.
productions (unconnected with public reThat the maxim of buying in the cheapest venue) among the kingdoms composing the market, and selling in the dearest, which Union, or among the counties of the same regulates every merchant in his individual dealings, is strictly applicable, as the best
That an investigation of the effects of the rule for the trade of the whole nation. restrictive system, at this time, is peculiarly
That a policy, founded on those principles, called for, as it may, in the opinion of your would render the commerce of the world an Petitioners, lead to a strong presumption, interchange of mutual advantages, and dif that the distress which now so generally fuse an increase of wealth and enjoyments prevails, is considerably aggravated by that among the inhabitants of each State.
system ; and that some relief may be obtained That, unfortunately, a policy the very by the earliest practicable removal of such reverse of this has been, and is, more or less of the restraints as may be shown to be most adopted and acted upon by the Government injurious to the capital and industry of the of this and of every other country, each community, and to be attended with no trying to exclude the production of other compensating benefit to the public revenue. countries, with the specious and well-meant That a declaration against the anti-comdesign of encouraging its own productions; mercial principles of our restrictive system thus inflicting on the bulk of its subjects, is of the more importance at the present who are consumers, the necessity of sub- juncture, inasmuch as, in several instances