that the exports to the United States of America, which, with their population of only twelve millions, are removed to a distance from us of 3000 miles across the Atlantic, have amounted to more than one-half of the value of our shipments to the whole of Europe, with a population fifteen times as great as that of the United States of America, and with an abundance of productions suited to our wants, which they are naturally desirous of exchanging for the products of our mines and looms." *

Thus it distinctly appears, that while we have completely sacrificed, by the reciprocity treaties, our shipping employed in the trade with Northern Europe, we have derived no countervailing advantage whatever in our exports to these countries, because they actually, as a whole, take off, on an average of five years, less of that produce than they did five-and-twenty years ago. It is evident, that while they have taken advantage of our simplicity to engross to themselves all the carrying trade between their harbours and Great Britain, they have taken care to give us no corresponding advantage whatever in our commercial intercourse with them. In fact, they have done more-the only return they' have made for our concession in maritime affairs, has been to load our manufactures with additional duties. Prussia has rewarded us for our ample concessions to her by the Prusso-Germanic league. Every year brings a fresh ukase from the Emperor of Russia, imposing additional duties on our goods; and even our little puppet, the revolutionary Queen of Portugal, has shown her gratitude for the aid which put her on the throne, by nearly doubling the duties on every species of British manufacture?

Mr Alison, after dwelling on these facts, proceeded as follows to exhibit the very different picture which the colonial trade has presented :

"Gentlemen, I will not fatigue you with farther details. You see here the astonishing facts that France, with its thirty-two millions of inhabitants, takes off only £1,500,000 worth; that Prussia, with a population of fourteen millions, takes off only £160,000 worth; and, most marvellous of all,

that Russia, now with a population of sixty millions, takes only £1,700,000 of our produce. From these facts we may estimate, with perfect certainty, the chance which Great Britain has of being able to maintain a lucrative commercial intercourse with the old European nations in the same stage of civilisation with herself, and influenced by the political hostility and commercial rivalry incident to their political situation. Gentlemen, I have said, however gloomy the prospects of our commercial interests with such states may be, there is not only hope but confidence to be derived from another quarter; and if we turn to the Colonies we shall at once see whence it is that England is now deriving its heart's blood, and from what commercial intercourse our wealth and greatness in future times is to be derived. Gentlemen, you will be astonished, your hearts will exult, at the magnitude of the returns which I am now to lay before you. In the year 1836 it appears that our

Exports to the United States

of America were no less

British North American

British West Indies,
Australian Colonies,
East Indies,

[ocr errors]

Real Value.




[ocr errors]



"The articulate returns of the trade of each country for the years 1837 and 1838, have not yet been laid before the public; but here is surely enough to excite our wonder and astonishment. You see that Canada, with its population that does not yet reach fifteen hundred thousand souls, takes off no less than £2,800,000 of our produce, or nearly twice as much as Russia, with its population of sixty millions. You see that the British West India Islands, with a population of about forty thousand white, and eight hundred thousand black inhabitants, consumed in 1836 no less than £3,700,000, or considerably more than twice as much as France, with its population of thirty-two millions. And what is most marvellous of all, and comes directly home to the object of this night's festive assembly, the Australian Colonies, with a population scarcely at this mo

* Porter's Progress of the Nation, p. 101.

ment amounting to a hundred thousand, take off no less than £1,100,000 a-year of produce. Why, gentlemen, I venture to predict, that before the year 1840 the colonists of New Holland, reinforced as they will be by our friends around us proceeding to New Zealand, will consume more of British produce and manufactures, though they may not number a hundred and twenty thousand souls, than the sixty millions of the Muscovite empire. Such is the wonderful difference between the commercial intercourse we can maintain with our own descendants-our own flesh and blood-the Anglo-Saxon race whom we have sent forth to civilize the world-and the inhabitants of foreign states, subjected to the authority of hostile governments, or swayed by foreign commercial jealousy."

Lord Brougham, in the debate on the repeal of the Orders in Council in 1812, has explained, with even more than his usual felicity, the causes of this remarkable difference between the commerce opened in our own colonies and that which can be maintained with any other independent state in the old world. "The extent," says he, "and swift and regular progress of the American market for British goods, is not surprising; we can easily and clearly account for it. In the nature of things it can be no otherwise, and the reason lies on the very surface of the fact. America is an immense agricultural country, where land is plentiful and cheap; men and labour, though quickly increasing, yet still scarce and dear, compared with the boundless regions which they occupy and cultivate. In such a country manufactures do not naturally thrive; every exertion, if matters be left to themselves, goes into other channels. This people is connected with England with origin, language, manners, and institutions; their tastes go along with their convenience, and they come to us as a matter of course for the articles which they do not make themselves. Only take one fact as an example: the negroes in the southern states are clothed in English-made goods, and it takes 40s. a-year thus to supply one of these unfortunate persons. This will be admitted to be the lowest sum for

which any person in America can be clothed; but take it as the average, and make a deduction for the expenses above prime cost, you have a sum upon the whole population of eight millions, which approaches the value of our exports to the United States. But it is not merely in clothing. Go to any house in the Union, from their large and wealthy cities to the most solitary cabin or log-house in the forests, you find in every corner the furniture, tools, and ornaments of Staffordshire, of Warwickshire, and of the northern counties of England. The wonder ceases when we thus reflect for a moment, and we plainly perceive that it can be no otherwise. The whole population of the country is made up of customers who require, and who can afford to pay, for our goods. This, too, is peculiar to that nation, and it is a peculiarity as happy for them as it is profitable for us. I know the real or affected contempt with which some persons in this country treat our kinsmen of the West. I fear some angry and jealous feelings have survived our former more intimate connexion with them-feelings engendered by the event of its termination, but which it would be wiser, as well as more manly, to forget. Nay, there are certain romantic spirits who even despise the unadorned structure_of their massive democratic society. But to me I freely acknowledge, the sight of one part of it brings feelings of envy as an Englishman: I mean the happy distinction that, over the whole extent of that boundless continent, from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, and from the Mississippi to the Atlantic Ocean, there is not one pauper to be found. Such are the customers whom America presents to us. rapid increase of their culture and population, too, doubling in twenty-five or thirty years, must necessarily augment this demand for our goods in the same proportion. Circumstanced as the two countries are, I use no figure of speech, but speak the simple fact when I say, that not an axe falls in the woods of America which does not put in motion some shuttle, or hammer, or wheel in England.'

[ocr errors]


Such is the astonishing effect of the causes thus eloquently described by

# Parliamentary Debates, xxiii. 515.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

It may truly be said that this table speaks as to the real interests and manufacturing establishments of Great Britain; and that, if our rulers were not struck with judicial blindness, they would at once perceive where it is that the steady and rising market for British manufactures, and where all our efforts to promote a successful traffic may be regarded as fruitless and unavailing. For fifteen years past our whole commercial policy has been directed to the object of gaining a more ready vent for our manufactures into the continental states of Europe. We have concluded no less than twelve reciprocity treaties with the principal powers; and, in order to propitiate their good-will, we have sacrificed by our treaties all our commercial advantages at least in our intercourse with these states. And what has been the result? Why, that our commerce with them is a perfect trifle when compared with that which we maintain with our own colonies, whom we have maltreated and neglected for their sakes; and that, while the old states take off a few pence per head of their population, our own colonies take off as many pounds. In this instance we have truly verified the old adage, that we have been penny wise and pound foolish, even in regard to our existing interests at the moment. But when, in addition to this, it is recollected that these colonies are part of ourselves

11 15 0

distant provinces of our own empire, whose blood is our blood, whose strength is our strength; that they are increasing in numbers with a rapidity unparalleled in the annals of the world; and that, however fast they may augment, they are by their situation and circumstances chained for centuries to agricultural and pastoral employments, and consequently our export trade with them must increase in the same proportion as their numbers; while, on the other hand, the states of continental Europe are increasing far less rapidly in numbersare actuated for the most part by commercial or political jealousy, and may any moment become our enemies, it may safely be affirmed that the neglect of the colonial provinces to propitiate foreign powers, is of all human absurdities the most absurd.

It is needless to enquire to what cause this marvellous difference between Colonial and European trade is owing. It is immaterial whether it is to be ascribed to the circumstance of the Continental states being in the same state of civilisation with ourselves, or being inhabited by people who have no taste for our manufactures, or no money to buy them; or governed by jealous and hostile foreign governments-or actuated by similar and rival commercial estab lishments. It is sufficient to state the fact, that, from one or other, or all of

these causes, their trade with us is trifling, and either stationary or declining, while that with our colonies is enormous, steady, and constantly increasing. In truth, however, it is not difficult to perceive to what cause the total failure of all attempts at commercial increase with the old states of Europe is to be ascribed. Mr Alison observed at the Glasgow dinner, "It is easy to see to what cause this remarkable decline in our trade with old nations, and this marvellous increase in our commercial intercourse with our own colonies, is to be ascribed. It is evidently owing to the fact, that these old states are in the same state of civilisation with ourselves, and therefore they are actuated by a natural desire to deal in the same articles, and to manufacture the same produce as ourselves. Are we cotton-spinners? -so are they. Are we iron-masters?-so are they. Are we silk manufacturers?-so are they. Are we cutlery and hardware merchants? -so are they. Are we clothiers and woollen-drapers?-so are they. There is no branch of industry in which we excel, in which they are not all making the greatest and most strenuous, and sometimes successful, efforts to rival and outstrip us. It is in vain that we meet them with the signs of amity, and hold out the olive branch in token of our desire to establish reciprocity treaties on the footing of real mutual advantage. We cannot, by so doing, either shut the eyes of their manufacturers to the danger of British competition, or close the vision of their governments to the dazzling spectacle of British greatness. They see that

we have risen to the summit of prosperity under the system of protection to domestic industry, and they naturally imagine that it is only by following our example that they can hope to rival our success. It is in vain that we now offer to meet them on the footing of perfect reciprocity. They say It is very well for you to throw down the barriers when your superiority in every branch of industry is incontestible. When ours is the same, we will follow your example; in the mean time, you must allow us to imitate the steps which enabled you to reach the elevated position which you now enjoy.' Gentlemen, it is difficult to see the answer which can be made to such arguments.'

[ocr errors]

Powerful as are these considerations, derived from the commercial and manufacturing interests of Great Britain, in favour of her colonial settlements, the facts pointing the same way, deducible from the shipping interests, are, if possible, still more conclusive. The essential difference between the shipping, which carries on a trade between the colonies and the mother country, is, that it is, as in the former case, all our own-in the latter, one-half belongs to our enemies. This difference is so enormous, the effects it produces on our maritime strength are so extraordinary, that, numerous as are the details which we have already given, we cannot resist the temptation of contrasting our shipping and tonnage with some of the principal foreign powers with whom we have concluded reciprocity treaties with that which we carry on with our own colonies.


[blocks in formation]

Nor is the present magnitude of the British trade with these colonies more remarkable than its rapid increase. Some very remarkable facts on this subject were stated by Mr Alison at the public dinner in Glasgow:-"You have already seen how completely our shipping which trades with Northern Europe is withering away under the action of the reciprocity treaties; and you have seen that it is now little more than a fourth of what it was fifteen years ago; while that of the Baltic powers trading with us has quadrupled during the same period. But, gentlemen, turn to the colonies, and you will learn a very different result; and behold with delight a growth of our shipping as extraordinary, as its decline in our intercourse with Europe is serious and alarming. Gentlemen, it appears from Mr Porter's Parlia mentary Tables, that the growth of our shipping employed between Canada, Australia, and the mother country, has been as follows:

[blocks in formation]

Thus the astonishing facts are apparent, that, in conducting the intercourse between Canada, the West Indies, and the mother country, there has grown up a commercial navy of nearly 1,200,000 tons, of which nearly 600,000 belong to Great Britain, and the remainder to her transatlantic offspring; while the tonnage with the Australian Colonies has increased in sixteen years, prior to 1836, from 1200 to 20,000, or nearly twenty-fold. When we recollect that the total commercial navy of Great Britain is only 2,800,000 tons, and that our vast foreign trade with America only employs 88,000 tons of our shipping, the whole remainder being in the hands of the Americans themselves; and that our intercourse with Canada and Australia, the population of which is not sixteen hundred thousand, already gives employment to 600,000 tons, or nearly seven times that employed in our whole immense commerce with the United States of America, the vital importance of colonial trade to maritime independence becomes at once apparent; and the general result of the comparative progress of the vessels belonging to Great

[blocks in formation]

Thus you see, gentlemen, that while the shipping of Great Britain and Ireland has declined in the last five-andtwenty years, notwithstanding the prodigious increase of our exports and im. ports, that employed in conducting the trade with the colonies has more than doubled. More decisive evidence cannot be imagined of the vital importance of the colonial trade, not only to our commercial wealth, but to our national existence. And if any one, after the facts that have now been stated, remains blind to our true national interests, and the quarter from which we must look for our wealth, our security, and independence, in future times, I say neither will he be converted though one rose from the dead."

When it is demonstrated by statistical facts like these, concerning which there can be no dispute, that interests so vast both in our colonial possessions and the parent state, are dependent upon the connexion between Great Britain and her Colonies; when it is recollected that the bread and very existence of millions at home depend upon the increasing trade and market with these Colonies; and that our maritime strength and national independence are entirely dependent upon the immediate adoption of such a system as shall extend and increase our colonial expire, it is with feelings of regret too profound to be mingled with bitterness-with sentiments of indignation too deep to exhale in angry words-that we look back upon the colonial policy of Great Britain for the last ten years. It may safely be affirmed, that the insane policy of Great Britain to her colonial possessions during that time has been unparalleled in modern times. She has first forced upon the West India Islands the monstrous project of negro emancipation, a step which has already reduced to one-half the produce of those splendid colonies, and given a blow to the prosperity both of the Negro and European population from which neither can ever recover. We have the details lying beside us, and were we not fearful of exhausting the pa tience of our readers by farther statis

« ElőzőTovább »