« PreviousContinue »
hours, or about 10,000 times as great. Neither would it be unfair to deduce from this single fact, that the general power of the two monarchies, including that which is the source of power, knowledge, was, if not exactly in this ratio, at least in a proportion which could not widely differ from it—let us, with great moderation, say one fourth as great; that is, it is more than probable that the power of England is, at this moment, 2500 times as great as was that of Egypt, at the period when this pyramid was constructed. When we consider the reach of intellect which is necessary to devise the steam-engine, in its present state; together with its general influence upon civilization, and the part it acts in national prosperity, it would be impossible for a nation which it has made many times as powerful as another by its direct effect, to be less than one fourth as great in every branch where its action is only indirect.
By the power of steam every machine to which it is applied receives, not an addition, but a multiplication of force. The power thus produced in 1820 was computed to be equal to 320,000 horses, or about 2,240,000 men. At this moment steam, on account of its many new applications, and the improvements made in the manner of employing it, may perform the work of near three millions of men, in the united kingdom.
Let us now see the effect of this power in the manufacture of cotton. We have already shown the rapidity with which the consumption of this vegetable wool increased, between the years 1767 and 1787. The various machinery now used in manufacturing it has enabled one man to perform the work of one hundred and fifty. Now the lowest computation supposes 280,000 men—some say 350,000 men-to be employed in it. Hence the work now performed in this single branch would -half a century ago-have required 42,000,000 of men—according to some 53,000,000; that is to say, at the lowest computation, more than twice as many men, women, or children, as now people the British islands. Now supposing the labour of each of these men to cost, at this hour, the very moderate sum of one shilling per day, or £18 per annum, the pay of 42,000,000 of labourers would be £756,000,000 per annum, or a little more than thirteen times the annual revenue of England. Deducting from this sum the pay of the labourers now really employed at the above annual rate, (280,000,X£18= £5,040,000) and allowing the enormous sum of £50,000,000 sterling for the wear and tear of machinery, buildings, and incidental expenses ; the result is, that the machinery employed in the cotton manufactories saves £700,000,000 sterling to the British nation; or, in other words, that, without machinery and steam, the prodigy of British
industry and civilization would still have been wanting to honour mankind.
But still further— The power employed in the cotton manufactures alone, of England, exceeds the manufacturing powers of all the rest of Europe collectively. The population of this continent does not amount to 200,000,000, or to five times forty. Now one-fifth of this population certainly is not employed in manufacturing; and all Europe, supposing it be as industrious as England, and wholly occupied by cotton,
could not, unassisted by machinery, spin and weave as much of that material as England now does. But the most industrious country of Europe is not half so much engaged in manufacturing as England is, and many of them are ten times inferior; in so much that the average hardly stands as high as one-fourth in industry; hence, then, four Europes could not, at this moment, spin and weave as much cotton as England does. But the manufacturing industry of England may be fairly computed as four times greater than that of all the other continents taken collectively; and sixteen such continents as Europe, in the average state of industry of the whole world, and exclusively occupied by cotton, could not manufacture so much of it as England now does. Again, the cotton manufacture of England may be said to be one-fourth of her total industry; and her total industry could not be performed by sixtytwo such continents as Europe in the average condition of the world. But this ratio must be multiplied by the entire population of the world, divided by that of England; and the superiority of our eighteen or twenty millions of subjects will thus be at least as one thousand to one, over the average power and condition of mankind at large.
Such are the means which a rude approximation gives as those that England now possesses, to pour out the blessings of civilization on the rest of the world. But, lest this estimate should be thought too high, we are ready to reduce it to one-fifth, and to say that the productive power of Britons is only 200 times as great as that of an equal number of men taken in the average population of the earth. We know not what portion of this 200 M. Dupin means to allow as the present superiority of England, and to claim as the past superiority of France, and we shall leave him to settle the account as he pleases.
From this vast career of industry, now opened to the world, the French have taken the alarm, and their thoughts begin to turn toward that rising continent which promises so wide a market for all that men can manufacture. We must expect to find them as active rivals there as they have been elsewhere; and employing the same means as ever to vie with us. Not that we
see any real danger to be apprehended to our commerce from their exertions; unless indeed some miraculous progress has been made since the last public act by which a judgment might be formed upon the state of their manufactures; we mean the last exhibition of the products of French industry. In 1823 another of those childish shows took place, so inadequate to give a just idea of the real condition of a people, or to answer any purpose but that of non-consuming idleness and non-productive vanity. This exhibition was, if possible, more meagre than any which had preceded; for in what estimation must we hold the national labours of which periwigs and perfumes were so large a part? Yet they figured in the Palace of the Louvre amidst cases of artificial teeth, sweetmeats, confitures, and bonbons; reminding us, in the midst of what frivolity held most solemn, of the ingenuity of a Parisian new year's day, when sugar and flower are disguised, à s'y tromper,' in the shape of sucking pigs, hams, boots, and birch rods. British industry certainly is not of such stuff as this. It is not for parade and pageantry. Where is the palace that could contain a just specimen of what steam can perform on general civilization? or who could conceive the inAuence of an iron railway upon human happiness, from all that could be crammed into the longest gallery of Paris? The mind which projects such wonders as these is not coercible under roofs and colonnades; neither could any show-board utter what it is. If the French can thus be vain of useless gilding and luxurious dyes, what would not their boasting be if they possessed a Soho or a Birmingham? But no; where boasting is, Watt could not be.
Notwithstanding this, however, the French board of trade and of colonies has addressed the third of the works which stand at the head of this Article to the principal chambers of commerce in the kingdom-documents relating to the trade which it may be advisable for the merchants of France to carry on with the new states of America. They are official, and are curious in more points of view than as relating merely to trade.
This little volume is preceded by a letter signed Saint-Cricq, president of the French board of trade. The tenth page says, that the English owe their superiority entirely to their capitals; but that the predilection of the natives is decidedly in favour of the French. • The English,' it is said,' are only useful, but they are not loved. In the fifteenth page we find, . On le répète, les Anglais ne sont pas aimés au Mexique; ils n'y sont qu'utiles.' Now let us suppose the French to be the delightful people that they say they are, aimable, séduisant, gallant;' every thing they please ; yet we think it a very general principle in human nature to be more attached to those who are useful to us, than to those
who divert us. If this were not so there would be more harlequins and fewer artisans in the world than we find. Hitherto we can see no fairer conclusion to be drawn from this state of South American affections, from this predilection for the French, and from our humble utility than this; that while the Mexicans trade with us, they may perhaps dance with the French. The misfortune is severe. But on what is this love founded? Why are the fellow citizens of M. de St. Cricq so much adored throughout the empire of Montezuma? The same page informs us. Among the reasons why French trade is not flourishing there at this moment, the third is,*
• The discredit wbich the first cargoes threw upon our productions, some persons not having scrupled to run after undue profits by cheating upon the qualities of their goods.' · In page 67, in speaking of Peru, we read:
"The profits which French cargoes have hitherto produced may be valued at 28 per cent. Some, indeed, have produced 100 per cent., but these exorbitant returns may be pointed out as the principal obstacle to extending our connections there; as they have always been obtained at the expense of honesty.
On se plaint that the French do not scruple to cheat the natives respecting the quality of their wares ; and such a fraud is the more detestable when committed against the Peruvians, because, with them, the entire trade consists in smuggling; and the purchasers are obliged to trust to the good faith of the sellers, and to accept the packages without examining them. It has often been found that, in a case of wine, threefourths of the bottles were empty; that provisions were more or less spoiled; and that stuffs were two or three degrees inferior to the patterns according to which the bargains were concluded.'
All this is no doubt very aimable; but it would require even more than all M. Saint-Cricq's eloquence to convince Englishmen that cheating is amiable. Not the least remarkable part of this quotation is, that it is unaccompanied by any expression of reprobation, by any mark of anger or disgust on the part of the worthy president.
We have examined this official document throughout, and we have not been able to find one single motive, except the above, for the predilection thus ministerially asserted to be given by the Mexicans, to the natives of France over those of Britain. We will not dispute the opinion of M. de Saint-Cricq; though, in our hearts, we cannot help still thinking and repeating that, even if the new republicans dance with the French, they will trade with us.
La défaveur que les premiers envois ont jetée sur nos produits; quelques expéditeors n'ayant pas craint de courir après des bénéfices exagérés, en trompant sur les qualités.
The system by which our commercial relations are now directed is one of the most memorable events in the history of trade. It has a character peculiar to itself; it promises more largely for the general good than all the acts or treaties that ever were concluded. It is a happy æra for civilization, when no one among the cultivated nations can make a step without dragging along with it the rest of the world. It is true that the most advanced will always be the most benefited by every new addition to wealth or knowledge; as the largest capitals always bring in the fullest returns. But the chain which binds mankind in social progress, if that progress be but moral and intellectual, is strengthened not strained, whenever it is firmly and steadily. drawn by those who know to manoeuvre it. England certainly has much to gain by an open exchange of industry, but every națion must be a sharer in her profits, in proportion to its capacity, as soon as it enters into her system of reciprocal advantages.
One of the curses of France is, that she does not yet perceive the truth of this doctrine. She thinks, as some village pedlars still may do, that no bargain is good in which she is not the sole gainer. As to England, every motion we make is suspicious; we cannot hold up a finger without her attributing to us some sinister design;
'et verso pollice vulgi Quemlibet occidunt populariter :' and it is painful to see her hang reluctantly backwards, while so many smaller states, whom she certainly calls her inferiors in understanding, gladly rush forwards to help on the career.
By many, this memorable liberality is called premature; by many we are accused of having proclaimed it too tardily. If, indeed, we consider the condition of England alone, no doubt we have been tardy in opening the avenues of commerce. She, long since, was ripe for unlimited competition; and, though her superiority was not universal, yet the balance was tenfold on her side. If we consider the other empires of Europe, the step has certainly been premature; for neither Russia, Prussia, Austria, nor Spain, -nay, not France herself, accepts the pact. Still, however, we were fully authorized by our own, and by the general interests, to act as we have done ; for sooner or later all nations must follow the example; or else remain so far behind us, that civiliza. tion will no more acknowledge them but as stragglers in the march.
In the most enlightened of societies, there ever are men who fear to advance; who think the world well enough as it is; who, forgetting that it was by a series of progresses that it has reached its present condition, would stop it in its course.