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affected by other causes than it is by the scale of duties which they impose on imported goods. To so great an extent is this the case that a comparison instituted between the commerce of any two individual countries alone could be little trusted as an exponent of soundness in any fiscal system. But with a number as large as twelve such a comparison is worth something. If a marked advance appears in the commerce of twelve different communities, absolutely dissimilar in their forms of government, with populations of dissimilar aptitudes, with dissimilar climates and natural products, and if the rate of this advance during the same period of time exceeds the rate at which we ourselves, one of the richest and most energetic of nations, have been advancing, this, though far from conclusive, says something in favour of the system of Protection. But as an answer to the conclusion in favour of “Free Imports,' which is sought to be drawn from the prosperity of this country since it adopted that practice, this comparison with other countries is worth a great deal more. Indeed, it is almost, if not quite, a complete answer. For if, disregarding the operation of all other causes, you attribute the prosperity of this country to free imports alone, if, fixing your eye upon this one possible cause of prosperity alone, you treat it as a proof of the soundness of your system, I am justified in doing the same thing with respect to other countries, and in whatever degree your argument is cogent or conclusive in favour of free imports, my argument, standing on precisely the same basis, is equally cogent or conclusive in favour of Protection. It is thus that I made use of Mr. Mulhall's table in the article which Mr. Medley has undertaken to answer; and how has he answered it? I am afraid I here must note a confusion of thought similar to that upon which I have already commented. Institute a comparison with foreign nations by all means, he says, but institute it properly. Take the actual figures which show the actual value of the commerce of each country and see which country has the best of it-which has the Lion's Share.' Do not compare each country with itself at two different epochs. Do not take the commerce of any given country at a given time, and compare it with the commerce of the same country after a lapse of forty years, and, observing the rate at which that commerce has advanced, draw a conclusion favourable or otherwise to the system upon which it has regulated its fiscal laws, but compare the commerce of one country with that of another, and whichever country has the largest commerce must be proceeding on the best system. In other words, his argument is this: Whatever nation has the greatest wealth, the largest territories and population, the greatest energy and ability, and the greatest natural advantages, will in all probability command the greatest commerce, and if it enjoys the Lion's Share' of the world's commerce, it follows as a matter of course that its affairs are, in the matter of taxes and tariff, conducted on the soundest system. The wealthiest community, then, is necessarily the wisest; and the

This very


If you


most successful nation, no matter what is the extent and character of its territories or the qualities of its population, must needs act upon the wisest system in the matter of tariff, or it could not enjoy the “Lion's Share.'

To characterise this argument I must borrow a phrase of Mr. Medley's, 'It is brimful of fallacies. Its absurdity, however, may be demonstrated in a single sentence, and refuted by a single fact. If the preponderance of Great Britain over other nations in commerce is a proof of the soundness of the Free Trade system, how is it that that preponderance existed before Free Trade was invented, and existed even in a greater degree? And yet such is the fact. table of Mr. Mulhall's shows it. In 1830 our commerce stood at 88,000,0001., and that of France at 42,000,0001., being less than half

In 1870 our commerce stood at 601,000,0001., and th France at 368,000,0001., being much more than half of ours. take Germany in 1830, her commerce stood at 39,000,0001., again less than half that of Great Britain. In 1878, the figures stand at 390,000,000l. for Germany, and 601,000,0001. for Great Britain, showing German commerce to have advanced to

than half that of Great Britain. The commerce of Great Britain, therefore, bears a less favourable comparison with that of other countries in 1878, after thirty-two years of Free Trade, than it did in 1830. It is less comparatively in advance of them. far, therefore, as increase of commerce is to be imputed to Free Trade or Protection, the verdict must be in favour of Protection. But this is not the way in which Mr. Medley reasons. • You are at the head of nations,' he says; 'you have the lion's share—what more do you want as a proof of the blessings of “free imports ” ?' It is in vain to point out to him that you had this lion's share before you began your disastrous experiment of free imports. He is unable to see the bearing of it, but, what is rather hard, Mr. Mulball's name is invoked by him in favour of this confusion of ideas. Mulhall,' he says, 'would be one of the most surprised to learn that any such deduction could be drawn from his table.' Mr. Mulhall, then, must be a very inconsistent man, for he drew the deduction himself. Mr. Mulball's table was drawn up not to exhibit the comparative commerce of one nation with another, but the relation which the commerce of each nation at one time bore to its commerce at another time, bringing out as a result the rate at which the commerce of each nation has advanced ; and the proof that it was so is to be found in the last column of it, which is headed. Increase.' Under the heads of the different countries he compares each country with itself at the two periods indicated, and states the increase to be sevenfold, or eightfold, or ninefold, as the case may be, bringing out at the foot an average advance of eightfold. What does he mean by sevenfold or eightfold except that the commerce of the country specified has increased to eight times the amount at which it stood before ?


I will now, in my turn, invoke Mr. Mulhall. This same writer, when speaking of manufactures, has a still more discouraging tale to tell. •Forty years ago,' he says, “Great Britain produced two-thirds of the total dry goods in the world ; at present her manufactures are barely one-third, although her factories turn out twice as much as in 1840. (Progress of the World, p. 60.)

This condition of things, this sad falling-off of our manufacturing supremacy, is unimportant in Mr. Medley's mind, I presume, so long as we continue to manufacture more than any other individual nation and possess the comforting lion's share. But the question Mr. Medley has to consider is this: Will the lion always continue to possess his share? Does not that depend on how he conducts himself? The advance of other nations into those regions of manufacture in which we used to stand either alone or supreme, should make us alive to the possible future. Where we used to find customers we now find rivals, and with a magnanimous disdain for all rivalry we sell to all comers our coal, the source of mechanical power, and our machinery, the means by which that mechanical power may be profitably exerted. Prudence is not alarm, and prudence demands a dispassionate inquiry into the course we are pursuing, in place of a blind adhesion to a discredited theory. That such an inquiry can be long delayed I do not believe.

At any rate, let us hope that we have heard the last of the shibboleth that every import necessitates a corresponding export of British goods. The advocate of the Cobden Club has abandoned it as untenable, substituting for it the undeniable truth that all foreign goods are paid for by something of equal value.

In like manner must be abandoned the belief that our prosperity since 1846 is due to Free Trade; for this belief can only be supported upon the assumption that, because we are still at the head of nations in commercial prosperity, as we always have been, therefore the system of free imports which we have acted upon for the last forty years must be sound, although we enjoyed the same pre-eminence at a time when we acted upon the opposite system of Protection.

On these two questions, then, the Free Trade contention as expounded by the chosen champion of the Cobden Club is a complete collapse. Does the Committee of the Cobden Club offer us anything else in support of the Free Trade faith? Absolutely nothing. There is no mysterious merit in the background, or surely their able champion, Mr. Medley, would have disclosed it. Let the artisan, then, who suffers from the injury or extinction of his industrylet the employer of labour who suffers from a system under which large portions of our wealth, as fast as it is acquired, are poured into the lap of foreign countries in the shape of wages for the support of their populations, while our own people are craving for work, look this system in the face. VOL. XX-No. 115.


Let them bear in mind that neither Europe nor America-monarchies nor republics--contains a community which does not repudiate it. The injuries it inflicts are patent and notorious and are forced under our eyes alike in the statistics of trade and the records of the daily press.

What are the benefits that counterbalance them?

The supporters of ‘Free Imports' have been challenged to point them out, and, so far as Mr. Medley's essay is concerned, have miserably failed to do so.

Is it anything short of infatuation, then, to defer inquiry until the mischief is done? It takes a long time to displace the commerce and established manufactures which have been built up by the patient energy of past generations, and are still upheld by the wealth and industry of such a country as Great Britain; and the inroad made upon us under the shelter of our own laws may not as yet have reached formidable dimensions. But is that a sensible reason for refusing to inquire whether our system is sound or not? The road you are travelling may be the wrong one, though your foot is not yet in the morass to which it leads. Your mode of life may be unhealthy, though your health is not yet seriously impaired. Many causes, and notably the civil war in America and the FrancoGerman struggle in Europe, have combined to sustain our commerce since Free Trade was adopted by checking the progress of those who are now our rivals, and reducing the effects of competition. But these countervailing incidents are little likely to be repeated. All prudence then points one way, but unfortunately two great national characteristics point the other. First, that noble tenacity of purpose which makes us hold fast to whatever position we have taken up; that refuses to acknowledge defeat, and elevates persistence into a virtue; and next, the curse of Ethelred the Unready, which ever tempts us to defer the moment of defence to the moment of actual disaster.

I will conclude by the suggestion of a danger and the expression of a hope. An article appeared not long ago, by Mr. Moreton Frewen, on the · Displacement of Nations.' I have not left myself room to quote it at any length, but what he said in substance was this : The Government of the United States, as is well known, have for some time enjoyed a revenue far greater than the demands of the country require. What the artificial system of government bounties acted upon by France and Germany has done for our sugar trade is notorious. Mr. Frewen suggests that a similar policy is not unlikely to be adopted by the United States, and carried out by means of their great surplus revenue, in an attack upon other industries in which we now hold a high place. "This I believe,' he says, 'to be the future fiscal policy of the United States. Already we are hearing the first mutterings of the storm that is to break. Mr. Samuel J. Tilden, the veteran wirepuller of the Democratic party, wrote recently to his nominal chiefs that the surplus revenue could be most profitably expended in bonusing the construction of a mercantile marine. Ten millions sterling thus invested would transfer all the skilled labour of the Clyde and the Tyne to the Hudson, and would destroy all the fixed capital invested in British ship-yards; and when this branch of native industry has succumbed, the next departure will be a heavy export duty levied on American raw cotton, and a handsome export bonus on all manufactured cotton goods.'

If such a thing as this should come about, might it not go hard with us if it found this country still worshipping the tyrannical dogma that no duty is to be imposed on foreign manufactures, and thereby incapacitated from even considering, much less adopting, any fiscal changes which might operate in our defence?

But after all, this is but a fear. Let us hope that it may turn out, as many fears do, to be groundless.

The hope I spoke of is already, I believe, on the road to fulfilment. We cannot shut our eyes to the fast-growing desire which has lately sprung up for the welding of our magnificent colonies into a real Empire with these islands. The time is opportune, the colonies are favourable, and we have a statesman at the head of affairs who has given effective proofs that he regards the national welfare above the miserable interests of party warfare—a statesman whose commanding genius is capable of grasping this vast question and guiding these national aspirations to a fruitful end. How long, then, after these islands and our colonies become knit together for offence and defence, for mutual dependence and support, shall we be content to draw our supplies of food from Russia, from Spain, or the United States? How long, indeed, shall we be able to refuse to our brethren and fellow-subjects whatever advantage over the foreigner our fiscal laws can secure to them without laying an undue burden on the consumer in this country?

And a further question-Is it not to be expected that treatment of this kind may be demanded by our colonies as the reasonable basis upon which alone they will be content to unite their fortunes and their future with ours?

There is strong ground for belief that it would be so. colonial leader, whose name, if I were at liberty to give it, would command full respect and confidence, on being questioned as to the probable success of this desire for federation, thus expressed himself:

It would seem to me that a policy of give and take is needed for this purpose, and this will involve the entire question of what is known in England as Free Trade. I may say at once that if you are determined in England to accept implicitly the postulates of latter-day economists, then you cannot count upon the support of the colonies.


One great

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