Page images

and they cannot well conceive how it since Sir Robert Peel ventured to can be otherwise. Let them, how- make his most dangerous experiment ever, apply to agriculture the same on the tariff. Native industry of principles and the same arguments every kind, and in every shape, from which they would form a conclu- has been assailed. The exporting sion with respect to any other trade, trades alone have profited by the and they must necessarily be con- change; and even their advanvinced of the entire truth of every tage has fallen miserably short of word which we have stated. So that which they so confidently antisoon as agriculture becomes a losing cipated. The reason is perfectly trade—and such it is just now-all en- plain. The stimulus which was gaged in it must suffer. Let the pos- given to foreign manufactures by sibility of recovery be excluded, as our total abandonment of the prothe continuance or rather the perman- tective system, has had the effect of ency of the Free-Trade system will creating rivals to our manufacturers exclude it, and it must be altogether in markets of which we expected to abandoned. There is no possible retain the monopoly, and at the alternative, at least while burdens present moment our merchants are remain as they are. The Free-Trade engaged in a desperate but fruitless oracles are distinct as to the remune- struggle to maintain that monopoly, rative price of produce. We have by underselling their competitors at taken their calculation, instead of any cost. It is evident that they assuming a higher one of our own ; cannot continue that struggle long. and by a comparison of that with Free access to the British market present prices, we have shown, beyond has given to foreign states a power all contest, that agriculture is not only which they never possessed before ; a losing, but a ruinous trade. We and not content with supplanting have stated our reasons for believing our artisans at home, they never will that it is impossible that prices can rest satisfied until they can meet the rally under the existing system of Manchester manufacturers, on equal imports; and even those who were terms, at those very outposts of commost bitterly opposed to us, and who merce which the latter have long formerly maintained the contrary regarded as their own particular view, now tacitly acknowledge the preserve. In the mean time, our naentire justice of our arguments. What tive artisans, whose sole dependence then remains to be said upon a matter is on the home market, are thrown so clearly ascertained ?

out of work. Our shops are filled Hitherto we have spoken as if the with foreign articles ticketed at a agricultural interest could be consi- price which appears to defy competidered apart from the other interests of tion. Unskilled labour is driven the community. It is not our fault if from the country into the towns, is we are forced to discuss it in this hired at famine wages to do the work light-it is the fault of the men who of the taskmaster; and the handihave promulgated the false and craftsman, without knowing why, unnatural doctrine, that one branch of finds his wages weekly dwindling, native industry can be struck down under the operation of a system which and annihilated, without any distinct professed to secure for him and his injury being inflicted on the others. class comforts wlich were hitherto The truth is, that Free Trade has not unknown. only prostrated the agriculturists, We rejoice to know that the period but has carried its desolating effects of this grand delusion is over. The into the heart of every large town eyes of the working classes in the in the empire. The artisans, who towns are opening to the delusion are large consumers of taxed articles, which has been practised; nor can and who therefore contribute greatly we give a better proof of this than by to the national revenue, find them- inserting a document which has been selves undersold and supplanted by already extensively disseminated the influx of foreign inanufactured through almost every town in Great goods which have poured into this Britain :country in a perpetual stream, ever

“ ADDRESS OF THE METROPOLITAN TRADES measures as will best secure employment

DELEGATES TO THE WORKING CLASSES to the entire population, and for their OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND. labour an abundance of the necessaries

and comforts of life. We therefore fear«• We warn the workman that all who are not receiving protection are paying for it.”Times, lessly assert, that the unrestricted foreign March 1848.

cheap-labour policy, which has been for a “ Fellow Countrymen,-We, in com

series of years encouraged by the legismon with other sections of the people, lature of this kingdom, and extended by have assembled, and taken into our serious

the present Parliament, is theoretically consideration the present state of the wrong, and, under the existing constitucountry, with a view to urge upon you

tion of society, practically injurious to to be prepared to take a part in the

the industrial classes, by compelling them coming struggle for the rights of in

to enter into stimulated, unregulated, dustry.

and hopeless competition at home and “ In a petition presented to the House abroad, which is opposed to independence of Commons from the Metropolitan Trades

and happiness, dangerous to the country, Delegates during the session of 1848, it

and destructive to the general prosperity was stated that there were then in Lon

of the whole British people. don about 200,000 working men ; one

“ While reiterating the opinion which third of whom were employed, one-third

we formerly expressed against the prebut half-employed, and one-third totally

sent unfair system of unemployed. In consequence of state


FREE ments which have lately been made in

TRADE, both Houses of Parliament, asserting that the condition of the working classes was

from which its advocates promised so never more comfortable, we have made

much good, especially to the working inquiries into their present condition,

classes, but which has only proved 'a and find that, in the most numerous

mockery, a delusion, and a snare,' we will trades, depending for employment on

not now impute blame on account of the home consumption, the relative numbers

experiment; nor do we desire to awaken employed and unemployed are about in

in you angry feelings or enmity against the same proportion as formerly stated; any class of legislators or politicians, but the only difference being that the wages

we boldly call upon you to demand from of those employed are much lower than

any party that may hold the reins of they were three years ago, and therefore

office, to adopt their present condition is more depressed. A PROTECTIVE POLICY FOR NATIVE “ In some branches of trade a greater

INDUSTRY, proportion is employed, but these are exceptional cases ; for in every trade and

against unfair competition, so that you profession all over the kingdom, there is may be enabled to live by your labour, now a surplus of hands begging leave to

and give a rational, practical, and useful toil, although hundreds of thousands education to your children, without which have emigrated during the last three

the security and prosperity of the empire years to foreign lands, and transferred are impossible.” their genius, their labour, and their alle

“ Signed on behalf of the Metropolitan

Trades Delegates, giance to foreign states ; while hundreds of thousands more are ready to follow

“ Isaac Wilson, Chairman. when they can find the means to be

“ AUGUSTUS E. DELAFORCE, Sec. transported from their fatherland, where Committee-Rooms, High Holborn, they have been denied their right to

March 5, 1851." labour, and the right to live, except by wearing the pauper's badge, and by the What a comment is this document sacrifice of the social affections.

upon the prosperity speeches of “ Fellow Countrymen,-As it is now Ministers! What a contrast exists admitted by all classes that labour is the

between its plain practical terms and source of wealth, it evidently follows that the prosperity and independence of Great Wood, or the puerile declamations of

the bewildered jargon of Sir Charles Britain and her colonies will be best pro- the Premier about the company which moted by employing and protecting the greatest number of a healthy, industrious, he used to keep ! intelligent, and moral population, that

If any further argument were can be educated and comfortably main- needed against the continuance of tained by their own industry ; therefore, our present commercial system, Lord it should be the first and most important John Russell has furnished it by duty of a wise government to adopt such adopting, without reservation, the sentiments expressed in the Maga- duty of providing within itself the zine no later than February last. In necessary supplies for its population? the article entitled “The Dangers of We repeat, that on the issue of the the Country," the following question next general election depend in a was put, — “Now, assuming - as great measure the future destinies of experience warrants us in doing—this the country. For our own part we state of matters to be permanent, and have little fear of the result, provided the growth of wheat in the British that all men are fully alive to the islands to be progressively super- exigency and importance of the crisis. seded by importations from abroad, The views of Lord Stanley, and the how is the national independence to line of conduct which he proposes to

be maintained when a fourth of our adopt, in the event of his being sumpeople have come to depend on moned to undertake the direction of foreign supplies for their daily food ?" public affairs, are already before the The Premier has not, indeed, fa- country; and every one has the opporvoured us with a direct answer, but tunity of forming his own opinion the subject seems latterly to have oc- with regard to their merit and their casioned no slight amonnt of uneasi- efficacy. They appear to us admirably ness in his mind. In the debate of suited to meet the temper of the times. 10th March, on the Navy Estimates, We have suffered too much from rash he is reported to have said, with re- legislation to wish for a precipitate ference to the possibility of a hostile change in the other direction; and attempt upon our shores, or the fit- we are satisfied that, by adopting a ting out of an adverse armament,- moderate but decided course, far “Now, let the Hon. Member for the greater and more general satisfaction West Riding observe, that, injurious would be given than by rushing hastily as those operations might be, hurtful into extremes. Here perhaps it may to our trade, our wealth, and our re- be proper to insert an extract from sources in former times, the late change the speech of Lord Stanley on the 5th we have made with respect to the Corn of March, in answer to the address Law, made such operations far more from the deputation of the National injurious than they otherwise would be. Association, which, though imperfectly For the last two or three years, we reported, will serve to explain the had had eight millions or nine millions nature of his contemplated policy. quarters of grain imported. Let any

“ In the course of his address, the one think what a loss it would be to

noble lord noticed some remarks which this country, being in the practice of hav- had been made with regard to his having ing part of our

food to that amount come been represented to say that he was from foreign countries, if, in the event favourable to the adoption of moderate of a war, we had no sufficient naval import duties, with a view to revenue, force." So, then, his lordship does but not to price. If he had ever said this, begin to see, at last, that he and his he should have been uttering a paradox. confederates have placed the national He was quite aware that every duty that independence in jeopardy! He ac

was imposed raised the price of the article knowledges now, that, in the event of taxed, but he was also well aware that any war arising, which might interfere raise the price to the full amount of that

no duty which might be imposed would with the supplies of foreign food duty. What he had stated was, that no which we have so gratuitously soli- duty which could be imposed would raise cited, the consequences must be

the existing price of agricultural produce most calamitous to the country ! to the point which those who repealed And what is this but a broad and the corn laws declared would be remuneraplain confession that the system of tive. He contemplated the imposition of a Free Trade, and the independence of moderate duty on the import of foreign Great Britain, are two things which

corn and provisions, partly for the purpose cannot possibly co-exist, or be recon

of giving a slight-certainly a slightciled? What is it but an admission

but nevertheless a certain amount of pro

tection to the British agriculturist, and of the grand leading principle of true

also, by furnishing a certain amount of political economy, that no nation can

revenue, enabling Parliament to take off hope to preserve its independence, if those taxes which pressed most heavily it neglects or foregoes the primary upon him. It was with a double object, therefore, that he was in favour of a that it was now time and necessary to moderate rate of duty: first, as a slight deal promptly and generously with that protection on the one hand; and next, as interest. The noble lord further exa slight relief from the burden of taxa- pressed his opinion that the principle of tion on the other. One expression of protection by moderate import duties, his, the noble lord subsequently remarked, against competition upon unequal terms which had been very much commented with the foreigner, was equally applicable on, was, that he had stated that he was to our colonial interests." not prepared to reverse the policy of Sir The days of the present Ministry R. Peel. He well knew that great and are evidently numbered. During sudden changes were the most fraught their tenure of office they have failed with danger, and that nothing could be to earn the love or approbation of the done effectually or safely in a country like England which was not calmly and people; and few will lament their deliberately done, upon full considera. fall. Let us hope that with them tion, and even after experience. Two

may close a period of unnational and most formidable measures had of late unnatural policy, which assuredly years been enacted. One had already hereafter will reflect no honour on the effected great eril ; but, he feared, not names of those who were its principal to the full extent that would yet be de- instruments and advocates; and that veloped. The other was the repeal of no future statesman, of any rank or the navigation laws, which was, perhaps, eminence, will so far mistake his duty even more important, for obvious reasons. to his sovereign and to his country as What he had stated was, that he did not

to entertain the idea that party ascenpropose a reversal of Sir R. Peel's policy, dency is for one moment to be weighed but a modification of that policy in those cases in which it should have been found

in the scale against the real interests to work injuriously. The evil effects of of the nation, which can alone be that policy, he then went on to observe, secured by protecting the labour of had been proved with regard to the in the people, and by guarding from terest which was mainly suffering—the foreign encroachment the rights of agricultural interest ; and he thought NATIVE INDUSTRY.

Printed by William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgk.



MAY, 1851.

Vol. LXIX.













To whom all communications (post paid) must be addressed.



« PreviousContinue »