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foreign trade, and said the former was "worth all foreign trade put together." But his observations on this head are as much forgotten by the majority of our legislators as those he made on the great wisdom of our Navigation Laws, as the only security for our national independence.
Mr. McGregor said in debate on the same subject, that he admitted our naval strength had co-existed with the Navigation Laws, but he denied that they were cause and effect. They had about as much to do with each other as the height of the Pyramids had with the floods of the Nile." We agree with the honourable member for Glasgow in one part of this observation. The Navigation Laws have had as much to do with our maritime prosperity as the Pyramids had with the floods of the Nile; and we will tell the ex-secretary of the board of trade what the relation was--it was that of cause and effect. Mr. McGregor is too well informed not to know that there exists in Cairo a Nilometer, and that, during the' period of the inundation, the spirits of the people and the animation of commerce rise and fall with the rise or fall of the prolific stream. It is no wonder they do so, for it is the source of life and prosperity to the whole community. Raised by the power of the Pharaohs from the riches produced by the inundations of former times, the Pyramids are the Nilometer of antiquity, as much as the tower of Babel and the ruins of Babylon were the monument of the opulence of the plain
of Shinar; or as Waterloo Bridge is of the wealth produced by the favourable maritime situation of London, or York Cathedral of the agricultural riches of the plains of Yorkshire. In all these causes there is a relation between the natural advantages which produce the riches and the durable monument to the construction of which they lead, and that relation is that of cause and effect. We entirely concur with the member for Glasgow in thinking that the same connexion, and no other, subsists between the Navigation Laws and the maritime greatness of England as existed formerly between the Pyramids of Egypt, and the fertilizing floods which encircle their base.
To prove that these remarks are not made at random, but that the Navigation Laws really are the foundation of the maritime greatness of England, and that, when they are repealed, it must of necessity languish and ultimately expire, we subjoin three tables: one showing the progress of British as compared with foreign shipping, from 1801 to 1823, when the protection of the Navigation Laws was first infringed upon by the adoption of the reciprocity system with the Baltic powers; and another showing the comparative progress of our foreign and home shipping with Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Prussia, the countries with whom reciprocity treaties were first concluded, from 1823 to the end of 1847, when the reciprocity system had been a quarter of a century in operation.
TABLE showing the comparative progress of British and Foreign Tonnage inwards, from 1821 to 1847, both inclusive, with Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Prussia.
Year. Brit. tons. For. tons. Brit- tocs. For. tons. Brit. tons. For. tons. Brit. tons. For. tons.
23,005 8,508 13,855 61,342 5,312 3.969 79,590
13,122 117,015 4,413
*Times, June 9, 1848.
37,720 102,847 58.270
189.214 182,752 56,544 119,060 120,589 52,456 150,718 109,184 49,293 133,753 99.195 53,390 125,918 127,861
4,795 23,689 50,943
84,585 12,210 114,865 6,552 82,155 7,268 98,931 6,840
88,004 5,357 110,817
Year. Brit. tons. For. tons. Brit. tons. For. tons. Brit. tons. For. tons. Brit. tons. For. tons.
1830 12,116 23,158 6,459 1831 11,450 38,689 4,518 1832 8,335 25,755 3,789 1833
1834 15,353 35,911 6,403
1835 12,036 35,061 2,592
1839 8,359 49,270
1840 11,953 53.337
1842 15,296 37,218
102,758 139,646 83,908 140,532
25,514 124,144 42,567 174,439 67,566 145,742 86,734 175,643 111,470 229,208 112,709 237,984 88,198 210,254 87,202 145,499 70,164 163,745 198,626 220,202 49,334 256,711 63,425 270,801 88,390 203,225
Thus, while our shipping with the whole world quadrupled, as compared with the foreign employed in the same trade, under the protective system, from 1801 to 1823; it declined under the reciprocity system of equal duties, in the countries to which that system was applied in the next twenty years, till it had dwindled to a perfect fraction;-our tonnage with Sweden being, in 1847, not more than a sixteenth part of the foreign; with Norway a fiftieth part; with Denmark somewhat above a sixth; with Prussia somewhat under a fourth.
But then it is said these are selected states which do not give a fair average of the reciprocity system, or afford a correct criterion of its probable effects when applied, as it is about to be by a general repeal of the Navigation Laws, to the whole world. If they are "selected states," we can only say they were selected by Mr. Huskisson and the Free-traders themselves as likely to afford the best specimens of the effect of their principles, and therefore as the first on which the experiment was to be made. But we are quite willing to take the general tonnage of the empire as the test; and we shall commence with a quotation from the tables of the great statistical apostle of free trade, Mr. Porter, to show the effect of free trade in shipping on the comparative growth of
our whole tonnage, as compared with -PORTER's Progress of the Nation, 407.
that of foreign states, from 1801 to 1823, when the reciprocity system began; and again from thence to 1847, when free trade in shipping was in full operation by the temporary suspension of the Navigation Laws, from the effect of the Orders in Council in March, 1847, suspending the Navigation Laws under the pressure of the Irish famine:
Tons inward. Tons inward.
922,594 1802 1,333,005
904,367 612,904 1,517,271 Records lost.
780,155 1,702,749 480,251 1,813,256
638,104 1,753,806 607,299 1,512,231
938,675 759,287 1,697,692 896,001 1,176,243 2,072,244
1812 Records destroyed by fire.
599,287 1 889,535 746,985 2,119,093 379,465 1,795,188 445,011 2,070,132 762,457 2,648,851 542,684 2,351,812 447,611 2,115,671 396,256 1,995,530 469,151
It appears from this most instructive table that, under the protection system, from 1801 to 1823, the British shipping employed in conducting our commerce had gained so decisively on the foreign employed in the same commerce, that it had increased from having been on an average of five years, at the commencement of the second, about two British tons to one foreign, to be, on the last five years, about four British tons to one foreign in other words, during these twenty-two years, the proportion of British to foreign shipping had doubled.
Turn now to the contrast afforded by the comparative progress of British and foreign shipping from 1823, when the reciprocity system was introduced with certain states, to 1847, when it was made universal by the suspension of the Navigation Laws in March of that
1823 1,740,859 582,996 2,323,855 1824 1,797,320 759,441 2,556,761 1825 2,144,598 958,132 3,102,730 1826 1,950,630 694,116 2,644.746 1827 2,086,898 751,864 1,839,762 1828 2,094,357 634,620 2,728,977 1829 2,184,525 710,303 2,894,828 1830 2,180,042 758,828 2,938,870 1831 2,367,322 874,605 3,241,927 1832 2,185,980 639,979 2,825,959 1833 2,183,814 762,085 2,945,899 1834 2,298,263 833.905 3,132,168 1835 2,442,734 866,990 3,309,724 1836 2,505,473 988,899 3,494,372 1837 2,617,1661,005,940 3,623,106 1838 2,785,387 1,211,666 3,997,053 1839 3,101,650 1,331,365 4,433,015 1840 3,197,501 1,460,294 | 4,657,795 1841 3,361,2111,291,1654,652,376 1812 3,294,725 1,205,303 4,500,028 1813 3,545,346 1,301,950 4,846,296 1844 3,647,463 1,402,138 5,049,601 1845 4,310,639 1,735,079 6,045,718 1846 4,294,733 1,806,282 6,101,015 1847 4,942,094 2,253,939 7,196,C33
ment of the period the British stood to the foreign as 174 to 58, or 3 to 1 exactly, at the close they stood as 49 to 22, or somewhat above 2 to 1 only. And observe the vast start of foreign shipping as compared with British, since free trade was introduced by Sir R: Peel, in 1846. For while the British tonnage was to the foreign in 1845 as 43 to 17, or as 2 to 1; in the year 1847 it was as 49 to 22, or 2 to 1 only. So rapid has been the growth of foreign shipping over British in eighteen months of general free trade. In ten years of such a system, it is easy to see that the foreign tonnage employed in carrying on our trade will be equal to the British; and then our national independence is gone for ever, for we have nursed up in our harbors a body of foreign seamen equal to our own.
But we have not yet done with the parliamentary returns. From the return 3d April 1818, it appears that the total tonnage, British and foreign, employed in carrying on our trade was
-PORTER's Progress of the Nation, 407, 2d ed.; and Parliamentary Papers, 3d April, 1848. Thus it appears that under the reciprocity system with some countries since 1823, and free trade in shipping with all in 1847, the foreign shipping employed in carrying on the British trade had so rapidly grown upon the British, that, while at the commence.
4,942,094 Total For. ton. 2,253,939 1,970,372 Foreign do. 19,847
1847. Total British tonnage,
De duct British Colonial tonnage, Remains in trade with all the world except colonies,
So that, setting aside our colonial trade, the British tonnage is to the tonnage with all the rest of the world as 29 to 22, or as 4 to 3 only! Considering the rapid strides which, under the reciprocity system established only with a limited number of countries in 1823, the foreign shipping is making in encroachment upon the British, this fact affords room for the most serious reflections. It is clear, from the great advance of foreign over British shipping in the single year of temporary suspension of the Navigation Laws, under the pressure of famine in 1847—viz. from 1,735,679, to 2,253,979; while the British in the same period advanced only from 4,310,639, to 4,942,094,-that two or three years of free trade in shipping will bring the foreign vessels employed in conducting our trade, exclusive of those engaged in the colonial, to an equality with the British. The moment that period arrives, our maritime superiority, and with it our national independence, hang entirely on our colonial trade, which, and which alone, strikes the balance at present in our favour. And yet, the colonial trade is the precise thing which it is the object of the repeal of the Navigation Laws to throw open to foreign nations! In their anxiety to cheapen every thing, the Free-traders would gladly expose our shipping interest engaged in the colonial trade to the same competition, which has already proved so disastrous to that part of it which is engaged in the trafic with foreign nations.
Observe how one false step in policy by nations, like one deviation from virtue in private life, leads by natural consequences to a repetition of errors and crimes, till irreparable ruin ensues. The agricultural interest at home was first attacked; and by the cry of cheap bread, and the weight of class legislation, its protection was taken away. The West India islands were the next victims; because, if the farmer in England raises his wheat with nothing but a nominal protection, it was plausible to say the West India planter must raise his sugar on the same terms. The ruinous
2,233,092 competition to which this exposed the West India planters naturally produced in them a desire to be liberated from any burdens to which they were subjected for the benefit of the mother country; and in this demand the Canadians, exposed to the competition of American grain, for a similar reason concurred. Thus the cry for cheap freights, originating in freetrade principles in England, came to be responded to from the British colonies on the other side of the Atlantic; and the Navigation Laws began to be repudiated by the colonies-the very thing which formerly it was their most anxious desire to uphold. The firm though unseen bond of mutual interest, founded on protective principles, which has hitherto held together the vast and widely separated dominions of the British empire, is dissolved. Being deprived of the benefit of protection, they very naturally wished to be relieved of its burdens. Such is the maze of error and danger into which we have been led by the sophistry of free trade; and such the way in which the greatest and best consolidated empires are first loosened, and then destroyed, by the delusions of those entrusted with their guidance.
The manner in which foreign shipping has encroached upon British, since the reciprocity system began in 1823, is clearly proved by the centesimal proportions of each, published by Mr. Porter, from 1820 to 1844, both inclusive.
It will be seen from the following table, that, since 1820, the centesimal proportion of British shipping employed in conducting our trade has declined from 78 to 72, while that of foreign nations has increased from 21 to 27. But this proportion, such as it is, is solely upheld by our colonial trade, which, as already shown, employs nearly 2,000,000 tons of our shipping. But for it, the encroachment of foreign on British shipping would appear in such alarming colours as to strike the most inconsiderate. It is the rapid growth of our colonial trade under the protective system which has alone concealed the ravages effected on it by free trade under the reciprocity.
Centesimal Proportions of the British and Foreign Tonnage employed in the Import Trade of the United Kingdom from 1820 to 1844.
Year. Brit. inward. For. inward. Year.
Brit. inward. For. inward.
-PORTER'S Progress of the Nation, 416, 2d edition. Mr. Porter himself tells us that the centesimal proportion of our trade with the European powers has de
-Parliamentary Paper, 3d April 1848.
Cent. prop. Tons. Cent. prop.
clined (p. 410) from 65 to 52-38, while that of our colonies has increased thus,
ficial operation of their principles. We accept the instance, and proceed to inquire into the comparative value of the American protected trade with our own colonies, and the American free trade with the United States, both at this time and in the respective progress of each for the last twenty-five years.
The Foreign and British tonnage with the United States, Canada, and the West Indies, in the year 1847, stood thus, viz. :
British tons. Foreign tons. Total.
* Reciprocity System introduced.