« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
these colonies form a small portion only thing that can be said to the purof the market for British goods, that the pose, must be kept in the back ground. admission of foreign competition there, In reply, then, to the objection, he obwould scarcely be perceived at home, served, that "if he placed the colonies however ruinons it might prove if extended" on a footing with the United Kingdom, to the kingdom at large. The injury " he saw no fair ground for complaint*." which the British manufacturer would By this sleight of tongue, which has sustain from a removal of all restriction been called "the fallacy of false consolaon the intercourse of the colonies with fo-"tions," Mr. Huskisson would persuade reign countries, is a groundless exaggera- the colonists that the situation of Great tion of panic terror, equally in defiance Britain forms a maximum of felicity, of principle and experience. The eman- which other countries cannot reasonably cipated nations both of North and South wish to exceed. America derive the great mass of their in- We shall not enter into that question ports from Great Britain, where they obtain here, which, indeed, we are glad to believe them at the cheapest rate; and so ong as is now a work of supererogationt. We Great Britain shall be able to sell them her shall be satisfied with observing, that the simanufactures cheap-the only lasting or tuations of the colonies and Great Britain legitimate monopoly-so long will she is not the same. It is true, that foreign macontinue to supply them. But the condition nufactures are excluded from the ports of of the West India colonies is the same both by duties of the same kind; but as that of the continents of America: a the effect, however similar in appearance, restriction, therefore, on the importation is widely different in fact. Were the of foreign articles into the colonial ports, in ports of this great manufacturing country favour of our own manufacture, is princi- thrown open to those foreign goods, in pally nominal, and a removal of it would which she principally abounds, none but slightly alter the established course of would be imported; by her capability of trade. If the restrictions have any effect, underselling the foreign producer her init can only be to the detriment of the co-habitants would still have an unlimited lonies; and it is not easy to put a case in supply, at a price unincreased by any which they can be made to suffer, which duty. The West India colonies, on will not ultimately affect the mother country. In this respect we agree with Mr. Huskisson; who observed, that "he "came clearly to the conclusion, that so "far as the colonies themselves were concerned, their prosperity was cramped "and impeded by the old system of ex"clusion and monopoly; and he felt him"self equally warranted in his next "inference, that whatever tended to "increase the prosperity of the colonies, "could not fail in the long run to ad"vanée, in an equal degree, the general "interests of the parent state*."
In spite, however, of this deliberate observation, when it was afterwards objected to Mr. Huskisson, that the schedule of duties appended to his measure was at variance with the principle he professed to act upon, what was his reply? We will not charge him with deliberately entertaining the opinion it conveys; but we cannot help quoting his answer, as a specimen of the parliamentary method of substituting words for ideas, where something must be said, but where the
* Ante, p. 288.
the contrary, are destitute of manufactures. Such as they stand in need of, they import from Great Britain ;. or now, we suppose, in some instances, from foreign countries: but in both cases charged with duty .
Here then is the distinction: so far as it affects the British consumer, the duty is nugatory; in the colonies it is paid to the last penny.
But there is a further qualification of this part of Mr. Huskisson's bill, which affects us with inore surprise; inasmuch as it can only be imputed to mistaken views of the subject, or to the influence of a low national jealousy, of which the existence could not have been suspected in the minds of those distinguished persons who control the finances and commerce of our country.
The first measure of the present ministers towards the emancipation of the colonial trade was followed by one of an opposite tendency from the American Government, sufficiently foolish in itself,
We have dwelt upon this singular step of the British cabinet the more earnestly, since the motives that dictated it are still so fresh and active, that in the very bill which forms the subject of our examination, a proviso is inserted, which prohibits this newly emancipated trade, in the case of those countries which having colonial " possessions, shall refuse to grant the like
but which was met on the part of Great | render the removal of the original subject Britain by a still stranger proceeding of complaint more difficult than ever, (considering the character of its authors) and this is a third evil, which when added -a proceeding too, well worthy of some to the other two, leaves us in just thrice remark, as the principles which prompted as bad a condition as we were placed in it are still defended by Mr. Huskisson, by the Act of Congress. and be traced in the present measure. The United States, from motives which it can answer no useful purpose to investigate, shortly after the opening of this trade, in the 3rd year of the present king, imposed an alien duty upon all British ships trading between our colonies and their ports, to remain so long as their produce should not be admitted into the colonies, as freely as that of England or Canada. The effect of this measure must be chiefly injurious to themselves; for it tends to raise the price of our colonial produce to them, without raising the price of their produce to the colonists. To ourselves or our colonies, it is a matter of comparative indifference. But what says Mr. Huskisson ?
"To meet this unexpected proceeding on the part of the United States, we were driven to one of these two courses-either again to pro
hibit the intercourse with them altogether, or retaliate the alien duties imposed upon British shipping, by subjecting to the like duties American ships entering the ports of our colonies. Neither of these expedients were in themselves desirable, but we preferred the latter
privileges to British ships," unless the king in council shall deem it expedient to dispense with this condition. If the object of the measure be commercial, we repeat that this clause is worse than useless; if political, we regard it with aversion, as a system of injurious reprisals.
We have now to inquire what is the result of the principal provision in this inuch talked of measure of relief-what is the actual amount of benefit which it is likely to confer upon the colonies? The answer to this question depends, as we have before observed, upon the solution of another : Are the duties on importation in the colonial ports, so moderate, as to enable the foreign exporter to undersell the British, in the colonial market? If yes (as we incline to think), we hail the measure as a happy step in the career of free trade; if no, we accept it as an earnest of some substantive measures to come, when the removal of prejudice shail have tamed the vigour of that opposition, which has hitherto so triumphantly encountered all attempts to change the system of our colonial trade.
Hence, therefore, it appears, that, because the United States have thought proper to fetter the importation of our colonial produce into their ports, it is our duty to clench the restriction by a similar proceeding of our own; to add an additional sanction to an injurious measure; to make what was bad before, still worse. Is the measure introduced by way of punishment? That is, certainly, a reasonable aim. The end of punishment, Those parts of Mr. Huskisson's meahowever, is not revenge; it is the preven-sures, the propriety of which exclude all tion, or removal, of an evil. But if an evil can only be removed by the endurance of an equal or greater evil, the end of punishment is not attained. Yet such is the effect of our conduct, in the present instance. We complain, that the Americans will not receive the exports of our colonies, which is one evil; whereupon we deny ourselves the advantage of receiving theirs, which is another evil; to which may be added, that by stimulating animosities, and giving an air of importance to these measures of mistaken policy, by putting ourselves in a passion--we
• Ante, p. 289
doubt, are the act which "extends to "the Island of Mauritius, the duties and "regulations which relate to the British "islands in the West Indies;" the provision for bonding goods; and the abolition of the oppressive fees of late levied in the colonial ports. We touch upon the first of these measures, rather with the view of exhibiting a specimen of the opposition arrayed against the liberal projects of the minister, than for the purpose of enlarging on its merits.
The situation of the island of the Mauritius was peculiarly hard. Originally a French colony, it was only at the close of the war, that it became enrolled amongst
the British dependencies: belonging therefore to no party, it was forsaken by all. Excepting its local situation, its condition resembled in most respects that of the West India islands; its produce being principally sugar, and cultivated by a slave population. In spite of the small amount of its produce, and its distance from England, the West India interests demanded, as a security against competition, the imposition of a duty of 10s. per cwt. on the sugar of the Mauritius, beyond that on plantation sugar.
Mr. Ellis cannot mean that the inhabitants of the Mauritius were desirous of never being admitted to the privileges of the West India colonies, whatever they might at any time become: and yet it is not easy to attach any other signification to the words; for if he only mean, that the inhabitants of the Mauritius petitioned against being put on the footing on which the West India colonies stood in 1824, how does it follow that they are not desirous of being put on the same footing with those colonies, as they now This duty was felt as a peculiar griev- stand, after the alteration effected by the ance; for, unlike most countries in the present measure? Upon referring, howsame latitude, which may change their ever, to the petitions from the Mauritius produce, the Mauritius is confined to the | from 1816 up to 1824 inclusive, we have exclusive culture of sugar, in consequence no where been able to find any prayer of being annually subjected to hurricanes, against their being put on the footing of from the ravages of which the sugar cane a West India colony; the direct request can alone escape. To remove this griev- of all is to be put so far on the same footance, therefore, a bill had been introduced ing, as to have the Mauritius' produce in 1824, but rejected on the ground that | admitted on the same terms as the prothe Mauritius enjoyed a greater freedom duce of the West India plantations. of trade, than was then permitted to the The following is a specimen of their lanWest Indies. That pretence having been guage: removed last session by the measure for opening the trade of the West India colonies, a bill was again brought in and passed, for equalizing the duties on the produce of the Mauritius and those colonies. Such, however, was the dread produced by a possibility of competition, that the advocates for the West India interest were on the alert against even this partial admission of sugar from the Eastern hemisphere.
In the course of the debate, an argument was advanced by Mr. Ellis, which affords a sample of the ease with which men suffer their opinions to follow the bent of their interests, as well of the dexterity attained by habitual practice in the art of torturing facts and language. The measure proposed was one intended for the benefit of the Mauritius' planters. But what if it could be made to appear that it was contrary to the wishes of those Such was Mr. Ellis's mode of presenting the question to the house, that, without stating that fact in terms, it would naturally be inferred from the expression. But Mr. Ellis shall speak
very persons ?
"Une faveur que nous osons réclamer de votre A. R., est la réduction des droits supportés en sol, au même taux que payent les objets de semAngleterre par les denrées provenant de notre blable nature provenant des autres colonies de la Grande Bretagne."-(Papers relating to the Colonial Trade of Mauritius, p. 14.)
Was Mr. Ellis misled by the title of the first petition of July 24, 1816, against being subjected to the regulations of the colonial trade?" Had he read that petition, he would have seen that its prayer was simply that the prohibition against trading with other countries, then in force in the West India colonies, should not be extended to the Mauritius. The real question, however, is not merely, as Mr. Ellis seems to take for granted, whether the admission of Mauritius' sugar into the British market, would be prejudicial to the West India proprietor; but (omitting the consumer's interest) whether the injury sustained by the West Indies, from its admission, would be greater than that inflicted on the Mauritius, by its exclusion. Let the question be put in these terms, and we have little doubt of the truth of Sir Francis Burdett's obof the result; for we are fully convinced servation, "that it can be no way advantageous to the country, that the interests of any class of men should be bolstered up by exclusive privilegest."
"He would request," he said, " his right hon. friend would have the goodness, before he brought in his bill, to lay before the house the petition of" the inhabitants of the Mauritius, against placing them on the footing of a West India colony*."
Ante, p. 292. The same observation was afterwards repeated by Mr. Bernal, ante, p. 300.
The abolition of the heavy fees exacted
+ Ante, p. 293.
in the colonial ports, is a measure of un- | poly, to one of entire freedom of trade: mixed utility; as is also the provision for an highly useful and laudable object for extending to certain of those ports the re- a British minister to profess and undergulations of the warehousing system. So take; and still more so, to accomplish. long as duties shall remain, that system is indispensable. So soon as the demand for any article of foreign produce rises, a rise of price immediately ensues; the prospect of high profits imparts an instant stimulus to exportation on the part of the foreign trader, which is as generally followed by a glut of more or less duration, and a rapid decline of prices in the importing market. Fluctuations of this kind are more peculiarly apt to occur in restricted markets; and the same causes which at one time produce a dearth, at another create a glut of commodities.
In such a case, should the importer arrive too late, or overstay the market, an immediate sale of his goods could only be effected at great loss. Gluts, however, are only temporary; and should he possess the means of holding over till prices take another turn, he may save himself from ruinous loss, or ultimately re-imburse himself altogether. But where a duty enters largely into the cost of his commodity, and is levied at the time of importation, an immediate sale is frequently a matter of necessity. By this privilege of warehousing his goods, that necessity is prevented, whilst the payment of the duty is secured. By permitting him to bring his goods into the market, in such portions and at such times, as may suit his convenience, paying the duty as they are taken from the warehouse, the interests of all parties are consulted. Not only is the revenue secured, and a more regular and agreeable supply afforded to the consumers; but the scope of those reverses is greatly narrowed, by which the most feasible speculations are too frequently attended, in consequence of rapid alterations in price.
The advantages of this part of the bill are so fully appreciated, that further observation is unnecessary. So much, in this respect at least, are we improved since the days of Sir Robert Walpole.
Whatever may be their efficacy, it is plain that the measures of last session afford a hope of beneficial change in our Colonial system. When, however, we speak of change, it is but natural to ask, what change we purpose to effect? The avowed object of Mr. Huskisson is a change from a system of reciprocal mono
But is this the limit of improvement? When all this shall be effected: when the timber of the North of Europe and of Canada shall enter our ports on the same terms, and the sugars of the East and of North and South America shall compete in our markets with those of our West India possessions: when the benefit supposed to be derived from the monopoly of the colonial trade shall have been exchanged for the privilege of unrestricted commerce with all the world-what advantages will then be derived, and what evils suffered from the remnant of the colonial system?
On the side of gain, the advocates of the colonies insist chiefly upon three points: Colonies, say they, afford the means of increasing the mercantile, and thence the naval marine of England; they furnish a receptacle for our delinquent, and a refuge for our pauper population,
On the side of loss, all that need be said against them is included in one word: Expense.
The object is, to retain the benefit, and discard the evil.
With respect to the first advantagethe encouragement of shipping-that is sacrificed, when the trade is opened. It cannot, therefore, be properly considered as an item in the present account*.
With respect to the advantages derived from our colonial dependencies, as receptacles for convicts, and drains to the surplus of our population; in whatever degree they may be entitled to the name of advantages, they are chiefly, and may be exclusively, derived from our smaller and less expensive settlements. With respect to the loss, in the shape of expense, that is chiefly incurred in maintaining the larger colonies. All the gain may be derived from New Holland; all the loss. is endured' in Canada and the West Indies.
How then would the question stand with regard to Canada and the West Indies?
In every respect of trade or finance in whatever concerns the advantage of this country-our relations with those colonies would resemble the intercourse between ourselves and independent countries.
See post, Article Navigation Laws."
The difference would only consist in our bearing a heavy part of the expenses of their government: a difference solely to our disadvantage. If our commercial intercourse with Canada were the same as with New York, why might we not as well consent to pay half the taxes of New York as to defray the charges of governing Canada?
It would take us too long to enter into a statistical account of the expenses of the colonies, although it would be useful to ascertain how much more is paid towards governing them by Great Britain, than by themselves. There is no direct account of these expenses before parliament; nor is there any method of ascertaining them, but by a laborious selection of different items from the Ordnance, Commissariat, and Naval accounts, which must be added to the papers nominally containing the account of the civil and military expenses of the colonies, but which only present a small part of the latter.
our advantage to get rid of this burthen, honestly. As much caution, therefore, as may be needful-or, to be on the safe side, even more; but let the burthen be fairly removed.
The Canadians are fortunately quite competent to govern themselves, and they are far removed from the danger of hostile aggression on the part of other states. They are not in the condition of the West Indians, with half a million of slaves at their throats, and do not, therefore, stand in need of the same protection. They have no peculiar interests to be disturbed, and have no need of the same indemnities. Time, also, the great element in all plans of extensive change, is here a matter of less serious consideration. The object may be safely and usefully executed, and that without any long delay. In short, there is no instance in which the principle we have maintained in the preceding pages, is of so easy attainment as in this: had we pursued this policy towards our former It has been computed that the Canadian American colonies, we should have provinces alone have already drained this spared-as we possibly may do, in the country of between sixty and seventy mil-present instance the loss of much blood lions*; and when it is considered that this and treasure, and averted the hostility sum has been deducted, year by year, from which has so lately ceased to exist between the income of the British people, forming ourselves and the American states. It a tax upon their profits, a check to their was well said by Mr. Baring, that “It accumulation, and a motive for the trans- was time for government to consider, fer of their capital to other countries, for" at what period of maturity they would no gain to them, but to their loss; it will be" be fairly and honourably ready to thought strange that this system of waste "allow these colonies the benefit of a should have been suffered to exist so long: separate system; and whether it would although, when it is further considered," not be wise and dignified for Great that the whole of the immense patronage, "Britain to do early and liberally that, produced by this annual expenditure, is" which she might be compelled to do thrown into the hands of the British go- "in a few years hence, in a very difvernment, this astonishment will probably "ferent mannert." subside, and the reasons for retaining, the danger of attacking, and the difficulty of reforming a system uniting so many adverse parties, and supporting such powerful interests, will be more distinctly seen and acknowledged.
Here then is a point for attack. The liberal portion of the ministry have declared for an ultimate free trade with Canada; we say it should be ultimate eman cipation. The public mind should be familiarized with this idea. We are now paying a heavy tax, in the shape of an artificial price, on the bad timber of that province, and probably half a million a year for the mischievous patronage of appointing its governors, generals, and judges. It is to
* See Edinb. Rev. vol. xlii p. 291.
Negro Slavery. ALTHOUGH the question of Negro Slavery was not among the most prominent topics of discussion in the last session, we have no doubt of its becomzeal and activity of the abolitionists, ing a leading subject in the next. The their ill-concealed distrust of the intentions of the government, and the alarm and anger of the colonists, keep the public mind so alive, that the first zealot, ambitious of succeeding to Mr. Wilberforce's mantle, may easily succeed in re-produ cing the agitation of 1823 and 1824. We shall, therefore, make no apology for introducing the subject in a more sub
↑ Ante, p. 294.