George Hooker Colton.

The American review : a Whig journal of politics, literature, art, and science (Volume 13) online

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bor is too high, the agriculturist will reply
that labor alone does not determine the
price of commodities. Labor alone produces
commodities, but these commodities must
not only repay the price of labor, but must
sustain the whole of indi^•idual and national
expenditure. In Europe, kings, armies,
navies, lords, bishops, and paupers, to say
nothing of lazy fund-holders, all live from
the products of labor; and although the
share of labor may be small, the price of
commodities must be equal to the burden
of taxation and expenditure which they sus-
tain ; you ought therefore to sell at Euro-
pean prices, since your remuneration will
then exceed that of the European by all the
difference of taxation.

But, replies the iron-maker, there is so
much poverty and want in Europe, will you
reduce us to their condition ? The agricul-
turist will reply, European poverty does not
jnake iron cheap but dear ; every worker in
England must not only sustain himself, but
his pauper neighbor, since paupers, while
they earn nothing, must be fed and clothed
from the labor of those who toil ; this will



reduce the quantity of commodities, but
certainly not their price; if there were no
paupers in England, but all labored, the
quantity of products would be greater and
their price less, and you less able to sell in
market.

Thus, at every point, the "free-trade"
party, if he is competent, can meet and re-
fute all the usual arguments for " protection ;"
and though all our experience demonstrates,
what Mr. Carey has so clearly proved by his
statistics, that the periods of " protection"
have been periods of prosperity, and those
of " free trade" periods of adversity, still we
fail in demonstrating, by logical argument,
the truth of our position.

Yet ours is the true position ; experience
is a better guide than theory or even logic,
and we will endeavor to state the argument
in what we deem its true and only form — in
a way in which our experience and our logic
shall correspond to each other.

Nations, as well as individuals, exchange
commodities, not directly, or by barter, but
through the medium of money or currency ;
that is, we do not give wheat for iron, but
both for money, which is the measure of
their value. It is essential then that the
moneys or currencies of the parties exchang-
ing should be the equivalent of each other,
otherwise there may be apparent, but no
real equity in the exchange.

If the currencies of Em-ope and America
are equivalent, then " protection" is not de-
fensible ; if they are not, which we maintain
is the truth, then it is defensible, not for
the reasons generally given, nor for those of
Mr. Carey, but for other, better and suffi-
cient ones.

Value is the relation of supply and de-
mand. The value of things is in their uses ;
neither money nor other things have any
value except that of use. The use of money
is to measure and exchange values, and for
this purpose one quantity, provided it be
fixed and permanent, is as good as another ;
ten pounds of gold are, for the purpose of
money, as good as a hundred, because ten
pounds would be just as useful as a hundred.

Gold is used as the measure of value pri-
marily because it is a substance whose
quantity is fixed : it has collateral qualities,
its permanence and divisibility, but fixedness
of qtiantity is its principal excellence. All
our ideas of intrinsic value are absurd ; a
sufficient quantity of gold for the use to



1851.



Protection — Free Trade.



445



whicla it is applied has value ; more than
that would add nothing to its aggregate
value; more of any commodity than our
uses require, only reduces the larger to the
value of the smaller quantity.

The whole quantity of money in use de-
termines the quantity which shall indicate
the value, by the price, of the commodity in
any given exchange. If the quantity of
money be large, price will be high ; if the
quantity be small, price will be low. Price
is, therefore, simply the relation which exists
between the quantity of money in use, and
the number and value of the commodities
to be exchanged, and the price of any given
commodity is the relation which that com-
modity beai-s to the whole number and
value of the commodities to be exchanged,
and the quantity of money by which the
exchanges are to be effected. This princi-
ple, which we denominate the Law of Price,
is the key to the whole subject ; it is a self-
evident proposition, so plain and obvious
that it needs no illustration. Price has no
relation to value except to indicate its quan-
tity. Exchanges may be effected without
the intervention of price, as when a loaf of
bread is given for a piece of meat ; an ex-
change of commodities has occurred, but
nothing is kno\Am of the price of either, be-
cause price refers only to money ; and here,
we repeat, it is evident, that in order to any
equitable exchanges, the moneys, currencies,
or measures of value of the parties exchang-
ing, must be equivalents of each other, must
indicate the quantity of value in each of the
commodities exchanged by the same rule,
like the measures of length, weight, or ca-
pacity.

Gold is assumed to be the measure of
value in the commercial world. Were it
really the measure, the currencies of the
world would be nearly equivalents, differing
only in the cost and risk of transport from
the point of production to that of consump-
tion ; but modern society has substituted
credit in the place of gold, and this credit
exists in such different quantities, in the
different countries, as to destroy all the
equivalent relations of their currencies, and
of course, to disturb the equity of exchanges
made in conformity to these varying curren-
cies. But while they have substituted credit
for gold, they insist upon retaining gold as
the ultimate measure of value, and compel,
by the force of law, the convertibihty of



this money of credit into gold at the option
of the holder, thereby laying the foundation
for all the financial evils which afflict modern
society. But this law of convertibility is
found to be sometimes impracticable ; in
Great Britain, for a whole generation, it was
set aside by the force of circumstances, and
twice in the United States, within forty
years, the same event has occurred, and by
common consent the evil of an unconvert-
ible currency has been submitted to, as the
only tolerable mode of arranging the equities
of contracts and exchanges.

In France, until quite recently, a currency
almost entirely metallic has been used, and
of course prices are Ioav ; in Great Britain,
since the resumption of specie payments by
the Bank, a currency of nearly equal parts
of metal and credit has been in use, and
there prices are higher than in France ;
by the recent recharter of the Bank of Eng-
land, the relation between the metal of the
Bank and its issues of credit as currency
has been fixed by law, and the action of
that Bank governs the financial action of the
whole kingdom. In the United States, the
whole subject is left to the discretion of the
bankers, who, like other men, act with ex-
clusive reference to their own advantage.
By the law of the currency, whatever per-
forms its functions acquires the power of re-
producing itself in the form of interest, hke
capital; credit as currency earns interest
equally with capital, and therefore, acting
for his own interest, the banker increases the
amount of the credit currency to the utmost
extent practicable, and the quantity of cur-
rency in the United States, as compared
with that of Europe, is probably two to one.
What we call dollars are really only half
dollars, and of course all price in the United
States is, as compared with Europe, doubled.
That blind giant, the public, while suflenng
under the miseries of a disturbed currency,
has evinced the instincts of reason by laying
hold of the ideas of "hard money" and
" sub-treasuries," but, quieted by returning
prosperity and ease, the present condition
of things entirely meets the general wish,
and the banker deserves praise that he has
not acceded to all the clamor of the public
for more money.

This expansion oi price, arising out of the
expansion of the currency, rendei-s our mar-
ket the one to which all the surplus products
of the world naturally tend, as that in which



446



Protection — JF'ree Trade.



price is highest ; while our exports, from the
same cause, are confined almost entirely to
those articles, cotton, rice, and tobacco, to
which climate and soil afford a " protection"
more certain and permanent than that of
the tarift'. A mere modicum of food is ex-
ported to England, where the excessive bur-
den of taxation upon land enables us to
dispose of a small quantity of our surplus.
Our own labor is prevented from supplying
our own wants, because its price, like that
of commodities, is increased by our expand-
ed currency, and not because the supply of
labor is inadequate. All the gold we can
obtain from California and other sources is
insufficient to meet the demand occasioned
by excessive imports, and to make up the
deficiency, we export all the forms of public
credit created by national, State, and corpo-
rate loans. Some of our shrewdest states-
men admire the wisdom of this course. We
are, in fact, like a nation of miserable spend-
thrifts, living by running in debt to Europe,
and are rapidly approaching the verge of
bankruptcy. The failure of a crop of cot-
ton, (the failure of the potato crop came
near to bankrupting Great Britain,) the
suspension of gold from California, or the
exhaustion of public credit — all, or either of
these events, will plunge us again into the
condition of 1837-8.

Few persons are aware how entirely the
finances of the United States are dependent
upon the great products of Southern indus-
try. The North and West, embracing three
fifths of the population of the nation, the
greatest consumers of foreign products, have
nothing whatever of their own to exchange
for them; were those articles, the staple
products of the South, which furnish eighty
millions of exports, to fail, or should any
event occur to disturb the steady flow of
commerce, by which they are transferred to
Europe to meet our imports, while they are
paid for, beyond the consumption of foreign
products by the South, by the products of
Northern and Western industry which find
there their market, and the profits of North-
ern trade and ua\igation, our whole finan-
cial structure would fall into ruin and confu-
sion, our currency of credit would perish,
and the nation be driven again to suspension.

This expanded currency is, however, an
organic law of society in the United States ;
it ramifies through all the fibres of the body
politic ; it is the essential interest, to which



May,



all other economic interests must give place.
In a community like oure, where, owing to
the absence of capital and our universal in-
telligence and actiN-ity, credit is in such gene-
ral use, the utmost care must be exercised
in the management and preservation of the
currency, since it determines the power of
every obligation, national, corporate, and in-
dividual, with the force of law ; every dis-
turbance of it is fatal, and only the most
gradual change, which will enable us to (/row
into the altered condition — altered it should
be — can be either safe or tolerable.

The currency of the nation, therefore, and
not its manufactures, is the interest which
requires "protection," not for any natural
reasons, but for those which are, like itself,
merely artificial ; reasons which have their
origin in the defective system which has
become an integral portion of our national
polity ; from the errors of our ideas in rela-
tion to the nature and uses of money — from
the mistaken opinion so general in society
that price and value are equivalents.

The currency is emphatically a national
interest, not a sectional one. South, North,
East, West, agriculture, manufactures, com-
merce — all disti-icts and all classes of the
nation are alike interested in its preserva-
tion ; but especially the industrial, the poorer
classes, whose great commodity, labor, will
perish, and leave them defenseless whenever
the interests of the currency are injured, or
its bulk SMc^c/e«/y diminished; the rich may
outlive the storm which will sweep the ac-
cumulations of industry into their coffers,
but the industrious, the poor, must suffer.

The South, it is true, has sufiered more
severely from the defects of the currency
than the North : they have attributed their
difficulties to the tariff", but that is only re-
motely the cause ; had no tariff ever existed,
the currency would never have been ex-
panded. Their difficulties, like those of the
North, have their origin in the currency ; the
products of Northern industry find their
market at home, but the South have bought
in a dear market and sold in a cheap one.
Their lands, their negroes, their supplies of
almost every description are purchased at
home, with an expanded currency of credit ;
their products, the bulk of which find their
market in Europe, have been sold in a re-
stricted currency of metal. It is a law of
commerce, that the market which takes the
bulk of any commodity, fixes the price for



1851.



Crossing the Ferry.



447



the whole. The South must continue to
suffer more than the North, since time will
be required to enable them to buy and sell
in the same currency ; but they can gain
nothing by "free trade" but ruin. The re-
vulsion of 1837-8 did not benefit the South ;
the tendency of the present condition of
things is to a similar result. Their supply
of capital is less, their use of credit is greater
than at the North, and just in that propor-
tion will be the evils of a derangement of
the currency to their interests.

It is a striking e\idence of the truth of
our position, that the sugar of the South
requires "protection" equally with the iron
of the North, with this diflerence only ; iron
is the product of a people abounding in capi-
tal, skill, and industry, while sugar is the
product of those destitute of all these ; hence
the degree of " protection" required for
sugar may be less than that required for
iron, but the necessity springs from the same
source, the currency.

The currency can only be defended and



preserved by " protection," in the form of a
tariff iqjon imports, which shall secure to
our own labor the supplying of our own
wants. It is through the currency, by its
derangement and diminution, while all obli-
gations exist in their full extent and force,
that the evils reach us. The taiiff need not
be excessive ; but it should be such as will
give the great interests of iron, cloth, and
sugar, security against European and foreign
competition. No fear need exist that the
cost of these commodities will be unreason-
ably increased ; there is a supjily of capital,
I skill, and labor in the nation sufficient to in-
I sure an abundant supply, and domestic com-
! petition will at once reduce the profit of
their production to the general level ; but it
would be wise to submit to any probable
amount of taxation rather than destroy our
currency. We paid a hundred millions for
the war with Mexico, and no pecuniary in-
jury has been felt. Protect the currency of
the nation, and all our other economic inter-
ests will be preserved. g. b.



CROSSING THE FERRY.



ROM U H L A 1



All remains — tliough years have passed
Since I crossed the river last ;
Sunset's glow from castle flashing,
On the dike the waters plashing.

Ah ! my mournful thoughts deride me ;
Then two loved ones sat beside me :
Here, a father's look of truth ;
There, the beaming brow of youth.

One a life of meekness led,
Meekly slumbered with the dead;
One, with pride and pnssion warm,
Fell 'mid conflict, cloud, and storm.



Thus, when Memory is my guide
Backward e'er life's pictured tide,
I must miss the fair and brave,
Ravished by the conquering Grave.

Yet, though Death breaks love's communion,
Soul with Soul is still in union :
Life itself was soul-like then ;
Soul for Soul now yearns again.

Take now, boatman, take thy fee;
Thrice thy due I offer thee :
For with me two spirits crossed, —
Spirits of the loved and lost. s. N. N.



VOL. VII. NO. V. NEW SERIES.



448



The Prelude.



May,



THE PRELUDE.*



"Several years ago," said Wordsworth in his
preface to tlie " Exciu-sion," " when the Author
retired to his native mountains, with the hope of
beuig able to construct a hterary work that might
live, it was a reasonable tiling that he should take
a review of his own mmd, and examine how far
Nature and Education had qualified him for such
an employment

" As subsidiary to this preparation, he under-
took to record, in verse, the origin and progress of
his own powers, as far as he was acquainted witli
them.

" That work, addressed to a dear friend, most
distinguished for his knowledge and genius, and to
whom the Author's intellect is deeply indebted,
has been long finished; and the result of the in-
vestigation which gave rise to it, was a determina-
tion to compose a philosophical Poem, containing
views of Man, Nature, and Society, and to be en-
titled the 'Recluse;' as having for its principal
subject the sensations and opinions of a poet living
in retirement.

" The preparatory Poem is biographical, and
conducts the history of the Author's mind to the
point when he was emboldened to hope tliat his
faculties were sufficiently matured for entering
upon the arduous labor which he had proposed to
himself; and the two works have the same kind
of relation to each other, if he may so express
himself, as the ante-chapel has to the body of a
Gothic church. Continuing this allusion, he may
be permitted to add. that his minor pieces, which
have been long before the public, when they shall
be properly arranged, will be found by the atten-
tive reader to have such connection with the main
■work as may give them claim to be likened to
the little cells, oratories, and sepulchral recesses,
ordinarily included in those edifices."

The " Recluse," it will be perceived, was
to have consisted of three parts. The "E.\-
cursion" was irablished in 1814. The
"Prelude" was commenced in 1799, and
finished in 1805, but its publication was
deferred during the lifetime of the author.
The third part was planned, but never writ-
ten. Poems that appeared after the " Ex-
cui-sion " contained the materials which the
author had designed for the last division of
the " Recluse." Coleridge was the friend
to whom the poem was addressed. He read



portions of it in Malta, where he was re-
siding when most of the " Prelude " was
composed. After his return he listened to
its recital by the author, to whom he ad-
dressed a poem commencing in the following
enthusiastic strain : —

" Friend of the "Wise! and Teacher of the Good!

Into my heart have I received that lay

More than historic, that prophetic lay

Wherein (high theme by thee first sung aright)

Of the foundations and the building up

Of a Human Spirit thou hast dared to tell

What may be told, to the understanding mind

Revealable ; and what within the mind,

By vital breathings secret as the soul

Of vernal growth, oft quickens in the heart

Thoughts all too deep for words !"

We will endeavor now to follow Words-
worth through his spiritual autobiography,
watching the growth of an individual mind,
meditating upon the relation between a de-
veloping soul and external things. The
"Prelude" is just what we should have,
a priori^ expected from a great and sincere
poet of Nature. He opens to us the trea-
sury of his heart, and speaks freely of the
impressions made upon his spirit by sur-
rounding objects. We would stand with
deep reverence in the " a:ite-chapel" of a
holy spiritual temple, and Usten to the life-
music that mingles with the melody of
nature. We would look both for " the
foundations and the building up of a
Human Spirit," and would seek not only
the truths revealable to " the understanding
mind," but also the " thoughts all too deep
for words " which are " quickened in the
heart."

Wordsworth was the favorite child of
Nature, and Nature trained him with moth-
erly care. AVith the songs of his nurse
were blended the murmurs of a fair river,
sending a voice " that flowed along his
dreams."



The Prelude ; or, Growth of a Poet's Mind. An Autobiographical Poem. By William Words-
worth. New- York: D. Appletou & Company, 200 Broadway. Philadelpliia: Geo. S. Appleton, 164



Chestnut street. 1850.



1851.



The Prelude.



449



" For this didst thou,

Derwent! winding among grassy holms
Where I was looking on, a babe in arms,

Make ceaseless music that composed my thoughts

To more than infant softness, giving me

Amid the fretful dwellings of mankind

A foretaste, a dim earnest, of the calm

That Nature breathes among the hills and groves !"

The liver, which passed along the terrace-
walk of his home, on whose breast fell the
shadows of surviving towers, was a dearly
loved and tempting playmate. When five
years old, he spent his summer days in
bathing in a race drawn off from the river,
scouring the sandy fields, or leaping through
the flowery groves. In the distance was
Skiddaw's lofty height, around were rocks
and hills and woods ; and when these " were
bronzed with deepest radiance," he some-
times " stood alone beneath the sky," as if,
he says,

" I had been born

On Indian plains, and from my mother's hut
Had run abroad in wantonness, to sport,
A naked savage, in the thunder shower."

Ere he had " told ten birth-days," it was
his joy

" To range the open heights where woodcocks run
Along the smooth green turf."

One does not readily think that woodcocks
are the most poetical objects at Avhich " the
young idea" may "shoot," but the true poet
may fall upon sublime thoughts while en-
gaged in insignificant pursuits.

"Through half the night,
Scudding away from snare to snare, I plied
That anxious visitation ; — moon and stai-s
Were shining o'er my head. / icas alone,
And seemed to be a trouble to the peace
That dwelt among them"

Sometimes he yielded to the temptation,
and made a prey of the bird that was captive
of another's toil. The moralist may find a
significant fact in the following defcription
of retribution taking place in a poetic soul : —

"And when the deed was done,

1 heard among the solitary hills

Low breathings coming after me, and sounds
Of undistinguishaMe motion, steps
Almost as silent as the turf they trod."

Those " low breathings," those almost silent
steps piu'suing the poet-boj', as he wandered
in the woods at midnight, conscious of guilt,
remind us of the apparition in Job which



"luinows up the soul with fear and won-
der" : —

" A word stole secretly to me,
Its whispers caught my ear;
At the hour of night visions,
When deep sleep falleth upon man,
I was seized with fear and shuddering,
And terrors shook my frame.
A spirit was passing before me ;
All my hair stood on end.
He stood still, but I saw not his form ;
A shadowy image was before my eyes."

It is not necessary to follow him through
all the " vulgar joys " that are the " prompt
attendants" on a child's pursuits. In the
midst of all sports, all occupations adapted
to boyhood, he felt entwined around him
the motherly arms of Nature. When he
climbed to a giddy height some slippery
rock for the raven's nest, and hung alone
" shouldering the naked crag," the wind
blew through his ear a " strange utter-
ance ; "

. " the sky seemed not a sky

Of earth — and with what motion moved the
clouds ! "

The immortal spirit within him grew hke
" harmony in music." A power was busy
in " a dark inscrutable workmanship" re-
concihng "discordant elements," so that a
calm existence in after years might grow out
of even " terrors, pains, and early miseries."
While roaming by moon-light on a lake, a
distant peak, " black and huge," seemed to
tower up between him and the stars, and,

"with purpose of its own,

And measured motion like a living thing,"

seemed to stride after him. His under-
standing of Nature and her influence upon
his soul in early life are best described in
the followino:



and Spirit of the universe !
Thou soul that art the eternity of thought,
That givest to forms and images a breath
And everlasting motion, not in vaiu
By day or star-light thus from my first dawn
Of childhood didst thou intertwine for me
The pas-ions that build up our human soul ;



Online LibraryGeorge Hooker ColtonThe American review : a Whig journal of politics, literature, art, and science (Volume 13) → online text (page 86 of 108)