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ment would deal with the matter of claim. The collector
was censured, and admonished not to deal on his own
responsibility with such matters in future, and that the
law providing for summary sale of unclaimed seized



1841] AN ARROGANT OFFICIAL 203

vessels was intended to prevent unnecessary legal ex-
penses, not to shield unauthorized seizers. The Minute
proceeded thus : ' The collector has incurred great personal
responsibility by the course which he has pursued, and
his want of caution in the transaction may prove the
source of much embarrassment to himself and to the
colony.'

Undoubtedly the collector had strained matters. (It
should be mentioned that when he saw the vessel leave
the roads with the customs ofhcers on board he actually
seized the bleating innocents that were waiting shipment
on the quay, and did not restore them till the vessel was
brought back, also, that the value of the Ville de Bordeaux
was estimated at between £8,000 and £10,000, and that,
had he secured her forfeiture, he would have pocketed a
very pretty sum.)*

The account of the customs survey of the port of Laun-
ceston, Tasmania, in 1841, is rather informative. The
customs duties collected during 1840 were £33,727. The
tonnage inwards was as follows : ships from the United

* The marginal comments pencilled on the reports by Mr.
Dean, the Customs Chairman, are amusing. One of them is
worded thus : ' The affair seems to partake of a little robbery,
a little piracy, and a little buccaneering ' (the difference between
buccaneering and piracy he did not explain). ' With the excep-
tion of carrying goods from Lombock to West Australia, I can
discover no grounds for seizure under the Customs laws. Even
on this point you have only the log to help you, and the log
would appear to be altogether a fiction. The French Govern-
ment may demand restitution of the British Government.'

The bad phrasing may be overlooked, Mr. Dean was a re-
markable man, extremely clever and industrious, yet eccentric —
witness his habit of jotting down little explosive comments on
the papers he dealt with. Some of the comments are intensely
amusing. For instance, when, in conducting an inquiry, he
listened to the statements of an incoherent and unwilling witness,
he remarked in pencil : ' What a fool this fellow is !'

On another occasion, when reading a verbose statement penned
by a Scottish officer who was desirous of initiating a scheme of
' ofi&cial reform,' and obtaining thereby an increase of his own
salary, the observant Dean ornamented the margin of each para-
graph with a pencilled ' Hum-m I' till he reached the one that
suggested profit to the applicant ; then Dean wrote, ' Aha, I
thought we should come to this I' and straightway damned the
whole scheme.



204 PERIOD OF GRADUAL RELAXATIONS [1841

Kingdom, 4,379 tons ; colonial ships, 29,839 ; foreign,
547. Outward ships for the United Kingdom, 3,521 tons ;
colonial, 33,275 ; foreign, 1,136. Value of imports,
£303,140 ; exports, £452,870. In the bonded warehouse
were 91,152 gallons spirits ; 208,398 pounds tobacco ;
4,589 pounds cigars, and 66 casks wine. The staple
articles of export were bark, flour, hay, potatoes, whale-
oil, bones, cattle, horses, wool (6,161 bales), and sheep
(78,028). The surveying collector thought the smuggling
was decreasing, the settlers being afraid of the convicts,
who gave information whenever they witnessed a run,
' that being the surest way to obtain a ticket of leave.'

Sir William Colebrooke approached the Treasury with a
scheme for altering the bonding system in the Leeward
Islands. He suggested that importers should be given
six months' credit for duties on their goods, to date from
the period of entering the goods for home use. Sir
WiUiam opined that this method would assist traders, and
lower the price of commodities. The scheme was referred
to the Customs Board, and they reported on it with con-
siderable freedom, pointing out that there were many free
warehousing ports in the West Indies at which importers
might bond their goods duty-free till required for home
use — or bond them for exportation. They hinted that
Sir William's propositions were not so clearly worded as
they might be. ' Nevertheless, we gather from his com-
munication that he proposes to deliver goods at once into
the hands of the importer, without payment of duty,
merely taking security for the payment of the same within
a stated period.' They proceeded to pooh-pooh the
whole suggestion.*

A dispute arose in New Brunswick on the matter of
goods for the fisheries. Articles such as biscuit, meat,

* It is evident that Sir William desired to save importers the
expense of warehouse rent. Before the system of bonding in
warehouse was introduced into Great Britain, the method sug-
gested by Sir William had been in general use, and most of the
duties were thus bonded. If an importer paid at importation,
he was granted discount. .; j



1841-42] NEW BRUNSWICK AND TASMANIA 205

cordage, hooks, Unes, nets, anchors, for use by the fishers,
were allowed to be imported duty-free, or warehoused if
necessary, and afterwards cleared duty-free. Certain
merchants of New Brunswick complained to the Board
that in some instances the collector had refused to deliver,
duty-free, molasses and sugar warehoused for the fisheries.
They had accordingly paid the duty under protest. The
collector justified himself by stating that he had charged
duty in the cases mentioned because the merchants had
failed to furnish satisfactory proof that the goods would
be used by the fishermen. He had reason to believe that
in the past large quantities of goods had been cleared
duty-free for fishery use, and afterwards consumed by the
general public. The Board endorsed his action.

Cap. 3, 5 and 6 Vict., Sect. 2, settled a curious point.
The heutenant-governor of Tasmania had by proclama-
tion of February 4, 1829, imposed certain rates of customs
in the colony, and an excise on distilled spirits. He de-
rived the authority to do this from Cap. 114, 59 Geo. III.,
and Cap. 96, 3 Geo. IV. Cap. 83, 9 Geo. IV., made
the last-quoted Act perpetual, but provided that, as New
South Wales and Tasmania had become separate colonies,
the two governors should henceforth administer affairs
with the advice of their respective Legislative Councils. On
January 2, 1834, the Tasmanian Council had confirmed
the governor's proclamation of 1829. Soon there arose
doubts as to whether the duties taken between 1829 and
1834 had been legally collected. In 1842 the matter was
adjusted by the Act quoted at the beginning of this para-
graph, announcing that the proclamation was legally
binding, and indemnifying aU concerned in the collection
of the disputed duties.

The Anti-Corn-Law League, formed in Manchester in
1838, had become extremely powerful. There had grown
up at the same time a disturbing factor of a far different
type — Chartism. It does not appear that there was ever
any great sympathy between the leaders of the two
movements. Such men as Cobden and Bright could



2o6 PERIOD OF GRADUAL RELAXATIONS [1842

scarcely be expected to run in harness with Ernest Jones
and Feargus O'Connor. The men of the Manchester
school were essentially opportunistic and ' utilitarian.'
They had noted the effect of many years of past legislation
— ^legislation directed principally towards the benefit of
' the landed interest.' Legislation performed in the
interests of rent had starved the weavers and spinners.
They believed that they could bring about a new Britain —
a Britain of cotton lords and wizened operatives, cheap
bread and dear exports. Britain was to become one
gigantic workshop, and to distribute for ever her bales of
prints and her cases of machinery to an admiring and un-
emulative world. (The universal contempt of agriculture
displayed in the legislation and literature of the sixties,
seventies, and eighties of the nineteenth century was
entirely due to the teaching of the Manchester school.)

Yet it must be admitted that something had to be done.
The people could be starved no longer. It must be
admitted, also, that the thing could not have been safely
done by any but the Manchester politicians. The temper
of the modern British is extremely peculiar ; there must
be some element of what is called ' practicality ' in a
movement ere they can be brought to bestow abiding
sympathy upon it. Widespread Industrialism — the de-
votion of masses of people to the production of mean things
for everyday use — is responsible for this new phase of the
national temper, under which no risks must be taken,
but every revolution must have its register and ledger, its
dreary diary and misleading statistics. ' We will make
work plentiful and bread cheap,' said the Manchester
men ; and the tame cry captured the lower classes, who
were not aware that under rigid Protection their ancestors
had cheap bread (and something with it) for centuries and
centuries.

The Chartists were altogether different. Such men as
Shelley and Byron, men whose names wiU be honoured
when those of Cobden and Bright have been relegated to
the list of doctrinaires, would have thrown themselves



1842] CORN, CHARTISM, MANCHESTERISM 207

heart and soul into the Chartist movement — a movement
which conveyed promise to the souls of all who refused to
have their mouths stopped with cheap bread, and their
aspirations limited by a twelve-hour day and the white-
washed walls of a factory. One must study the poets of
the two systems to achieve suitable comparison. Most of
Ebenezer EUiot's verse reminds one of the yelping of a
hungry dog, but there is true vehemence, there is a touch
of the old elemental fire of revolt, in, ' We're low, we're
low, we're very, very low.'

After this little outburst, which may refresh if it fails
to convince readers, we proceed to state that though
Chartism and Cobdenism marched toward widely diver-
gent goals, their potentialities in disturbance combined
to influence the thoughts of the great Conservative
statesman of the day, and the result was Cap. 14, 5 and 6
Vict., under which the corn duties were lowered consider-
ably. Below is a comparison ;



Wheat from Foreign Countries.



When price of British wheat under
51S. a quarter



Do., 51S.
Do., 52s.
Do,, 53s.
Do., 54s.
Do., 55s.
Do., 56s.
Do., 57s.
Do., 58s.
Do., 59s.
Do., 60s.
Do., 61S.
Do., 62s.
Do., 63s.
Do., 64s.
Do., 65s.



and under 52s
and under 53s
and under 54s
and under 55s
and under 56s
and under 57s
and under 58s
and under 59s
and under 60s
and under 6is
and under 62s
and under 63s
and under 64s
and under 65s
and under 65s



Previ


ous




New


Duties.


Duties


£


s.


d.


i


s. a


'A slid


ng


scale of")






duties,


rising from






£1 i6s.


8d.


when the






price was


50s. and


I





less than


51S., to






;^2 8s.8d.iftheprice






^went undei


39s. J








15


8





19




14


8]
8J








13





18












II


8





17




10


8





16




9


8





15




8


8





14




7


8





13




6


8





12




5


8





II




4


8





10




3


8





9




2


8





8




I


8





7



2o8 PERIOD OF GRADUAL RELAXATIONS [1842



Wheat from Foreign Countries (continued).



When price of British wheat 66s

and under 67s.
Do., 67s. and under 68s.
Do., 58s. and under 69s.
Do., 69s. and under 70s.
Do., 70s. and under 71s.
Do., 71s. and under 72s.
Do., 72s. and under 73s.
Do., 73s. and upwards



Previous
Duties.
£ s. d.
1 o 8
o 18 8
o 16 8
o 13 8



o 10
o 6

o 2

O I



New
Duties.
L s. d.

060

050
040
030
020
010



Wheat from British Possessions out of Europe.



Previous Duties.

When price of British
wheat under 67s. a
quarter

Wlien price 67s. or
more . .



New Duties,
i.

Under 55s.
55s. and under 56s.
o 56s. and under 57s.
57s. and under 58s.
..06 58s. and upwards
(Proportional rates for other kinds of corn.)



s.

5
4
3

2

I



The prohibitions of colonial and foreign malt, and of all
foreign and colonial ground corn except wheat meal,
wheat flour, and oatmeal, survived.

This important measure was followed by a new copy-
right Act (Cap. 45, 5 and 6 Vict.). It repealed the copy-
right Act, Cap. 19, 8 Anne, and the Acts amending it
(Cap. 107, 41 Geo. III., and Cap. 156, 54 Geo. III.). The
new Act provided as below :

1. The word ' book ' to signify every volume or part,
pamphlet, sheet of letterpress or music, chart, or plan,
separately produced ; the words ' dramatic piece ' every
play or scenic, musical, or dramatic entertainment ; the
word ' copyright ' exclusive right of printing and multi-
plying copies of the above ; the words ' personal represen-
tative ' every person entitled to rights of administration ;
the word ' assigns ' every person in whom the author's
copyright interest might be vested ; the words ' British
Dominions ' the United Kingdom, Channel Islands, and
all other possessions of the Crown.

2. Copyright to endure for author's life and seven years



1842] COPYRIGHT 209

longer, or till fort} - two years after first publication (if
last term the longer). If published posthumously, to
endure for forty-two years.

3. If after author's death his assign refused to re-
publish, the Privy Council might license any complainant
to pubhsh.

4. The usual free copies to be delivered to certain
institutions.

5. Copyright might be registered at Stationers' HaU.

6. Actions for piracy to be in the Court of Record, in
that part of the dominions in which the offence was
committed.

7. Importation of pirated works to be punishable by
forfeiture, and fine of £10 and double value of goods.
Pirated books might be seized by Customs or Excise.

8. The Act to apply to musical compositions.

9. Seized pirated books to become property of holder of
copyright.

10. Registration of copyright necessary before action
taken, but copyright to exist even if unregistered.

Such were the main provisions of the new Act. Whether
it or any Statute moulded on similar lines could be held
just to authors may be worth a few moments thought.
The Copyright Acts were the first British Socialistic laws,
for they decreed that literary work should not be assign-
able beyond a certain period. Then it was to become
public property. It is curious that literature — the
poorest-paid work performed by man — should be treated
thus.

Cap. 47, 5 and 6 Vict., amended the Customs laws. It
repealed the long-existing prohibition of importation of
foreign cattle, sheep, swine, beef, pork, mutton, and lamb,
of fish imported in foreign vessels, and of fish of foreign
taking. (But in the last case the fish — with certain ex-
ceptions — had to be brought from a foreign port ; it might
not come direct from the fishing-ground.) It repealed the
stipulation for a separate manifest for imported tobacco,

11. 14



210 PERIOD OF GRADUAL RELAXATIONS [1842

and declared bonds entered into by merchants with the
Treasury or Customs vahd in law. It re-amended the
Copyright laws, by enacting complete prohibition of books
produced in the United Kingdom and reproduced abroad
(but the copyright-holder was to apprise the Customs of
his rights before such prohibition could be enforced). It
abolished the exemption of coastguardsmen and revenue
patrolmen from tolls, and gave the Treasury power of
amending duties towards reciprocity. It provided for the
assaying of gold and silver plate imported for sale. It
repealed the previous duties and drawbacks, and granted
a new scale, by which the dutiable goods, which had pre-
viously been arranged alphabetically, were assorted under
nineteen headings for imports and one for exports. The
duties were stiU in many cases preferential with regard to
British possessions. The duties on tea, tobacco, silks,
and spirits, were still tremendously high. The only
export duties were on coal, clay, china stone, cement
stone, flint, wool, and skins.

The Act was scarcely passed when it was amended by
Cap. 56. Certain new duties on timber were postponed
for a year ; the meaning of ' parts, ' applicable to regulating
the duties on copper ore, was explained to be ' parts of a
hundred ' ; the statement that goods of the Channel
Islands were to be deemed foreign was qualified so as to
read ' goods produced in the Channel Islands from foreign
materials '; a misleading parenthesis was corrected ;
specimens illustrative of natural history were included in
the list of ' exemptions from duty '; the law as to assaying
foreign plate was relaxed so as to admit antique plate free
of assay ; the export duty on cement stone was repealed,
and certain new regulations as to dehvery of bonded goods
were deferred. These might be called a tolerably large
bunch of alterations, and there can be no doubt that they
were the result of protests from merchants, which proves
that the mind of the high revenue official is not always
clear.

The time-honoured Excise survey of tobacco manufac-



i842] REFORMS AND APPLICATIONS 211

ture had been discontinued under an Act of 3 and 4 Vict.
The result had been wholesale adulteration, sometimes to
the extent of 70 per cent. The Excise control was renewed
by Cap. 93, 5 and 6 Vict., and many stringent regulations
were reimposed.

Considerable misapprehension had arisen in some of
the colonies as to duties leviable under the Act 59, 3 and
4 Wm. IV. There had been in that Act a clause stating
that whenever any goods chargeable with duty under its
provisions were also chargeable under colonial laws, the
duties mentioned in the Act were not to apply except they
exceeded the duties leviable under the colonial laws, and
then only to the amount of such excess. In some of the
colonies the local duties had exceeded those under the
Act 59, 3 and 4 Wm. IV., yet the colonial legislators had
insisted on full collection. Cap 49, 5 and 6 Vict., accord-
ingly, made all such proceedings in the past legal, and
imposed a new scale of duties. (The complications in the
colonies over the collection of revenue were indeed extra-
ordinary. To them, and to the greed and arrogance of
some of the imperial collectors, was due the approach of
the abolition of the home control.)

During 1842 the Roman Catholic Bishop of Montreal
applied for remission of duty on vestments, etc., imported
for religious purposes, and the collector of Montreal, in
reporting to the Board on the matter, stated that he did
not think the privilege should be granted, as he had reason
to believe that if it v/ere similar applications would at
once be made by the priests of the seminary of St. Sulpice,
Montreal. The Board reported to the Treasury that
indulgences of the kind were occasionally extended to
indigent priests, but that in this case the applicant was
surrounded by an opulent clergy.*

* An application had been made in 1839 by the Catholic clergy
of Trinidad, who alleged that similar privileges had been granted
to the Catholics of that island ever since 1797- The Board re-
commended the remission, although the collector's valuation of
the articles differed materially from that furnished by the clergy
on their entry. For instance, they had valued ten fine Italian



212 PERIOD OF GRADUAL RELAXATIONS [1842

On August 3, 1842, the officers at Halifax, Nova Scotia,
seized a number of copies of the New World, a New York
publication. A copy is appended to the file. It is a
curio, being merely a complete reproduction of a novel by
Lady Blessington, entitled ' The Lottery of Life.' The
motto of the paper is, ' No pent-up Utica contracts our
powers, for the whole boundless universe is ours ' — 3.
motto distinctively American, and highly expressive of
the American publishing methods of that day. The col-
lector stated : ' The importation of this and similar re-
prints is considerable, and occasions much dissatisfaction
to the booksellers of this port, as it greatly interferes with
the sale of the English books which are imported from the
United Kingdom.'

No doubt the New York publisher had gauged the
literary tastes of the Nova Scotians. Their character
may be best displayed by a reproduction of the opening
and conclusion of Lady Blessington's novel, which con-
tains all of ' The Lottery of Life ' that we have found
ourselves able to read.

Opening : ' Born of humble but honest parents, I was so
fortunate as to attract the notice of Abraham Mortimer,
a retired banker.'

Conclusion : ' A letter despatched a few days after to
her dear friend. Lady Frances Lorimer, in answer to one
from that young lady announcing her approaching
nuptials, contained such excellent advice on the danger
of young wives exacting attentions only paid during the
days of courtship, that it had the best effect on that lady.

devotional paintings at ;^8 the lot. Still, the collector let them
pass duty-free on receipt of the Treasury order to that effect,
remarking that he preferred doing that to arguing with the
Bishop. Soon the clergy imported other articles, and claimed
them duty-free, and the governor sanctioned deliver}-, relying
upon the previous Treasury Order. When the Board heard of
this, they surcharged the unfortunate collector with the amount
payable. In 1844 the priests imported various church orna-
ments and two caslis of wine, but, needless to state, had to pay
dut)'. (The Catholic clergy of the Mauritius claimed remission
in 1845, but were refused.)



1842] TAWDRY LITERATURE 213

This judicious counsel considerably lowered the exaggerated
and romantic expectations she had previously indulged of
the unbroken felicity of wedded lovers, and saved the
husband of Lady Frances from the scenes of domestic
chagrin that had clouded the conjugal happiness of Lord
Henry and Lady Emily Fitzhardinge, during their first
entrance as a wedded pair into fashionable life in London.'

It appears from the advertisement list of the New World
that the other books most in demand, and therefore dili-
gently pirated, were ' Morley Ernstein,' ' Zanoni,' ' The
Jacquerie,' ' Summer and Winter in the Pyrenees,' and
' The United Irishmen.'

The traders of St. Kitts and Nevis had petitioned at
various periods between 1828 and 1842 that the Customs
establishments of those islands should be consolidated,
and all traffic between them deemed ' coastwise ' trade.
The Board had replied that though they were empowered
to regulate coastwise traffic in the colonies, their powers
did not extend to making intercolonial into coastwise
trade, and had pointed out that the customs duties in the
respective islands were paid in to separate colonial
treasuries. But in 1842 they departed from this decision,
and allowed the privilege requested, so far as regarded
vessels owned in the two islands.

The sub-collector of Wellington, New Zealand, reported
as to the lack of protection of British and colonial trade
in his district. He stated that American fishing vessels
frequently came close to the shores of Stewart's Island,
and traded in contraband with the settlers and natives ;
also that a colonial schooner brought a cargo of tobacco
(duty-paid), and it was found impossible to sell the goods,
the Americans having suppHed all requirements. He was
of opinion that a revenue cruiser should be stationed at
Cloudy Bay. The Board merely inscribed the damning
word ' Read ' on this important epistle.

On July 4, 1842, the governor of Ceylon, in his address
to the Council, stated the total revenue for 1841 as
£344,463, and announced a deficit of £ib,?)yo, which had



214 PERIOD OF GRADUAL RELAXATIONS [1843

to be paid out of the balance previously remaining in the
public chest.

Cap. 29, 6 and 7 Vict., referred to an Act passed in 1843
by the Legislature of Canada, imposing a duty of 3s. a
quarter on all wheat imported into Canada, except from
the United Kingdom. It appears this Act had been
passed with the view that the United Kingdom should act
reciprocally by lowering the duties on Canadian wheat.
They were accordingly, by Cap. 29, reduced to is. a
quarter. Cap. 79 affirmed certain provisions, made by a
Convention, regulating the fisheries between Great
Britain and France. It enjoined that the French might
not fish in the waters between France and the British
Islands, except at a distance exceeding three miles from
low-water mark. The Board of Trade might draw up
by-laws applicable to the fisheries. The British revenue
officers were authorized to examine the registry certifi-
cates and tackle of British fishing vessels, and to execute



Online LibraryHenry AttonThe king's customs → online text (page 18 of 43)