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by which duties were taken off exports, and imposed upon man-
ufactured goods imported from other countries. That the effect
was '• the prodigious development of France under the encour-
agement which it afforded them" (Blanqui) is admitted even by


the Free Traders, who deplore the means he adopted. Those
light and graceful fabrics, in whose production the skill and
nice taste of this Celtic people find exercise, were naturalized in
France by Colbert ; without him, as Irish history shows, these
national gifts might have lain idle. " France," says J. B. Say,
" at present contains the most beautiful manufactures of silk
and wool in the world, and is probably indebted for them to the
wise encouragement of Colbert's administration." Some En-
glish writers urge, indeed, "that France showed signs of
revived prosperity and augmented wealth under the administra-
tion of Colbert, was to be attributed to the re-establishment of
order in the finances of the country, and the removal of various
obstacles which impeded the operation of certain branches of
industry" (Twiss). It is certain that France was a richer
and more prosperous country than at any previous period,
partly in spite of the meddlesome trifling of the regulations
which Colbert imposed upon the industries he had called
into existence. The man could put no restraint upon his won-
derful gift for arranging details ; he irritated the French mer-
chants till they told him that what they chiefly asked of him
was to "let them alone" (Laissez /aire) ; and one of them de-
clared that Colbert, after getting the coach out of the slough on
one side, had tumbled it back again on the other.

France did not long reap the benefits that Colbert's system
conferred. Louis XIV. had no sense of the importance of in-
dustry. He wrote to Charles II. : " If the English are satisfied
to be the merchants of the world, and leave me to conquer it,
the matter can easily be arranged. Of the commerce of the
globe, three parts to England and one part to France." He,
therefore, wasted the national wealth in unsuccessful wars, and
generally bought peace by granting treaties which pledged
him to remove duties from foreign manufactures. That of
Nimeguen. in 1713, completed the work of destroying the pro-
tective system. Colbert died of a broken heart in 1683, amidst
general distress ; two years later a still more deadly blow was
struck at French industry at home ; the edict of Nantes (1598),


by which the Huguenots received full toleration, was revoked
(1685), and half a million of the most industrious and intelli-
gent class of French manufacturers and tradesmen were driven
into England, Holland and Germany. "They carried with them
the skill and intelligence, and the secrets of trade that made
France great, and mauy of the most important industries of
England, especially, are traced back to those expatriated
Frenchmen." " They are at this time improving the manufac-
tures of your majesty's enemies," pleaded Colbert against the
measures of intolerance undertaken even during his lifetime;
he himself afforded them all the protection in his power. No
Greater service could be rendered to the Protestant cause outside
France than was rendered by the intolerance of Louis XIV. ;
it laid the foundation of the industrial, and, consequently, of
the political predominance of the Reformed nations, by supply-
ing just the element that their manufacturing methods most
lacked. The reign that opened with such bright promise in
1661, closes in 1715 with a universal depression of every mate-
ria! interest of France.

The history of the financial policy of France between this
period and the accession of Turgot, in 1783, is a story of make-
shift and extravagance, in which the Law episode is merely
the most fantastic passage. Turgot was theoretically a free
trader of the school of, the Economistes ; but he seems to
have shrunk instinctively from any steps to realize these views,
while he took the boldest measures to destroy monopolies and to
release labor from traditional shackles of all sorts. His success-
ors in 1786 negotiated a treaty with England, by which France
was flooded with English goods, and in two years the manu-
facturing industries of France were almost annihilated. Distress
became so universal that the government was forced to call the
States-General, and the Revolution — whose first and loudest cry
was • Grive us bread !" — began.

§ 273. Napoleon restored the policy of Colbert. He united
all Central Europe into one vast empire, with perfect freedom
of trade between all its divisions, and in so far allowed the devel-


oped industry of one part to cramp the development of that of an-
other, knowing that France chiefly profited by this. But he
shut out from the Continent the manufactures of the power that
had long kept all the rest in industrial subordination, and every-
where throughout Europe manufactures began to spring up
again. He had as little liking for English doctrines as for Eng-
lish goods. In 1803 he forbade J. B. Say to publish in France
the work in which he had systematized the views and theories of
Adam Smith. He said : " If an empire were made of adamant,
political economy would grind it to powder." But he had
thoughts of his own on the subject. " Formerly there was only
one kind of property, land ; another has now arisen, industry."
He would defend the one as well as the other from invasion by
" the nation of shopkeepers."

England had control of the seas, and Europe drew her supply
of sugar mainly from the British colonies. Prussian chemists
had been making experiments on the extraction of sugar from
the beet, under the patronage of Frederick the Great, who was
like Napoleon a very decided protectionist. At the Prussian
king's death, the experiments ceased for lack of means to carry
them on. They were again resumed under Napoleon, and the
French Institute appointed a commission to look into the matter.
The first attempts were failures, and France went on for years
paying fifty cents a pound for foreign sugar. In 1810, the
matter was taken up again under imperial patronage ; special
schools of chemistry were founded, and a large area of land was
devoted to the culture, and in 1812 nearly 5,000,000 pounds of
beet sugar was in the market. The industry survived the
Restoration, for the Bourbons did not bring back permanent
free trade. " For thirty years nearly every law passed on custom-
house matters has been intended either to establish or to con-
solidate the system of protection and prohibition" (J. B. Say,
1826). Beet sugar now holds its own against the foreign com-
petitor, and pays a tax to the government. It occupies an ever-
increasing area of Flemish, German, Swedish, Polish, Russian
and French soil, — millions of acres of the last. Its production


has invigorated other industries, especially agriculture ; the refuse
pulp furnishes an excellent food for vast numbers of cattle, and
their manure, with the other refuse of the factories, has added
greatly to the fertility of the soil. No. district produces less
wheat, for having begun beet culture; generally more. It fur-
nishes winter work, and work for women and children, giving
employment to a great number of persons, who would else be
idle. The Journal des Fabricants de Sucre for January 4th 1866,
Bays : ' ; One of the most remarkable and interesting facts of the
past year is the export of considerable quantities of sugar from
France to England, a country that, not many years ago, tried to
stifle the beet sugar industry in its cradle."

§ 274. Under all changes of government, France clung to
the commercial policy of Colbert and Napoleon, down to our own
times. That she advanced most rapidly in the development of
every material interest, is as clearly proved by the official returns
to the government as anything well can be. Between 1820 and
1 v .~>7 the growth of wheat rose from 5.4 to 6.8 bushels per head
of the people, so that she feeds all her people, and has food to
spare, though her population is nearly three times as dense as
that of Pennsylvania. Between ISoO and 1856 the value of her
exports increased 131 per cent., though the population had not
increased five per cent. The increase in the value of British
exports for the same period was 120 per cent.; and the amount
of the<e that were paid for in imports was fully one-half, while
that of France was not more than a fifth.

In 1860 the superior person who had made himself Emperor
cf the French, and afterwards unmade himself, set aside all
the traditions of French finance and negotiated a commercial
treaty with England, providing for a reduction of import duties
"ti both Bides. The English free traders, Cobden, Gladstone,
&c., who were engaged in the negotiation, set at nought the tra-
ditional maxims of the school. '-We want trade," said Mr.
Ricardo, "not treaties of commerce; for they are opposed to
our principles." The great body of the French people, espe-
cially the opponents of Napoleonic personal government, opposed


the treaty and its principles most strenuously; but English
liberals elaborated it in secret conferences with the agents of
the French empire, and rejoiced when the imperial will forced
it upon " the most Protectionist of European lands," as one of
Cobden's eulogists says. On the one hand England removed all
duties on French manufactures and lowered the excise duties
upon French wines and spirits; on the other hand French du-
ties on English manufactures, if more than thirty per cent, ad
valorem, were to be reduced to that amount at October 1st. 1861,
and to twenty-five per cent, three years later. The effect was
no doubt to increase very greatly the trade between the two
countries; they bought of each other many things that they
had been accustomed to make at home, aud employed a larger
number of people in carrying these articles back aud forward,
instead of setting them at productive work. Some industries in
each country gained at the expense of corresponding interests
in the other ; they had been doing well, and they did better.
Other industries in each were very greatly injured by the change,
and numbers of people thrown out of employment. This gain
was thought a sufficient off-set among the friends of the treaty.
France employed a far larger number of her people in serving
foreigners, and made them dependent upon the vicissitudes of
the foreign market. Hitherto she had suffered little or nothing
from commercial revulsions and panics; from this time they be-
gan to affect her money-market aud her industries. She lost in
the stability of employments, wages aud pro6ts. But she lost
much less than if she had made the experiment thirty or fifty
years earlier; the gains of her long era of consistent aud per-
sistent Protection, made her able to sustain the hazard of the
new era. She had become a rich country, with abundance of
cheap capital, industrial skill, popular intelligence and enter-
prise. She could afford some competition, and even the imperial
charlatan did not design to try unrestricted competition. The
duties preserved, — if we consider the stage of skill, industry and
capital that France had reached — were really as fully protective
as many that have been enacted in our own country with a view

England's industrial beginnings. 287

to protection. One of the emperor's organs, the Journal Jes

Debats, boasted that he had outwitted the English statesmen,

and that the thirty per cent, duties would be really protective.

Our staunch friend, Count Agenor de Gasparin, in his Un Grand Pext-
ple Re Jteleve, asserts that the French Treaty is actually more prohibitory
than the Morril Tariff of 1861. Yet French manufacturers complained
of its terms. Although the duty on iron was $12 a ton, it was said that
the production of iron in France was impossible. In 1868 the Chamber
of Arts of Roubaix, the leading centre of the combing wool industry, and
the neighboring city of Tourcoing, protested against the renewal of the
treat}', and the workingmen petitioned to the same effect. The manu-
facturers of Lille and Amiens united in the protest, and the Moniteur In-
dustrie! complained that the treaty "has carried 20,000,000,000 francs to
the debtor side of our national credit sheet."

The statesman whom France called to the helm after the fall
of Napoleon, and whom she still desires to guide her destinies,
Adolphe Thiers, was the eloquent leader of the protectionist
opposition during the reign of Napoleon. One of his first
measures was to notify the English government that at the ex-
piring of the ten years fixed for the duration of the treaty, it
would cease to be in force.

§ 275. England owes her industrial greatness to the persist-
ency with which she adhered to the Nationalist policy. Five
centuries ago she was little more than an agricultural country.
She produced an abundance of excellent wool, but her workshops
were on the Continent, among the Flemings, whither English
wool was carried to be converted into cloth. " The ribs of all
people throughout the world are kept warm by the fleeces of
English wool," (Matthew Paris). " Most articles of clothing,
excepting such as were produced by ordinary domestic industry,
were imported from Flanders, France and Germany. The names
of the articles to this day indicate the places where they were
manufactured. Thus there was the mechlin lace of Mechlin,
the duffle of Duffel, the diapre of Ypres (d'Ypre), the cambric
of Cambrai, the arras of Arras, the tulle of Tulle, the damask of
Damascus, and the dimity of Damietta. Besides these we im-
ported delph ware from Delph, Venetian glass from Venice, cord-
ovan leather from Cordova, and millinery from Milan" (Smiles).


The last terra formerly included all sorts of fancy and ladies'
wares. Edward III., '' the greatest of the Plantagenets," a sov-
ereign of the same class with Frederick and Napoleon, took the
first step to bring the nation out of this industrial dependence.
Some Flemish workmen had fled into England,, and this seems
to have suggested to him the idea of importing Flemish skill
rather than its products, of bringing the farmer and artisan into
neighborhood. An act of Parliament was passed in 1337, for-
bidding under heavy penalties the exportation of wool and the
importation of woollen goods. This heroic remedy probably
caused some embarrassment, for the English did not possess
the skill to produce the equal of Flemish fabrics; but the Flemings
were in worse straits. " Then might have been seen throughout
Flanders weavers, fullers, and others living by the woollen manu-
facture, either begging or under stress of debt tilling the soil."
A large number listened to the invitation held out by the
English government, and finding themselves cut off from the
English market so long as they remained at home, came over
into England and brought their trade with them. Old manorial
rolls and charters from this time on, contain great numbers of
unmistakably Flemish names, especially those that relate to the
Eastern shires. As to the exportation of wool, that became a
monopoly of the king's exchequer, and added much to the rev-
enue at a time when the kings were much in need of such sup-
plies. England then declined to compete with and began to
emulate Flanders ; artisan and farmer were brought into prox-
imity, and the price of manufactured goods approximated to that
of the raw materials.

The penalty for a first violation of this law was a fine; for a second,
maiming; for a third, imprisonment; for a fourth, death. In 1716 the
last was changed to seven years' transportation. In 1834 all were

From this time woollens were the great English staple. Other
branches lay under comparative neglect. Even iron was im-
ported from the Continent for the use of English blacksmiths,
and its cost was an important item in the expense of a farm


(§70). The coming in of Protestant refugees from the Low
Countries and France, which began about 1550, was so extensive
that an investigation showed the presence of 40,000 that year
in London alone. Queen Elizabeth planted a great number at
the then decayed town of Sandwich, describing them as " men
of knowledge in sundry handicrafts," such as " the making of
says, baize and other cloth, which hath not been used to be made
in this our realme of England." Both Norwich and Sandwich
were recovered to prosperity by these foreigners. They intro-
duced, besides the spinning and weaving of new fabrics, the art
of dyeing, of which the Flemings had preserved the monopoly.
" The native population gradually learned to practise the same
branches of manufacture; new sources of employment were
opened up to them ; and in the course of a few years Eng-
land, instead of depending upon foreigners for its supply of cloth,
was not only able to produce sufficient for its own use, but to ex-
port the article in considerable quantities abroad " (Smiles).
They brought over the manufacture of lace and cutlery. They
also put an end to the importation of cabbages, onions, and
other vegetables from Holland, by establishing kitchen gardens,
first at Sandwich and then at London. In 1621 the 10,000
strangers in London were plying 121 different trades. The un-
wise intolerance of Continental governments led to these trans-
fers of skill and experience, and pointed out the wisdom of the
policy that brings the workshops of a nation home to its own soil,
to the neighborhood of its farms. The industrial life of the Eng-
lish people took a great advance; from the uniformity of a single
occupation, they rose to that varied industry, which is the mark
of a civilized people.

§ 276. Under the Protectorate of Cromwell the foundation of
England's merchant marine was laid by the Navigation Acts.
The Dutch possessed a monopoly of the carrying trade, which
was open to all. Even the produce of the British colonies was
brought to England in Dutch bottoms. The new acts prohibited
the importation of any but European goods in any but English
ships, manned three-fourths by Englishmen. Upon European


goods imported in foreign ships, they imposed discriminating du-
ties. A cry went up at once that England was ruined; the goods
that must be had from abroad were far more in amount than could
be brought by the existing merchant marine, or any that could be
procured for years to come. But Cromwell persisted, and by the
end of his reign the Navigation Acts were so popular, that the
first Parliament that met after the Restoration reenacted them in
full at the very opening of its session. They took care, how-
ever, to exclude Scotland, which Cromwell had treated as part of
England, from their scope. England was a self-sufficient and
independent country, more necessary to other countries than other
countries were to her. At the date of their repeal she had given
up that position ; it had become necessary almost to her existence
that she should have free access to the markets of the world.
The Dutch sought to maintain their supremacy on the seas by
force, but the victories of Blake confirmed the legislation of

§ 2T7. Under the later Stuarts the policy of naturalizing
every species of industry was carried out with more or less
energy. In 1678 appeared " England's Improvement by Sea and
Land. To Outdo the Dutch without Fighting. To Pay Debts
without Moneys. To set at Work all the Poor of England with
the Growth of our oxen Land. . . By Andrew Yarranton,
Gent." The author had taken pains to see how foreign trades-
men turned out the goods that were in such demand ; he would
have his countrymen come up to them in all things. Let them
import the skill of the German and the Dutchman, set up the
linen trade and the iron manufacture at home, and improve their
woollen staples by getting foreign machines and workmen.
From this time the statute book abounds in acts to accomplish
these ends, and unforeseen occurrences cooperated with them.
The last great persecution of the French Protestants began, and
the best skilled laborers of France were flying across her border
to find a home among strangers. England, the old refuge of
the persecuted, got her full share of them, at least 100,000
skilled artisans. The wares made in England were only plain
articles for common use. " The chief manufactures among us


at this day are only woollen cloths, woollen stuffs of various
sorts, stockings, ribandings, and perhaps some few silk stuffs,
and some other small things scarce worth the naming; and
those already mentioned are so decayed and adulterated that they
are almost out of esteem both at home and abroad " (Fortrey,
1693). " France had long been the leader of fashion, and all
the world bought dress and articles of vertu at Paris. Colbert
was accustomed to say that the fashions were worth more to
Fiance than the mines of Peru were to Spain. Only articles
of French manufacture, with a French name, could find pur-
chasers amongst people of fashion in London. . . So soon as the
French artisans settled in London they proceeded to establish
and carry on the manufactures which they had practised abroad;
and a large portion of the stream of gold which before had
flowed into France now flowed into England. They introduced
all the manufactures connected with the fashions" (Smiles).
The hat trade especially was transferred from France to England,
so that the French nobility and even the Roman cardinals had
their hats made by the Huguenots at Wandsworth. Every
species of woollens, linens, and fine hardware, glass and paper,
known to trade was produced on English soil ; the silk manu-
facture, which previous attempts had failed to transfer to Eng-
land, now took root, and England soon exported large quantities
of silk fabrics. To cherish the industry, the duties on imported
silks were trebled, and then their importation prohibited.
Strange to say, all classes of Englishmen still seem to think there
was some gain to the nation in this importation of French skill,
and in buying goods at home rather than in sending over the
seas for them. The historians of English industry point to this
era as one of the turning-points in the development of England's
industrial greatness, and justly pride themselves on the fact that
it was the readiness with which the nation opened an asylum to
the persecuted of all nations that led to the building up her
manufactures and the improvement of their processes. On
their own principles they should see no difference between
making these things at home and buying them in France.


§ 278. In 1771 the iron trade was taken under the protection
of the nation, heavy duties on its importation being imposed.
About 1787 very great improvements in the method of its manu-
facture were effected, and from this time English iron was
increasingly protected by successive tariffs, till in 1819 the duty
was £6 10s. a ton, although for years previous to this English
makers had undersold all others in every European market. In
1834 it was reduced to £1 a ton.

But woollens were still the great staple of English manufacture
in the 17th and 18th centuries, and every care was taken to
protect their makers from foreign competition. In 1678 Indian
cotton goods were denounced in petitions to Parliament, as
threatening the ruin of the woollen trade. Between 1700 and
1736 their importation and use were prohibited ; then the law
was relaxed to allow the manufacture of mixed woollen and cot-
ton goods; in 177-1 the manufacture of cotton goods was legal-
ized, as a thing which " ought to be allowed under proper regu-
lations," among which were provisions to make sure that all that
was won was of British manufacture. When England beean
this manufacture, India could supply her with cottons at a third
the cost of home manufacture, and indeed their import was a
chief business of the East India Company. But by strenuous
protective measures, she developed the skill of her people, secured
the invention of better machinery, made great accumulations of
capital. The tariff of 1819 still prohibited the importation of
cotton goods made east of the Cape of Good Hope, and imposed
50 to 67 per cent, ad valorem duties on those that were made in

Online LibraryRobert Ellis ThompsonSocial science and national economy → online text (page 26 of 38)