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ture, although the necessity of increased taxation for the pur
poses of revenue has to a certain extent compelled action in
partial unison with their views, and has caused more attention
to be given to the proper adjustment of the duties, so as neithei
unduly to stimulate [!] nor depress the few branches of manu-
facture which exist in Canada. . . . The government have nc
expectation that the moderate duties imposed by Canada can
produce any considerable development of manufacturing indus-
try ; the utmost that is likely to arise is the establishment of
works requiring comparatively unskilled labor, or of those com-
peting with America for the production of goods which can be
equally well made in Canada, and which a duty of twenty pel
cent, will no doubt stimulate."

Canada's passive policy. 803

Three years later (1862) Mr. Gait assured the Manchester
Chamber of Commerce that Canada had no purpose to close its
market on them. " The best evidence that could be offered
against the charge of Protection was that the effect of the
tariff had not been to produce manufactures. The manufac-
tures of Canada were those that might be expected in a new
country — nails, steam-engines, coarse woollens, and other arti-
cles necessary in a newly settled country. There was not at this
moment a single cotton-mill in Canada, nor a silk manufactory.
The imports of earthenware and glass, hardware and iron, had
gone on increasing every year from 1859 till the present year."

Even this meekness was not enough ; he was asked why
did not Canada raise her revenue by direct taxation on land and
income ; these revenue duties had been thrown in their teeth in
Europe. It had been said : " Can you expect us to throw off
all duties on British goods, when, your own colonies tax them
fifteen per cent?" He retorted that such questions would come
with better grace if England did not raise £28,000,000 a year
by customs, and £17,000,000 by excise duties. Direct taxation
might be best; but it was also a luxury that a poor and thinly-
settled country could not indulge in.

Knowing that a mere passive policy is not sufficient to build
up a new country, Canada pursues with zeal and energy the tra-
ditional policy of directly aiding immigration from the Old
World, instead of attaining the same end indirectly by making
the Dominion a place eminently well worth settling in. She
uses the money raised by taxation to pay the expense of these
new-comers ; if she were to tax foreign productions at a higher
rate they would come without her help. But she is " all the
time pouring water into a cask with a hole in it. Allowing for
great exaggeration in the reported numbers of French-Canadian
emigrants to the United States, we fear that for two emigrants,
whom, with much expense and with great labor we bring over,
we probably lose three. But little account is taken of the emi-
grants who are lost, because they are mainly withdrawn from


manufactures, and agriculture is the government's sole care"
{Canadian Monthly).

Canada has bought in the cheapest market and sold in the
dearest that she could find, with no thought of creating better,
nearer and steadier markets than any she could find ready-
made. Her wise marketing has not prevented her from being
a poor and backward country. She has done the easiest thing,
and made no sacrifices from the first; has lived from hand to
mouth ; has been wise with her pennies and foolish with her
pounds ; has saved at the spigot and wasted at the bung. And,
therefore, the tide of population moves over her border into the
United States — away from the land of low taxation and free
choice of markets to the land of high taxes and home markets.
She cannot keep the Europeans who come into her ports with
half a mind to stay. Her own people sell land and houses at a
sacrifice, and seek a home in New York and New England.

" By describing one side of the frontier," says Lord Durham
in a celebrated report, " and reversing the picture, the other
would be described. On the American side all is activity and
bustle. The forest has been widely cleared ; every year numer-
ous settlements are formed, and thousands of farms are created
out of the waste; the country is intersected with common
roads On the British side of the line, with the excep-
tion of a few favored spots, where some approach to American

prosperity is apparent, all seems waste and desolate The

ancient city of Montreal, which is naturally the capital of
Canada, will not bear the least comparison, in any respect, with
Buffalo, which is the creation of yesterday. But it is not in the
difference between the large towns that we shall find the best
evidence of our inferiority. That painful but most undeniable
truth is most manifest in the country districts, through which
the line of natural separation passes, for a distance of a thou-
sand miles. There on the side of both the Canadas, and also
of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, a widely-scattered popula-
tion, poor and apparently unenterprising, though hardy and
industrious, separated from each other by tracts of intervening


forests, without towns or markets, almost without roads, living
in mean houses, drawing little more than a rude subsistence
from ill-cultivated land, aud seemingly incapable of improving
their condition, present the most instructive contrast to their en-
terprising and thriving neighbors on the American side

Throughout the frontier, from Amherstburgh to the ocean, the
market value of land is much greater on the American than on
the British side. In not a few parts this difference amounts to
a thousand per cent I am positively assured that supe-
rior natural fertility belongs to the British side. In Upper
Canada, the whole of the great peninsula between Lakes Erie
and Huron, comprising nearly half the available land of the
province, is generally considered the best grain couutry of the
American continent."

She would like to get, through reciprocity with the United
States, the better markets that our tariff have created almost at
her very doors. Will we open them to her? She did get it in 1856,
aud kept it till 1866, aud is now asking it again. " We were
very anxious for it," writes a Canadian banker and member of
Parliament in 1858. " Why ? Because we wanted their market
for the produce of our forests, farms and seas ; and why did we
want their market? Because it was better than our own. Why
was it so ? Because they encourage their mechauics and we do
not. Why should people be obliged to leave Canada for the
United States to earn a living there, and we send our money to
pay them there for their goods? .... In passing through the
New England States we shall find their water-power all em-
ployed. Their running streams are not allowed to go to waste
over their rocky beds ; the water is caught, tamed, and made
industrious, diffusing wealth and prosperity all around. ... It
is mainly owing to the manufactures of New England that their
poor hard land is worth and will sell for more cash than our rich
lands here aud all over the Western world."

Nor has Canadian Free Trade meant merely freedom to profit
by the natural advantages that other peoples possess. Even the
slight duty that Cauada has imposed has reduced the market


price of the article, when it has had the effect of protecting the
native producer. Beer fell from six to five dollars a barrel,
when a duty of a dollar a barrel was imposed upon it. And
even the price of the foreign article is not always raised by
the duty, although the profits of the foreign manufacturer or of
his agents were reduced. " I know of instances," says the
writer just quoted, " where foreigners manufacturing articles
similar to those made in Canada have not only paid our duties
on their goods, but freights and charges also, and afterwards
sold them at the lowest prices they would have taken at home."
Had there been no competition, and no duty to foster it, the
price would have been whatever the foreign monopolist pleased.

See Isaac Buchanan, M. P., On the Industrial Resources of America
(Montreal, 1864), a chaotic compilation edited by Henry J. Morgan.
Mr. Buchanan is the leading Protectionist of the Dominion, and belongs
to the school of Henry C. Carey. The most original and able writer of
the party, known to us, is John Maclean (Free Trade and Protection,
Montreal, 1868).

§ 288. The Australian colonies have been much more decided
and independent than those of British America, a fact largely
due to the enterprising, wide-awake character of the popula-
tion, whom the gold discoveries took thither. They have made
fair trial of free trade, which they now scout as " an antipodean
doctrine," while protection is their national creed. It commands
an ever-increasing majority in the colonial legislatures; it is the
avowed principle of " all their first statesmen ;" it is especially
the doctrine upheld and acted upon by the liberal and progres-
sive party, while the old sheep-farming aristocracy are at once the
Conservative and the Free Trade party The policy of cherish-
ing a varied industry is drawing the colonies closer together, and
has led to the first steps towards a Federative Union. All
classes but one are full of enthusiasm for the industrial inde-
pendence of Australia. " No British Goods Sold Here " is
the sign by which an Australian tradesman wooes popularity
and custom. Dishonest dealers tear off the British labels from
imported goods, and substitute one which marks them as
Colonial make. This people are straining every nerve to


develop a varied industry and bring the farmer and the artisan
into neighborhood; they have no idea of keeping up workshops
at the antipodes. They " would rather import that which
should produce the commodities than the commodities them-
selves." They want a free trade that will not mean the " mono-
poly for British manufactures," " and their chief object is to
put down monopoly by extending the sphere of competition."

§ 289. " But you are taxing your consumers for the benefit of
the producers. As well break all the windows in your houses in
order to keep glaziers in work." No proof that a percentage of
loss is incurred by protection deters them. " A digger at Bal-
larat told me that he knew that under a protective tariff he had
to pay higher for his jacket and moleskin trousers, but that he
preferred to do this, as by so doing he aided in building up in
the colonies such trades as the making up of clothes, in which
his brother and other men, physically too weak to be diggers,
could gain an honest living. . . The Australian diggers and
western farmers of America are setting a grand example to the
world of self-sacrifice for a national ohject" (Dilke).

" Australia is but a young country yet, with plenty of avail-
able land for settlement; with exuberance of resources, mineral
and agricultural; and hitherto not greatly overburdened with
population ; and that, too, of a class consisting probably of a
smaller number of the physically incapable than any other coun-
try in the world. Yet for years past the great difficulty has been
to find employment for the rising generation. The question of
tariffs there has been eminently a social one" (Syme). It is a
fact known to the present writer that immigration thither from
the North of Irelaud was deterred by the reports that came back
that fathers of families in very comfortahle circumstances had
sent their sons to sea in despair of finding work for them. The
Australians found that "their youth was growing up in a
state of semi-barbarism, without education, without employment,
and without hopes for the future," while their country was be-
coming "a huge sheep-walk."

§ 290. Those who are familiar with the facts of the com-


mercial history of Australia are not so ready to admit that her
people are making their own goods at a loss. (1) The Austra-
lians are much less at the mercy of speculators than when they
depended entirely upon a distant market, and by consequence
they are now in so far free from the vast fluctuation in prices
produced by "forestalling the market" or " getting up corners."
" There is scarcely a commodity imported into Australia but has
at one time or another been manipulated in this fashion. The
practice is carried on in the most systematic manner. There are
individuals there who make it their special study to create an
artificial scarcity. No sooner is there the slightest prospect of
even the most temporary deficiency in the supply of any com-
modity, than some one immediately begins to buy up every
parcel in the market and every shipment to arrive. Once in pos-
session of the bulk of available stock, he is in a position to de-
mand his own price from the consumers" (Syme).

Hittell's Resources of California (p. 333), gives an account of the same
system as pursued on the Pacific coast.

(2) Australia, like other countries that did not manufacture,
was not ordinarily furnished with goods at the lowest price that
her British friends could sell them for, but whenever she tried
to begin their manufacture she got them " at a sacrifice." She
had tallow in abundance and all the materials to make soap and
candles ; her people repeatedly undertook to make them, and it
was found that they could do so at prices much below the ordi-
nary price of the imported articles. But no sooner was this
known in England, than large shipments of soap and candles
were thrown upon the market at prices with which the home
manufacturer could not compete. One maker after another was
crushed by the unequal competition, until the Victoria tariff of
1871 took this industry under protection.

Again, Australia produces maize, while England has to im-
port it. Yet maizena, a well-known preparation from that
grain, was imported from England and sold for a shilling a
pound. A native firm began its manufacture and sold it at five
pence, and afterwards at two pence per pound, but has had a


hard fight with foreign competition, and would have been
swamped but for the confidence in success that buoyed them up
against losses.

Again, Victoria produces vast quantities of very superior
wool, yet in 1870 the importation of woollens amounted to
£817,087. A factory at Geelong earned a fair dividend and a
high reputation by the manufacture of a class of tweeds, which
wore well. A Yorkshire firm got a sample of the fabric and
made a cheap and inferior imitation of it, with which the
colony was soon flooded. The factory would have been closed
had not the legislature imposed a protective duty upon all im-
ported cloths, and the colony is now spinning and weaving its
own wools at a rate that will soon make it independent of

These are not the only cases. An old colonist declared at a
public meeting in Sydney, that he " had seen a large number of
industries perish in this country, not because they had not in-
herent strength, but because they had been strangled, as it were,
by the competition of other countries. . . . Unless a man had
a very strong back, he could not bear up against them till he
could establish his industry."

See Sir Charles Dilke's Greater Britain, but especially "Restrictions on
Trade: From a Colonial Point of View," by David Symc. Republished
i:<'>ton, 1873.

§ 291. Two of England's dependencies — Ireland and India — ■
have had no discretion as to the direction of their economic
policy, — no power to set up barriers against the beneficencies of
free trade. Both of them have been, throughout the period of
their relation to her, relatively inferior in capital and skill, and
both have illustrated the result of free competition between
nations so situated.

Ireland possesses many natural advantages, but labors under
the absence of others. Acre for acre her soil is better than that
of England, but her immense rainfall — in some places in the
west it rains two hundred days in the year — renders grain-farm-
ing gambling. Since the failure of the potato crop, she has been


chiefly dependent upon green crops and dairy farming, and she
is unsurpassed in both. She has mines of gold, silver, and iron,
but very few of coal ; a great geological convulsion seems to have
stripped her of her coal measures, paring the top from the
island and leaving bare the vast limestone plain, intersected with
peat bogs, which forms its centre. But English coal can be
put down on her seaboard as cheaply as in the south of Eng-
land ; more cheaply than in France. Her vast area of fine pas-
ture land and her peculiar climate, render the wool of her sheep
exceptionally fine, and therefore for centuries back in great de-
mand to mix with the coarse wools on the Continent. But her
wool is not woven and spun at home ; she exports it together with
large quantities of food. Her Celtic people are of the same blood
with the French across the Channel, and possess the same capa-
city for the development of fine taste, and the artistic feeling for
form and color; but these lie undeveloped while they remain at
home. The Irishman only flourishes after being transplanted
from his native soil, although he feels for that soil the most pas-
sionate attachment. His qualities as a workman, which have
been so abundantly useful in our country, lie dormant at home.
§ 292. The spirit in which the English government and
people used to deal with Irish industry finds its most striking
illustration in the suppression of the woollen manufacture at the
close of the seventeenth century. The manufacture of woollens
and linens began very early; under Henry VIII. the importa-
tion of Irish woollen thread was prohibited. Under Charles I.
Went worth used all his tyrannical energies to suppress the
woollen manufacture, and promote that of linen. The over-
throw of the King and his party left the Irish free to spin and
weave what they would, and not till after the Revolution of
1688 did the complaints of the English manufacturers induce
the government to restrict them from producing woollens for the
supply of the home market. The English House of Lords
(1698) took the initiative, and begged the King to take measures
to confine the Irish to the linen trade, as the rapid growth of
their woollen trade was drawing English spinners and weavers


to Ireland. The House of Commons followed, and the King
promised to do what was desired. The Irish Parliament was in
no sense a body that represented the nation ; they imposed a
prohibitory duty on the export of Irish woollens, while the
English Parliament prohibited their export save from six
Irish to six English ports. Irish industry received a shock
from which it never recovered, and even English industry felt
the recoil. The wool-workers flocked over into England, and
overstocked the labor market, or by competing for the trade,
cut down the profits. Others took their skill and industry to
the Continent, and contributed to the improvement of the
foreign factories. A great part of the people were thrown out
of employment, or thrown back upon farming, and the era of
rack-rents began. " Upon the determination of all leases made
before 1690," says Dean Swift, " a gentleman thinks he has but
indifferently improved his estate if he has only doubled his
rent roll. Farms are screwed up to a rack-rent — leases granted
but for a term of years — tenants tied down to hard conditions,
and discouraged from cultivating the land they occupy to the
best advantage by the certainty they have of the rent being
raised, on the expiration of their lease, proportionably to the.
improvements they shall make." The value of Ireland as a
customer for English goods was very greatly diminished ; where
once they had bought large quantities of the better wares, they
now took only the coarser, and in small amounts. Well might
Swift, with savage wit, refuse to respond to the toast, " Ireland's
Prosperity." on the ground that he " never drunk to memories."
" Ireland," he wrote in 1727, " is the only kingdom I ever heard
or read of, either in ancient or modern story, which was denied the
liberty of exporting their native commodities and manufactures
wherever they pleased, except to countries at war with their
own prince or state ; yet this privilege, by the superiority of
mere power, is denied us in the must momentous parts of com-
merce." With every generation her trade declined, except that
in linen, conducted chiefly by the Scotch and English colonists
in the three north-eastern counties, where the streams are so


richly charged with natural chlorides that they will bleach
without the addition of chemicals. Even this was envied ; in
17S5 Manchester sent up a petition with 117,000 signatures,
asking the prohibition of Irish linens. The implied pledge
made to foster the Irish linen trade was never kept; bounties
were given to English and Scotch producers only. But the
Irish maker held his own, and the annual value of Irish linen
is now half that of the rental of the kingdom.

§ 293. This act was but the worst of many conceived in the
same spirit. The export of cattle to England in 1663 was pro-
hibited in order to protect the English breeder. The manufac-
ture of glass was put down in the same way as that of woollens.
" The easiness of the Irish labor market and the cheapness of
provisions still giving us the advantage, even though we had to
import our materials, we next made a dash at the silk business,
but the silk manufacturer proved as pitiless as the woolstapler.
The cotton manufacturer, the sugar refiner, the soap and caudle
maker (who especially dreaded the abundance of our kelp), and
any other trade or interest that thought it worth its while to pe-
tition was received by Parliament with the same cordiality, until
the most searching scrutiuy failed to detect a single vent for the
hated industry of Ireland to respire" (Lord Dufferiu). The
country was •forbidden to trade with the East, with the Mediter-
ranean, with the Colonies.

Not till the rising of the Irish Volunteers in 1778, and the
consecpuent concession of the independence of the Irish Parlia-
ment in 1783, was the weaker island treated as possessed of any
industrial rights that the stronger was bound to respect. From
that period till the Union of 1801, Ireland had control of her
own industrial policy, and one of the first uses that she made of
it was to impose a duty upon the importation of certain English
goods which it was felt could be made as well at home. Those
eighteen years were a time of rapid industrial growth; Irish
manufactures began to show themselves. " There is not a
nation on the habitable globe," wrote Lord Clare in 1798,
" which has advanced in cultivation and commerce, in agricul-


ture and manufactures, with the same rapidity in the same
period." But one of the provisions of the infamous compact
which terminated the country's legislative independence, was
the gradual removal of these duties. Those on cotton goods
were to be removed between 1808 and 1821 ; those on woollens
by the latter date; that on cotton yarn in 1810. As the pro-
cess went on, the Irish factories closed with the same beautiful
regularity. The protected silk, flannel, stocking, blanket and
calico manufactures of Ireland are now extinct. By 1840 the
woollen manufacturers of Dublin had fallen off from ninety-one
to twelve ; their workmen from nearly 5000 to about GOO ; wool-
combing and carpet-weaving was almost gone. Six thousand
weavers and combers in Cork were reduced to 478 by 1834.

Once again the people were thrown back upon the land ; the
merciless competition of British capital was as effective as the
merciless legislation of the English Parliament; English Free
Trade undersold Irish manufactures out of existence, and
reduced the Irish people to the uniformity of a single employ-
ment. The only field of enterprise left was competition for the
possession of a few acres, as the last refuge from starvation.
" Some well-meant but vain attempts have been made from time
to time to promote manufactures in the country, in the form of
what is called an Irish manufacture movement, that is, an agita-
tion tn induce a general undertaking or resolution to use articles
of Irish manufacture rather than English, without reference to

Online LibraryRobert Ellis ThompsonSocial science and national economy → online text (page 28 of 38)