Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 54, No. 334, August 1843 online

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l'application est presque toujours funeste aux peuples qui l'éprouvent,
ils ignoraient combien il est dans la nature des choses et dans le bien
des nations de modifier l'organization sociale suivant le temps, les
lieux, suivant le plus on moins grana degré de civilization, et d'après
mille circonstances, qui ne peuvent être prévues d'avance, mais que le
legislateur capable apprecie au moment où il est appélé à fonder la
société."_ On the cession of the Illyrian provinces, by Austria, after
the battle of Wagram, the _faiseurs_, or abstract principle men, of
Paris, were prompt with their plans, not for "constitutions" - Bonaparte
had put an end to that branch of their _métier_ - but for reorganizing
the laws, administration, &c., of Transylvania _de fond en comble_,
without knowing any thing of the people or country, without having seen
either the one or the other. Marmont, appointed governor of the ceded
provinces, who had studied on the spot the institutions established by
Austria, found these so perfect and well adapted to the genius and
inclination of the population, and the purposes of government, that he
opposed the _faiseurs_ with success, and, by his representations,
induced Bonaparte to confirm and act upon what existed.

This immense agglomeration, this monstrous over-production of the tribes
of _farceurs_, _faiseurs_, and _phraseurs_ is a misfortune of the first
magnitude - a pest worse than that of the locusts which lay waste the
land of Egypt, as here the substance of the people is devoured.
Conflagrations may, and do, occasionally diminish the number of
cotton-mills, and lighten the warehoused accumulation of cottons, or
other inert matter; but no lucky plague, pestilence, or cholera, comes
to thin the crowded phalanx, and rid this empire of some portion of the
interminable brood of mongers of all shapes and sizes. As Horace says -

"'Tis hard, but patience must endure
And bear the woes it cannot cure."

And now, leaving this discursive preliminary sketch, the length of which
was unpremeditated, of the leading influences which are fast hurrying to
social disorganization, it is time that once more we stand face to face
with the one disorganizing doctrine of _one-sided free trade_; with the
banner on which the _phraseurs_ and _farceurs_ have inscribed the
cabalistic devices, in flaming characters - "Leave the imports alone, the
exports will take care of themselves;" and, "A fixed duty is a fixed
injustice." One might be tempted to believe the first borrowed from the
armorial bearings of Lord Huntingtower's "bill" friends, whose motto is,
or should be - "Leave the fools alone, and the knaves will take care of
themselves;" the second is clearly no better than a petty-larceny
paraphrase of Newgate felony, in whose code of duties it stands decreed,
from all time, that "a fixed law is a fixed despotism."

The history of industry and commerce in every country, from the most
ancient down to modern times, gives the lie to these pertly pretending
truisms; for there is scarcely one branch of manufacture to be named
which does not owe its rise, progress, and perfection, to the protective
or financial, or both combined, control exercised over imports. If we
look at home only, where, we ask, would the woollen manufacture be now,
but for the early laws restrictive of the importation of foreign
woollens, nay more, restrictive of the export of British fleeces with
which the manufactories of Belgium were alimented? Where the cotton
trade, even with all Arkwright and Crompton's inventions of mule and
throstle frames, and the steam-engine wonders of Watt, but for the
importation tax of 87 per cent with which the cotton manufactures of
India were weighted and finally crushed? Where the British iron mines
and the iron trade, now so pre-eminent over all the world, but for the
heavy import duties with which the iron of Swedish, Russian, or other
foreign origin was loaded? And so also, may it be asked, in respect to
almost all industry and production. If, as contended, the woollen,
cotton, and iron industries would not only have been created, but much
more largely have flourished, without the aids and appliances of
friendly tariffs, the one-sided free traders are, at least, bound to
something more potential than mere assertion and idle declamation in
support of the vague allegation. They have the evidence of facts patent
and abundant to confront and gainsay them; they shall have more; but is
there to be no reciprocation of facts counter? Is the evidence and the
argument to remain all on one side, and on the other nothing but wordy
nothingness -

"Dat inania verba,
Dat sine mente sonum."

Where are the unknown lands of factories and furnaces, of puddling and
power looms, of steam-engines and blowing machines, all self-created and
"self-supporting," scorning the crutches of patronage, and high-mounted
on the stilts of free, or one-sided free trade? Either they exist in the
shape of matter tangible and substantial; or they exist not except as
_chateaux en Espagne_ are dreamt of, or as bubbles blown and chased by
idle urchins - modern philosophers in petticoats. This bubble-blowing has
been, indeed, converted into something of a mine of industry of late
years, most successfully _exploité_ by all the _chevaliers d'industrie_
of the race of _farceurs_ before referred to. Let us not forget,
however, that one of the most indefatigable of the class, after various
and many voyages by sea, and travels by land, in quest of the
picturesque in political economy, did, indeed - or says so, and has
compiled a book to prove it - light on this long-sought, never-before
discovered land, in whose Arcadian bowers sits enthroned the very genius
of trade, free and unfettered as the eagle in his eyry on the crowning
crest of St Gotthard. Would you know this thrice-blest region - "Go climb
the Alps," as the Roman satirist bids - it is Switzerland snugly
ensconced in their bosom.

Nevertheless, before the title of Switzerland Felix be fully conceded,
the legitimacy of its derivation remains to be investigated. The
concession can only be registered upon three conditions fulfilled. It
must be shown, _firstly_, that manufacturing industry was not fostered
in its early stages by the governing power; _secondly_, that if it had
attained a large development unprotected, the proportions of such
development shall have been at the least equal, as upon the theory of
free trade they should be superior, to the ratio of progression
manifested in other countries where protection has been the ruling
principle; _thirdly_, that free trade was not a necessity imposed by
circumstances and position, not the result of a barter of value for
value, but of free and spontaneous choice, and as the result of the
profound conviction of the superior excellency and adaptability of the
abstract principle. We shall deal briefly with the subject, because it
has been discussed more at length heretofore in those special articles
in which we have treated of the rise and progress of the cotton
manufacture in this and other countries. In regard to the first
condition, it was established on a former occasion, that the ruling
powers of one or more of the Cantons, did advance large capitals, and
offered more, in order to encourage and assist in the establishment of
cotton-spinning mills, with machinery of the most perfect construction,
under the superintendence, and with a share in the profits, of persons
duly skilled from England. Happily, one of the individuals to whom such
offers (on the basis of a £100,000 capital) were made, and by whom
declined, then and subsequently one of the largest exporting merchants
of Lancashire to Switzerland, and the Continent generally, still lives,
and we have had the statement confirmed by himself within the last two
or three years. This was somewhere between 1795 and 1800, further our
memory does not serve for the precise date at present, nor is it
indispensable. A manufacture thus, as may be said, artificially created
and bolstered up, we do not say unwisely, does not assuredly answer the
first condition required. With respect to the measure of the
manufacturing development, the data are unfortunately wanting for
precise verification; for Switzerland possesses no returns of foreign
trade at all, nor can any satisfactory approximation be arrived at from
inspection of the official tables of the foreign and transit commerce
now before us of Holland, Belgium, and France, through which all the
transmarine intercourse of Switzerland must necessarily pass. The
exports and imports of Holland, by the Rhine, are not so classed as to
show what proportion appertains to Germany and what to Switzerland, as
both stand under the one head of Germany and the Rhine. In the Belgian
tables, Switzerland does not enter at all until 1841, therefore they can
afford no materials for the comparison with former years. From the
French tables, more scientifically constructed, correct information may
be gathered, so far as the commerce with and through France. But we are
wanting nearly altogether in materials for estimating the land traffic
of Switzerland with Germany and Italy. Taking the French tables alone,
it may be collected, however, that the commerce of Switzerland has been
considerably on the increase with and through France. In the cotton
trade, for example, the imports of raw cotton in transit through Havre,
for Switzerland, had already augmented from 2,973,159 kilogrammes in
1830, to 6,446,703 kilogrammes in 1836; and again, from the latter term,
to 104,842 metrical quintals in 1840, which declined to 77,534 in 1841.
Our returns do not enable us to state with exactitude whether the whole,
or what portion, of the transit of cotton for the two latter years was
destined for Switzerland, because our French tables do not, as up to
1836, embrace the details of the separate transit trade to each country,
but only the total quantities. The increase of imports by way of France
must not, however, be taken to all the extent as an absolute increase,
nor can we conclude, with any assurance, that it was an increase upon
the whole. For, in consequence of some important reductions in the dues
agreed to by France in order to favour and attract the entire transit
trade of Switzerland through its territory, the cottons formerly passed
to Switzerland through Rotterdam and Antwerp by the Rhine, have been
sent by way of Havre. Thus, on consulting Mr Porter's Tables of Trade,
we find that the twenty-one millions of lbs. of cotton re-exported to
Holland and Belgium in 1837, had decreased, in 1840, to little more than
twelve millions. What proportion of the twenty-one millions was destined
for Switzerland, there are no means of ascertaining, except from the
returns in detail of the Rhine navigation, the existence of which, in
any available shape, may be doubted. Assuming that the whole of the
cotton passing in transit through France was for Switzerland, we find a
quantity equal to about seventeen millions of pounds, in 1841, as
required for the supply of the cotton manufacture; or say, on a rough
average of 1840 and 1841, nineteen and a half millions of pounds. Now,
considering that the cotton manufacture has been established in
Switzerland above a century, these figures certainly demonstrate any
thing but an extraordinary rate of progress. The cotton manufacture of
Russia does not number half the years of existence, and yet the average
consumption of raw cotton, in 1840 and 1841, was nearly thirteen
millions of pounds, and of cotton yarn, rendered into cotton,[J] about
twenty-three millions more. It must be noted, moreover, that whereas
subsequently to the inventions of Arkwright and Crompton, Switzerland
drew nearly the whole of her yarns for making into cloths from England,
not possessing herself any spinning machinery until the commencement of
the present century, and then but to a trivial extent, with scarcely any
augmentation of importance, until some years after the general peace of
1815; yet that, within the last twenty years, the use of machinery has
been extensively introduced, cotton factories have spread on all sides,
for working which water-power in abundance afforded every facility, so
that she now spins nearly all the yarns necessary for her fabrics, and
imports from England but a very slender quantity of the higher counts
still required for her finest muslins. Those imports do not perhaps
exceed, if they reach to, one million pounds per annum. Of many
merchants in Manchester, thirty or forty years ago, extensively engaged
in furnishing that supply, but one or two at present are to be found. It
remains, therefore, doubtful whether there has been any material
progress in the cotton manufactures of Switzerland, so far as the
quantities of fabrics produced, and the weight of cotton consumed, for
many years past. Through the commercial arrangements before referred to,
her special trade with France in all commodities has been on the
increase; but, as the usual result of the commercial treaties of France,
all to the advantage of France. Thus, for 1841, the imports (special
trade of internal consumption) of France from Switzerland are stated at
twenty-two millions of francs only, whilst the exports of France to
Switzerland amounted to thirty-nine millions. This, be it observed, is
the result of _one-sided free trade_, which opens its gates to all,
whilst partially favoured only in return, when at all. Switzerland, for
example, is free to the import of French cottons; France hermetically
sealed against those of Switzerland. The general trade, that is,
inclusive of transit and special, had also materially improved; the
aggregate imports representing eighty-three millions of imports into,
against eighty-nine millions of exports from Switzerland; or that the
general trade with France had rather more than doubled since 1832,
imports and exports together. The transit portion of this general trade,
representing all the transmarine movement of Switzerland, is that
rather, it may be said, carried on with the United States Spanish
America, Brazil, &c., in which the greatest improvement of her foreign
trade had taken place. She has, on the contrary, very largely lost
ground in Germany, where she enjoyed marts for her manufactures, before
the establishment of the Commercial Union, of an extensive and
profitable description, from the advantages of her geographical
position; and it is probable, that from the same cause she will have
lost no inconsiderable portion of the share her merchants had in the
supply of Turkey, Persia, and other countries on the shores of the
Mediterranean and the Black Sea. With Holland and Belgium, her
commercial relations would seem to have been sensibly on the decline, so
far as the returns, available and comparative, enable us to form an
opinion. Upon a balance, therefore, of increase, upon one side, and
decrease on the other, there is reasonable ground to question any
progress in Switzerland, at all commensurate with the general
accelerated movement in manufactures and commerce of other industrial
countries about her, and beyond the seas; in exemplification of which,
we have on other occasions presented, as we shall continue to present,
evidence which may not be questioned.

Therefore, it results, that the second condition in proof of the
superiority of the free, or one-sided free trade principle, as
represented in Switzerland, the embodied _beau idéal_ of the theory, is
not fulfilled. It were easy, indeed, to show the absurdity of a
pretension to the rigorous reign of a principle, in a country where,
though the federal government levies are merely nominal duties on
imported commodities, for other than which it is and must ever be
powerless, whatever the will, yet in the separate cantons or chief towns
with barriers, scarcely any article enters and escapes without payment
of an octroi impost, equal to a moderate state duty on importation at
the ports or frontiers of other states. What would be said in this
country, if wool, cotton, or any commodity entering free, or at merely
nominal rates, at London or Liverpool, were to be taxed on arrival at
Leeds or Manchester, for purposes of local revenue or local protection?

We may afford to dismiss the third condition in the smallest space. Free
trade in Switzerland, such as it is, is not an affair of principle, of
conviction, therefore of choice, as ridiculously pretended, but a
necessity arising out of her geographical position. On all sides she is
surrounded _enclavée_, amidst states which hold the gates of ingress and
egress. Close the Rhine and the Seine against her, and she must
surrender commercially at discretion, as she politically does, to such
terms as may be dictated. A heavy _péage_ upon river or land transit,
ruins her manufactories, her industry, root and branch. She is too happy
only, therefore, to be tolerated with a passage to the sea, on the hard
terms of surrendering the just rights of her own industry to the free
invasion of foreign competing products; she makes, _ex necessitate_, the
sacrifice of a large portion, in order to save the remainder. Would you
have the commentary? Read it in the miserable fare, the low wages, the
toil unremitting and uncompensated, of the operative masses; in the
depressed rate of profits, the strict, painful, but indispensable
frugality of master manufacturers and capitalists, when perchance
capitalists may be found, of Switzerland surnamed Felix, over-borne by
foreign competition, as depicted in the Report of that romance writer,
Mr John Bowring himself, who, of all men, in his own particular case,
would be the last to advocate short commons, shabby salaries, or petty
profits. Switzerland, therefore, answers none of the conditions required
for the demonstration of the free trade theory upon the greatest profit,
or even upon the greatest happiness principle, the _verba ardentia_ of
anti-corn-law declaimers, and utilitarian poetasters, notwithstanding.
But if the case of the free and one-sided trade theory breaks down in
its one only deceptive personification, the proofs are strong and
abundant in behalf the cause of the legitimate principle of protection
to industry, or of the reciprocity principle well understood, which
involves essentially the principle of protection. Let us discursively
range over Europe, in further addition to the evidence, which, in
respect of Russia, has already been assigned; and, as with regard to
Spain, and Russia as well, we shall not hesitate to signalize the abuse
of a righteous principle, where in practice it degenerates into the
Japanese barbarism of almost absolute prohibition and isolation. A
comparison betwixt Switzerland and Japan, two nearly stationary states,
where all around is in progress in the industrial sense, ruled upon
economical principles so opposite and conflicting, would be a labour
both amusing and profitable; but unfortunately the adequate materials
are wanting in the one case as in the other; state-books of account and
custom-house returns, are as rare and unheard of in Nangasaki as in
Helvetia. Fiscal exactions, however, are not unknown in either, the
difference being, that the despotic majesty of Japan undertakes them
upon his own account, whilst the people of the Alps, as intractable,
with better right, impose and levy for their own use and behoof. Withal,
to the one-idea'd philosophy of your absolute theory, systematic,
uniformity men of the present day, it should seem an extraordinary
paradox, putting all speculation to rout, that despotic Japan should be
as prosperous, more powerful, more free from intestine convulsion,
although more ancient of standing, therefore to be presumed enjoying at
least as much happiness as free and unfettered Switzerland, rioting
betimes in all the freaks of liberty and revolution.

We do not propose to extend our enquiries into the history of industrial
progress in other lands further on the present occasion, than to such
external demonstrations, as measured by imports and exports, as may with
most convenient brevity and fidelity answer the purpose in view. The
possession of authentic documents in ample degree, expository of the
past and present conditions of social and material interests in almost
all the civilized states of the world, would enable us to follow out, in
minute detail, the rise, the career, the vicissitudes of each; but
although, on future and suitable occasions, we may be induced to resume
and pursue the task already commenced in former numbers, it is not
necessary now, and would far outstrip any possible space at our
disposal. Commencing with Austria, it may be shown, that even with an
ill-considered economical _régime_ of, until of late years, general
prohibitions and restrictions, with the incessant and ill-judged policy
of forcing manufacturing industry, for the hasty development of which
the natural foundations were not previously laid, whilst neglecting the
cultivation and encouragement of those varied agricultural and mining
treasures, with which, through the length and breadth of her territory,
she is so abundantly stored, the advance of Austria, commercial and
manufacturing, need not assuredly fear comparison with that of
free-trading Switzerland. The following are the returns of the foreign
trade of the Austrian empire, excepting for Hungary and Transylvania,
which will be found hereafter for the years cited. Other documents are
in our possession, bringing the information down to 1840, but as not
entirely complete in respect of a portion of the traffic by the land
frontiers, whilst in results they differ little from the last year of
the table here given, it is not worth while to make the addition.

Imports. Exports. Total.
1829 By sea & land 95,321,861 florins. 107,254,048 202,575,909
1830 ... 99,545,289 ... 110,587,974 210,133 263
1831 ... 94,116,471 ... 98,937,022 193,053,493
1832 ... 107,825,991 ... 115,007,352 222,833,343
1833 ... 106,270,012 ... 116,624,202 222,894,214
1834 ... 107,781,409 ... 111,092,942 218,874,351
1835 ... 121,482,876 ... 115,217,804 236,700,680
1836 ... 130,865,339 ... 122,284,173 253,149,512
1837 ... 120,897,761 ... 119,721,758 240,619,519
1838 ... 127,445,295 ... 134,908,064 262,353,359

The florin is equal to 2s. 0d. 4-10 sterling. The increase under the
head of importations within the ten years was equal, therefore, to
nearly 33 per cent, and on exportations about 24 per cent. Amongst the
imports may be remarked raw cotton to the value of about L.1,273,000;
among the exports, raw silk, for about L.2,400,000; linens, for about
L.770,000; woollens, for L.2,268,000; glass and earthen-ware, L.584,000;
round numbers all. A mean value, imports and exports together, from 1835
to 1838 inclusive, of about twenty-five millions sterling annually, does
not certainly represent a commercial movement so large as might be
expected in an empire of the territorial extent, numerous population,
and rich natural products of Austria. But, as appears, its progression
is onwards; and seeing that, in 1836, she entered on the laudable
undertaking of revising and reforming her prohibitory and restrictive
system; that, in 1838, another not inconsiderable step in advance was
taken by further relaxations of the tariff; and that she is at the
present moment occupied with, and may shortly announce, fiscal
improvements and tariff reductions of a more wisely liberal spirit
still, it is not to be doubted that, with the accompanying extension of
agricultural and mining industry, Austria is destined to take a much
higher rank in the commercial world than she has yet attained.

The values of the external relations of Hungary and Transylvania with
foreign nations direct, are of little importance. The bulk of the
traffic with them doubtless passes through the Austrian dominions,
properly so called. Thus their joint foreign traffic direct, was in -

1830, no more than 14,000,000 florins
1834, decreased to 11,511,000 ...
1837, ... 12,616,000 ...

The imports, only once, in 1836, surpassed those of 1830, within the
eight years. The foreign exports were, in

1830, to the amount of ... 9,574,800 florins.
1837, the yearly amount had increased to 11,213,400 ...

But the commercial relations of Hungary and Transylvania, with the other

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Online LibraryVariousBlackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 54, No. 334, August 1843 → online text (page 19 of 23)