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ritorial dominion, and that of the world, were the principles invariably British colonial empire in modern acted upon. Long and bloody wars times. What, on the other hand, were undertaken to secure their precaused the conquests of Timour and dominance, when threatened by foreign Charlemagne, Alexander the Great powers. This protective system of and Napoleon, to be so speedily necessity implied some restrictions obliterated, and their vast empires upon the industry, or restraints upon to fall to pieces the moment the the liberty of action in the colonial powerful hand which had created dependencies, as well as the mother them was laid in the dust? The country—but what then? They were want of protection to general interests, not complained of on either side, bethe absence of the strong bond of cause they were accompanied with experienced benefits; the oppressive corresponding and greater benefits, nature of the conquering government; as the consideration paid by the the sacrifice of the general interests mother country, and received by her to the selfish ambition or rapacious distant offspring. Reciprocity in those passions of a section of the community, days was not entirely one-sided ; whether civil or military, which had there was a quid pro quo on both got possession of power. It is the sides. The American colonies were selfishness of the ruling power which subjected to the Navigation Laws, invariably terminates its existence: and, in consequence, paid somewbat men will bear anything but an in- higher for their freights than if they terference with their patrimonial had been permitted to export and interests. The burning of 50,000 import their produce in the cheaper Protestants by the Duke of Alya was vessels of foreign powers; but this quietly borne by the Flemish pro- burden was never complained of, bevinces : but the imposition of a small cause it was felt to be the price paid direct tax at once caused a flame to for the immense advantages of the burst forth, which carried the inde- monopoly of the English market, and pendence of the United Provinces. At the protection of the English navy. tend sedulously to the interests of The colonies of France and Spain demen, give ear to their complaints, sired nothing so much, during the late anticipate their wishes, and you may war, as to be conquered by the armies calculate with tolerable certainty on of England, because it at once opened acquiring in the long run the mastery the closed markets for their produce, of their passions. Thwart their in- and restored the lost protection of a terests, disregard their complaints, powerful navy. The English felt that make game of their sufferings, and their colonial empire was in some reyou may already read the handwrit- spects a burden, and entailed heavy ing on the wall which announces your expenses both in peace and war; but doom.
they were not complained of, because That the old policy of England, the manufacturing industry of England foreign, colonial, and domestic, was found a vast and increasing market for thoroughly protective, and attended, its produce in the growth of its offon the whole, with a due care of the spring in every part of the world, and interests of its subjects in every part its commercial navy grew with unexof the world, may be inferred with ampled rapidity from the exclusive absolute certainty from the constant enjoyment of their trade. growth, unexampled success, and long S uch was the amount of protection existence of her empire. But the afforded in our statute-book to commatter is not left to inference: deci. mercial industry, that we might sive proof of it is to be found in imagine, if there was nothing else in the enactments of our statute-book, it, that the empire had been governed the treaties we concluded, or the exclusively by a manufacturing ariswars we waged with foreign powers. tocracy. Such was the care with Protection to native industry, at which the interests of the colonies home or in the colonies, security to were attended to, that it seemed as if vested interests, a sacred regard to they must have had representatives the rights and interests of our who possessed a majority in the legissubjects, in whatever part of the lature. To one who looked to the welfare of land, and the protection of Gatton nominally represented a house its produce, the chapel of St Stephens or a green mound-really, the one seemed to have been entirely composed might furnish a seat to a representaof the representatives of squires. The tive of Hindostan, the other of the shipping interest was sedulously fos- splendid West Indian settlements. tered, as appeared in the unex. The members who thus got in by ampled growth and vast amount of purchase had one invaluable quality, our mercantile tonnage. The interests like the officers who get their comof labour, the welfare of the poor, missions in the army in the same were not overlooked, as was demon- way they were independent. They strated in the most decisive way by were not liable to be overruled or the numerous enactments for the relief coerced by a numerous, ignorant, and of the indigent and unfortunate, and conceited constituency. Hence they the immense burden which the legisla- looked only to the interests of the ture voluntarily imposed on itself and class to which they belonged, amidst the nation for the relief of the desti. which their fortunes had been made, tute. Thus all interests were attended and with the prosperity of which to; and that worst of tyrannies, the their individual success was entirely tyranny of one class over another wound up. With what energy these class, was effectually prevented. It is various interests were attended to, in this sedulous attention to all the in- with what perseverance the system of terests of the empire that its long protecting them was followed up, is duration and unparalleled extension is sufficiently evident from the simulto be ascribed. Had any one class or taneous growth and unbroken prosinterest been predominant, and com- perity of all the great branches of menced the system of pursuing its industry during the long period of a separate objects and advantages, to hundred and fifty years. Talent, the subversion or injury of the other alike on the Whig and the Tory side, classes in the state, such a storm of found a ready entrance by means of discontent must have arisen as would the nomination burgbs. It is well speedily have proved fatal to the known that all the great men of the unanimity, and with it to the growth House of Commons, since the Revoluand prosperity of the empire.
tion, obtained entrance to parliament Two causes mainly contributed to in the first instance through these produce this system of catholic pro- narrow inlets. Rank looked anxiously tection by the British government for talent, because it added to its to native industry; and to their influence. Genius did not disdain united operation, the greatness of the entrance, because it was not obEngland is chiefly to be ascribed. structed by numbers, or galled by The first of these was the peculiar conceit. No human wisdom could constitution which time had worked have devised such a system ; it rose out for the House of Commons, and gradually, and without being observed, the manner in which all the interests from the influence of a vast body of of the state had come silently, and great and prosperous interests, feeling without being observed, to be in the necessity of obtaining a voice in directly but most effectually repre- the legislature, and enjoying the sented in parliament. That body, means of doing so by the variety of anterior to the Reform Bill, possessed election privileges which time had one invaluable quality-its franchise established in the House of Commons. was multiform and various. In The reality of this representation of many burghs the landed interest in interests is matter of history. The their neighbourhood was predominant; landed interest, the West India in most counties it returned members interest, the commercial interest, the in the interests of agriculture. In shipping interest, the East Indian other towns, mercantile or commercial interest, could all command their reswealth acquired by purchase an pective phalanxes in parliament, who introduction, or won it from the would not permit any violation of the influence of some great family. rights, or infringement on the welColonial opulence found a ready inlet fare, of their constituents to take in the close boroughs : Old Sarum or place. The combined effect of the
whole was the great and glorious tion-policy of government in every British empire, teeming with energy, quarter of the globe, that in the end overflowing with patriotism, spread- it gave birth to a new class, which ing out into every quarter of the rapidly grew in numbers and influence, globe, and yet held together in all its and was at length able to bid defiance parts by the firm bond of experienced to all the other interests in the state benefits and protected industry. put together. This was the moneyed
The second cause was, that no interest—the class of men whose forspeculative or theoretical opinions tunes were made, whose position was had then been broached, or become secure, and who saw, in a general popular, which proclaimed that the cheapening of the price of commodities real interest of any one class was to be and reduction of prices, the means of found in the spoliation or depression making their wealth go much farther of any other class. No gigantic than it otherwise would. This class system of beggar my neighbour had had its origin from the long-continued then come to be considered as a prosperity and accumulated savings of shorthand mode of gaining wealth. the whole producing classes in the The nation had not then embraced state ; like a huge lake, it was fed by the doctrine, that to buy cheap and all the streams and rills which desell dear constituted the sum total of scended into it from the high grounds political science. On the contrary, pro- by which it was surrounded; and the tection to industry in all its branches rise of its waters indicated, as a regiswas considered as the great princi- ter thermometer, the amount of addiple of policy, the undisputed dictate tions which it was receiving from the of wisdom, the obvious rule of justice. swelling of the feeders by which it It was acknowledged alike by specu- was formed. But when men once lative writers and practical states get out of the class of producers, and men. The interests of the producers into that of moneyed consumers, they were the main object of legislative rapidly perceive an immediate benefit fostering and philosophic thought to themselves in the reduction of and for this plain reason, that they the price of articles of consumpconstitute the great body of society, tion, because it adds proportionally and their interests chiefly were thought to the value of their money. If prices of. Realised wealth was then, in can be forced down fifty per cent by comparison to what it now is, in a legislative measures, every thousand state of infancy; the class of traders pounds in effect becomes fifteen hunand shopkeepers, who grow up witin dred. It thus not unfrequently and the expenditure of accumulated opu- naturally happened, that the son who lence, was limited in numbers and enjoyed the fortune made by protecinconsiderable in influence. It would tion came to join the ranks of the free have been as impossible then to get traders, because it promised a great up a party in the House of Commons, addition to the value of his inheritance. or a cry in the country, in favour of The transition from Sir Robert Peel the consumers or against the pro- the father, and staunch supporter of ducers, as it would be now to do the protection, who made the fortune, to same among the corn producers in the Sir Robert Peel the son, who inherited basin of the Mississippi, or among the it, and introduced free-trade principles, cotton growers of New Orleans. was natural and easy. Each acted in
It is in the profound wisdom of conformity with the interests of his Hannibal's saying--that great states, respective position in society. It is impregnable to the shock of external impossible to suppose in such men a violence, are consumed and wasted selfish or sordid regard to their own away by their own internal strength interests, and we solemnly disclaim that the real cause of the subsequent the intention of imputing such. But and extraordinary change, first in the every one knows how the ablest and opinions of men, and then in the mea- most elevated minds are insensibly sures of government, is to be found. moulded by the influence of the atmoSuch was the wealth produced by the sphere with which they are surroundenergy of the Anglo-Saxon race, shel- ed ; and, at all events, they were a tered and invigorated by the protec- type of the corresponding change going
on in successive generations of others the restraints of their fathers-yet, so of a less elevated class of minds, in strongly were the producing interests whom the influence of interested mo- intrenched in the legislature, that a tives was direct and immediate. very long period would probably have
Adam Smith's work, now styled the elapsed before they came to be pracprincipia of economical science by the tically applied in the measures of free-traders, first gave token of the government, had it not been that, important and decisive change then at the very period when, from the going forward in society. It was an triumph of protection-principles durominous and characteristic title : The ing the war, and the vast wealth they Nature and Cause of the WEALTH of had realised in the state, the moneyed Nations. It was not said of their interest had become most powerful, a wisdom, virtue, or happiness. The great revolution in the state gave that direction of such a mind as Adam interest the command of the House Smith's to the exclusive consideration of Commons. By the Reform Bill of the riches of nations, indicated two-thirds of the seats in that house the advent of a period when the fruits were given to boroughs, and twoof industry in this vast empire, shel- thirds of the voters in boroughs, in tered by protection, had become so the new constituency, were shopgreat that they had formed a power- keepers or those in their interest. ful class in society, which was begin. Thus a decisive majority in the house, ning to look to its separate interests, which, from having the command of and saw them in the beating down the the public purse, practically became price ofarticles-that is, diminishing the possessed of supreme power, was vestremuneration of other men's industry. ed in those who made their living by It showed that the Plutocracy was be buying and selling-with whom cheap coming powerful. The constant ar- prices was all in all. The producing guments that able work contained, in classes were virtually, and to all favour of competition and against practical purposes, cast out of the monopoly,-its impassioned pleadings scale. The landed interest, on all in favour of freedom of commerce, questions vital to its welfare, would and the removal of all restrictions on evidently soon be in a minority. importation, were so many indications Schedules A and B at one blow disthat a new era was opening in society; franchised the whole colonial empire that the interests of realised wealth of Great Britain, because it closed were beginning to come into collision the avenue by which colonial wealth with those of creating industry, and that had hitherto found an entrance to the the time was not far distant when a House of Commons. Seats could no fierce legislative contest might be an- longer be bought: the virtual repreticipated between them. It is well sentation of unrepresented places was known that Adam Smith advocated at an end. The greatest fortunes the Navigation Laws, upon the ground made in the colonies could now get that national independence was of into the house only through some more importance than national wealth. populous place; and the majority of But there can be no doubt that this voters in most populous places wero was a deviation from his principles, in favour of the consumers and against and that, if they were establisbed in the producers, because the consumers other particulars, it would be difficult, bought their goods, and they bought if not impossible, to succeed in main- those of the producers. Thus no colotaining an exception in favour of the nial member could get in but by forshipping interests, because that was swearing his principles and abandonretaining a burden on the colonies, ing the interests of his order. The when the corresponding benefit had shipping interest was more strongly been voted away.
intrenched, because many shipping Although, however, the doctrines towns had direct representatives in of Adam Smith, from their novelty, parliament, and it accordingly was simplicity, and alliance with demo- the last to be overthrown. But when cratic liberty, spread rapidly in the the colonies were disfranchised, and rising generation-ever ready to re- protection was withdrawn from their pudiate the doctrines and throw off industry to cheapen prices at home, it
VOL. LXVI.NO. CCCCV.
became next to impossible to keep up sure of the emancipation of the negroes, the shipping interest-not only be- that its influence in parliament was cause the injustice of doing so, and practically rendered extinct. Thus so enhancing freights, when protection two of the great producing interests to colonial produce was withdrawn, in the state-those of corn and sugarwas evident, but because it was well were materially weakened or nullified, understood, by certain unequivocal at the very time when the power of symptoms, that such a course of po- their opponents, the moneyed arislicy would at once lead to colonial tocracy, was most augmented. revolt, and the dismemberment of Experience, however, proved, on the empire.
one important and decisive occasion, The authors of the Reform Bill were that even after the Reform Bill had well aware that under it two-thirds of become the law of the land, it was the seats in the House of Commons still possible, by a coalition of all the were for boroughs : but they clung to producing interests, to defeat the utthe idea that a large proportion of most efforts of the moneyed party, even these seats would fall under the in when aided by the whole influence of fluence of the landed proprietors in government. On occasion of the metheir vicinity, and thus be brought morable Whig budget of 1841, such a round to the support of the agricultu- coalition took place, and the efforts of ral interest. It was on that belief that the free-traders were overthrown. A Earl Grey said in private, amidst all change of ministry was the consehis public democratic declamations, quence; but it soon appeared that that the Reform Bill was “ the most nothing was gained by an alteration aristocratic measure which had ever of rulers, when the elements in which passed the House of Commons." But political power resided, under the in this anticipation, which was doubt- new constitution, remained unchanged. less formed in good faith by many of Sir Robert Peel, and the leaders of the ablest supporters of that revolu- the party which now succeeded to tion, they showed themselves entirely power, appear to have been guided ignorant of the effect of the great by those views in the free-trade meamonetary change of 1819, which at sures which they subsequently introthat very period was undermining the duced. They regarded, and with influence of the owners of landed justice, the Reform Bill as, in the estates as much as it was augmenting language of the Times, "a great the power of the holders of bonds over fact"-the settlement of the constitutheir properties. As that bill changed tion upon a new basis-on foundations the prices of agricultural produce, at non tangenda non movenda, if we would least to the extent of forty per cent, it shun the peril of repeated shocks to of course crippled the means and our institutions, and ultimately of weakened the influence of the land- a bloody revolution. Looking on owners as much as it added to the the matter in this light, the next powers of the moneyed interest object was to scan the composition of which held securities over their estates. the House of Commons, and see in This soon became a matter of para- what party and interest in the state mount importance. After a few severe a preponderance of power was now struggles, the landowners in most vested. They were not slow in displaces saw that they were overmatch- cerning the fatal truth, that the Reed, and that their burdened estates and form Bill had given a decided majority declining rent-rolls were not equal to to the representatives of boroughs, an encounter with the ready money and that a clear majority in these of the capitalists, which that very boroughs was, from the embarrasschange had so much enhanced in value ments which monetary change had and augmented in power. One by one produced on the landed proprietors, the rural boroughs slipped out of the and the preponderance of votes hands of the landed, and fell under the which that bill had given to shopinfluence of the moneyed interest. At keepers, vested in the moneyed or conthe same time one great colonial inte- suming interest. Such a state of rest, that of the West Indies, was so things might be regretted, but still it entirely prostrated by the ruinous mea existed ; and it was the business of