Page images

left school for the counting-house, and whom the Dover radicals sent to Parliament at the last election, to enlighten it with the marvellous discoveries suggested by his ledger. Our readers will have seen, that at the Westminster" Purity Dinner" he was the loving brother of Sir F. Burdett, Sir R. Wilson, Mr Galloway, Mr Wooler, and the other "Friends of the People." In a question, having nothing to do with party politics, between a distressed part of the people and the government, it was very natural for this patriot-this friend of the people-this enemy of power-to be the outrageous assailant of the distress ed people in defence of men in power and their alleged abuse of it. Such is the invariable conduct of the school of politicians to which he belongs.

Mr Thompson asserted roundly, that the British Shipowners could build and navigate vessels at as cheap a rate as the Shipowners of other countries. These patriots-these liberals-possess prodigious powers of assertion. Of course, he tendered no proofs, and it would be very idle in us to refute what has been again and again refuted by the most unassailable proofs, and what has even been admitted by Mr Huskisson. It is notorious, that the cost of materials, labour, provisions, &c. for the building and navigating of ships is less in other countries than in this; and that in some of the Reciprocity countries, it is little more than half of what it is in this country.

Amidst the odd exploits of Mr Thompson, he boasted that he had detected the Shipowners in an attempt to impose upon Parliament. The fact was this. By a misprint, for which the government was accountable, the number of 320 was substituted for 220. This was the foundation of his boast.

The fact, therefore, is unimpeached-Mr Huskisson admitted it on a former occasion, and he is now silent respecting it-that the Shipowners of various of the Reciprocity countries can build and navigate ships at a far cheaper rate than the British Ship


one. From this it necessarily follows, that, in the carrying trade with those Reciprocity countries, freights have been so far reduced that they subject the British Shipowner to loss, while the foreign one can afford to take them.

If foreign wheat should be admitted duty free into Kent and Essex alone, while it should be excluded from all the rest of the kingdom, how would this operate? Would it merely reduce the price of wheat in Kent and Essex, without affecting it in the other counties? No. The wheat of Kent and Essex thrown out of consumption in them by the foreign wheat, would be sent into the other counties, until it made the reduction of price universal. The ruinous price and glut produced in these two counties, would soon pervade the whole kingdom.

It naturally arises from this, that the freight will yield a profit to these foreign Shipowners, which the British ones could not accept without loss; precisely as that price of corn would leave a profit to the foreign grower, which would ruin the British

The Reciprocity Treaties have operated in a precisely similar manner. They first produced losing freights and glut in the carrying trade with various of the countries with which they had been concluded. The ine vitable consequence was, ships crowded from this trade into the other de partments of the carrying trade, until they rendered the losing freights and glut universal. It mattered not that foreign ships were wholly excluded from various branches of the carrying trade: the advantages conceded to them in some, enabled them to affect the whole. If the Shipowners find that freights are lower in one trade than in another, they send their ships from the one to the other, until they produce an equalization. In the na ture of things, freights cannot be regularly ruinously low in the Baltic trade, and profitable in the trade with Canada and other parts.

This was the ground taken by the Shipowners. They did not aver that foreign ships had been admitted into, and were monopolising, every branch of the carrying trade; they maintained that such ships had obtained advantages in some of the branches, through the Reciprocity Treaties, which rendered it impossible for British ones to compete with them in these branches

that from this, such ships had multiplied, and had rendered freights ruinously low in these branches-and that such multiplication, and reduc tion of freights, had rendered freights ruinously low in every branch of the carrying trade. They maintained far

ther, that, in consequence, their property had been most seriously reduced in value, and was threatened with to tal destruction.

The admission of the Foreign wheat, therefore, cannot possibly have caused the reduction of price and your dis


Now, what is Mr Huskisson's reply? It must be obvious to all-even to the most simple of his worshippers-that to have met the Shipowners in a full, fair, and satisfactory manner, he ought to have proved, that,


In a case like this, every one would clearly see that the ruinous price had been produced by the admission of foreign wheat; and Ministers would be derided, as men positively insane, should they give the reply we have traced. Yet, in a precisely similar case, Mr Huskisson gives a precisely similar reply. You have about as many ships as ever; these ships last year had about as much employment as ever; therefore the concessions made to Foreign ships cannot possibly have

THAT SUCH A REDUCTION OF FREIGHTS injured you, or have reduced freights.


Does he prove this? No. He leaves the material points wholly unnoticed. Not a word does he say of the effect of the Reciprocity Treaties on ships and freights in the trade with the countries with which they have been concluded. He practically asserts the complaint of the Shipowners to be merely that-looking at the carrying trade as a whole-British shipping is decreasing, and Foreign is increasing; and his reply in substance is-Looking at the carrying trade as a whole, or looking at it separately from the coasting trade, if Foreign ships have increased, British ones have increased likewise; if fewer British ships were employed in the last year than in the preceding one, fewer Foreign ones were employed likewise. British ships are about as numerous as ever; and they had in the last year about as much employment as ever; therefore, the complaint of the Shipowners is groundless.

In such a case as we have assumed, it would be obvious to all that agriculture was in a state of rapid decay; that agricultural capital was sustaining incalculable waste; and that a vast portion of land would soon be thrown out of cultivation. If it should be said by Ministers-It is impossible for agriculture to be in a state of decay, because about as much land is cultivated, and as much wheat is grown, as formerly, what would be thought of them? Yet Mr Huskisson practically says the same in a similar case. He maintains that the Shipping Interest is not in a state of decay, solely because in the last year no material diminution took place in the number of, and employment for ships, although he admits it to be in great distress. He maintains this, although it is notorious, that independently of the losses the Shipowners are sustaining in the navigating of their vessels, nearly half the value of these vessels has been swept away.

We will assume the following case: -Foreign wheat is admitted duty free into Kent and Essex, but excluded from every other county. In consequence, the quarter of wheat falls to 35s., not only in Kent and Essex, but throughout the kingdom. The agriculturists are plunged into deep distress, and they ascribe it, in petitioning Parliament, to the admission of the Foreign wheat. Ministers make this reply You have as much land as ever, and you grow and sell about as much wheat as ever; if you sold somewhat less last year, the foreigner sold less likewise.


Mr Huskisson's official documents, appended to his pamphlet, are as silent respecting the material points urged by the Shipowners, as his speech. He is prodigiously wroth because it was alleged against him, that in his last year's speech he jumbled "together the foreign and the coasting trade, for the purpose of concealing that there had been a great decrease in the British shipping employed in the Foreign trade of the country." It is a fact, deny it as he may, that he did jumble together these trades, and the Colonial one with them, to make the nation believe that his innovations had done no injury. To protect himself, as he says, from being again assailed


[ocr errors]

trade at distant intervals, when some sudden flush of trade might enable them to do it for a moment, by raising freights; and he exults greatly, because, in this trade in 1826, the falling off of Foreign tonnage was a trifle more than the falling off of British tonnage. He asserts that this refutes the theorist," who put forth the prediction; and observes:-"I am afraid there was no flush of foreign trade in 1826, which they can call in aid to bolster up their theory of last year."

Mr Huskisson is afraid to no purpose. There was a very sudden, and a very large flush" in 1826; and this is not the less true, or notorious, because he was not contradicted in Parliament. About harvest it was suddenly discovered that a very large quantity of foreign corn would be wanted; and immediately after harvest, it was suddenly discovered that Government had opened the ports for foreign corn for a limited period. The time specified by Government-the season of the year-the high priceseverything conspired to urge the importers to import as much foreign corn as possible, and as soon as possible. A larger flush of employment for shipping than this could scarcely take place. What followed? Freights suddenly rose in the trade with the corn countries in the north of Europe. A great number of the idle British ships were immediately sent out for foreign corn, some on charter, some on speculation to seek cargoes, and some to bring home cargoes on owners' account. About a million of quarters of foreign corn were imported in 1826, while in several previous years the annual import of such corn had been comparatively nothing.

the treaties to a great degree inoperative. While a ship lies idle, she subjects the owner to a heavy positive loss in expenditure, exclusive of the interest of his capital. A vessel on the average will only endure twelve or fifteen years, therefore her profits ought to yield not only the common interest of capital, but a sufficient sum to cover her yearly loss of value. This loss is estimated to be ten per cent, so that she ought to leave the owner fifteen per cent, to allow him five per cent interest on his capital, and replace its waste. If a Shipowner have a freight offered him, which will leave him only five per cent instead of fifteen, he will take it sooner than let his ship lie idle. It is in reality a losing freight; if taken constantly, it would soon strip him of property; but then it does not bring upon him so much loss as the continued idleness of his ship would do. In the choice of evils, he selects the least.

Independently of the foreign corn called for by the bad harvest, the expectation that the corn laws would be abolished, and the liberation of the bonded wheat, caused the import of foreign grain to be considerable for nearly the whole year.

The means of employment for shipping furnished by the import of foreign corn, were, to a great degree, a clear addition to the regular means of employment possessed by shipping in previous years.

A ruinous glut in Shipping must naturally have the effect of rendering

In 1826, the sale of a ship, even at the sacrifice of nearly half her value, was scarcely a possibility. The Shipowners had these things to choose from: 1. To lose the whole interest of their capital, and incur a heavy loss beside in expenditure, by keeping their vessels idle at home. 2. To accept inadequate freights, which would relieve them from a portion of this loss. 3. To send their vessels in ballast to foreign countries on speculation, in the hope that they might be able to pick up cargoes. And, 4. To send their vessels abroad in ballast for cargoes bought by themselves, in the hope that the cargoes would yield profit to protect them from losing by the ships. They naturally chose the three latter.

When a vessel is sent to a foreign port to seek a freight, she will of course accept the terms which foreign vessels are accepting, however inadequate they may be, and she will bring home only part of a cargo on such terms, sooner than return in ballast. If the expenses of her voyage be £800, it is better for her to earn £400, than nothing. Many ships, in 1826, were sent out in this manner to foreign ports, and our own colonies, the earnings of which fell greatly below their expenses. Many ships were sent to our North American possessions to fetch timber on their owners' account, solely because no other employment could be found

for them; and on their return, the timber was scarcely saleable even at its cost price; they, therefore, made ruinous voyages. Generally speaking, the ships employed in the foreign trade in 1826, were employed at a loss to their owners-at such a loss as would soon deprive their owners of property-and this enabled them to stand their ground for the moment in the official returns.

We will assume this case. A silk manufactory in 1825 fully employed 400 hands at good wages. In 1826, from the competition of foreign silks, wages are so far reduced, that the workmen cannot keep themselves out of debt, and the manufactory will only afford work for 300 hands. The workmen, from their inability to procure other employment, accept the wages; and the master agrees to divide the work among them, and thus to give to each a portion of employment. Ministers, on being petitioned, reply-This man employs as many hands as he did in 1825, therefore the foreign silks cannot have done him the least injury.

were eagerly sent out-and the British ships already abroad were quickly engaged. From all this it naturally happened that British shipping maintained its ground better than Foreign shipping, in the trade with the corn and timber countries, so far as regards the tonnage returns.

It will be seen, that in 1826, in the trade with the five Reciprocity coun tries we have named, British shipping fell off in round numbers 83,000 tons, while Foreign fell off 158,000 tons. The falling off in Foreign shipping was chiefly in that of Sweden and the timber countries. The decrease in 1826, compared with 1825, was,

In a similar case, Mr Huskisson gives a similar reply. The ships existed in 1826, and they were compelled to take the losing employment, or to be idle. Many more were engaged in it than were necessary, and in consequence were scarcely half employed in comparison with former years. Mr Huskisson, however, produces his tonnage return; he saysAbout as many tons are entered as were entered in former years, therefore the ships have been as fully employed as ever, and the foreign ships have done no injury.

The countries of the North of Europe sent us much less of some of their bulky articles in 1826, than they had sent in the preceding year. They sent less timber than they had done in any of the four preceding years. When this was the case, and when our ships were in their ports ready to accept the most inadequate freights, rather than return in ballast, their shipping in the trade with this country naturally decreased. In respect of corn, our ships had a great advantage over theirs. The knowledge that foreign corn would be admitted was first promulgated here. The time for the admission of such corn was short-abundance of British ships were at home idle, and these

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

We did not want the timber, therefore Foreign ships could no longer be employed in bringing it: we wanted the corn suddenly, and as speedily as possible, therefore British ships had an advantage over Foreign ones in being employed to bring it.

Notwithstanding the glut, glutfreights, and the demand for corn, the trade with those countries only employed in round numbers 26,000 tons more of British shipping in 1826, than it employed in 1822; while it employed 194,000 tons more of Foreign shipping in 1826 than in 1822.

To ascertain how far it is probable that British shipping will be able to retain what it had last year of the trade with these countries, we will state the British and Foreign tonnage which the trade with each country employed in the last three years.

The trade with Sweden employed


tons British, and 34,287 tons Foreign. In 1822, it employed 100,184 tons British, and 49,795 tons Foreign. And in 1823, it employed 80,484 tons British, and 76,567 tons Foreign. It thus only employed about the same British ing the demand for corn, which it tonnage in the last year, notwithstandemployed in 1822; while it employed more than twice the amount of Foreign tonnage in 1826, which it employed in 1822. With regular freights, our shipping has nothing to expect in this trade but expulsion.

The trade with Germany employed in







Tons British.


In the three years which preceded 1824, the British tonnage employed in this trade amounted to about 21,000 tons yearly. The Foreign tonnage was about the same in 1823, while in several preceding years it was only about half the amount of the British. The fall ing off has been great and constant; in the last year it was large. shipping seems likely to be driven wholly out of this trade.


The trade with Norway employed in


1825, 1826,

Tons British.


Tons British.


In 1821, this trade employed, in round numbers, 12,000, and in the two following years, 9,000 tons of British shipping. Judging from the past, our shipping has nothing to expect in this trade but decrease.

The trade with Denmark employed


[ocr errors]

Tons British. 1824, 92,351 1825, 181,621 1826, 100,918

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Tons Foreign.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Tons Foreign.


This trade employed, in 1821, 5,312 -in 1822, 6,679-and in 1823, 4,413 tons of British shipping. In the two first of these years, it employed yearly about 4,000-and in the last 4,795 tons of Foreign shipping. In it, since 1821, British tonnage has risen from 5,312 to 22,650; while Foreign has risen from 3,969 to 56,544. The in

crease of British in the last two arose

from these causes: the high freights of 1825-the demand for corn and want of ships in 1826-and the inability of the foreigner to build ships fast enough. There is no ground for hoping that British shipping can maintain itself in this trade.

The trade with Prussia employed in

Tons Foreign.




[ocr errors]

Tons Foreign.


[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Mr Huskisson's main argument in his last year's speech was this:-If Foreign shipping has increased, British shipping has increased far more in proportion. His main argument in the speech before us is this:-If British shipping has decreased, Foreign shipping has decreased far more in proportion. Let our readers examine these

In 1821, this trade employed 75,513 arguments by the unerring test, fur

[blocks in formation]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »