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see any real danger to be apprehended to our commerce from their exertions; unless indeed some miraculous progress has been made since the last public act by which a judgment might be formed upon the state of their manufactures; we mean the last exhibition of the products of French industry. In 1823 another of those childish shows took place, so inadequate to give a just idea of the real condition of a people, or to answer any purpose but that of non-consuming idleness and non-productive vanity. This exhibition was, if possible, more meagre than any which had preceded; for in what estimation must we hold the national labours of which periwigs and perfumes were so large a part? Yet they figured in the Palace of the Louvre amidst cases of artificial teeth, sweetmeats, confitures, and bonbons; reminding us, in the midst of what frivolity held most solemn, of the ingenuity of a Parisian new year's day, when sugar and flower are disguised, •à s'y tromper,' in the shape of sucking pigs, hams, boots, and birch rods. British industry certainly is not of such stuff as this. It is not for parade and pageantry. Where is
. the palace that could contain a just specimen of what steam can perform on general civilization? or who could conceive the influence of an iron railway upon human happiness, from all that could be crammed into the longest gallery of Paris? The mind which projects such wonders as these is not coercible under roofs and colonnades; neither could any show-board utter what it is. If the French can thus be vain of useless gilding and luxurious dyes, what would not their boasting be if they possessed a Soho or a Birmingham? But no; where boasting is, Watt could not be.
Notwithstanding this, however, the French board of trade and of colonies has addressed the third of the works which stand at the head of this Article to the principal chambers of commerce in the kingdom-documents relating to the trade which it may be advisable for the merchants of France to carry on with the new states of America. They are official, and are curious in more points of view than as relating merely to trade.
This little volume is preceded by a letter signed Saint-Cricq, president of the French board of trade. The tenth page says, that the English owe their superiority entirely to their capitals; but that the predilection of the natives is decidedly in favour of the French. The English,' it is said,' are only useful, but they are not loved. In the fifteenth page we find, On le répète, les
' Anglais ne sont pas aimés au Mexique ; ils n'y sont qu'utiles.' Now let us suppose the French to be the delightful people that they say they are, aimable, séduisant, gallant;' every thing they please ; yet we think it a very general principle in human nature to be more attached to those who are useful to us, than to those
who divert us. If this were not so there would be more harlequins and fewer artisans in the world than we find. Hitherto we can see no fairer conclusion to be drawn from this state of South American affections, from this predilection for the French, and from our humble utility than this; that while the Mexicans trade with us, they may perhaps dance with the French. The misfortune is severe.
But on what is this love founded? Why are the fellow citizens of M. de St. Cricq so much adored throughout the empire of Montezuma? The same page informs us. Among the reasons why French trade is not flourishing there at this moment, the third is,*
• The discredit wbich the first cargoes threw upon our productions, some persons not having scrupled to run after undue profits by cheating upon the qualities of their goods. • In
In page 67, in speaking of Peru, we read:
* The profits which French cargoes have hitherto produced may be valued at 28 per cent. Some, indeed, have produced 100 per cent., but these exorbitant returns may be pointed out as the principal obstacle to extending our connections there; as they have always been obtained at the expense of honesty.
On se plaint that the French do not scruple to cheat the natives respecting the quality of their wares; and such a fraud is the more detestable when committed against the Peruvians, because, with them, the entire trade consists in smuggling; and the purchasers are obliged to trust to the good faith of the sellers, and to accept the packages without examining them. It has often been found that, in a case of wine, threefourths of the bottles were empty; that provisions were more or less spoiled; and that stuffs were two or three degrees inferior to the patterns according to which the bargains were concluded.'
All this is no doubt very aimable; but it would require even more than all M. Saint-Cricq's eloquence to convince Englishmen that cheating is amiable. Not the least remarkable part of this quotation is, that it is unaccompanied by any expression of reprobation, by any mark of anger or disgust on the part of the worthy president.
We have examined this official document throughout, and we have not been able to find one single motive, except the above, for the predilection thus ministerially asserted to be given by the Mexicans, to the natives of France over those of Britain. We will not dispute the opinion of M. de Saint-Cricq; though, in our hearts, we cannot help still thinking and repeating that, even if the new republicans dance with the French, they will trade with
La défaveur que les premiers envois ont jetée sur nos produits ; quelques expéditears n'ayant pas craint de courir après des bénéfices exagérés, en trompant sur les qualités.
The system by which our commercial relations are now directed is one of the most memorable events in the history of trade. It has a character peculiar to itself; it promises more largely for the general good than all the acts or treaties that ever were concluded. It is a happy æra for civilization, when no one among the cultivated nations can make a step without dragging along with it the rest of the world. It is true that the most advanced will always be the most benefited by every new addition to wealth or knowledge; as the largest capitals always bring in the fullest returns. But the chain which binds mankind in social progress, if that progress be but moral and intellectual, is strengthened not strained, whenever it is firmly and steadily drawn by those who know to manœuvre it. England certainly has much to gain by an open exchange of industry, but every nation must be a sharer in her profits, in proportion to its capacity, as soon as it enters into her system of reciprocal advantages.
One of the curses of France is, that she does not yet perceive the truth of this doctrine. She thinks, as some village pedlars still may do, that no bargain is good in which she is not the sole gainer. As to England, every motion we make is suspicious we cannot hold up a finger without her attributing to us some sinister design;
et verso pollice vulgi Quemlibet occidunt populariter :' and it is painful to see her hang reluctantly backwards, while so many smaller states, whom she certainly calls her inferiors in understanding, gladly rush forwards to help on the career.
By many, this memorable liberality is called premature; by many we are accused of having proclaimed it too tardily. If, indeed, we consider the condition of England alone, no doubt we have been tardy in opening the avenues of commerce. She, long since, was ripe for unlimited competition; and, though her superiority was not universal, yet the balance was tenfold on her side. If we consider the other empires of Europe, the step has certainly been premature; for neither Russia, Prussia, Austria, nor Spain, -nay, not France herself, accepts the pact. Still, however, we were fully authorized by our own, and by the general interests, to act as we have done ; for sooner or later all nations must follow the example; or else remain so far behind us, that civilization will no more acknowledge them but as stragglers in the march.
In the most enlightened of societies, there ever are men who fear to advance; who think the world well enough as it is; who, forgetting that it was by a series of progresses that it has reached its present condition, would stop it in its course.
would behold unmoved all the hopes of posterity wasting away in chronic tabes. To such men England must not listen. Neither must she be advised by counsellors who would excite in her the strength of fever and delirium. There are men who, seeing the beautiful front of a magnificent edifice nearly finished, clamour loudly for the roof; while the wiser architects, knowing that the front alone cannot support the covering, continue in silence to construct the walls and partitions, and to place the beams and rafters, on which likewise it must rest. Yet the clamourers are vain enough to think that, without them, the roof never could have been invented.
Hitherto the years which France was condemned to drudge or to bustle before she could obtain the good things which England had secured, were one hundred and fifty; and, moreover, when those things were attained, they were not of half the value in the hands of the French, as in ours. But the ratio of time will now alter. The rapidity of communication, the opportunities for imparting impulses, the spirit already diffused must cause inferior nations to tread more quickly in the steps of those that take the lead. Whatever we discover in politics, in morals, in science, or in industry, we must expect to see imitated abroad, long before a hundred and fifty years have revolved. But, on the other hand, the distance which will separate English prosperity from that of France will increase; and what we lose in time, we shall more than gain in space. Though the French were thirty lustres before they attempted a wretched paraphrase of our Magna Charta, or a sanguinary burlesque of our revolution, they were not many years before they imported steam-engines or spinning-jennies. We speak not now of the spirit which rules the two countries. Here it is that the chief difference lies, and upon this we found our assertion that, though the French may stand nearer to us in time, in space they will be still farther removed than ever. Human powers, we know, have limits; and all limits, as we draw near to them beyond a certain degree, can be approached but by a retarded velocity. But we do not think that such a degree has yet been reached. Mankind is still in a state where the movements of civilization are accelerated; and they who have gone the farthest and the quickest will, for a long time, continue to advance the most rapidly. Such, most pre-eminently, has England been; and we do not think ourselves too sanguine when we say, that much as she has done, much as M. Dupin sometimes places her above other nations, as much will she still rise above them, even when taught by her. Neither do we think that, in this mighty career, the country which will come the nearest to us is France. We must not look to the old world for men who VOL. XXXIV. NO. LXVII.
will gall our kibes by treading on our heels. Youthful nations will be quicker than Europe; and in our own vigorous children, in the United States of America, we already see the generations that, in reason and industry, are destined to stand beside Englishmen.
In past ages the only road to prosperity has been war; and nations seemed to think that without conquests they could not be great. Modern no less than ancient history gives proof of this; for every page of both is filled with battles and successes. The farther we look back, the more we find it true that violence led to splendour and renown. The early eastern empires have left great traces of magnificence; but far above the gardens of Babylon or the temples of Tadmor, rises the glory of conquerors. Of all that is recorded of Egyptian labour and Corinthian wealth, nothing equals in fame their contemporary warriors. The trade and merchants of Athens were not without profit to her; but to Marathon and Platea, to Salamis and Mycale she owes the admiration which present ages pay her; and Sparta flourished though condemned to idleness except in war and theft. The trade of Carthage fell before the sword of Rome, and not all the wares that heathen nations ever fabricated gave a twentieth part of the power which the soldiers of the republic won. When Christianity was established, milder motives swayed mankind, and industry became a source of power. Venice, Genoa, Pisa, the petty states of Italy stood, by their ingenuity, among the largest empires; and created resources by trade which war could not have given. The Hanseatic league, the Netherlands, grew strong by industry; and, by labour, the Dutch republic was enabled to contend with nations much her superiors. What is it now but the struggle of trade and manufactures against alternate violence and cunning, that has secured success in the rudest contest which civilization ever had to maintain against depravity of every kind? What was it but British industry pouring out the treasures of Indus on the banks of the Neva, of the Danube, and of the Tagus, and vivifying the palsied chiefs of Europe with her wealth, that has preserved the world from barbarism?
Great as have been the triumphs of England, it is not to them that she owes her present superiority: From her campaigns in the peninsula Spain and Portugal derived their safety; and the North a useful diversion of the French forces. At Waterloo all the nations were delivered, and the smallest among them was more benefited by that day than England was. It mattered not to her by whom the miseries and madness of the French revolution were subdued. All that she desired was to see them at an end; and in the very lap of victory she laid down the right to authority which