Page images

rica, we increase our trade so long as these nations abstain from producing what we produce, but no longer. By increasing the wealth of rival nations, we do our trade great injury. It may be said too, that by increasing the wealth of a poor European nation, we are pretty sure to exalt it into a rival.

This difference the economists will not see; they make no distinction between a customer and a rival tradesman. Their reasoning holds good so far as regards nations that produce dissimilar articles, but no farther. Their scheme if established, would certainly have the effect of confining every nation to its peculiar article, but it is not established, it cannot be, and if it could, it would, as we have already said, place everything under national monopoly, and, allowing for the ruinous consequences of frequent gluts, keep prices at the maximum. To maintain necessary competition, more than one nation must produce the same articles; these must be rivals in the great market of the world; and it is not more in the nature of things for them to buy of each other, than it is for two shoemakers of a village to buy shoes of each other.

Smith admits, that although we may make another nation a better neighbour in time of peace by enriching it, still we thereby make it a more dangerous enemy in time of war. To a fighting nation like ourselves, there is something in this well calculated to cause reflection. It may show, that in times of prosperity, it may be most ruinous policy to add to the trade and wealth of another nation, even though by so doing, we add to our own trade and wealth. We really think that we are far more likely to lose than to gain by increasing the trade and wealth of such countries as France and Russia. We cannot discover what profit we are to reap in the end from our efforts to give fleets to other nations, when in a few years America will be nearly able to cope with us on the ocean singlehanded, and when, as far as probability goes, she will be assisted by the most powerful European fleets in case of war. We are inclined to believe, that to sacrifice every other public interest to trade, at a time when trade calls for no sacrifice, and is in a state of unexampled prosperity, is to do trade itself the greatest possible in


jury, saying nothing of other matters. He, alas! is but little fitted to contrive for this great empire who can see nothing but its trade.

If the new system, however, had affected the manufacturers alone, we should have remained silent. They certainly are acting in a way which would deter any honest man from fighting their battles. The economists, and every one else, protest, that our manufacturer cannot enter into competition with the foreigner without lowering his prices, and that he cannot lower his prices unless his expenses of production be lowered. His profits must remain the same, he cannot buy the raw article cheaper, therefore the only means must be to lower wages. Wages, it is asserted, cannot be lowered if corn be not lowered, and of course a clamour is got up for the reduction of corn.

Every one knows that the farmers and their labourers have been for years in a state of ruin and misery; that only a single year has elapsed since they began to emerge from this state; that the wages of the agricultural labourer are yet little more than half those of the manufacturing labourers; that the farmer is so far from getting exorbitant prices that he only gets good remunerating ones, and that his profits are far less than those of the merchant and manufacturer. Every one knows this, yet no one will acknowledge it. The merchants and manufacturers, men who are overburdened with trade, and who are making large profits, meet, and without making a single inquiry as to whether the farmer can sell for lower prices or not, they call for that which would re-plunge him into ruin. They do this that they may retain their present trade and rate of profits. They declare, that their labourers, many of whom are earning twenty-five, thirty, forty, and fifty shillings weekly, are starving from the high prices of corn; and they demand that which would, in effect, though not nominally, continue to those labourers these wages, while it would sink the pittance of the husbandry-labourer to salt and potatoes. This is indecent-it is cruel-it is scandalous.

The farmer, it is said, enjoys a monopoly; in the strict sense of the term, he enjoys no such thing. So soon as his prices exceed good remunerating ones, the market opens itself for foopens

reign corn. Even according to the new system, the manufacturer has in effect the same monopoly that he has. It is said, that in reality he taxes the country: those who say this, ought to go to some schoolboy to know the meaning of the word tax. He fully supplies the market at prices which are barely proportioned to the prices of other articles, and his profits are lower than the generality of profits. Rents are rather below than above what they ought to be according to general prices. The Canada farmer is just admitted into the market, and yet nothing will do but the admission of the farmers of the whole world. The avow ed object of this is, not to keep prices stationary, but to sink them. Before it is proved that the manufacturers will have to lower their prices, when it is known that they are paying for higher than reasonable wages to many of their workmen, and before the cost of a single article is reduced to the farmers and landlords, the latter are to be compelled to sacrifice their fair and just property.

The economists are at issue touching the way in which foreign corn should be admitted. Some will allow a protecting duty, and others will not; although the latter find nothing to quarrel with in protecting duties of ten, twenty, thirty, and forty per cent to the manufacturer. The protecting duty, however, is to enable the foreigner to sell much below the present prices; if it did not, his admission would be useless. Before a single grain of foreign corn came, corn would therefore sink very much below its present value. This would of itself throw many labourers out of employment, and cause much distress. Many farmers are bound by leases-many could obtain no immediate allowances from their landlords--many are yet in embarrassments, and few have been able since their days of distress to provide anything for emergencies.

We have at present sufficient corn for our consumption; if any came from abroad it would bring with it no consumers; machinery, which eats no bread, would chiefly fabricate the goods to be taken in exchange. It could only at first operate to cause superabundance. Every one knows that an overstock does not sink prices in proportion to its extent; that a very small one will sink them forty or fifty per cent-will VOL. XVII.

cause a glut-create forced sales-and spread general ruin. The first foreign corn therefore that came, would act as an overstock; it would, we think, from the present rage for speculation, and the abundance of corn in many foreign parts, be a very large one; and it would, we apprehend, render prices ruinous to the foreigner as well as the Englishman. The destruction of the home demand would scarcely, we think, benefit the manufacturer, par ticularly if at the same moment he had to struggle with a glut of manufac tures caused by the foreigner.

When any excessive supply renders the price of manufactures ruinous, the manufacturers instantly discharge their men and cease producing. This in a few months relieves the market. When they begin again, they employ but few men, and produce but little; they can proportion supply to demand. So if, in the next few months, the foreigner were to glut the market with manufactures, Our manufacturers would cease to produce, and the dis tress would not extend beyond a few months. When they began again, although they might not be able to prevent the foreigner from retaining much of their former trade, still they all could continue in business although each must do much less. This would throw a vast portion of capital, and a vast mass of labourers, out of employment, but it would leave employment to the masters; the masters might not be able to get fortunes, but they might get bread. With the farmers it is and would be wholly different. No matter what glut may be in the market, the farmers go on producing the utmost grain; and nothing can prevent them from doing this save absolute ruin. They are compelled to do it. They cannot rid themselves of rents; they can only reduce, in a trifling degree, their expenses; their land, if laid waste, would lose its fertility; they cannot act in concert; and however ruinous prices may be, they still feel that they do the best for themselves when they produce the greatest possible quantity. If therefore foreign corn kept constantly arriving, the whole of the farmers could not keep in employment by each producing less. A large number, with their families and labourers, would be thrown upon the other trades, which are already fully stocked, and which would then 4 D

be overstocked with capital and la


The more knowing of the economists admit that foreign corn would force an equal quantity of British corn out of the market; and they say that our poorer corn-land should. be laid waste. This would, on their own showing, throw a large part of the agricultural population out of employment. Now if the manufacturers retained their monopoly, the importation of foreign corn, by increasing the call for manufactures, might, after first involving this part of the population in misery and ruin, find it employment among the manufacturers. But then at the same moment the market is to be glutted with manufactures as well as corn-at the same moment a large portion of manufacturing capital and labour is to be thrown out of employment as well as of agricultural. It is by no means certain that the foreign corn would be paid for by manufactures; Mr Malthus, a short time since, thought that we should be supplietl chiefly by France; and were this the case, our manufacturers would not benefit much by the importation.

When we see that most of the foreign farmers, as well as labourers, wear almost any wretched clothing that will cover their nakedness; that they live chiefly upon rye-bread and potatoes; that they are scarcely better consumers than the Irish peasantry; and that they are at the mercy of poor, griping landlords; we really think that their demand would form but a miserable compensation to our trade for the loss of that of the British ones.

would be at the first great, and it would keep increasing. We really cannot think, that for us to place ourselves at the mercy of France and other nations for bread, will be good policy. On the contrary, we are inclined to think that it will be very ruinous policy.

Were the first years of ruin and distress, and of course of disaffection and convulsion, over; and were the market divided between the foreign farmer and the English one; the price would give to the latter barely bread and water, while it would give to the other good profits. The protecting duty is to reduce the price of English corn to the lowest figure, while it is to advance that of foreign corn. The agricultural capital, therefore, of this country, would stand still; that of foreign countries would increase. The increase of population would be met by an increase of foreign corn, and in all gluts the foreigner would have a great advantage over the Englishman. Our dependence on other nations, or, at the best, rival nations, for bread,

Ireland is just beginning to breathe; what would be the effect of a reduction in the corn market on Ireland?

Some of the economists say that the opening of the ports would raise the price of corn abroad. No doubt it would; but how far? Only to the figure of admission. If it raised them above, the additional demand would cease. This would give a great stimulus to foreign production, and in the course of a season or two, the foreign would be able to sell so low as to drive the Englishman out of the market without a higher protecting duty. If corn is to be raised in price abroad to keep the foreign manufacturers out of our market, we really think it would be much wiser to give our manufacturers a monopoly by legal prohibition rather than by the ruin of our agriculture. We would say much more on this point respecting corn, but our limits forbid us.

After saying what we have said, we shall no doubt be hugely reproached for our want of liberality. This will give us no concern whatever. When it shall be demonstrated to us that liberality is the only test that we should use on all occasions, we will then assuredly use it, and no other, but until then, we shall use the tests that our fathers used. We shall look at wisdom, honesty, and expediency, and not at all at liberality. Liberality is a very good thing in its place, but it is not to be employed for all purposes. It frequently makes people poor, but it rarely makes them rich. We are, however, to use it to acquire riches; we are to give away trade and wealth, that we may increase our trade and wealth. We shall have some faith in this, when we see the sun shower gold upon us, and the moon diamonds, as they whirl over us, but not before. We cannot approve of that liberality which seeks to increase the trade of other nations by diminishing, not only nominally, but in reality, the income of the vast majority of our population; we cannot approve of that liberality which, to increase trade, seeks

to plunge our agriculturists into distress; we cannot approve of that li berality which, to increase trade, seeks to make us dependent on other nations for both bread and raiment; we cannot approve of that liberality, which, to secure their present prosperity to the traders, to the comparatively contemptible few, seeks to involve the vast overwhelming majority in distress and privation.

After all, we may be in error; perhaps the fact that Parliament, the English world, and the statesmen of Cockaigne into the bargain, are against us, shows that we must be in error. We are, however, not convinced that we are so, and we are not among those who can suppress their own opinions to repeat the conflicting ones of other men. The new liberal system may be the right one, but we are convinced that the most powerful book in fact, and argument, that the world ever saw, might be written against it. We care not what may be said of production creating consumption. Our hair is not yet whitened with age, and yet we have seen sufficient with our eyes to convince us, that a great reduction of prices must inevitably produce a vast portion of ruin and distress; and that to bring a large quantity of manufactures and corn into the market, when it is already fully stocked, must

produce a fearful measure of national calamity. The question, however, is now in a way to be decided by experiment, and we shall look forward to the issue with quite as much confidence as those whom we oppose.

It must be borne in mind, that we assume, that the new system will operate in the way predicted by its authors. If it do not bring the foreigner into the market, if it continue the prohibitions, our reasoning will not apply to it; it will only be the old system with a new name. It must be remembered too, that we speak in fa vour of the reduction of duties of revenue, and of the abolition of restrictions, not necessary for protection. These are, in reality, the only restrictions that press upon our trade, in our poor judgment.


WE had slept about four or five hours, and the short hours of the morning were beginning to be lengthened, when our slumbers were disturbed by the arrival of a messenger from the advanced picquets, who came to inform us that the enemy were moving. As we had lain down in our clothes, with all our accoutrements on, we were under arms, and in column, in five seconds. It was not, however, deemed necessary that any advance on our part should be instantly attempt ed. We remained, on the contrary, quiet in the church; but standing in our ranks, we were perfectly ready to march to any quarter where the sound of firing might bespeak our presence

In conclusion-Parliament, in a time of general harmony, has thought proper to take measures which are arraying one great interest against another; in a time of unexampled prosperity, and when not a single interest needs assistance, it has thought proper to take measures which are unsettling all the leading interests of the empire. If we cannot applaud the wisdom of this, we certainly devoutly pray that it may produce none of the evils that we anticipate.



We had stood thus about half an hour, when a second messenger from

the out-posts came in, from whom we learned, that a blue light had been thrown up within the enemy's lines, and that their fires were all freshly trimmed. "Is it so?" said some of our oldest veterans; "then there will be no work for us to-day-they are retreating;" and so sure enough it proved. As soon as dawn began to appear, a patrole was sent forward, which returned immediately to state, that not a vestige of the French army was to be found. Their outposts and sentries were withdrawn, their baggage was all gone, and the whole of the right wing had disappeared.

The fact was, that Lord Wellington's scheme had succeeded according to his expectations. The right of our army, after some very hard fighting, turned the enemy's left; took posses

sion of most of his redoubts, and got into his rear; which compelled Marshal Soult, sorely against his inclination, to abandon a position more tenable than any which he had yet occupied. Towards his right, indeed, as I have already mentioned, it would have been little short of madness seriously to have attacked him; nor could his left have been broken, but for the skilful manoeuvring on our part, which hindered any reinforcements from being sent to it. This object being attained, however, to remain, at least with safety, even for a single day longer, on his ground, was impossible, and hence Soult only showed his wisdom and sound judgment by seizing the first favourable opportunity to retire.

The intelligence of the enemy's retreat was received, as such intelligence is usually received, with great satisfaction. Not that we felt the smallest disinclination to renew the battle quite the reverse; but there is something in the idea of pursuing a flying enemy, far more exhilarating than in any other idea to which the human mind gives harbour; and this we experienced, on the present occasion, to its full extent. We had scarcely learned that the French troops had deserted their works, when an order arrived to advance; and that we prepared to obey with the most hearty good will.

Whilst the men were swallowing a hasty meal, preparatory to the commencement of the march, I went, with two or three others, to visit the spot where we had deposited such of our messmates as fell in the battle of yesterday. It is not often that a soldier is so fortunate-if, indeed, the thing be worth estimating as fortunate-as to be laid in his last rest in consecrated ground. Our gallant comrades enjoyed that privilege on the present occasion. The soldiers had collected them from the various spots where they lay, and brought them in, with a sort of pious respect, to the churchyard. Here they dug a grave-one grave, it is true, for more than one body; but what boots it? and here they entombed them, carefully tearing up the green sod, and carefully replacing it upon the hillock. For my own part, I had little time to do more than wish rest to their souls; for the corps was already in motion, and in

five minutes we were in the line of march.

It was as yet quite dark, consequently objects could not be distinguished at any considerable distance; but the farther we proceeded, the more strongly the day dawned upon us. Having cleared the village, we came to a bridge thrown across a little brook, for the possession of which a good deal of fighting had taken place towards evening on the day before. Here we found several French soldiers lying dead, as well as one of our own men, who had ventured too far in pursuit of the enemy. A little way beyond the bridge, again, and to the left of the road, stood a neat chateau of some size. This our advanced party was ordered to search; and, as I chanced to be in command of the detachment, the office of conducting the search devolved upon me.

I found the house furnished after the French fashion, and the furniture in a state of perfect preservation; nor did I permit the slightest injury to be done to it by my men. The only article, indeed, which I was guilty of plundering, was a grammar of the Spanish language, thus entitled, " Grammaire et Dictionnaire François et Espagnol-Nouvellement Revû, Corrigé et Augmenté par Monsieur De Maunory: Suivant l'Usage de la Cour d'Espagne." Upon one of the boards is written, appartient a Lassalle Briguette, Lassallee. The book is still in my possession, and as our countries are now at peace, I take this opportunity of informing Mr Briguette, that I am quite ready to restore to him his property, provided he will favour me with his address. Of course, Monsieur Briguette, like all the rest of the civilized world, reads Maga regularly.

The room from which I took the volume just alluded to was the library, and by no means badly stored with books. I had not, however, much time to decipher the title pages, for, independently of the necessity under which I lay of pushing forward as soon as I had ascertained that none of the enemy were secreted here, my attention was attracted by a mass of letters scattered over the floor. The reader may judge of my surprise, when, on lifting one to examine its contents, I found it to be in the handwriting of my own father, and ad

« PreviousContinue »