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sufferings of its poorer population, alike degraded to become the weapons of a scandalous party warfare.
If we appreciate the expression of public opinion in the result of the late elections correctly, it amounted to a protestation on the part of the intelligent classes of the community against a sweeping set of measures calculated to overturn our present fiscal and commercial systems. This protest, we take it, was less directed against the measures themselves, than against the manner in which they were proposed, defended and urged. No man, of whatever party, has been so blind as to view this national declaration in the light of a protestation against cheap corn, cheap sugar, and facilitation of commercial intercourse. On the contrary, it is on all hands admitted that this battle has been won. Monopoly of every kind has been proved in the struggle to be a deceptive, destructive phantom, which, like the Jew of the play, ministers to the temporary necessities of the indiscreet and pampered egoist but to secure his ultimate fall; it demands the heart's blood of its victim in payment of its inexorable claim. On this head there is no longer a doubt, except as to the amount of the concession to be made in the first instance; and this doubt is shared by many who desire the concession of every restriction, from the circumstance that its probable immediate operation is, from want of sufficient information, not very clear.
It cannot be wondered, that those who could not or would not see what progress they had made in the affray, and who even now do not seem to know how to use their vantageground, should show themselves absolutely insensible to the fact that there were other battles besides this to be fought, and that this triumph, although important, was but a part of a series of combats to be undertaken on different ground, some of which are accounted of even greater urgency. If monopoly were to be destroyed at home, it was equally necessary to spread this conviction abroad. If a formidable competition were to be allowed in our agriculture, was it not the more requisite to increase the preponderance of our manufactures ? Did it not seem fair to say to foreigners—“The “ irresistible arguments which have been brought forward to “prove that we are wise in buying food where we can get it
“ cheapest, apply with the same force to your case; it is
In the Number to which we have alluded we published a solemn warning of the danger the country was incurring from a neglect of our commercial interests abroad. We told the country that we had allies of a valuable description; that their commercial and political existence was threatened by the encroachments of a power whose advances had been rapid and threatened to become dangerous. We told them no unfounded tales about the flourishing state of manufactures abroad which threatened to drive our own from foreign markets, a fact which is wholly disproved by the very deeds and protestations of our supposed rivals, who dread nothing more than a reciprocity which would prove the folly of forcing industrial speculations before the resources of a country demand them, and who are now clamorous for increased protection against us. We told them, on the contrary, that manufactures were not flourishing abroad, for the plain reason which they had so often heard at home—that monopoly cannot flourish. We did more. In a work from whose nature a direction only might be expected to the labours of men endeavouring to throw light upon difficult subjects, we have devoted an unusually large space to the communication of original documents, which have placed in a comprehensive form the leading points of the grand chain of evidence, which was crying for attention to a ministry that remained deaf to all solicitations but those of party virulence and dinner-table cabal.
The selection which we made from the information collected by Dr. Bowring, and from what was withheld from that gentleman by the manufacturers and others whom he consulted abroad, made out a case, the strength of which has, we are glad to see, been appreciated by the nation. It was specially recommended to the notice of parliament in a report*, the object of which was to suggest means for improving the condition of the labouring classes. It has had too
* Handloom-Weavers' Report, p. 76.
the effect of spreading encouragement amongst our disheartened allies abroad, and it has obliged the antagonist party in Germany to proceed cautiously in their hostility to the commercial interests of Great Britain, if it has made them not less unremitting in their toil.
The only men who were immovable in their apathy, or rather, who were so hoodwinked in the petty chase in which they had engaged, that they refused when called upon to look to the right or to the left, but who strove to keep up the “ whoop and halloo " long after the death, for purposes best known to themselves, were those of Her Majesty's late ministers in whose departments it specially lay to have guarded against the dangers which we pointed out.
We shall succinctly relate the events that have occurred since we last called attention to the proceedings of the Prussian Customs' League, from which it will appear how unwarrantable a neglect of British interests has been shown in that quarter.
Our readers will recollect that we distinctly traced the firm and protracted opposition offered by the rest of Germany to the first advances of the Prussian League. That union, which it has been thought fit to characterize as the expression of the desire of unity in Germany, and as called into life by the unanimous voice of an enlightened nation, we, by a simple reference to its history, showed to have been at every step viewed with the greatest jealousy and apprehension by the Germans, and to have called up no less than five different leagues to stop its progress, by ensuring to the states which rejected its offers the benefits which it promised without the disadvantages which it threatened to impose. After a period of twenty-two years spent in incessant open and secret negotiation, after appeals to the passions and prejudices of princes, manufacturers and peasants, we showed that a portion of Germany, for us the most important, still refused to listen to the repeated invitations of Prussia. The most powerful means of propagandism had in this emergency been resorted to by the Prussian government, which it is clear is not likely to lose in political importance by the violence of the struggle, provided it be attended with ultimate success. That portion of the press which had previously advocated liberal opinions was conciliated on the one side, whilst the means of coercion through the censorship were so vigorously set in motion on the other, that no resource was left but to take up the advocacy of the monopoly of the manufacturer, in order to escape the necessity of openly advocating despotism, and to have any subject left at all on which to express an apparently independent opinion. Like the leopard of the Indies, who when caught is trained to the chase of the antelope, the influential organs of the press were set, when thus mastered, to hunt the remaining independent states of Germany into the toils; and considering the power of this machinery, which appeared from patriotic motives to advocate what the governments proclaimed by authority, added to the fact, that in all German constitutional states the manufacturers have a powerful majority of votes amongst the deputies of the second chamber, it is truly wonderful that any opposition should have ensued. Yet was not this sufficient; a greater weight had to be thrown into the scale—the active, although indirect co-operation of British ministers in measures so hostile to British interests.
Not many months after we had distinctly pointed out the danger in which we stood of losing so valuable a commercial alliance as that of the states occupying the coast of the German Ocean and a portion of the Baltic, two treaties were brought to light, which astonished everybody except the two cabinets who had so much at stake, and who had acted from apparently opposite views of what was due to the interests of trade. We had shown the absolute necessity for requiting the little less than insulting reception and mystification of Dr. Bowring at Berlin, and the unscrupulous “ca' me, ca' thee" alliance between agitators at home and the advocates of commercial monopoly abroad, of which he became the instrument, by a dignified abstinence from useless proffers of amity on our part towards Prussia, and by some decided mark, however trifling, of our recognition of the liberal commercial policy of the North German states. We pointed out two or three articles of pressing necessity at home on which concessions might, at no sacrifice to ourselves, be granted, and which would suffice so far to propitiate the states interested, that no attempts would be made to induce
them to waver in the course they had until then pursued. A judicious use of such concessions would at the same time have settled the vexatious question of the Stade duties, which the course adopted by Lord Palmerston was only calculated to leave open in the manner in which it has been left.
The first of these treaties which was published was called a treaty of reciprocity in navigation between Great Britain and Prussia in its own name and in the name of the other states of the Zollverein. This treaty, but for the bungling manner in which it was drawn up, and which on this occasion was peculiarly serviceable, would have called a new state into existence in Europe and have cancelled the useful part of nearly all our treaties with the continental powers. This treaty would have turned a threatening phantom into a substantial and powerful enemy.
The Zollverein would, by a stroke of Lord Palmerston's pen, have been placed side by side with the German confederation; and an useful defensive ally, the sense of whose own interests armed central Europe from the Adriatic to the Baltic to resist M. Thiers' new edition of the revolution of July, would have been obliged to give place to a young and aspiring pretender to conquest, which from that circumstance alone must have been the enemy of all old countries interested in maintaining order and a balance of power. The Zollverein, once recognized as an independent power in Europe, has no choice but the conquest of Holland and Denmark on the terms of a cession of Belgium to France, or of struggling with that power for the mastery. This is the power which his Lordship's uncalled for treaty of reciprocity was near starting into life.
This treaty was uncalled for, because the complaints made by Lord Palmerston himself on the repeated violations of the former treaty of reciprocity by Prussia, the correspondence respecting which has been laid before parliament, were never satisfactorily answered by the Prussian government. It was consequently a step derogatory to the dignity of the British crown to make advances to a power with whom a dispute on a question which militates against all reciprocity was pending.
It was uncalled for because it made concessions to a foreign power, whose whole commercial policy had long been one
open and avowed hostility to Great Britain, without reVOL. XIII.-No. XXV.