Obrázky na stránke

detail on this subject; that we may see how little oppres sive those taxes are on the shoulders of the public, with which he labours so earnestly to load its imagination. For this purpose we take the state of that specific article upon which the two capital burthens of the war leaned the most immediately, by the additional duties on malt, and upon beer.

Average of strong beer, brewed in eight years before the additional malt and beer duties, Average of strong beer, eight years since the duties

[ocr errors]




[blocks in formation]

Here is the effect of two such daring taxes as 3d. by the bushel additional on malt, and 3s. by the barrel additional on beer. Two impositions laid without remission one upon the neck of the other; and laid upon an object which before had been immensely loaded. They did not in the least impair the consumption: it has grown under them. It appears that, upon the whole, the people did not feel so much inconvenience from the new duties as to oblige them to take refuge in the private brewery. Quite the contrary happened in both these respects in the reign of King William; and it happened from much slighter impositions. No people can long consume a commodity for which they are not well able to pay. An enlightened reader laughs at the inconsistent chimera of our author, of a people universally luxurious, and at the same time oppressed with taxes and declining in trade. For my part, I cannot look on these duties as the author does. He sees nothing but the burthen. I can perceive the burthen as well as he; but I cannot avoid contemplating also the

Although the public brewery has considerably increased in this latter perind the produce of the malt tax has been something less than in the former; this cannot be attributed to the new malt tax. Had this been the cause of the lessened consumption, the public brewery, so much more burthened, must have felt it more. The cause of this diminution of the malt tax, I take to have been principally owing to the greater dearness of corn in the second period than in the first, which, in all its consequences, affected the people in the country much more than those in the towns. But the revenue from consumption was not, on the whole, impaired; as we have seen in the foregoing page.

strength that supports it. From thence I draw the most comfortable assurances of the future vigour, and the ample resources, of this great misrepresented country; and can never prevail on myself to make complaints which have no cause, in order to raise hopes which have no foundation.

When a representation is built on truth and nature, on member supports the other, and mutual lights are given and received from every part. Thus, as our manufacturers have not deserted, nor the manufacture left us, nor the consumption declined, nor the revenue sunk; so neither has trade, which is at once the result, measure, and cause of the whole, in the least decayed, as our author has thought proper sometimes to affirm, constantly to suppose, as if it were the most indisputable of all propositions. The reader will see below the comparative state of our trade in three of the best years before our increase of debt and taxes, and with it the three last years since the author's date of our ruin.

In the last three years the whole of our exports was between 44 and 45 millions. In the three years preceding the war, it was no more than from 35 to 36 millions. The average balance of the former period was £3,706,000; of the latter, something above four millions. It is true, that whilst

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

the impressions of the author's destructive war continued, our trade was greater than it is at present. One of the necessary consequences of the peace was, that France must gradually recover a part of those markets of which she had been originally in possession. However, after all these deductions, still the gross trade in the worst year of the present is better than in the best year of any former period of peace. A very great part of our taxes, if not the greatest, has been imposed since the beginning of the century. On the author's principles, this continual increase of taxes must have ruined our trade, or at least entirely checked its growth. But I have a manuscript of Davenant, which contains an abstract of our trade for the years 1703 and 1704; by which it appears, that the whole export from England did not then exceed £6,552,019. It is now considerably more than double that amount. Yet England was then a rich and flourishing nation.

The author endeavours to derogate from the balance in our favour as it stands on the entries, and reduces it from four millions, as it there appears, to no more than £2,500,000. His observation on the looseness and inaccuracy of the export entries is just; and that the error is always an error of excess, I readily admit. But because, as usual, he has wholly omitted some very material facts, his conclusion is as erroneous as the entries he complains of.

On this point of the custom-house entries I shall make a few observations. 1st, The inaccuracy of these entries can extend only to FREE GOODS, that is, to such British products and manufactures, as are exported without drawback and without bounty; which do not in general amount to more than two-thirds at the very utmost of the whole export even of our home products. The valuable articles of corn, malt, leather, hops, beer, and many others, do not come under this objection of inaccuracy. The article of

CERTIFICATE GOODS re-exported, a vast branch of our commerce, admits of no error, (except some smaller frauds which cannot be estimated,) as they have all a drawback of duty, and the exporter must therefore correctly specify their quantity and kind. The author therefore is not warranted, from the known error in some of the entries, to make a general defalcation from the whole balance in our favour. This error cannot affect more than half, if so much, of the export

article. 2ndly, In the account made up at the inspector-general's office, they estimate only the original cost of British products as they are here purchased; and on foreign goods, only the prices in the country from whence they are sent. This was the method established by Mr. Davenant; and, as far as it goes, it certainly is a good one. But the profits of the merchant at home, and of our factories abroad, are not taken into the account: which profit on such an immense quantity of goods exported and re-exported cannot fail of being very great: five per cent. upon the whole, I should think a very moderate allowance. 3rdly, It does not comprehend the advantage arising from the employment of 600,000 tons of shipping, which must be paid by the foreign consumer, and which, in many bulky articles of commerce, is equal to the value of the commodity. This can scarcely be rated at less than a million annually. 4thly, The whole import from Ireland and America, and from the West Indies, is set against us in the ordinary way of striking a balance of imports and exports; whereas the import and export are both our own. This is just as ridiculous, as to put against the general balance of the nation, how much more goods Cheshire receives from London, than London from Cheshire. The whole revolves and circulates through this kingdom, and is, so far as it regards our profit, in the nature of home trade, as much as if the several countries of America and Ireland


were all pieced to Cornwall. The course of exchange with all these places is fully sufficient to demonstrate that this kingdom has the whole advantage of their commerce. the final profit upon a whole system of trade rests and centres in a certain place, a balance struck in that place merely on the mutual sale of commodities is quite fallacious. 5thly, The custom-house entries furnish a most defective, and, indeed, ridiculous idea of the most valuable branch of trade we have in the world,—that with Newfoundland. Observe what you export thither; a little spirits, provision, fishing lines, and fishing hooks. Is this export the true idea of the Newfoundland trade in the light of a beneficial branch of commerce? Nothing less. Examine our imports from thence; it seems, upon this vulgar idea of exports and imports, to turn the balance against you. But your exports to Newfoundland are your own goods. Your import is your

own food; as much your own, as that you raise with your ploughs out of your own soil; and not your loss, but your gain; your riches, not your poverty. But so fallacious is this way of judging, that neither the export nor import, nor both together, supply any idea approaching to adequate of that branch of business. The vessels in that trade go straight from Newfoundland to the foreign market; and the sale there, not the import here, is the measure of its value. That trade, which is one of your greatest and best, is hardly so much as seen in the custom-house entries; and it is not of less annual value to this nation than £400,000. 6thly, The quality of your imports must be considered as well as the quantity. To state the whole of the foreign import as loss, is exceedingly absurd. All the iron, hemp, flax, cotton, Spanish wool, raw silk, woollen and linen yarn, which we import, are by no means to be considered as the matter of a merely luxurious consumption; which is the idea too generally and loosely annexed to our import article. These above-mentioned are materials of industry, not of luxury, which are wrought up here, in many instances, to ten times, and more, of their original value. Even where they are not subservient to our exports, they still add to our internal wealth, which consists in the stock of useful commodities, as much as in gold and silver. In looking over the specific articles of our export and import, I have often been astonished to see for how small a part of the supply of our consumption, either luxurious or convenient, we are indebted to nations properly foreign

to us.

These considerations are entirely passed over by the author; they have been but too much neglected by most who have speculated on this subject. But they ought never to be omitted by those who mean to come to anything like the true state of the British trade. They compensate, and they more than compensate, everything which the author -can cut off with any appearance of reason for the over-entry of British goods; and they restore to us that balance of four millions, which the author has thought proper on such a very poor and limited comprehension of the object to reduce to £2,500,000.

In general this author is so circumstanced, that to support his theory he is obliged to assume his facts: and then, if you

« PredošláPokračovať »