Page images

Life are chiefly actuated? The idea of our common people concerning French living is dreadful; altogether as dreadful as our author's can possibly be of the state of his own country; a way of thinking that will hardly ever prevail on them to desert to France.I

But, leaving the author's speculations, the fact is, that they have not deserted; and of course the manufacture cannot be departed, or departing, with them. I am not indeed able to get at all the details of our manufactures; though, I think, I have taken full as much pains for that purpose as our author. Some I have by me; and they do not hitherto, thank God, support the author's complaint, unless a vast increase of the quantity of goods manufactured be a proof of losing the manufacture. On a view of the registers in the West Riding of Yorkshire, for three years before the war, and for the three last, it appears, that the quantities of cloths entered were as follows:

[blocks in formation]

In this manner this capital branch of manufacture has in

In a course of years a few manufacturers have been tempted abroad, not by cheap living, but by immense premiums, to set up as masters, and to introduce the manufacture. This must happen in every country eminent for the skill of its artificers, and has nothing to do with taxes and the price of provisions.

creased, under the increase of taxes; and this not from a declining, but from a greatly flourishing, period of commerce. I may say the same on the best authority of the fabric of thin goods at Halifax; of the bays at Rochdale; and of that infinite variety of admirable manufactures that grow and extend every year among the spirited, inventive, and enterprising traders of Manchester.

A trade sometimes seems to perish when it only assumes a different form. Thus the coarsest woollens were formerly exported in great quantities to Russia. The Russians now supply themselves with these goods. But the export thither of finer cloths has increased in proportion as the other has declined. Possibly some parts of the kingdom may have felt something like a languor in business. Objects like trade and manufacture, which the very attempt to confine would certainly destroy, frequently change their place; and thereby, far from being lost, are often highly improved. Thus some manufactures have decayed in the west and south, which have made new and more vigorous shoots when transplanted into the north. And here it is impossible to pass by, though the author has said nothing upon it, the vast addition to the mass of British trade, which has beer made by the improvement of Scotland. What does he think of the commerce of the city of Glasgow, and of the manufactures of Paisley and all the adjacent country? Has this anything like the deadly aspect and facies Hippocratica which the false diagnostic of our state physician has given to our trade in general? Has he not heard of the iron works of such magnitude even in their cradle which are set up on the Carron, and which at the same time have drawn nothing from Sheffield, Birmingham, or Wolverhampton?

This might perhaps be enough to show the entire falsity of the complaint concerning the decline of our manufactures. But every step we advance, this matter clears up more and more; and the false terrors of the author are dissipated, and fade away as the light appears. "The trade and manufactures of this country (says he) going to ruin, and a diminution of our revenue from consumption must attend the loss of so many seamen and artificers." Nothing more true than the general observation: nothing more false than its application

to our circumstances. Let the revenue on consumption speak for itself:

Average of net excise, since the new duties,

years ending 1767

[ocr errors]

three Ditto before the new duties, three years end ing 1759

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

Average increase £1,329,040

Here is no diminution. Here is, on the contrary, an immense increase. This is owing, I shall be told, to the new duties, which may increase the total bulk, but at the same time may make some diminution of the produce of the old. Were this the fact, it would be far from supporting the author's complaint. It might have proved that the burthen lay rather too heavy; but it would never prove that the revenue from consumption was impaired, which it was his business to do. But what is the real fact? Let us take, as the best instance for the purpose, the produce of the old hereditary and temporary excise granted in the reign of Charles the Second, whose object is that of most of the new impositions, from two averages, each of eight years.

Average, first period, eight years, ending 1754
Ditto, second period, eight years, ending 1767





I have taken these averages as including in each a war and a peace period; the first before the imposition of the new duties, the other since those impositions; and such is the state of the oldest branch of the revenue from consumption. Besides the acquisition of so much new, this article, to speak of no other, has rather increased under the pressure of all those additional taxes to which the author is pleased to attribute its destruction. But as the author has made his grand effort against those moderate, judicious, and necessary levies, which support all the dignity, and credit, and the power of his country, the reader will excuse a little further

detail on this subject; that we may see how little oppressive 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]

Increase in the last period





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 period, 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, one 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

[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][merged small][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][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »