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Conclusion Of The Mercantile System
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Conclusion Of The Mercantile System








Though the encouragement of exportation, and the discouragement of
importation, are the two great engines by which the mercantile system
proposes to enrich every country, yet, with regard to some particular
commodities, it seems to follow an opposite plan: to discourage
exportation, and to encourage importation. Its ultimate object,
however, it pretends, is always the same, to enrich the country by an
advantageous balance of trade. It discourages the exportation of the
materials of manufacture, and of the instruments of trade, in order to
give our own workmen an advantage, and to enable them to undersell those
of other nations in all foreign markets; and by restraining, in this
manner, the exportation of a few commodities, of no great price, it
proposes to occasion a much greater and more valuable exportation of
others. It encourages the importation of the materials of manufacture,
in order that our own people may be enabled to work them up more
cheaply, and thereby prevent a greater and more valuable importation of
the manufactured commodities. I do not observe, at least in our statute
book, any encouragement given to the importation of the instruments of
trade. When manufactures have advanced to a certain pitch of greatness,
the fabrication of the instruments of trade becomes itself the object
of a great number of very important manufactures. To give any particular
encouragement to the importation of such instruments, would interfere
too much with the interest of those manufactures. Such importation,
therefore, instead of being encouraged, has frequently been prohibited.
Thus the importation of wool cards, except from Ireland, or when brought
in as wreck or prize goods, was prohibited by the 3rd of Edward IV.;
which prohibition was renewed by the 39th of Elizabeth, and has been
continued and rendered perpetual by subsequent laws.

The importation of the materials of manufacture has sometimes been
encouraged by an exemption from the duties to which other goods are
subject, and sometimes by bounties.

The importation of sheep's wool from several different countries, of
cotton wool from all countries, of undressed flax, of the greater part
of dyeing drugs, of the greater part of undressed hides from Ireland, or
the British colonies, of seal skins from the British Greenland fishery,
of pig and bar iron from the British colonies, as well as of several
other materials of manufacture, has been encouraged by an exemption
from all duties, if properly entered at the custom-house. The private
interest of our merchants and manufacturers may, perhaps, have extorted
from the legislature these exemptions, as well as the greater part of
our other commercial regulations. They are, however, perfectly just and
reasonable; and if, consistently with the necessities of the state, they
could be extended to all the other materials of manufacture, the public
would certainly be a gainer.

The avidity of our great manufacturers, however, has in some cases
extended these exemptions a good deal beyond what can justly be
considered as the rude materials of their work. By the 24th Geo. II.
chap. 46, a small duty of only 1d. the pound was imposed upon the
importation of foreign brown linen yarn, instead of much higher duties,
to which it had been subjected before, viz. of 6d. the pound upon sail
yarn, of 1s. the pound upon all French and Dutch yarn, and of £2:13:4
upon the hundred weight of all spruce or Muscovia yarn. But our
manufacturers were not long satisfied with this reduction: by the 29th
of the same king, chap. 15, the same law which gave a bounty upon the
exportation of British and Irish linen, of which the price did not
exceed 18d. the yard, even this small duty upon the importation of brown
linen yarn was taken away. In the different operations, however, which
are necessary for the preparation of linen yarn, a good deal more
industry is employed, than in the subsequent operation of preparing
linen cloth from linen yarn. To say nothing of the industry of the
flax-growers and flaxdressers, three or four spinners at least are
necessary in order to keep one weaver in constant employment; and more
than four-fifths of the whole quantity of labour necessary for the
preparation of linen cloth, is employed in that of linen yarn; but
our spinners are poor people; women commonly scattered about in all
different parts of the country, without support or protection. It is
not by the sale of their work, but by that of the complete work of the
weavers, that our great master manufacturers make their profits. As it
is their interest to sell the complete manufacture as dear, so it is
to buy the materials as cheap as possible. By extorting from the
legislature bounties upon the exportation of their own linen,
high duties upon the importation of all foreign linen, and a total
prohibition of the home consumption of some sorts of French linen, they
endeavour to sell their own goods as dear as possible. By encouraging
the importation of foreign linen yarn, and thereby bringing it into
competition with that which is made by our own people, they endeavour
to buy the work of the poor spinners as cheap as possible. They are as
intent to keep down the wages of their own weavers, as the earnings of
the poor spinners; and it is by no means for the benefit of the workmen
that they endeavour either to raise the price of the complete work, or
to lower that of the rude materials. It is the industry which is carried
on for the benefit of the rich and the powerful, that is principally
encouraged by our mercantile system. That which is carried on for the
benefit of the poor and the indigent is too often either neglected or
oppressed.

Both the bounty upon the exportation of linen, and the exemption from
the duty upon the importation of foreign yarn, which were granted only
for fifteen years, but continued by two different prolongations, expire
with the end of the session of parliament which shall immediately follow
the 24th of June 1786.

The encouragement given to the importation of the materials of
manufacture by bounties, has been principally confined to such as were
imported from our American plantations.

The first bounties of this kind were those granted about the beginning
of the present century, upon the importation of naval stores from
America. Under this denomination were comprehended timber fit for masts,
yards, and bowsprits; hemp, tar, pitch, and turpentine. The bounty,
however, of £1 the ton upon masting-timber, and that of £6 the ton upon
hemp, were extended to such as should be imported into England from
Scotland. Both these bounties continued, without any variation, at the
same rate, till they were severally allowed to expire; that upon hemp on
the 1st of January 1741, and that upon masting-timber at the end of the
session of parliament immediately following the 24th June 1781.

The bounties upon the importation of tar, pitch, and turpentine,
underwent, during their continuance, several alterations. Originally,
that upon tar was £4 the ton; that upon pitch the same; and that upon
turpentine £3 the ton. The bounty of £4 the ton upon tar was afterwards
confined to such as had been prepared in a particular manner; that upon
other good, clean, and merchantable tar was reduced to £2:4s. the
ton. The bounty upon pitch was likewise reduced to £1, and that upon
turpentine to £1:10s. the ton.

The second bounty upon the importation of any of the materials of
manufacture, according to the order of time, was that granted by the
21st Geo. II. chap.30, upon the importation of indigo from the British
plantations. When the plantation indigo was worth three-fourths of the
price of the best French indigo, it was, by this act, entitled to a
bounty of 6d. the pound. This bounty, which, like most others, was
granted only for a limited time, was continued by several prolongations,
but was reduced to 4d. the pound. It was allowed to expire with the end
of the session of parliament which followed the 25th March 1781.

The third bounty of this kind was that granted (much about the time that
we were beginning sometimes to court, and sometimes to quarrel with our
American colonies), by the 4th. Geo. III. chap. 26, upon the importation
of hemp, or undressed flax, from the British plantations. This bounty
was granted for twenty-one years, from the 24th June 1764 to the 24th
June 1785. For the first seven years, it was to be at the rate of £8 the
ton; for the second at £6; and for the third at £4. It was not extended
to Scotland, of which the climate (although hemp is sometimes raised
there in small quantities, and of an inferior quality) is not very fit
for that produce. Such a bounty upon the importation of Scotch flax in
England would have been too great a discouragement to the native produce
of the southern part of the united kingdom.

The fourth bounty of this kind was that granted by the 5th Geo. III.
chap. 45, upon the importation of wood from America. It was granted for
nine years from the 1st January 1766 to the 1st January 1775. During the
first three years, it was to be for every hundred-and-twenty good deals,
at the rate of £1, and for every load containing fifty cubic feet of
other square timber, at the rate of 12s. For the second three years, it
was for deals, to be at the rate of 15s., and for other squared timber
at the rate of 8s.; and for the third three years, it was for deals, to
be at the rate of 10s.; and for every other squared timber at the rate
of 5s.

The fifth bounty of this kind was that granted by the 9th Geo. III.
chap. 38, upon the importation of raw silk from the British plantations.
It was granted for twenty-one years, from the 1st January 1770, to the
1st January 1791. For the first seven years, it was to be at the rate of
£25 for every hundred pounds value; for the second, at £20; and for the
third, at £15. The management of the silk-worm, and the preparation
of silk, requires so much hand-labour, and labour is so very dear in
America, that even this great bounty, I have been informed, was not
likely to produce any considerable effect.

The sixth Bounty of this kind was that granted by 11th Geo. III. chap.
50, for the importation of pipe, hogshead, and barrelstaves and leading
from the British plantations. It was granted for nine years, from 1st
January 1772 to the 1st January 1781. For the first three years, it was,
for a certain quantity of each, to be at the rate of £6; for the second
three years at £4; and for the third three years at £2.

The seventh and last bounty of this kind was that granted by the 19th
Geo. III chap. 37, upon the importation of hemp from Ireland. It was
granted in the same manner as that for the importation of hemp and
undressed flax from America, for twenty-one years, from the 24th June
1779 to the 24th June 1800. The term is divided likewise into three
periods, of seven years each; and in each of those periods, the rate
of the Irish bounty is the same with that of the American. It does
not, however, like the American bounty, extend to the importation of
undressed flax. It would have been too great a discouragement to the
cultivation of that plant in Great Britain. When this last bounty was
granted, the British and Irish legislatures were not in much better
humour with one another, than the British and American had been before.
But this boon to Ireland, it is to be hoped, has been granted under more
fortunate auspices than all those to America. The same commodities, upon
which we thus gave bounties, when imported from America, were subjected
to considerable duties when imported from any other country. The
interest of our American colonies was regarded as the same with that of
the mother country. Their wealth was considered as our wealth. Whatever
money was sent out to them, it was said, came all back to us by the
balance of trade, and we could never become a farthing the poorer by
any expense which we could lay out upon them. They were our own in every
respect, and it was an expense laid out upon the improvement of our own
property, and for the profitable employment of our own people. It is
unnecessary, I apprehend, at present to say anything further, in
order to expose the folly of a system which fatal experience has now
sufficiently exposed. Had our American colonies really been a part of
Great Britain, those bounties might have been considered as bounties
upon production, and would still have been liable to all the objections
to which such bounties are liable, but to no other.

The exportation of the materials of manufacture is sometimes discouraged
by absolute prohibitions, and sometimes by high duties.

Our woollen manufacturers have been more successful than any other class
of workmen, in persuading the legislature that the prosperity of the
nation depended upon the success and extension of their particular
business. They have not only obtained a monopoly against the consumers,
by an absolute prohibition of importing woollen cloths from any foreign
country; but they have likewise obtained another monopoly against the
sheep farmers and growers of wool, by a similar prohibition of the
exportation of live sheep and wool. The severity of many of the laws
which have been enacted for the security of the revenue is very
justly complained of, as imposing heavy penalties upon actions which,
antecedent to the statutes that declared them to be crimes, had always
been understood to be innocent. But the cruellest of our revenue laws,
I will venture to affirm, are mild and gentle, in comparison to some of
those which the clamour of our merchants and manufacturers has extorted
from the legislature, for the support of their own absurd and oppressive
monopolies. Like the laws of Draco, these laws may be said to be all
written in blood.

By the 8th of Elizabeth, chap. 3, the exporter of sheep, lambs, or rams,
was for the first offence, to forfeit all his goods for ever, to suffer
a year's imprisonment, and then to have his left hand cut off in a
market town, upon a market day, to be there nailed up; and for the
second offence, to be adjudged a felon, and to suffer death accordingly.
To prevent the breed of our sheep from being propagated in foreign
countries, seems to have been the object of this law. By the 13th and
14th of Charles II. chap. 18, the exportation of wool was made felony,
and the exporter subjected to the same penalties and forfeitures as a
felon.

For the honour of the national humanity, it is to be hoped that neither
of these statutes was ever executed. The first of them, however, so far
as I know, has never been directly repealed, and serjeant Hawkins seems
to consider it as still in force. It may, however, perhaps be considered
as virtually repealed by the 12th of Charles II. chap. 32, sect. 3,
which, without expressly taking away the penalties imposed by former
statutes, imposes a new penalty, viz. that of 20s. for every sheep
exported, or attempted to be exported, together with the forfeiture of
the sheep, and of the owner's share of the sheep. The second of them was
expressly repealed by the 7th and 8th of William III. chap. 28, sect. 4,
by which it is declared that "Whereas the statute of the 13th and 14th
of king Charles II. made against the exportation of wool, among other
things in the said act mentioned, doth enact the same to be deemed
felony, by the severity of which penalty the prosecution of offenders
hath not been so effectually put in execution; be it therefore enacted,
by the authority aforesaid, that so much of the said act, which relates
to the making the said offence felony, be repealed and made void."

The penalties, however, which are either imposed by this milder statute,
or which, though imposed by former statutes, are not repealed by this
one, are still sufficiently severe. Besides the forfeiture of the goods,
the exporter incurs the penalty of 3s. for every pound weight of wool,
either exported or attempted to be exported, that is, about four or
five times the value. Any merchant, or other person convicted of this
offence, is disabled from requiring any debt or account belonging to
him from any factor or other person. Let his fortune be what it will,
whether he is or is not able to pay those heavy penalties, the law means
to ruin him completely. But, as the morals of the great body of the
people are not yet so corrupt as those of the contrivers of this
statute, I have not heard that any advantage has ever been taken of this
clause. If the person convicted of this offence is not able to pay the
penalties within three months after judgment, he is to be transported
for seven years; and if he returns before the expiration of that term,
he is liable to the pains of felony, without benefit of clergy. The
owner of the ship, knowing this offence, forfeits all his interest in
the ship and furniture. The master and mariners, knowing this
offence, forfeit all their goods and chattels, and suffer three months
imprisonment. By a subsequent statute, the master suffers six months
imprisonment.

In order to prevent exportation, the whole inland commerce of wool is
laid under very burdensome and oppressive restrictions. It cannot be
packed in any box, barrel, cask, case, chest, or any other package, but
only in packs of leather or pack-cloth, on which must be marked on the
outside the words WOOL or YARN, in large letters, not less than three
inches long, on pain of forfeiting the same and the package, and 8s.
for every pound weight, to be paid by the owner or packer. It cannot be
loaden on any horse or cart, or carried by land within five miles of the
coast, but between sun-rising, and sun-setting, on pain of forfeiting
the same, the horses and carriages. The hundred next adjoining to the
sea coast, out of, or through which the wool is carried or exported,
forfeits £20, if the wool is under the value of £10; and if of greater
value, then treble that value, together with treble costs, to be
sued for within the year. The execution to be against any two of the
inhabitants, whom the sessions must reimburse, by an assessment on
the other inhabitants, as in the cases of robbery. And if any person
compounds with the hundred for less than this penalty, he is to be
imprisoned for five years; and any other person may prosecute. These
regulations take place through the whole kingdom.

But in the particular counties of Kent and Sussex, the restrictions are
still more troublesome. Every owner of wool within ten miles of the sea
coast must give an account in writing, three days after shearing, to the
next officer of the customs, of the number of his fleeces, and of the
places where they are lodged. And before he removes any part of them, he
must give the like notice of the number and weight of the fleeces, and
of the name and abode of the person to whom they are sold, and of the
place to which it is intended they should be carried. No person within
fifteen miles of the sea, in the said counties, can buy any wool, before
he enters into bond to the king, that no part of the wool which he shall
so buy shall be sold by him to any other person within fifteen miles of
the sea. If any wool is found carrying towards the sea side in the said
counties, unless it has been entered and security given as aforesaid, it
is forfeited, and the offender also forfeits 3s. for every pound weight,
if any person lay any wool, not entered as aforesaid, within fifteen
miles of the sea, it must be seized and forfeited; and if, after such
seizure, any person shall claim the same, he must give security to the
exchequer, that if he is cast upon trial he shall pay treble costs,
besides all other penalties.

When such restrictions are imposed upon the inland trade, the coasting
trade, we may believe, cannot be left very free. Every owner of wool,
who carrieth, or causeth to be carried, any wool to any port or place
on the sea coast, in order to be from thence transported by sea to any
other place or port on the coast, must first cause an entry thereof
to be made at the port from whence it is intended to be conveyed,
containing the weight, marks, and number, of the packages, before he
brings the same within five miles of that port, on pain of forfeiting
the same, and also the horses, carts, and other carriages; and also
of suffering and forfeiting, as by the other laws in force against the
exportation of wool. This law, however (1st of William III. chap. 32),
is so very indulgent as to declare, that this shall not hinder any
person from carrying his wool home from the place of shearing, though
it be within five miles of the sea, provided that in ten days after
shearing, and before he remove the wool, he do under his hand certify to
the next officer of the customs the true number of fleeces, and where
it is housed; and do not remove the same, without certifying to such
officer, under his hand, his intention so to do, three days before. Bond
must be given that the wool to be carried coast-ways is to be landed at
the particular port for which it is entered outwards; and if my part of
it is landed without the presence of an officer, not only the forfeiture
of the wool is incurred, as in other goods, but the usual additional
penalty of 3s. for every pound weight is likewise incurred.

Our woollen manufacturers, in order to justify their demand of such
extraordinary restrictions and regulations, confidently asserted, that
English wool was of a peculiar quality, superior to that of any other
country; that the wool of other countries could not, without some
mixture of it, be wrought up into any tolerable manufacture; that fine
cloth could not be made without it; that England, therefore, if the
exportation of it could be totally prevented, could monopolize to
herself almost the whole woollen trade of the world; and thus, having
no rivals, could sell at what price she pleased, and in a short time
acquire the most incredible degree of wealth by the most advantageous
balance of trade. This doctrine, like most other doctrines which are
confidently asserted by any considerable number of people, was, and
still continues to be, most implicitly believed by a much greater
number: by almost all those who are either unacquainted with the woollen
trade, or who have not made particular inquiries. It is, however, so
perfectly false, that English wool is in any respect necessary for the
making of fine cloth, that it is altogether unfit for it. Fine cloth is
made altogether of Spanish wool. English wool, cannot be even so mixed
with Spanish wool, as to enter into the composition without spoiling and
degrading, in some degree, the fabric of the cloth.

It has been shown in the foregoing part of this work, that the effect
of these regulations has been to depress the price of English wool, not
only below what it naturally would be in the present times, but very
much below what it actually was in the time of Edward III. The price of
Scotch wool, when, in consequence of the Union, it became subject to the
same regulations, is said to have fallen about one half. It is observed
by the very accurate and intelligent author of the Memoirs of Wool,
the Reverend Mr. John Smith, that the price of the best English wool
in England, is generally below what wool of a very inferior quality
commonly sells for in the market of Amsterdam. To depress the price of
this commodity below what may be called its natural and proper price,
was the avowed purpose of those regulations; and there seems to be no
doubt of their having produced the effect that was expected from them.

This reduction of price, it may perhaps be thought, by discouraging the
growing of wool, must have reduced very much the annual produce of that
commodity, though not below what it formerly was, yet below what, in
the present state of things, it would probably have been, had it, in
consequence of an open and free market, been allowed to rise to the
natural and proper price. I am, however, disposed to believe, that the
quantity of the annual produce cannot have been much, though it may,
perhaps, have been a little affected by these regulations. The growing
of wool is not the chief purpose for which the sheep farmer employs his
industry and stock. He expects his profit, not so much from the price
of the fleece, as from that of the carcase; and the average or ordinary
price of the latter must even, in many cases, make up to him whatever
deficiency there may be in the average or ordinary price of the former.
It has been observed, in the foregoing part of this work, that 'whatever
regulations tend to sink the price, either of wool or of raw hides,
below what it naturally would be, must, in an improved and cultivated
country, have some tendency to raise the price of butcher's meat. The
price, both of the great and small cattle which are fed on improved and
cultivated land, must be sufficient to pay the rent which the landlord,
and the profit which the farmer, has reason to expect from improved
and cultivated land. If it is not, they will soon cease to feed them.
Whatever part of this price, therefore, is not paid by the wool and the
hide, must be paid by the carcase. The less there is paid for the one,
the more must be paid for the other. In what manner this price is to
be divided upon the different parts of the beast, is indifferent to the
landlords and farmers, provided it is all paid to them. In an improved
and cultivated country, therefore, their interest as landlords and
farmers cannot be much affected by such regulations, though their
interest as consumers may, by the rise in the price of provisions.'
According to this reasoning, therefore, this degradation in the price of
wool is not likely, in an improved and cultivated country, to occasion
any diminution in the annual produce of that commodity; except so far
as, by raising the price of mutton, it may somewhat diminish the demand
for, and consequently the production of, that particular species of
butcher's meat, Its effect, however, even in this way, it is probable,
is not very considerable.

But though its effect upon the quantity of the annual produce may not
have been very considerable, its effect upon the quality, it may perhaps
be thought, must necessarily have been very great. The degradation in
the quality of English wool, if not below what it was in former times,
yet below what it naturally would have been in the present state of
improvement and cultivation, must have been, it may perhaps be supposed,
very nearly in proportion to the degradation of price. As the quality
depends upon the breed, upon the pasture, and upon the management and
cleanliness of the sheep, during the whole progress of the growth of the
fleece, the attention to these circumstances, it may naturally enough
be imagined, can never be greater than in proportion to the recompence
which the price of the fleece is likely to make for the labour and
expense which that attention requires. It happens, however, that the
goodness of the fleece depends, in a great measure, upon the health,
growth, and bulk of the animal: the same attention which is necessary
for the improvement of the carcase is, in some respect, sufficient for
that of the fleece. Notwithstanding the degradation of price, English
wool is said to have been improved considerably during the course even
of the present century. The improvement, might, perhaps, have been
greater if the price had been better; but the lowness of price, though
it may have obstructed, yet certainly it has not altogether prevented
that improvement.

The violence of these regulations, therefore, seems to have affected
neither the quantity nor the quality of the annual produce of wool, so
much as it might have been expected to do (though I think it probable
that it may have affected the latter a good deal more than the former);
and the interest of the growers of wool, though it must have been hurt
in some degree, seems upon the whole, to have been much less hurt than
could well have been imagined.

These considerations, however, will not justify the absolute prohibition
of the exportation of wool; but they will fully justify the imposition
of a considerable tax upon that exportation.

To hurt, in any degree, the interest of any one order of citizens,
for no other purpose but to promote that of some other, is evidently
contrary to that justice and equality of treatment which the sovereign
owes to all the different orders of his subjects. But the prohibition
certainly hurts, in some degree, the interest of the growers of wool,
for no other purpose but to promote that of the manufacturers.

Every different order of citizens is bound to contribute to the
support of the sovereign or commonwealth. A tax of five, or even of ten
shillings, upon the exportation of every tod of wool, would produce a
very considerable revenue to the sovereign. It would hurt the interest
of the growers somewhat less than the prohibition, because it would
not probably lower the price of wool quite so much. It would afford a
sufficient advantage to the manufacturer, because, though he might not
buy his wool altogether so cheap as under the prohibition, he would
still buy it at least five or ten shillings cheaper than any foreign
manufacturer could buy it, besides saving the freight and insurance
which the other would be obliged to pay. It is scarce possible to devise
a tax which could produce any considerable revenue to the sovereign, and
at the same time occasion so little inconveniency to anybody.


The prohibition, notwithstanding all the penalties which guard it, does
not prevent the exportation of wool. It is exported, it is well known,
in great quantities. The great difference between the price in the home
and that in the foreign market, presents such a temptation to smuggling,
that all the rigour of the law cannot prevent it. This illegal
exportation is advantageous to nobody but the smuggler. A legal
exportation, subject to a tax, by affording a revenue to the sovereign,
and thereby saving the imposition of some other, perhaps more burdensome
and inconvenient taxes, might prove advantageous to all the different
subjects of the state.

The exportation of fuller's earth, or fuller's clay, supposed to be
necessary for preparing and cleansing the woollen manufactures, has been
subjected to nearly the same penalties as the exportation of wool. Even
tobacco-pipe clay, though acknowledged to be different from fuller's
clay, yet, on account of their resemblance, and because fuller's clay
might sometimes be exported as tobacco-pipe clay, has been laid under
the same prohibitions and penalties.

By the 13th and 14th of Charles II. chap, 7, the exportation, not only
of raw hides, but of tanned leather, except in the shape of boots,
shoes, or slippers, was prohibited; and the law gave a monopoly to our
boot-makers and shoe-makers, not only against our graziers, but against
our tanners. By subsequent statutes, our tanners have got themselves
exempted from this monopoly, upon paying a small tax of only one
shilling on the hundred weight of tanned leather, weighing one
hundred and twelve pounds. They have obtained likewise the drawback of
two-thirds of the excise duties imposed upon their commodity, even when
exported without further manufacture. All manufactures of leather may be
exported duty free; and the exporter is besides entitled to the drawback
of the whole duties of excise. Our graziers still continue subject to
the old monopoly. Graziers, separated from one another, and dispersed
through all the different corners of the country, cannot, without
great difficulty, combine together for the purpose either of imposing
monopolies upon their fellow-citizens, or of exempting themselves from
such as may have been imposed upon them by other people. Manufacturers
of all kinds, collected together in numerous bodies in all great cities,
easily can. Even the horns of cattle are prohibited to be exported; and
the two insignificant trades of the horner and comb-maker enjoy, in this
respect, a monopoly against the graziers.

Restraints, either by prohibitions, or by taxes, upon the exportation
of goods which are partially, but not completely manufactured, are not
peculiar to the manufacture of leather. As long as anything remains
to be done, in order to fit any commodity for immediate use and
consumption, our manufacturers think that they themselves ought to have
the doing of it. Woollen yarn and worsted are prohibited to be exported,
under the same penalties as wool even white cloths we subject to a duty
upon exportation; and our dyers have so far obtained a monopoly against
our clothiers. Our clothiers would probably have been able to defend
themselves against it; but it happens that the greater part of our
principal clothiers are themselves likewise dyers. Watch-cases,
clock-cases, and dial-plates for clocks and watches, have been
prohibited to be exported. Our clock-makers and watch-makers are, it
seems, unwilling that the price of this sort of workmanship should be
raised upon them by the competition of foreigners.

By some old statutes of Edward III, Henry VIII. and Edward VI. the
exportation of all metals was prohibited. Lead and tin were alone
excepted, probably on account of the great abundance of those metals; in
the exportation of which a considerable part of the trade of the kingdom
in those days consisted. For the encouragement of the mining trade, the
5th of William and Mary, chap.17, exempted from this prohibition iron,
copper, and mundic metal made from British ore. The exportation of
all sorts of copper bars, foreign as well as British, was afterwards
permitted by the 9th and 10th of William III. chap 26. The exportation
of unmanufactured brass, of what is called gun-metal, bell-metal, and
shroff metal, still continues to be prohibited. Brass manufactures of
all sorts may be exported duty free.

The exportation of the materials of manufacture, where it is not
altogether prohibited, is, in many cases, subjected to considerable
duties.

By the 8th Geo. I. chap.15, the exportation of all goods, the produce of
manufacture of Great Britain, upon which any duties had been imposed by
former statutes, was rendered duty free. The following goods, however,
were excepted: alum, lead, lead-ore, tin, tanned leather, copperas,
coals, wool, cards, white woollen cloths, lapis calaminaris, skins of
all sorts, glue, coney hair or wool, hares wool, hair of all sorts,
horses, and litharge of lead. If you except horses, all these are either
materials of manufacture, or incomplete manufactures (which may be
considered as materials for still further manufacture), or instruments
of trade. This statute leaves them subject to all the old duties which
had ever been imposed upon them, the old subsidy, and one per cent.
outwards.

By the same statute, a great number of foreign drugs for dyers use are
exempted from all duties upon importation. Each of them, however, is
afterwards subjected to a certain duty, not indeed a very heavy one,
upon exportation. Our dyers, it seems, while they thought it for their
interest to encourage the importation of those drugs, by an exemption
from all duties, thought it likewise for their own interest to throw
some small discouragement upon their exportation. The avidity, however,
which suggested this notable piece of mercantile ingenuity, most
probably disappointed itself of its object. It necessarily taught the
importers to be more careful than they might otherwise have been, that
their importation should not exceed what was necessary for the supply
of the home market. The home market was at all times likely to be
more scantily supplied; the commodities were at all times likely to be
somewhat dearer there than they would have been, had the exportation
been rendered as free as the importation.

By the above-mentioned statute, gum senega, or gum arabic, being among
the enumerated dyeing drugs, might be imported duty free. They
were subjected, indeed, to a small poundage duty, amounting only to
threepence in the hundred weight, upon their re-exportation. France
enjoyed, at that time, an exclusive trade to the country most productive
of those drugs, that which lies in the neighbourhood of the Senegal;
and the British market could not be easily supplied by the immediate
importation of them from the place of growth. By the 25th Geo. II.
therefore, gum senega was allowed to be imported (contrary to the
general dispositions of the act of navigation) from any part of Europe.
As the law, however, did not mean to encourage this species of trade, so
contrary to the general principles of the mercantile policy of England,
it imposed a duty of ten shillings the hundred weight upon such
importation, and no part of this duty was to be afterwards drawn back
upon its exportation. The successful war which began in 1755 gave Great
Britain the same exclusive trade to those countries which France
had enjoyed before. Our manufactures, as soon as the peace was made,
endeavoured to avail themselves of this advantage, and to establish a
monopoly in their own favour both against the growers and against the
importers of this commodity. By the 5th of Geo. III. therefore, chap.
37, the exportation of gum senega, from his majesty's dominions in
Africa, was confined to Great Britain, and was subjected to all the same
restrictions, regulations, forfeitures, and penalties, as that of the
enumerated commodities of the British colonies in America and the
West Indies. Its importation, indeed, was subjected to a small duty of
sixpence the hundred weight; but its re-exportation was subjected to the
enormous duty of one pound ten shillings the hundred weight. It was
the intention of our manufacturers, that the whole produce of those
countries should be imported into Great Britain; and in order that they
themselves might be enabled to buy it at their own price, that no
part of it should be exported again, but at such an expense as would
sufficiently discourage that exportation. Their avidity, however, upon
this, as well as upon many other occasions, disappointed itself of its
object. This enormous duty presented such a temptation to smuggling,
that great quantities of this commodity were clandestinely exported,
probably to all the manufacturing countries of Europe, but particularly
to Holland, not only from Great Britain, but from Africa. Upon this
account, by the 14th Geo. III. chap.10, this duty upon exportation was
reduced to five shillings the hundred weight.

In the book of rates, according to which the old subsidy was levied,
beaver skins were estimated at six shillings and eight pence a piece;
and the different subsidies and imposts which, before the year 1722,
had been laid upon their importation, amounted to one-fifth part of the
rate, or to sixteen pence upon each skin; all of which, except half
the old subsidy, amounting only to twopence, was drawn back upon
exportation. This duty, upon the importation of so important a material
of manufacture, had been thought too high; and, in the year 1722, the
rate was reduced to two shillings and sixpence, which reduced the duty
upon importation to sixpence, and of this only one-half was to be drawn
back upon exportation. The same successful war put the country most
productive of beaver under the dominion of Great Britain; and beaver
skins being among the enumerated commodities, the exportation from
America was consequently confined to the market of Great Britain. Our
manufacturers soon bethought themselves of the advantage which they
might make of this circumstance; and in the year 1764, the duty upon the
importation of beaver skin was reduced to one penny, but the duty upon
exportation was raised to sevenpence each skin, without any drawback of
the duty upon importation. By the same law, a duty of eighteen pence the
pound was imposed upon the exportation of beaver wool or woumbs,
without making any alteration in the duty upon the importation of that
commodity, which, when imported by British, and in British shipping,
amounted at that time to between fourpence and fivepence the piece.

Coals may be considered both as a material of manufacture, and as an
instrument of trade. Heavy duties, accordingly, have been imposed
upon their exportation, amounting at present (1783) to more than
five shillings the ton, or more than fifteen shillings the chaldron,
Newcastle measure; which is, in most cases, more than the original
value of the commodity at the coal-pit, or even at the shipping port for
exportation.

The exportation, however, of the instruments of trade, properly so
called, is commonly restrained, not by high duties, but by absolute
prohibitions. Thus, by the 7th and 8th of William III chap.20, sect.8,
the exportation of frames or engines for knitting gloves or stockings,
is prohibited, under the penalty, not only of the forfeiture of such
frames or engines, so exported, or attempted to be exported, but of
forty pounds, one half to the king, the other to the person who shall
inform or sue for the same. In the same manner, by the 14th Geo. III.
chap. 71, the exportation to foreign parts, of any utensils made use
of in the cotton, linen, woollen, and silk manufactures, is prohibited
under the penalty, not only of the forfeiture of such utensils, but of
two hundred pounds, to be paid by the person who shall offend in this
manner; and likewise of two hundred pounds, to be paid by the master of
the ship, who shall knowingly suffer such utensils to be loaded on board
his ship.

When such heavy penalties were imposed upon the exportation of the dead
instruments of trade, it could not well be expected that the living
instrument, the artificer, should be allowed to go free. Accordingly, by
the 5th Geo. I. chap. 27, the person who shall be convicted of enticing
any artificer, of or in any of the manufactures of Great Britain, to
go into any foreign parts, in order to practise or teach his trade, is
liable, for the first offence, to be fined in any sum not exceeding one
hundred pounds, and to three months imprisonment, and until the fine
shall be paid; and for the second offence, to be fined in any sum, at
the discretion of the court, and to imprisonment for twelve months, and
until the fine shall be paid. By the 23d Geo. II. chap. 13, this penalty
is increased, for the first offence, to five hundred pounds for every
artificer so enticed, and to twelve months imprisonment, and until the
fine shall be paid; and for the second offence, to one thousand pounds,
and to two years imprisonment, and until the fine shall be paid.

By the former of these two statutes, upon proof that any person has been
enticing any artificer, or that any artificer has promised or contracted
to go into foreign parts, for the purposes aforesaid, such artificer
may be obliged to give security, at the discretion of the court, that
he shall not go beyond the seas, and may be committed to prison until he
give such security.

If any artificer has gone beyond the seas, and is exercising or teaching
his trade in any foreign country, upon warning being given to him by any
of his majesty's ministers or consuls abroad, or by one of his majesty's
secretaries of state, for the time being, if he does not, within six
months after such warning, return into this realm, and from henceforth
abide and inhabit continually within the same, he is from thenceforth
declared incapable of taking any legacy devised to him within this
kingdom, or of being executor or administrator to any person, or of
taking any lands within this kingdom, by descent, devise, or purchase.
He likewise forfeits to the king all his lands, goods, and chattels;
is declared an alien in every respect; and is put out of the king's
protection.

It is unnecessary, I imagine, to observe how contrary such regulations
are to the boasted liberty of the subject, of which we affect to be so
very jealous; but which, in this case, is so plainly sacrificed to the
futile interests of our merchants and manufacturers.

The laudable motive of all these regulations, is to extend our own
manufactures, not by their own improvement, but by the depression of
those of all our neighbours, and by putting an end, as much as possible,

to the troublesome competition of such odious and disagreeable rivals.
Our master manufacturers think it reasonable that they themselves should
have the monopoly of the ingenuity of all their countrymen. Though by
restraining, in some trades, the number of apprentices which can
be employed at one time, and by imposing the necessity of a long
apprenticeship in all trades, they endeavour, all of them, to confine
the knowledge of their respective employments to as small a number
as possible; they are unwilling, however, that any part of this small
number should go abroad to instruct foreigners.

Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the
interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may
be necessary for promoting that of the consumer.

The maxim is so perfectly self-evident, that it would be absurd to
attempt to prove it. But in the mercantile system, the interest of the
consumer is almost constantly sacrificed to that of the producer; and it
seems to consider production, and not consumption, as the ultimate end
and object of all industry and commerce.

In the restraints upon the importation of all foreign commodities which
can come into competition with those of our own growth or manufacture,
the interest of the home consumer is evidently sacrificed to that of
the producer. It is altogether for the benefit of the latter, that the
former is obliged to pay that enhancement of price which this monopoly
almost always occasions.

It is altogether for the benefit of the producer, that bounties are
granted upon the exportation of some of his productions. The home
consumer is obliged to pay, first the tax which is necessary for paying
the bounty; and, secondly, the still greater tax which necessarily
arises from the enhancement of the price of the commodity in the home
market.

By the famous treaty of commerce with Portugal, the consumer is
prevented by duties from purchasing of a neighbouring country, a
commodity which our own climate does not produce; but is obliged to
purchase it of a distant country, though it is acknowledged, that the
commodity of the distant country is of a worse quality than that of the
near one. The home consumer is obliged to submit to this inconvenience,
in order that the producer may import into the distant country some of
his productions, upon more advantageous terms than he otherwise would
have been allowed to do. The consumer, too, is obliged to pay whatever
enhancement in the price of those very productions this forced
exportation may occasion in the home market.

But in the system of laws which has been established for the management
of our American and West Indian colonies, the interest of the home
consumer has been sacrificed to that of the producer, with a more
extravagant profusion than in all our other commercial regulations. A
great empire has been established for the sole purpose of raising up a
nation of customers, who should be obliged to buy, from the shops of our
different producers, all the goods with which these could supply them.
For the sake of that little enhancement of price which this monopoly
might afford our producers, the home consumers have been burdened with
the whole expense of maintaining and defending that empire. For this
purpose, and for this purpose only, in the two last wars, more than two
hundred millions have been spent, and a new debt of more than a hundred
and seventy millions has been contracted, over and above all that had
been expended for the same purpose in former wars. The interest of
this debt alone is not only greater than the whole extraordinary profit
which, it never could be pretended, was made by the monopoly of the
colony trade, but than the whole value of that trade, or than the whole
value of the goods which, at an average, have been annually exported to
the colonies.

It cannot be very difficult to determine who have been the contrivers of
this whole mercantile system; not the consumers, we may believe, whose
interest has been entirely neglected; but the producers, whose interest
has been so carefully attended to; and among this latter class, our
merchants and manufacturers have been by far the principal architects.
In the mercantile regulations which have been taken notice of in this
chapter, the interest of our manufacturers has been most peculiarly
attended to; and the interest, not so much of the consumers, as that of
some other sets of producers, has been sacrificed to it.





Next: Of The Agricultural Systems Or Of Those Systems Of Political Economy Which Represent The Produce Of Land

Previous: Of Colonies



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