« PreviousContinue »
hundred pound, cannot shoot a partridge even on a field they might own in fee simple; and who if they be not freeholders have no votes in the election of those, who are to make the laws. Our factories will be principally filled by the daughters of very respectable farmers, who come for a few years to earn a sum of money toward a virtuous and honorable establishment in life. The system must become corrupt sooner than we think it possible in the American community, or it will be long before our factories resemble the English. We have as good proofs as the circumstances of the case admit, that more than one cotton factory in that country unites within its walls a greater complication of human vice and suffering, than can elsewhere on earth perhaps be found; the liberty of a prison, the leisure of a workhouse, the health of a hospital, and the chastity of a harem. This will not do here. Our manufacturers will have more moral as well as physical oxygen in their atmosphere. Till the friends of the tariff policy can produce us an example of a manufacture abroad, which comes up to the American notions of the condition of those, who, doing the work of society are entitled, if not to its luxuries, at least to its comforts, we shall persist in saying that manufactures do not flourish abroad.
In the next place, while we are zealously quoting the example of foreign nations in this system, the statesmen of England are acknowledging its vicious principle, and, as fast as circumstances admit, are changing it for a more liberal one. The proofs of this position in Mr Webster's speech are so ample, confirmed as they have been by every subsequent arrival from Europe, that we shall not dwell on the topic. It is with pain that we see the Chairman of the Committee reasserting that no proof was found of this proposition, beyond a few detached speeches; and repeating what we must needs esteem the paltry suggestion, that this change of doctrines was only deceptively proclaimed in order to mislead foreign nations. We will only ask what the American public would think and say, if the chairman of an important committee of the House of Commons in England, should intimate that one of the cabinet officers of America, in the deliberate commendation of any particular policy, had no object but to deceive foreign governments into an adoption of it?
VOL. XIX.-No. 44.
The last remark, which we have to make on the subject of imitating the foreign policy is this, that if no other reason existed why it could not or should not be imitated; if all that we have said to show that the system does not attain its objects abroad were groundless; it would still remain true, that in the most important circumstance bearing upon this subject, the position of America is so different from that of Europe, that her example cannot wisely be followed by us. We refer, of course, to the abundance and cheapness of land here, and to its scarcity and dearness in Europe. This point would admit a very copious illustration, but we will try to respect the patience of our readers. We would only observe that the least parallelism exists between that foreign country and ours, where the greatest has been alleged by the friends of the tariff, viz. between Russia and America. Russia is indeed vast, but that is not enough to produce a resemblance with America. By the latest authorities, the mass of the civilised population, that is, the population exclusive of Cosacks and Tartars, in European Russia, presents the enormous contrast of twenty four millions of serfs, bought and sold with the soil, and less than two millions of all classes of free population. In 1783 the number of free male persons was one million eighty four thousand four hundred and eighty six, and the number of male serfs, eleven million three hundred and fifty two thousand eight hundred and forty two. It is plain that, in such a state of things, though the Russian government could add to its possessions, already sizeable, those other wide tracts, which captain Symmes has discovered in its neighborhood, no encouragement could result to settlement, and no comparison be authorised in this respect between Russia and the United States.
Our limits do not permit us to engage in anything like a discussion of the general question of the tariff policy, and we shall only trespass farther on the reader's patience, with a cursory notice of a few separate arguments.
It is objected, and of course with justice, to the tariff policy, that its immediate effect is to give the domestic manufacturer the monopoly of the fabric. To this, however, the friends of the tariff reply, that this effect is only temporary, and that the speedy and final effect will be, by drawing capital into the protected manufacture, to destroy monopoly and
bring the price down to its natural level, and a sentiment pretended to amount to this has been quoted a few hundred times from general Hamilton's Report. The delusion, however, is so gross, that we can scarce suppose any one should be the victim of it himself, or impose it on another. Nothing is more true than that competition will soon destroy the monopoly, which those manufacturers possess, who are at work when the foreign article is shut out; but will it destroy the monopoly of the American manufacturer as such? Will not the whole supply be engrossed by him? But still we are told capital will flow in to the employment if profitable, and the price will come down to the natural level. No doubt, to the natural level of this country, and no lower; and this natural level in America will, in almost every article, be higher than the natural level in England, or France, or Russia, and for the reasons of which we have given some above. It will be as much higher, as capital is less abundant, land plentier, the style of living and place in society better among the American than the foreign manufacturers. In short, the country will be permanently taxed a sum amounting to all the difference of the cost of producing an article in this country and bringing it from abroad. And this, for a long time, will be considerable in most articles, and in some it will be always greater or less, unless we are hereafter to have our happy country filled up with the mournful spectacle of an English, French, or Russian peasantry.
Another argument made use of by the friends of the tariff policy is, that the manufacturing interest requires that protection, which, in the form of discriminating duties, has been extended to the shipping interest, till lately in both branches, and still in the coasting trade. This argument, however, assumes what we can never allow to be a fact, that these discriminating duties were intended merely to secure to the navigation of the country the supply of the demand for water carriage. As it is the great end of the English navigation act, so it has been the true policy of our discriminating duties, to nourish the mercantile, for the sake of the naval marine. It ought to be put on no other ground, and it can be defended on no other. If there were any reasonable probability, that the naval strength of this country could be kept in a condition, required by our safety and honor, without that encouragement
of our shipping, which the discriminating duties afford, they ought not to subsist one hour. These duties are defended on precisely the same ground as the establishment of national factories for the supply of arms, and on the principle that the public defence must be secured at any sacrifice.
For ourselves, we can truly say, that we think the principle laid down in the much quoted letter of Mr Jefferson to the late Mr Benjamin Austin, the sound principle; and by no means at variance with the passages in the Notes on Virginia, which it was intended to modify or explain. Prove of any fabric that it can fairly be called a necessary, or comfort of life, for which the country is dependent on a foreign and unfriendly nation; prove that it is essential to the honor and independence of the country, that it flourish on our soil, and we should be the first to protect it up to the prohibition of the foreign article. For all the rest, we think that private judgment should be the guide. We have no doubt that the home market is the better market; and as little that the nation is the richer, for the greater variety of employments pursued by its citizens. But we maintain, that these cannot be profitably introduced by legislative enactments; that neither in the form of a tariff, nor in any other form, is it in the power of Congress to enact the country into riches, faster than the natural course of industry, and the natural increase of capital can acquire them. And above all, we strenuously deny, that the country can become rich by compelling consumers, (the great mass,) to pay a greater amount of their labor or its fruits for the same necessary or convenience.
Meantime the republic is safe. The bill as it passed is divested of many injurious provisions; and if it had not been, had it passed as reported, the country would still be safe. It would in that case have been our opinion, that a majority of Congress, and by inference a majority of the citizens had willed an injudicious law; a law laying a heavy tax, without any general advantage. But that would not ruin us; nothing, while our free institutions remain, can fatally affect us. Neither foreign hostility, domestic feuds, nor legislative errors, can fatally injure us, while the representative system exists in its present purity. We may commit errors, and pay dearly for them, and doubtless shall. But if a law is pernicious it will soon be repealed, and though repealing a bad law does not
always undo its bad effects, nor take place without new sacrifices, yet that is a truly enviable condition of human existence, where either errors will not be committed, or the power of correcting them is in the hands of those who suffer. The American nation is in that condition, and before it can cease to be so, many things worse than a heavy tariff must be borne; and when it ceases to be so, the liberty of trade will not be worth saving.
ART. XIII.-MISCELLANEOUS NOTICES.
1.—Boston Prize Poems, and other Specimens of Dramatic Poetry. Boston. 1824.
THS little work comprises a selection from the poems, presented during the last winter to the managers of the Boston Theatre for the prize, proposed by them on the occasion of a Jubilee in honor of Shakspeare. Several of these compositions are very respectable; and the Ode marked No. 1, may be thought by some not to fall far short of that which obtained the premium. Mr Sprague, the successful candidate, gained the prizes both in Philadelphia and New York, for the best prologue on the opening of the theatres lately erected there. We believe that there were more than twenty candidates in each of these cases. The chance is against any man's writing good poetry upon a trite subject, and one not selected by himself. But to have succeeded thrice in such a trial is more than could be expected to happen to any poet. There is good fortune as well as desert in it; the judges may be all men of discernment; but there is such a difficulty in coming to an agreement in matters of mere taste, and the standard is so loose and various, that the chances of repeated success are much against any one individual, whatever may be his talents.
The Ode of Mr Sprague opens with an invocation to the 'God of the glorious lyre. The second stanza setting forth the invasion of the northern barbarians is highly picturesque.
Fierce from the frozen north,
O'er learning's sunny groves the dark destroyers spread;
In dust the sacred statue slept,
Fair science round her altars wept,
And wisdom cowled his head.