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never can possibly be realized. But if we suppose 100 millions of sovereigns, in addition to what we now have in circulation, to be permanently retained in the country, (which is something like supposing the case of the law of gravitation being no more,) our gold coin would on that hypothesis be, as far as regards foreign commerce, a nonentity; we should be in the condition of the Spartans with their iron money, or the Negroes with their couries; and our intercourse with the rest of the world would be carried on by a more or less circuitous barter. Let us imagine, (and no less extravagant supposition will serve our turn,) either that the sovereigns were subjected to some chemical operation, which should prevent their being melted down, except by some tedious and expensive process, or that a religious scruple against either exporting or melting them down were universally prevalent; it might then be worth a merchant's while to purchase in England, for 100 sovereigns, hardware or broad cloth, which would sell in France for a sum in French currency containing only as much gold, suppose, as 70 sovereigns, but with which he might there purchase wines that, when brought to England, would sell for 120 sovereigns; the real and ultimate transaction being, in fact, the exchange of the hardware, or broad cloth, for the wine. Something of the kind did actually take place, probably in many instances, during the depreciation of our paper currency. It might at that time answer very well to export commodities to a foreign country in which they should be sold for a price less than they had nominally cost in England, but which would purchase abroad articles that would sell here at a price which would render the transaction advantageous. The only result, therefore, would be, on the hypothesis before us, that we should have parted with 100 millions' worth of commodities, in exchange for the advantage of loading our pockets with an additional weight of metal, to make the same purchases as before.
This object, then, the summum bonum of the mercantile system, which makes wealth synonymous with money, and the great end proposed by bounties and restrictions of all kinds, being ascertained to be one which would be noxious, if it could be attained, which cannot be attained, and the vain pursuit of which deprives us (like the dog in the fable) of real advantages, it would seem, at first sight, to follow inevitably, that the wisest policy would be, to leave trade perfectly unfettered, and trust the care of national wealth to the exertions of individuals in the pursuit of their own.
The author notices three cases, and it will be found, we think, impossible to find out any other, in which an interference with the natural freedom of trade may be defended, without reference to the mercantile theory. First, When national security is the object: Secondly, To prevent loss to individuals, who would be sufferers by a change of system; and, thirdly, Where the revenue is concerned.
Duties are imposed on many, both foreign and domestic productions, with the sole view of providing for the exigencies of the state; and when any domestic production, as hops, or glass, is taxed, a countervailing duty, as it is called, is imposed on the foreign article, to preserve the domestic producer from an unequal competition. And as long as the duty is strictly countervailing, and no more, the procedure is evidently no violation of the principles of free trade, but an application of them.
With respect to the other two cases, the regard for the interest of the individuals embarked in each particular occupation is the cause which has probably operated the most strongly in producing and upholding our commercial restrictions—the dread of insecure dependence on foreigners, that which has tended the most to reconcile the public at large to these restrictions. As for the first, it is plain, that though private loss and inconvenience should be guarded against or alleviated, as far as is consistent with the public welfare, an attention to this point, if carried far, would cut off the possibility of all improvements, since none can take place without some individual detriment. The watermen petitioned against hackney coaches on their first introduction; and many industrious copyists must at first have been thrown out of employ by the use of printing, which, on that account, is at this day prohibited by the Turks.
The extent to which claims of this kind have been advanced and admitted, constitutes one of the most remarkable things in the history of Political Economy. The smallest and most doubtful benefits to a few, have, in many instances, been allowed to outweigh the greatest and most certain loss to the many. That the mass of the community should take a false view of their own future interests, is very conceivable; but in the present case the benefit or the loss is immediate. The chief cause of this acquiescence is, (as is remarked in the Lectures before us,) that the loss is diffused, and the benefit concentrated. The aggregate loss may be very great, but each individual of several millions may bear but a small share of it; the total gain may be comparatively trifling in itself, (always much less than the whole loss to the public,) but being divided among perhaps a few hundreds only, may be to them something considerable; while a community of occupations and interests enables them to collect their force, and to act in concert in defence of the system that favours them. If (for our sins) some ingenious system of culture had been devised, which had enabled us to produce in this country wine and cotton nearly equal in quality to the foreign, and not above 20 or 30 per cent dearer, we should infallibly have had meetings of cotton-growers and wine-growers to petition against the free admission of those articles from abroad; and though their own extra profit would not probably amount to one-tenth of what the public would lose by such a restriction, (the rest of the enhanced price being eaten up by the expenses of cultivation,) the consumers would probably submit to the loss, from fear of being accused of • discouraging domestic industry,' and for the comfort of being 'no longer dependent on foreign'ers' for wine and cotton.
National security, however, will seldom, if ever, dictate to an enlightened statesman a recourse to commercial restriction. As far as commercial intercourse renders us dependent on a foreign state, it necessarily renders that state, on the other hand, dependent on us. Nor should it be imagined, that if the one country is accustomed to import from another the most essential articles, such as corn, and to export in return only superfluous luxuries, she is therefore, in any sound sense, more dependent on the nation affording those supplies, than that nation is on her. 'Our de
• pendence on the Baltic States for the principal materials of 'our navy, (timber and hemp,) a dependence carrying a peculiar
• appearance of insecurity, never seemed to diminish our strength
* during war,' because the articles can be procured either circuitously, or from other quarters; while • the dependence on
* England of the Russian landholders for their rents, made peace 'with us absolutely essential to them;' and ydt Russia produces within itself an abundant supply of the bare necessaries of life; and the well-known name of the 'Sugar and Coffee War,' sufficiently indicates what description of articles formed the subject of that commerce, about which the dispute turned between Bonaparte and the Russians. We are, in fact, at this moment, more dependent on China than on any other country; or than we should be on that, if, instead of tea, we were supplied by it with wheat; not that tea is by any means so indispensable as bread, but because corn might be imported from many other countries, and tea only from China.
Mr Senior introduces, in his last Lecture, what we agree with him in calling,
* The most important document on the science of trade which has ever been made public,—the Petition of the British Merchants presented to Parliament in May, 1820. That Petition conveys the deliberate judgment of the first commercial members of the greatest commercial country that exists, or ever has existed. It conveys their judgment upon facts constantly before their eyes; complains of evils by which they must have been principally affected; and points out remedies, of which the experiment was to De tried on themselves.'
We have only room to extract the concluding clause of this petition, together with the opinion expressed on the matter of it by the lamented statesman to whom it was submitted.
« " It Is Against Every Restrictive Regulation Of Trade Not Essential To The Revenue, Against All Duties Merely Protective From Foreign Competition, And Against The Excess Of Such DuTies As Are Partly For The Purpose Of Revenue And Partly For That Of Protection, That The Prayer Of The Present Petition Is Respectfully Submitted To The Wisdom Of Parliament.
'" Your petitioners, therefore, humbly pray, that your Honourable House will be pleased to take the subject into consideration, and to adopt such measures as may be calculated to give greater freedom to foreign commerce, and thereby to increase the resources of the state."
'I cannot resist the temptation of adding, though it must be unnecessary, to the testimony of the petitioners, that of one of the wisest and most patriotic statesmen whose services this country has ever enjoyed,—of that excellent and enlightened man whom disease has now snatched from the national councils. Before this petition was presented to Parliament, it was submitted to Lord Liverpool, by a deputation of the most eminent of the petitioners. Lord Liverpool read it aloud to them, probably to mark that no part of its contents could have escaped his notice, and then added—" That, With Every Senti
MENT AND EVERY PRINCIPLE CONTAINED IN THE PETITION HE FULLY AND UNRESERVEDLY AGREED, AND THAT IF HE WERE THEN TO FORM A COMMERCIAL CODE, THOSE WERE THE PRINCIPLES ON WHICH HE WOULD ESTABLISH IT."'
We are sensible that no authority can make false doctrines true, or can supersede the resort to reasoning as to such as are doubtful; but it surely is not too much to expect, that such authorities as these should at least call that serious attention to the principles maintained, which could not be claimed by the epheIncral speculations of nameless theorists; and that arguments which have remained unrefuted since the time of Adam Smith, and which in the interval have decided the opinions of able and impartial judges, should at length be either satisfactorily answered, or jrractically admitted.
Whether the conclusions in the publications before us be fundamentally correct, or are open to valid objections, at all events the author will have dune good service, if he shall have succeeded in awakening an interest, in new quarters, on the important subjects discussed—and induced others, by his example, to treat of them with the same manly fairness, and freedom from the narrow views of party politics.
Art. VIII.—Second Memoir on Babylon, conlabmig an Enquiry into the Correspondence between the ancient Descriptions of Babylon, and the Remains still visible on the site. By Claudius James Rich, Esq. 8vo. Longman and Co. and Murray. Loudon, 1818. pp. 58.
|"n the year 1815, Mr Rich, at that time British Resident at .*. Bagdad, published a Memoir upon the Ruins of Babylon, in an Oriental literary journal, printed at Vienna, and called Les Mines de POrietU. An English edition of this Memoir was shortly afterwards published in London. It contained the results of Mr Rich's first visit to the ruins of Babylon, illustrated by very accurate drawings, plans, and measurements, but without any speculations of the author, or any attempt to dogmatize, or establish a theory upon the topography of that ancient city. It was drawn up with remarkable clearness, and may be considered as the first authentic account which modern times have produced of the remains of Babylon. Notwithstanding its great modesty and merit, it had the misfortune to excite the indignation of Major Rennell, the justly celebrated author of the Geography of Herodotus; who somewhat confounded commentary with controversy, when he put forth a paper in the Archrcologia, for the purpose of • vindicating the truth and con'sistency of ancient history, as well as his own account of Ba* bylon, in the Geography of Herodotus,' • which ho conceived to have been unjustly impugned by the statements and discoveries of Mr Rich. In consequence of this attack, Mr Rich was induced to publish a second Memoir, in which he has confirmed, by further observations, the accuracy of his former account, and met the objections of Major Rennell with a spirit of candour, which places him in a most amiable point of view, —at the sa&e time, that no one can rise from the perusal of his Memoir, without being satisfied that he is a careful and unprejudiced observer, whose accuracy, in all respects, may be perfectly relied upon.
The great object of Mr Rich, in both his Memoirs, has been simply to describe the ruins which ho visited, under circumstances which his official situation at Bagdad rendered pecu
♦ Remarks on the Topography of Ancient Babylon, suggested by the recent Observations and Discoveries of C. .1. Rich, Esq. Communicated to the Society of Antiquaries, by Major Rennell. Archeeologia. London, 1816. pp. 22.