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LITERATURE, AMUSEMENT, AND GENERAL INFORMATION.
SATURDAY, APRIL 30, 1825.
Up and away! 'tis a holiday!
To the May-bowers;
The banks with flowers.
His early light;
At the glad sight.
Gaieties and Gravities.
appointing, when the earth, dressing herself up in (lowers and green garlands, calls aloud to her children to come out into the fields, and participate in her merry-mak-* ing." The sports of the day were formerly shared by all ranks of people; and Stow informs us, that Henry VIII! and his beauteous queen used to rise with the sun on May morning, to partake of May-day sports, and afterwards diverted themselves with shooting birds in the woods, and in rustic festivity consumed the evening. Shakspeare says, it was impossible to make the people sleep on May-eve, and that they rose early to observe the rite of May :—
"If thou lovest me, then,
Steal forth thy father's house to-morrow night;
And in the wood a league-without the town,
Where I did meet thee once with Helena,
To do observance to a morn of May,
There will I stay for thee."
In London, the May-game pageants were supported with great spirit; the citizens used to sally out in the morning a Maying, and return with the spoils of the fields and woods, accompanied with archers, morris-dancers, and other shows. Every ""parish, and sometimes two, rised to join, and have their May-pole: one was erected in the middle of the street, before the church of St. Andrew Undershaft, of such height, that it over-topped the steeple; and hence it was that the parish, which was originally called St. Andrew only, acquired the addition of Undershaft. A lord and lady of the May were chosen to preside over the sports :—
"The May-pole is up,
Now, give me the cup,
But first unto those
Whose hands did compose
"One can readily imagine," says Mr. Irving, " what a gay scene it must have been in jolly old London, when the doors were decorated with flowering branches, wheu every hat was decorated with hawthorn; and Robin Hood, friar Tuck, Maid Marian, the morris dancers, and all the other fantastic masks and revellers, were performing their antics about the Maypole in every part of the city." On this occasion we are told Robin Hood presided as lord of the May,—
"With coat of Lincoln green, and mantle,
*eo,"' • •- -
And horn of ivory mouth, and buckle
And arrows winged with peacock feathers light, And trusty bow well gathered of the yew;"
whilst near, crowned as lady of the May, Maid Marian—
"With eyes of blue Shining through dusky air, like stars of
night, And habited in pretty forest plight— His greenwood beauty sits, young as the dew."
And there, too, in 9. subsequent stage of the pageant, were— .
"The archer-men in green, with belt
and bow, Feasting on pheasant, river-fowl, and
swan, With Robin at their head and Marian."
One " evil May-day," however, occurred, and never again did May morning come wreathed to the citizens in its usual Smiles. In consequence of an insurrection that broke out in London on May-eve, 1517, the sports of May-day were long suspended; nor were they ever after more than partially resumed. The " great shaft of Cornhill " was not once erected after that event; and thirty-two years later was broken in pieces, at the instigation of a fanatic priest, who insisted that the inhabitants had made an idol of it, by sainting it along with the church.
Without being bigoted admirers of the rough and riotous sports of antiquity, one cannot help regretting the innocent and fanciful festival of May-day has fallen into disuse. "It seems," as an elegant writer observes, "appropriate to the verdant and pastoral country of England, and well calculated 10 light up the tofe pervading gravity of the nation." In Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and, indeed, most countries, some traces of May-day customs still prevail; but as to Jack in the Green in the South, it is too great a burlesque of the old pageant to be, tolerated."
A favourite dish in South America is a whole sheep, lamb, or pig, with tbft wool or hair cut off as close as possible, stuffed with turkeys, fowls, ducks, game, ham, vegetables, &c. which they then sew up and bake in an oven,
MB. M-CULLOCH'S LECTURES.
Mistaken Notions of the Value of Gold and Silver—Mr. Mun's Errors—All Traffic profitable—Fallacy in mode of estimating the Balance of Trade—Free Trade with France advantageous — Complaints of Scarcity of Money usually unfounded.
The ouce prevalent opinion, that wealth consists exclusively of gold and silver, naturally grew out of the circumstance of the money of all civilized countries being almost entirely formed of these metals. The simple and decisive consideration, that all buying and selling is really nothing more than the bartering of one commodity for another was overlooked: the attention was gradually transferred from the money's worth to the money itself, and the wealth of states and individuals was estimated by the quantity of the precious rnetals in their possession. Hence the universal policy of attempting to increase the amount of national wealth, by forbidding the exportation of gold and silver, and encouraging their importation.
The principle of the Mercantile System was founded entirely on the policy of promoting an excess of the exports above the imports; so as to produce what is termed, a favourable balance of trade. The excess of exports, it was taken for granted, could not be balanced otherwise than by the importation of an equal value of gold or silver, or of the only real wealth it was supposed a country could possess.
Mr. Mun, in a work entitled "England's Treasure in Foreign Trade," was the great expounder of this system. He contended, that in our commercial pursuits we must ever observe this rule—" to sell more to strangers yearly than we consume of theirs in value;" "because," said he, " that part of our stock which is not returned to us in wares, must necessarily be brought home in treasure." Thus his idea of the gain resulting from foreign commerce was limited entirely to the precious metals, which, it was conceived, must necessarily be brought home in exchange'for the exported commodities. Mr. Mun laid no stress on the circumstance of commerce enabling us to obtain an infinite variety of useful products, which it would
either have been impossible for us to produce at all, or so cheaply at home. The great business of the merchant, however, is conveying commodities from places where they are plenteous to those where there is a scarcity. All traffic is really profitable to all the parties concerned. A merchant never exports a single article without receiving, not only the price it has cost him in producing it, but also a profit on his capital. It follows, then, that the gain on the whole commerce of a country, being made up of the gain of each individual merchant, that every community must be really enriched to the extent of its commercial dealings: and so far is it from being true, that public wealth augments in proportion to its excess of exports, that it really augments in proportion to excess of imports.
The custom-house returns are at best a fallacious test of the state of commercial transactions. The custom-house valuations are made according to a rate fixed so far back as 1686, and consequently incorrectly represent the present value of commodities. Besides, it is known that merchants frequently conceal the amount of their imports, to evade the duties; while, on the other hand, the amount of exports is frequently exaggerated for the benefit of the drawbacks. The United States of America form a satisfactory answer to the dogmas of the meyantile theory, for her imports have uniformly exceeded her exports. Mr.M'Culloch here illustrated how America was enabled constantly to import, according to the official returns, more than she exported. Freightage formed a considerable item in the price of commodities exported from America,and which was not included in the entries of the custom-house, but for which she received articles in exchange from other countries.
The lecturer next showed, that a balance of payments between two countries' is seldom remitted in bullion. Suppose a debt owing; it will be paid at the lowest possible sacrifice, and whether in bullion, corn, or cloth, will depend on the relative prices of these commodities in the two countries, and the cost at which it can be transported. The argument about a balance of trade confutes itself. The exports of the country, according to official returns, have for years exceeded the imports; if the balance of payments had been remitted in bullion, then we ought to have five hundred and sixty millions of specie in the country, instead of thirtyfive millions,—about the present amount. It is difficult to estimate the mischief which has arisen from the prevalence of erroneous notions on the balance of trade,'
„' T %
In the reigrt of William and Mary a great clamour was raised against the trade with France, owing to a supposed unfavourable balance; it was said we were annually paying a great amount to our mortal enemy. Whereas, all restrictions on our intercourse with France are injurious. If a pipe of wine can be purchased cheaper in Fiance than Oporto, the former ought to be preferred: the cheapest and the nearest market, when the commodity is equally good, is always the best.
It is argued, that the principle of free trade cannot be adopted till other countries remove their restrictions. To repeal duties on silks and cambrics, \i is thought, would only cause a drain of the precious metals. Practical politicians, from William and Mary, have urged similar "objections against the trade to the East Indies, because our exports to that country consisted .chiefly of bullion. But if we obtain for our bullion in the east, commodities which we can afterwards exchange in China or Europe, for other products of which we need, and at a cheaper rate than we can produce them, the country is clearly benefited by the transaction. Exactly the same reasoning applies to France. But the fact is, little of our debt to that country is paid in specie. The expenditure of English families in France, since the peace.Jias probably amounted to five or six millions'; a great part of which has been remitted by drafts upon Holland.
A country will never want bullion that has commodities to give in exchange for it. All regulations to retain the precious metals are nugatory, and have been compared by some writer (we did not catch the name) to attempts to hedge in the cuckoo. All the sanguinary laws of Spain and Portugal were not able to keep their gold and silver at home. The continual importations from Peru and Brazil exceeded the demand of these countries, and sunk the price of these metals below the general market price in other countries.—No complaints so common as a scarcity of money; but it is not money, but the means of obtaining it, that forms the real desideratum. Money, like wine, must always be scarce with those who have neither wherewithal to buy it nor credit to borrow it. A poor man says he wants money, but he means he wants the necessaries money will procure. The difficulties of the merchant do not arise from scarcity of money, but of the equivalents by which it may be obtained. From the fluctuations of fashion, and other causes, there may sometimes be a scarcity of money, and an excess of commodities. The late distress of the agriculturists arose from a superabundance.
of corn, when money was more plentiful than ever known.
Mr. M'Culloch concluded this part of his subject by remarking, that a country may possess wealth without a single ounce of gold or silver. He had, in his former lectures, shown that a community would be enriched by banishing the precious metals from circulation. Some writers had distinguished between the precious metals and other commodities. Gold and silver, it was argued, may be accumulated and preserved for ages together, while other products are less durable, and consequently it is politic to augment the former in preference to the latter. This idea has been well ridiculed by Dr. Smith. We do not reckon, he observes, that trade is disadvantageous which consists in the exchange of the hardware of England for the wines of France, and yet hardware is a very durable commodity, and, were it not for exportation, might be accumulated for ages together, to the incredibje augmentation of the pots and pans of the country. But it readily occurs that the number of such utensils is in every country limited by the use which is there for them, and that it would be absurd to have more pots and pans than were necessary to cook the victuals usually consumed there. Gold and silver are as much utensils as the furniture of the kitchen, and it would be useless to increase their amount beyond what is necessary for the purpose of coin, plate, and other useful purposes.
Mr.M'Culloch concluded by apologizing for the length to which his observations had extended, in refuting the old errors respecting the balance of trade, and the export of the precious metals.
RESTRICTIONS ON COMMERCE.
Statement of the Question—Advantages of llestrictions to particular Manufactures examined—Effect of a Free Trade —The Navigation Laws—Retaliatory Prohibitions.
Mr. M'culloch, after briefly stating the subject of the present lecture, commenced with observing that Book iv. of the "Wealth of Nations" contained a valuable exposition of the tendency of encouraging and prohibiting duties.
By high duties on the importation of such goods as can be produced at home, the monopoly of the home market is more or less secured to the domestic industry employed in producing them. Thus the prohibition of importing live cattle or salt provisions, secures to the graziers the monopoly of the home market for butcher's meat. The duties on the import of corn.
and on silk, secure to the agriculturist and manufacturer a monopoly of the market for their respective products.
That these monopolies are beneficial to individuals, there can be no doubt; but whether they are beneficial to the community is a much more questionable consideration. It is the duty, however, of the legislature not to consult the interest of particular classes, but of the whole society. Consumption, not production, is the ultimate end of industry; and the utility of every regulation depends on its tendency to promote it. Restriction cannot increase the general power of consumption by increasing products. Acts of parliament cannot add to the national capital; they may force a portion of it into channels, into which otherwise it would not have gone; but it is a question whether the artificial impulse thus given is the most beneficial.
Every individual is constantly exerting himself to find out the most profitable mode of employing his capital. It is his own advantage, indeed, and not that of society he has in view. But the study of his own advantage necessarily leads him to prefer that which is most advantageous to society. Self-interest is the most powerful instrument in nature for stimulating industry and sharpening the intellect. It is quite enough without legislation; and what legislature, as Dr. Smith has remarked, would load itself with the task of directing individuals in the employment of their capital? The commerce of nations, like the dealing of individuals, ought to be without restriction. A prudent master of a family never makes himself what he can buy cheaper of another. Just so with commerce: we ought to receive from abroad what we can obtain cheaper than we can produce at home. If foreigners can supply us with commodities cheaper than we can produce them, why not receive them 1—why not adopt the same principle in foreign trade that we adopt in private transactions towards our neighbours 1
It is contended some manufactures would never be established without protective duties. This Mr. M'Culloch allowed, but denied the inference. It is no more the interest of nations than of . individuals to engage in unprofitable pursuits. The grand principle of a division of labour among individuals ought to be extended to nations. Because we had, in the first instance, erred iu establishing restrictions, it is no reason we should go on blundering for ever. The removal of all restriction on the importation of foreign articles would not have the effect generally imagined. The value of the manu
factures of Great Britain may be estimated at one hundred and twenty-five or one hundred and thirty millions; of this the linen and silk form about one-tenth part, and they are the only branches of our m«nufactures benefited by prohibitory laws. Even in the silk manufacture there are fabrics in which our superiority is such that we have nothing to apprehend from the competition of foreigners.
But supposing the worst, and we are compelled to change our employment, and abandon the silk manufacture; the consumption of silks would not diminish, and as the French would not supply us with silk gratis, they must receive some of our products in exchange. If we receive the French silks, they must receive our woollens or hardwares in return. Buy-'
ing and selling in commerce, are what action and reaction are in physics. For sake of popularity some persons would declaim against the use of foreign products; but to whatever extent we cease to buy of foreigners we must cease to sell; since the exportation of our own products will always be in proportion to the importation of the products of other nations.
Mr. M'Culloch next proceeded to re-, mark on the teudency of high profits to■ attract an excess of capital to particular employments, as instanced in agriculture and the West India trade. The lecturer then adverted to the history and principle of the Navigation Laws. The origin of this celebrated code might be traced to Richard II., but it was not till the era of the commonwealth it assumed a regular form. The "Act of Navigation" was intended to give an ascendency to the sailors and shipping of Great Britain. Mr. M. here enumerated the principal provisions of this famous act, but as they have been recently almost entirely repealed, we shall pass them over.
Dr. Smith entertained a favourable opinion of the policy of the navigation laws, as tending to diminish the naval power of the Dutch, the only naval power which could endanger the security of England. This, however, is a position which may be doubted. The Dutch began to decliue from the effects of their long war with France; nor does it appear the naval power of England was augmented. Sir Josiah Child states, it declined after the passing of the navigation act. Granted, however, it was politic at the time, there * is no reason for continuing it in force at this day. Navigation and sailors are the children, not the parents of commerce. To enforce the navigation laws would be the worst policy we could adopt; since it might originate feelings among foreigners similar to those in which they originated