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ginning would turn from that employment to others; others would open almost as soon as the old ones were closed; and remember, that there are in the 400,000 more than 200,000 of children who have scarcely any employment, for all are included, down to the very cradle—Is this not, then, a bugbear 2 - And is it not painful to hear men of real talents, like W. F. S., expressing alarm for the fate of a country like this at the prospect of a loss of her commerce' Let the hood-winked follower of the Pitts and the Roses suck in the deception, that it is commerce which maintains our fleets and our armies and pays the interest upon the enormous debt which prodigality and corruption have created ; but, for the honour of human intellect, let not men of sound understanding and minds independent partake in the degrading belief, when the fact may, by any one, be ascertained, that, as I have once before stated, the barley of England, yields, in malt and in beer only, more, in the shape of taxes, to the national treasury, than all the commerce put together, and which commerce, were it annihilated, would, as has been clearly proved, leave the present means flowing from it, to flow through
other channels, and that, too, unpolluted
by the political corruptions now inseparable from them. The VIIth objection, to wit, respecting the injury which the country would
sustain in the way of supporting its navy,
has been anticipated, and, I think that my correspondents A and Wroc will, by this time, supposing them to have read the last number of the Register from p. 839 to p. 846 inclusive, be nearly at their ease upon this score. There is, however, an idea of WRoc, at the close of his letter (page 766), which I cannot refrain from noticing. Having laid it down as a maxim, that commerce is the nursery of the navy, he says, “if I even “ thought, that, abstractedly considered, “manufactures and commerce were rather “ prejudicial than of benefit to the country, still should I think it wise to cultivate rather than check their growth, being firmly convinced, that our naval greatness is inseparable from our commerce, and, consequently, that commerce is of vital importance to the country." I have, at the pages referred to, shewn, that the supply of our navy does not at all depend upon that part of our mercantile marine which is employed in commerce, but, that our home trade, our coast. ing, and especially our coal trade is themursery of seamen, not only for the navy, but, for the metcantile marine also, which latter, together with the convoys and ships stationed for the sole purpose of protecting commerce,
cost the lives of many more seamen than are lost in the navy employed in the defence of . the country or in attacking the enemy. But, upon a supposition that our coasting trade be not a sufficient nursery for the navy (a supposition which I make merely for the sake of the argument), and that commerce be prejudicial to the country, would it not be as well to nurse up searnen in ships employed for that express and sole purpose 2 A merchant ship of 500 tons does not contain more than about 17 seamen; but, snch a ship of the same size fitted out as a nursery ship would very nearly contain two hundred seamen, whom, observe, you would always have at command. It would surely be as well to employ one ship in doing nothing, as ten ships in doing mischief. I am not proposing any such scheme as this; but, if commerce be prejudicial in other respects, and this is the case supposed by Wroc, Isay." that this scheme would be much more rational". than that of continuing commerce.—So"
wedded, however, are men to these opinions :
about commerce being the nursery of the . navy, that my correspondent A. seems to think that even wars, when carried on for . commerce, are a great blessing, because, as he supposes, they add to the strength of our navy. “Had commercial wars never “existed", says he, in his 4th paragraph, “we never should have had such a navy as “we now have.” Tó which he might have added, that we should not have had any oc-, casion for a navy one third part so large. At this moment all the ships employed upon the American station ; in the West Indies; in South America; in the East Indies; at the Cape of Good Hope; at Gibraltar and in the whole of the Mediterranean; together with all the ships employed as convoys, or in waiting for that purpose; all these are devoted to commerce. They contribute not at all to the safety of the country : they cannot be employed to attack the enemy; they are just so much of national expence, without affording the nation any one benefit. If we had no commerce, or but little, what nation, who was foolish enough to be greatly commercial, would be able to withstand us fora moment? We maintained the Dominion ok the SEA when we had no commerce, and . when our neighbours had much ; and why should we not do the like again 3–The VIIIth oljection relates to the necessity of lurury ; and W. F. S. in, page 850, expresses his persuasion, that luxury is, in great states, an indispensable law. That it is so, there can be no doubt ; for, when the land and labour has produced more food than is necessary to the subsistence of those
who till the land, the superfluous food will naturally and necessarily be used in feeding some of then in making things for convenience; from convenience, the inext step is neatness ; from neatness and ornament men proceed to what may be called luxury. But, we are not to reckon as luxuries all those things which are not absolutely necessary to the preservation of life and health. Castles and churches and large houses are not luxuries, in the sense in which I use the word. Neither are fine horses and carriages. Neither are many other things which arise from the surplus food of the country. But, the evil of commerce, and of its inevitable accompanying financial operations, is that they assemble men together in large bodies, and shut them up in a narrow compass, in which state their taste and manners become effeminate. To expend the surplus produce of the earth is necessary ; ; but, it does not follow, that it should be expended in effeminating luxuries. If, for instance, the two or three thousand quarters of corn, which have, this year, bech eaten by the Italian singers and their retinue, had been eaten by men employed in the digging of clay, in the making of bricks, and in doing, in short, every thing appertaining to the making of buildings for the silly boobies who have been following those squeaking wretches from cathedral to cathedral, there would have been something produced in return for the corn; we should have something to shew for it ; instead of having to reflect, that it had been totally annihilated. The men employed in the buildings would have been better then ; and would have constituted part of the nationai strength; whereas the singers and their crew are not only useless themselves, but spread about at large their contagious effeminacy.—This misapplication of the surplus produce of the country proceeds from coinmerce ; from that intimate connection and almost intermixture with foreign nations,
return for it, are themselves kept in such
a state of effeminacy as to be of no more use in the way of national strength, than
so many lap dogs. The stirplus produce
of the earth must be consumed, or it would
cease to be raised ; but, the question is,
whether it be not better for the nation
that it should be consumed by men
than that it should be consumed by lap-dogs?
whether men be not better than lap-dogs as the population of a state whether the state be not stronger, better able to defend itself and to attack its enemies, with half a million of men than with half a million of lapdogs It is precisely in the same way, that a prodigality in the public expenditure operates against a nation. It creates idlers. I* creates annihilators of corn. The surplu
produce of the land is taken from those who labour, and given to others to maintain themselves without labour. If it were not so taken, it would go to the producing of something in its stead. There would be more, or better cloth ; more, or better, imouses ; and these would be more generally distributed ; while the growth of vice, which idleness always engenders and fosters, would be prevented. By the gripe of taxation, every grain of the surplus produce of the country is taken from the iowest class of those who labour; they have the means of bare eristence left. Of course, their clothing and their dwellings become miserable, their food is bad, or in stinted quantity; that surplus produce which should go to the making of an addition to their meal, and to the creating of things for their use, is annihilated by those who do nothing but eat.—Suppose a community to consist of a farmer, four cottagers, a taylor, a shoemaker, a smith, a carpenter, and a mason, and that the land produces enough food for them all and no more. Suppose this little community to be seized with a design to imitate their betters, and to keep a sinecure placeman, giving him the tenth of their produce, which they formerly gave to the shoe-maker. The consequence would be, that poor Crispin would die, and they would go barefooted, with the consolation of reflecting that they had brought themselves into this state from the silly vanity of keep: ing an idie mau. But, suppose the land to yield enough food for all ten of them, and enough for two persons besides. They have this, then, besides what is absolutely ne
al and permanent convenience and comfort in their dwellings; or to make him a sinecrepliceman or a singer, in either of which, capacities he would be a mere annialator of coin, at the same time, that, in case of emergency, he would not be half so able to defend the community.—Suppose two of the cultivators Uccone sinecure placemen, then you koil the carpenter or some one else, or, what is : ore likely, all the labouring part of the cosumunity, that is to say, all but the sinceure place:nen, live more miserably, in dress, in dwellings, and in food. —this reasoning applied to tens, applies equally wel, to nil. iv. 3, the causes and efsects being, in the latter case, only a little more difficult to trace; and, therefore, togh luxury be an inevitable law (if we men by that word the possession or enjoyment of every thing beyond absolute necessuries), the existence of that sort of luxury, which ariscs from a misapplication of the surplus produce of a country, is an evil that admits of an effectual remedy ; and, for the reasons, which I have before given, I am satisfied, that, with us, a remedy would be found in a great diminution of commerce, which has been, and is, the main moral and political corruption, of a wasteful expenditure of the public money, and, of course, of that system of taxation which is without an example in the annals of Enrope, and hardly surpassed under the Aumils of Hindostan. The VIIIth objection, to wit, respecting the effects of commerce upon the civil and political liberties of England, I have not left myself room to answer, in a manner proportioned either to the importance of the matter (to which my motto applies), or to the respect which I wish to show my correspondent, W. F. S. who so urgently requests me to give him a convincing answer as to this point, and which answer, I. shall, I flatter myself, be able to give him in my next. Russi A. If the “magnanimous Alex“ander” had not declared war against us, I should have been greatly surprised.—We shall now see what these “no-popery" men are made of. Will they resist the out-cries of commerce : Or will they make peace upon any terms, rather than risk their places — They are certainly in an “ unsatisfactory state.”—I had almost made a vow, that I never would see St. Stephen's again; but, curiosity will, I am afraid, take me up to have one more look at them. It will be curious to hear them asserting. that we can do very well without commerce ; for, to that thy must now come, or they must adinit the necessity of peace, or, rather, of a
capitulation ; for, in this state of things, it caunot be a peace, in the usual sense of that word. But, it is no matter ; war or peace, we have now, before it is over, to change our character; and the choice lies between real freedom at home, or subjugation from abroad. There will be a desperate struggle to prevent any change at all, but it must and will come.
TY THEs. In my next I will endeavour to give an answer to my correspondent, in page 851, upon this interesting subject, which answer, as well from respect to my correspondent as from my desire to see maintained all the just rights of the church, I shall render as satisfactory as I am able, regretting, however, that the task had not fallen into more capable hands.
Botley, 3 Dec. 1807.
A. on “PER1s H commerce.” . SIR, I. As I have for a long time taken in your Register, which I have done for public information; and, as I conceive your reason for the publication is to inform every. class of the community their political duties, and, what you consider to be for the public good; such a person as myself ought more particularly to benefit from its doctrines, since you mean to convey to the plainest understandings, public occurrences, public rights, and public reformation in the clearest and most convincing lights. II.
With this view of your patriotism, I venture
to send you a letter, to ask, if your approbation of Mr. Spence's commercial pamphlet be not ironical, and done merely to exercise the humour and “funny” way of writing, your peculiar genius has adopted in your political lucubrations.—What I know of Mr.Spence's pamphlet is only from your quotatiou in your last Register, but the result stated, professed to be highly approved by you, is, that “, agriculture is the only source of wealth." This position is attempted to be proved by a supposed state of society, wherein, the landholder, the farmer, and the manufacturer, in bartering their property and labour for coin, exclude the necessity of the circulating mediums of gold, silver, or paper. That our internal intercourse might be regulated by this theory, no one will deny; but, who
will doubt, that our riches, greafness, and our
happiness, would not be diminished by such adoption, confining it as it must be, only to an internal intercourse : III. But if we are under a necessity of having foreign connections as commercial ones, the visionary fabric of Mr. Spence leaves not a “wreck" behind. I suppose he will not deny our navy is necessary for us, as a protecting bul
what source you will man your navy; who ever doubted but the mercantile shipping was the nursery for your seamen These are a few of the many questions to be answered before Mr. Spence can expect the rational world to be his disciples; and until he can find out substitutes for these things, every one must admit the necessity of commerce. —IV. To continue. Will any rational inquirer, Mr. Cobbett, seriously say, that the “... riches, greatness, and happiness” of a people depend upon agriculture only 2 Would agriculture ever have blought forward such a place as Manchester Even you, Mr.Cobbett, I think will not again assert, that the taxes are the fruit of land or labour. Is there no fruit or revenue raised from the manufacture of cotton at Manchester, paid by the foreign consumer. What immense sums have been raised from the European, American, and African markets, from the manufactures of that single place alone!, More instances are not necessary, but what article is there sent abroad that the foreign consumer does not contribute towards our revenue If these be facts, the utility of commerce must be admitted, as well as its necessity, unless a sweeping clause comes in in the shape of commercial wars, which has been urged to overbalance commercial benefits. Is there no good from commercial wars? Is such a navy as we have, more than is necessary for our protection ? Had commercial wars never existed, would the navy ever have arrived to its present magnitude, and, even in its present powerful state, is it too much to keep our enemies from our shores Would you not have been a conquered people years ago, had you been confined merely to your “ riches and greatness" arising from agriculture?——V. I am sure that Mr. Cobbett will not very readily determine that the “ holders of the plough,” and the “ workers in the loom,” are not brethren of the same family; and the habits of commerce, and the labours of manufactory have not materially contributed to the “riches, greatness, and happiness” of this country.—I beg to assure you that I am with high regard, Sir, yours, &c.--A.--Nov. 10, 1807. * * B. on “PER 1sh conMErce." SIR,--I. In your Register of last week,
ments of agriculture, as for the artisan to
you loudly praise a Mr. William Spence, who has published a pamphlet, endeavouring to prove that the wealth of Britain is independent of commerce, that no part of it. is derived from manufactures, but the whole from agriculture. To promulgate such doc-8 trines at such a period, when our commerce" is attacked by a person who well knows its importance, must be of the most pernicious" tendency if they are erroneous. At least you will agree with me, that the subject is one of the greatest importance, that our commerce is not hastily to be abandoned," and that as the opinions you profess are calculated for extensive influence they ought not to be adopted without due deliberation. These considerations, I hope your candour will admit as a sufficient apology, for my stating a few arguments in opposition to them.–II. In the first place then, I must contend that agriculture is itself otly a species of manufactnre, which could not for a moment thrive, or even exist, without other manufactures. There are even some manufactures prior to agriculture; the spade and the plough must be made before the ground is tilled. Nothing can indeed be more absurd than to give one species of manufacture a pre-enlinence over another. All human arts are linked and interwoven together; and the improvement of one always keeps pace with that of another. Suppose a certain number of persons to resolve to employ themselves in agriculture, or the manufacture of grain, these persons must either scratch the ground with their nails and go naked, or employ themselves occasionally in other arts. If we conceive them however to have the sagacity to discover, that by employing a certain part of their community exclusively in fabricating clothes, and the instruments of agriculture for the rest, they’ will derive the advantage of having these necessaries manufactured with greater expedition and skill, than by those who are engaged in different avocations; this will immediately lead us to the division of labour and exchange, which are the origin of commerce.—III. Commerce is merely a reciprocation of industry, by which one person gives that portion of the produce of his labour which he does not need, for the superfluity of another person. The cultivator of the ground exchanges with the artisan that quantity of grain which he may have raised more than necessary for the consumption of his own family, for the tools and clothes which he requires. Both are equally dependant upon each other. It is as impossible for the cultivator to do without the imple
continue his labour without a supply of food. —IV. The industry of the one is always limited by the demands of the other; or, in other words, by the extent of the market. The way to encourage the manufacture of any commodity is to consume it; because nothing is given on one side without an equivalent upon the other. Now, where human talents are not restrained by oppression, the wants of men soon increase, and a compact is formed between the followers of different arts to produce articles of conveniency to be exchanged among each other. Industry and necessities increase together, desires and arts are multiplied in exact proportion, and enjoyments, luxury, and wealth, become united and extended. The relations between nations and individuals are the same. Commerce is, in all cases, merely to exchange the productions of industry; and the more extensive the exchange the greater the advantage —V. So far from agriculture being the sole cause of wealth, it matters little though we did not till a field in Britain. It is industry alone which renders any nation opulent; and did we exercise every other species of manufacture excepting this, the loss of it wouki be of little importance. National wealth is independent of almost all local advantages; for those who possess commerce can command the productions of every climate and soil, and those who want it are poor in the otherwise most favourable circumstances. The Tyrians were rich on a barren rock, and Smollet informs us, that in his time the peasants of Italy were starving on fields which required only to be scratched to produce, crops more than twofold superior to any in Europe, such is the importance of industry, and such are the magical charms of commerce.—VI. To deprive us of commerce, would be to deprive us of the arts, to extinguish industry, to debase agriculture and every species of manufacture, to degrade human nature, and reduce mankind again to the savage state. This is not, however, the age in which nations can be powerful without riches. Since the invention of gun-powder warfare has become an expensive employment; and, if naval power and it dependence are to be preserved, something more must be done than merely to till the ground. I fear much, Mr. Cobbett, were we to renounce our commerce, and exercise no art but agriculture, we would soon have Buonaparté to superintend our farms. This, however, I am sure you did not propose as the result of those speculations which I now oppose; and having already trespassed so long upon your time, I thall conclude by saying that, whatever I --
may think of some ef your opinions, I be
lieve them, in every case, to be dictated by a
sincere regard for the interests of your coun
try, and that your heart is truly English-B." Nov. 12, 1807.
C. on “ PERIs it commerce.”
SIR ; I. The doctrine of Mr. Spence. has been attacked by a correspondent under. the name of Wroc, in your Register of last week, only to darken the obscurity which formerly surrounded the subject This writer asks, “how happened it that Mr. Spence overlooked the consideration that the master and journeymen manufacturers, if they had not been employed in building the coach, must notwithstanding have eaten, and would, in point of fact, have consumed the same quantity of food 2" I answer, if they had done so for one year, they would not have done it for two, for want of encouragement, the produce of the land would, very soon, be reduced, exhibiting in the appearance of the country, evident signs of decay, and the “drone" would soon be found to have starved. To have eaten without producing something in return, would have been attended with a diminution of the wealth of the country; as on the contrary, the conversion of the corn into the coach, by means of the manufacturer, cannot be called a creation, but a transfer. But this transfer is made from a perishable to a less perishable commodity; and like the produce of the labour of the builder, the carpenter, and the smith, certainly forms one of the objects, by the presence or absence of which the wealth and prosperity, or the poverty of a nation is ascertained.--II. The argument, drawn from Wroc's assumption of the population of a country consisting of 100,000 persons, partly employed in agriculture, and partly not so employed, is equally liable to objection; for, if on his supposition, the produce of the soil should be so much greater than the consumption of the inhabitants, as to enable them to export a part, it is evident that the specie or whatever else the return may consist of, is nothing other than a direct transfer from such corn, and what is gained in specie is lost in corn His two other arguments, from a deficiency of corn, and just as much of the necessary article as is sufficient for the maintenance of the population, require no answer after what has above been said,—III. Now, Mr.
Cobbett, although these observations go en
tirely against Mr. Wroc, it does not follow, that I am perfectly satisfied with all that Mr. Spence has advanced with regard to the effect of commerce on the wealth of a