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system,” of Napoleon ; after skipping over nearly three years of war with America, a strange skip on the part of a person who became known to the literary world by his writings on American navigation and commerce ; after ascribing the low price of wool and other produce here, and the consequent depression of the farmer, to the importation of produce from abroad, grown on untaxed and untithed lands; after exhorting the landlords and farmers to apply for a law to make foreign wool pay a duty, or, in other words, to make foreign wool higher-priced in England, instead of exhorting them to apply for the abolition of tithes and the reduction of taxes, which the premises seemed to point to as the only rational conclusion : after all this, your Lordship comes to new grounds of hope ; you discover, in the fall of Napoleon, and in the present state of foreign nations, "sufficient ground to expect an extraordinary demand for wool.”
The passage, I alluded to, is as follows :
" But I should add, that there is sufficient ground to expect an extraordinary “ demand for wool, in consequence of the complete subjugation of those who have " so long disturbed the world and deranged its commerce. France and the “other countries which have been overrun by desolating armies are exhausted " and will not immediately re-establish their former occupations, and setlle to “ manufactures, it is therefore most probable there will be a very unusual demand " for those of woollen, not only from the countries alluded to, but also for those "countries which used to be supplied from those parts which have been ravaged by war.”
Whether it discover any great degree of benevolence, and whether it be wise in an Englishman, thus to describe the hope of our prosperity as built on the devastation and misery produced in other countries by wars, by invasions, of which it is well known that we even boast of having been, by the means of our money, the principal cause ; whether this discovers much benevolence and wisdom in an Englishman I leave others to decide. But, I think myself able to show, able to convince any rational man, that your Lordship is as much deceived in your present expectations as events have proved you to have been in your expectations of four years ago.
The “extraordinary demand for wool," which you anticipate, is to arise from the exhausted state of other countries. Now, my Lord, we will leave America aside for separate observation ; and then let me ask you, whether Spain, Saxony, Silesia, Holland, Sweden, are less likely to grow wool now, than they were three years ago ? France never exported wool. Whatever may be the political evils now to be expected, is there any reason to suppose that the continent of Europe, settled in peace, will not grow as much wool as it has grown during its years of war? What, then, as far as Europe is concerned in the growth of wool is to cause an “extraordinary demand,” for our farmer's wool ?
But, the benignant armies have devastated in such a way that other nations will not "soon settle to manufactures,” and, therefore, woollens will be wanted from England to supply the place of those which were formerly made abroad. Does your Lordship think that we shall thresh the French into the wearing of our woollens ? And, do you think that the exhausting of the nations of Europe, that is to say, the making of them poor, will tend to make them better customers than formerly ? You should not think so, seeing that you tell your hearers, that the ruin of the farmer produces that of the tradesma, seeing that the former is the customer of the latter. Observation Kabled you to reason correctly enough upon what was passing juwer your nose ; but you appear not to have been able sufficiently to enlarge your mind to extend that same reasoning to a larger scale.
Besides, supposing your notion of the suspension of continental manufactures to be correct, does not that notion make directly against your main hope ; namely, an increase in the price of wool at home? If those manufactures were to be wholly suspended, the whole of the wool of the Continent must come here; and, would that tend to enhance the price of wool in England ? Thus it ever is with a mind incapable of enlarged views. It catches hold of detached ideas ; it puts them forth one at a time without combination; it gets entangled in confusion and absurdity.
But, your Lordship appears to me to be completely in error even as to the devastating effects of war and invasion. The injuries of invasion are great, very great; but, as has been proved by numerous examples, these injuries are seldom of lasting duration. Armies pillage, rob, violate, murder ; but, in a country of any considerable extent and population, they can actually commit these violences only on a comparatively small part of the property and persons. In the invasions of Napoleon he always took care, not only to protect, but to cherish and promote, every science and every art.
He hoped to remain master of the greater part of his conquests, and, therefore, he everywhere favoured the pursuits of industry. The agriculture and manufactures of Germany suffered but little from his irruptions. He dispersed, indeed, but he did not destroy, the flocks of Spain. While he left a sufficiency behind, his invasion stocked many other countries in Europe with fine woolled sheep; and, as I shall by-and-by show you, the United States of America. The two staple commodities, in all countries, are man and the earth. From these all the rest arise. Numbers are killed in wars; but what are two or three millions, and that is beyond all computation when compared with the population of Europe ? The earth, the climate, cannot be changed. The character of a people for industry, cannot be changed very suddenly. Men cannot be made to forget what they know. InVading armies oppress and often murder ; but the invaded soon revive, unless some dead-weight on them be left behind. Belgium, the theatre of everlasting wars, conquered and re-conquered many times in every century, has always continued to be the most populous and most flourishing part of Europe, even the environs of London not excepted. The United States of America, invaded by English and German armies in every quarter; all their cities and towns alternately taken ; a formidable division amongst the people themselves; intestine as well as foreign war assailing them at one and the same time; a government without credit and without money, not only carried their point in war, but as soon as peace returned, started at once in a career of prosperity that astonished the world, and that completely falsified all the predictions of those who had foretold that feebleness would be the consequence of their independence, amongst which foretellers your Lordship occupied a distinguished place.
I have not yet heard it proposed to burn the several manufactories in France. The Times and Courier newspapers recommend the murder of a great number of people; applaud the requisitions imposed upon the French; would have the country dismembered; but, I have not heard even them point out the burning of the manufactories, though, perhaps, they look upon that as understood amongst “the measures necessary to the security of England.” But, even this would answer us no profitable purpose. These manufactories would soon rise up again ; and, if they did not, France would be supplied from other countries than this. If from this, our payment must be in her produce. She would rise again quickly in one way or another; and nothing that we can do against her will have any very durable effect as to her prosperity, while every day of war is adding to those taxes, which are the real cause of the depression, of which your Lordship complains, and of which no man living expects ever to see any diminution, except as the consequence of an event, of which most men turn from the contemplation as something too distressing for the mind to endure. England, in following the advice of the writers I have mentioned above, might still add much to the sufferings of her neighbours; she might lacerate and tear them a good deal, but still the terrible and incurable disease, which she has contracted during the war would cling to her bowels, and in the work of palsying her limbs, would only be assisted by the prolonging of a state of hostility.
One would have imagined, that past experience with regard to France herself would have prevented your Lordship from indulging such fond hopes of seeing other nations ruined by devastating armies. The first ten years of her revolution drove all the great proprietors from their houses ; stripped them of their estates; reduced all the opulent merchants to beggary ; ruined all the manufacturers and broke up their concerns ; produced a bankruptcy of the Government; laid the people under contributions. Yet, how did we find France in 1814? So full of prosperity; so rich ; with so little debt ; with such improved agriculture and such flourishing manufactures, that we were compelled to pass a law to stop the importation of her corn, while she stood in no need of either our woollens, linens, or cottons. Nay, it is the recollection of the evidences of prosperity, that we then saw, which is now urging on our base and foolish writers to call for her destruction by means of German armies in our pay.
What becomes, then, of your Lordship’s hope? What becomes of the “good ground” of your new expectation ? 'Even NOW: already, while there is a civil war in France ; while half a million of English and German soldiers are there, living at free-quarter ; even from the Departments where some of those soldiers are, the French are now, at this very moment, bringing in their butter, poultry, eggs, fruit, &c. &c. to Portsmouth and Southampton; and, after paying a duty upon them, selling them at less than half the price at which we can afford to sell similar articles ! To throw such a country back, to make it tributary to our agriculture and manufactures, even for one year, would require the power of the Deity and the malignity ascribed to the Devil; and, though there are persons enough, who manifestly possess the latter, they are, happily for mankind, not in possession of the former.
If, then, there be so little foundation for your hope with regard to Europe, on what can you build that hope on the other side of the Atlantic? But, I will reserve the discussion of this question as the subject of another Letter, it being of too much importance to be mixed, in any way, with inferior matter. I am, your most obedient servant,
ON HIS SPEECH AT LEWES WOOL FAIR, JULY 26, 1815.
(Political Register, August, 1815.)
Intended to show, that Manufactures of all kinds are carried on to a
great extent in America, and that Machinery has been put into use
with great success in the making of Woollen and Cotton goods. My Lord,
It is America to which I now solicit the honour of calling your attention. If you will oblige me by laying aside, for only half an hour, your solid columns of exports and imports, your laborious details of outward and inward trade, your two-and-two-penny and three-and-three-penny accounts of wool prices, I promise to lead you into scenes of such novelty, such enterprise, and such interest, as shall make you forget, for the time, the tyranny and cruelty, the meanness and baseness, the fligacy, the perfidy, and the hypocrisy, now acting upon the theatre of Europe.
You, my Lord, wrote a book, soon after the first American war, the objects of which were, to point out the means of keeping back the navigation and commerce of America, and to show, that she could not become a manufacturing country: I was of this latter opinion about six years ago only. Three years of embargo and non-importations and dispersions of Spanish flocks convinced me of my error, which, as soon as I perceived it, I hastened to retract; and, before the last war began, I endeavoured to convince our Ministers, that if they still persisted in their right to impress persons out of American ships on the high seas, they would, in the space of a few years, find manufactures rising up in America that would astonish them. In short, I predicted, in my Letters to the Prince Regent, before the war began, that, if he did enter on that war, he would, at the end of seven years, render the United States wholly independent of England for manufactures; or, at least, enable her to dispense with English manufactures.
The war did not last three years, and yet this important revolution in human affairs was accomplished ; and, be you assured, my Lord, that it will form an epoch in the annals of the world.
But, how shall I convince your Lordship that what I say is true ? That is the great point. Hearsay regarding a country at such a distance is nothing. A newspaper account would not be much better. A book written by some American might mislead ; for writers have a point to
carry, a doctrine to establish, an opponent to beat, or a bias, at any rate, to yield to. Even an official account, published by the American government, might be incorrect and overcharged; for your Lordship and I have seen many such accounts in England. What am I to do, then ? Bring some persons who have been upon the spot, and have actually seen what they describe ? I have no such persons at hand. I have not a single American acquaintance; and, besides, I live out of the world. How, then, am I to convince your Lordship, that the Merino Flocks; the Fulling Mills, some going by steam and some by water ; that the Cloth Manufactories; that the Cotton Manufactories; that the Spinning Jennies ; that the Iron Mills; that Wire Manufactories; that Crockeryware Manufactories; that the Powder Mills, Cannon Founderies ; that the Manufactories of Flax and Hemp; and that a great many others, and all others, as far as I know, exist in America ? Why, my Lord, since you will believe nothing but your own eyes, for which I do not blame you ; and, as I cannot take you to America, I will send the Merino Flocks, the Manufactories, and the Bales of Goods, into Sussex 10 you.
I have taken a parcel of American newspapers, that came to me altogether about a month ago, and which were published in February, March, April and May last, or the greater part of them. I have cut out of these advertisements of Merino Sheep, &c. &c., FOR SALE. They come, as you will see, from almost every Slate in the Union. Some are from Boston, some Baltimore, some Philadelphia, some from New York, some from Albany, some from Pittsburgh; thus embracing what may fairly be deemed the whole country. And, besides, these newspapers have come to me quite promiscuously. They have been sent by persons whom I do not know, and without any other motive than that of showing me civility. Of some of these papers I have only a single number; of others iwo ; of others nine or ten. From Pittsburgh I have only one number, and that is of a paper called the Commonwealth; and yet, in this one paper, matter is contained sufficient to establish all I say.
This is certainly a new way of describing the state of the manufactures of a country ; but, really, I do not know of any other so good. To make such a description correctly, a man must go himself to collect information all over a country. The difficulties of doing this are many and great. Here we ask no questions, rely on no reports, listen to no stories, expose ourselves to no deception. We know that these advertisements speak of things that are. We have here, indeed, merely a SPECIMEN of what is going on. Out of three or four hundred American news. papers, I have received and quoted from only about eight or nine. What, then, must the whole of them present? Besides, we are not lo suppose, that a quarter part of the factories and goods, &c., &c., are mentioned in any paper at all. So that, what we have here is a mere SPECIMEN; but, it is quite sufficient to enable us to form a sound judgment upon the subject.
That I have fabricated these advertisements is not to be believed. I could not have invented so many names, dates, and circumstances. Be. sides, I put the name and date of each particular newspaper. If falsely, I am exposed to detection on both sides of the water, many of the papers being in other hands, in England, as well as mine. No: the advertisements must be genuine ; and they form one of masses of presumptive evidence, which is preferable to any positive proof upon oath.
Your Lordship will soon see, that, in some of the advertisements, Ame