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trovertible policy; and so finding it, declare their sense of it, by adopting the means necessary for carrying it into effect.
On this occasion, he should not hesitate again earnestly to contend, that the treaty, in its commercial aspect, had been between four and five months before the public, and it was on that ground that he had confidence in going into the committee, and commencing its discussion. For if, after remaining between four and five months in the hands of every manufacturer and merchant in the kingdom, after being freely discussed in various publications, it should turn out that no one complaint had been heard ; that no great manufacturing body of men had taken the alarm; and that nothing whatever had happened to prevent the discussion, save the petition presented upon that day, praying for time, from a few manufacturers collected in a certain chamber of commerce, he should certainly think himself justified in calling the attention of the committee to the discussion. If even that very chamber who thus presented the petition, did not at the same time state any reasons against the treaty, but leaned itself simply on the vague and unsatisfactory ground, that after four or five months they had not had time, he was sensible that gentlemen would not think it a substantial ground for delay; after the expiration of such a period of time, it appeared that all upon which they had determined, was to entertain doubts, and of course avoid bringing forward an opinion upon the subject. But another transaction had been mentioned and coupled with this, he must say, in a very singular manner - he meant the Irish propositions. Did the honourable gentleman * mean to insinuate that there was any analogy between this treaty and those propositions ? Surely he did not intend to conclude from that experience, that the manufacturers were a body of men slow to apprehend their own danger, or to communicate their apprehensions to parliament ; or did the honourable gentleman wish to keep the resemblance in another way? Those propositions, after being canvassed, discussed, and debated, were at length, oni
* Mr. Sheridan.
the most solemn deliberation, and he thought with the most perfect wisdom, approved by the parliament of Great Britain as a set of resolutions, salutary and political, for the basis of an intercourse. But those propositions, so evidently opposed by the manufacturers here, had in the end been rejected by another kingdom as injurious and inimical to her interests. Was this the part of the precedent which the honourable gentleman meant to select ? But, in truth, there was no similarity. The manufacturers, who were in general not a little watchful of their interests, and he rejoiced that they were vigilant, had taken no alarm. The woollen trade, so properly dear to this country, had mani. fested no species of apprehension. The manufacturers of cambrics, of glass, the distillery, and other members and branches of our domestic trade, though, in fact, particularly affected by the treaty, had made no complaint, much less had they received any notices from the manufacturers, from the hardware, the pottery, and other branches, of any objection.
If after four or five months nothing like an objection had been heard ; and if at the same time gentlemen were sensible, that in many parts of the country, many descriptions of men were now eagerly looking forward for the completion of the business, forming exclusive speculations on the foot of it, and all waiting in readiness and anxiety to avail themselves of the benefits, and with themselves greatly to benefit their country, he begged of gentlemen not to think that they rashly entered into the consideration of the subject. Under these circumstances, therefore, he felt himself justified in declaring, that a reference to the case of the Irish propositions, made more for his arguments, and against his opponents, than was perhaps suspected. While the propositions were agitating, and they were not surely more injurious than gentlemen would represent this treaty to be, the manufacturers of the kingdom came forward to parliament; and at a time when they experienced every attention and indulgence from the House, exhibited themselves the most incontrovertible, and indeed, laudable proof, that, while they fancied themselves endangered, or saw their interests at stake, they possessed the most unremitting vigilance in watching over their concerns, and at least a sufficient degree of firmness in maintaining their objections. There was not a,body which thought itself concerned but instantly took alarm, and joined in the general remonstrances. Was it not fair then to conclude, that if any such apprehensions at present existed, instead of supineness and negligence, they would apply to. parliament again with redoubled earnestness; but, so far were the public from entertaining any dislike, or even doubts, concerning the merits of this treaty, that from the very best information he could assert, in the presence of many of the members from great commercial towns, that in most parts of the country they looked with sanguine wishes for the speedy ratification of it. Great and various were the objects of this treaty, but the resolutions which he should have the honour to propose that evening would lie in a narrow compass, and be easily embraced. It was not his intention to draw the committee to any general resolution which should involve the measures necessary to be taken in future, nor need gentlemen be alarmed by the groundless idea of being committed by one question to all the important details necessary to the full establishment of the system. Several observations had been made respecting the navigation laws and maritime regulations, upon which, as they did not come within the scope of his motion to the committee, and more properly belonged to the prerogative and the executive government, he would forbear offering any remarks. He meant only to submit to them certain leading resolutions, tending merely to the commercial establishment, and they were founded on the 6th and 11th articles of the treaty. The result of the resolutions was precisely this:
1. That the committee should agree, that all articles not enumerated and specified in the tariff should be importable into this country, on terms as favourable as those of the most countenanced nation, excepting always the power of preferring Portugal, under the provisions of the Methuen treaty..
2. That if any future treaty should be made with any other foreign power, in any articles either mentioned or not mentioned in the present treaty, France shall be put on the same, or on as favourable terms as that power. And
3. That all the articles enumerated and specified in the tariff shall be admitted into this country on the duties, and with the stipulations stated in the sixth article.
He thus confined himself to the commercial part of the treaty; nor was even all, which belonged to that part, comprehended in the scope of these resolutions. It would be necessary for the committee to take into their consideration the relative state of the two kingdoms. On the first blush of the matter, he believed he might venture to assert it, as a fact generally admitted, that France had the advantage in the gift of soil and climate, and in the amount of her natural produce ; that, on the contrary, Great Britain was, on her part, as confessedly superior in her manufactures and artificial productions. Undoubtedly, in point of natural produce, France had greatly the advantage in this treaty. Her wines, brandies, oils, and vinegars, particularly the two former articles, were matters of such impoi tant value in her produce, as greatly and completely to destroy all idea of reciprocity as to natural produce-we perhaps having nothing of that kind to put in competition, but simply the article of beer. But, on the contrary, was it not a fact as demonstrably clear, that Britain, in its turn, possessed some manufactures exclusively her own, and that in others she had so completely the advantage of her neighbour, as to put competition to defiance? This then was the relative condition, and this the precise ground, on which it was imagined that a valuable correspondence and connection between the two might be established. Having each its own and distinct staple having each that which the other wanted ; and not clashing in the great and leading lines of their respective riches, they were like two great traders in different branches, they might enter into a traffic which would prove mutually beneficial to them. Granting that a large quantity of their natural produce would be brought into this country, would any man say, that we should not send more cottons by the direct course now settled, than by the circuitous passages formerly used — more of our woollens, than while
restricted in their importation to particular ports, and burthened under heavy duties? Would not more of our earthen ware, and other articles, which, under all the disadvantages that they for. merly suffered, still, from their intrinsic superiority, force their way regularly into France, now be sent hither? and would not the aggregate of our manufactures be greatly and eminently benefited in going to this market loaded only with duties from twelve to ten, and in one instance with only five per cent.? If the advantages in this respect were not so palpable and apparent as to strike and satisfy every mind interested in the business, would not the House have had very different petitions on their table than that presented this day ? The fact was apparent. The article (sadlery) charged the most highly in the tariff, gave no sort of alarm. The traders in this article, though charged with a duty of fifteen per cent. knew their superiority so well, that they cheerfully embraced the condition, and conceived that the liberty would be highly advantageous to them. A market of so many millions of people — a market so near and prompt - a market of expeditious and certain return - of necessary and extensive consumption, thus added to the manufactures and commerce of Britain, was an object which we ought to look up to with eager and satisfied ambition. To procure this, we certainly ought not to scruple to give liberal conditions. We ought not to hesitate, because this which must be so greatly advantageous to us must also have its benefit for them. It was a great boon procured on easy terms, and as such we ought to view it. It was not merely a consoling, but an exbilarating speculation to the mind of an Englishman, that, after the empire had been engaged in a competition the most arduous and imminent of any that ever threatened a nation
- after struggling for its existence, still it maintained its rank and efficacy so firmly, that France, finding they could not shake her, now opened its arms, and offered a beneficial connection with her on easy, liberal, and advantageous terms.
We had agreed by this treaty to take from France, on small duties, the luxuries of her soil, which, however, the refinements of ourselves had converted into necessaries. The wines of France