« AnteriorContinuar »
JOHN BULL THE COMPASSIONATE.*
The giant of Rabelais, who devoured windmills, but was choked one summer's day by a pound of fresh butter, has found an antitype in John Bull. That heart-ofoak personage has not been generally supposed to stick at trifles, but it appears from his own asseverations, that he has now and then a fit of compassion, and that his eyes can drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees their medicinal gum. When John Bull is compassionate, he is a sight to see. There is a contrast of ideas and operations in the spectacle which hardly belongs to what philosophers call the "moral fitness of things." The butter sticks in his throat, while the windmills are rumbling in his belly.
The American system of protecting domestic industry has been the butter in this case—not, alas! the butter that has buttered John's bread, but the identical pound that has stuck in his capacious throat, and thrown him into hysterics of mortal compassion. Can words express how the compassionate John Bull weeps for the misfortunes of his dearly beloved Brother Jonathan ?" In his greenness he has made a tariff, and in the simplicity of his heart he has built up a manufacture! What shall be done for our little Brother Jonathan in the day when he shall be spoken of by political economists?" And straightway the compassionate John pulls out a quire of paper and indites a long letter of advice on free trade.
Through multifarious channels has our respectable and compassionate elder brother been pouring out his lachrymations on this matter,—Edinburgh and Quarterly Reviews, parliamentary speeches, newspaper prosings, ponderous tomes of political economy, etc., etc.—all have wept over us. How could we, Americans, and the sons of such a mother, be so unwise— so perverse—so blind to our true interests, as to spin our own yarn! John.Bull stood ready to sell us his genuine spinnings, a
good pennyworth ; but we have chosen to do our own spinning, and get our own pay for it. Was ever any barbarian so perverse? Page after page, and volume after volume of compassionate advice, in this strain, have been wafted to us across the water, until many very worthy people have become half persuaded that John Bull, hot and glowing with the fire of philanthropy, has quite forgotten himself in his disinterested compassion for his neighbors.
Under this impression of John Bull's universal benevolence, neighborly kindness, and all-absorbing love for the human species, one is tempted to call in question the common records of history, and raise an indignant doubt whether such a fairfaced, sweet-spoken, tender-hearted gentleman, has not been shamefully belied in the annals of past ages. "This fellow 's of exceeding honesty, and knows all qualities." Can such things have been done as are read of in the wars of Europe and Asia during a century past? Is it true that the English bombarded Copenhagen? Is Hindostan more than a fiction? Had Clive and Hastings any substantial bodilv existence? Js not Ireland a mythe, which some political Strauss will by and bv evolve from obscurity, and explain without any detriment to John Bull's character for humanity? These windmills are flying very awkwardly in our faces, while John is attempting to "butter us down" with the outpourings of his tender compassion.
The whim of John Bull that his Brother Jonathan ought to do nothing for himself, but have John to do everything for him, is no new whim. Many years ago this same blue-and-buff periodical on which we are now commenting, asked the question, "Who reads an American book?" and straightway discovered that the matter of book-making was all right, for "why should the Americans write books for themselves, when they can import ours in bales and hogsheads?" In spite of such questions, however, and the profound maxims of political wisdom that lay hidden under them, the Americans have at length got to making not only books, but blankets and bandboxes; whereat John Bull has somewhat changed his demeanor, and instead of asking questions he pulls out his handkerchief and falls a-weeping from pure humanity. Brother Jonathan, he declares, will die of a tariff, and leave him inconsolable!
'Edinburgh Review, No. CLXXIV. Art. 4. Macgregor on American Cor ,merce.
Simple noddies as we Yankees are, we have yet, like "the creature Dougal," a glimmering of sense; and by the help of that glimmering, we can see through John Bull's blubbering philanthropy. We are in no puzzle to discern ite genuine character; it does not ring clear, but has a decided twang of Brummagem. When John tells us that we are smart youngsters, and that he loves us as he does his eyes, but that his bowels yearn within him for the miseries which we suffer in spinning cotton, we can but laugh; for as certain as puddings were made to eat, and mouths to open, just so certainly were a man's ribs made to vibrate, with intercostal accompaniments, at what is laughable. We cannot stand it, when a philanthropist who has just mowed down the Sikhs with grape-shot, and thrust his damnable opium upon the Chinese at the mouth of the cannon, turns round and tells us that his whole soul is about to dissolve in pity for an American citizen who pays ninepence too much for a pocket-handkerchief. The words "fatal policy "—" unwise legislation "—" blind fatality"—" bigoted perverseness "—" false position "— "illiberal principles," etc., are all lost upon us;—" Sparrow-shot," said my uncle Toby, "fired against a bastion."
We have done, in a great measure, with importing John's political ideas and doctrines "by the bale and hogshead," more especially such as arc not suited to our wants. In plain English, all the world knows that these philanthropic professions of British economists are mere moonshine. They are puffs of their own wares, executed to order for the markets of Birmingham and Manchester. The pedler as«umes the garb of the philosopher, and sends out his magazine instead of a newspaper advertisement. We do not blame
the English for wishing to get the markets of all the world; but we would have the world to know that the written political wisdom of England is not half so cosmopolitan in its sympathies as it pretends to be. John Bull's heart, if we take his word for it, is expansive enough to take in the whole human family ; but we may rely upon it that of all his father's children he loves himself the best. John can sing a variety of pathetic tunes, but they all end in "Buy a broom."
However, let us hear some of John's lamentations over his suffering brother :—
"The American citizen pays from 95 to \Ti per cent, for his window glass; 75 to 150 per cjnt. on articles of manufactured iron; 133 per cent, on salt; 75 to 150 per cent, on prints and calicoes. In order that he may enjoy these ami similar benefits without fear of interruption bv the smuggler, he pays for steam revenoecutters to cruise along the islands and sandbar? which fringe the free Atlantic along his coast.
Is not this enough to melt a heart of stone ?" Lie down and be saddled with wooden shoes!" says Goldsmith's patriot. 95 per cent, on window glass, and steam revenue-cutters into the bargain! exclaims the Edinburgh Review. O unhappy Americans! What is the small matter of beinir priest-ridden, king-ridden, aristocracy-ridden, or national-debt-ridden, compared to the miseries of being steam-re venuc-cutterridden? Truly, if it were not for our humane brother across the water, we oboaU never know half our misfortunes. Hehu no steam revenue-cutters—lucky dog! not ever heard of a preventive service. Then is no such thing in England as being "ei chequered." However, let John dry ul his tears; we think, with God's help aw some patience, we shall survive the horrk infliction of steam revenue-cutters; tru country has many things to forget befor it will take up that topic as a grievance John Bull is a knowing fellow, hut w counsel him, as he values his reputatio for shrewdness, to say no more about on steam revenue-cutters.
As to the 95 per cent, upon glass, an all that, a man with half an eye may se through it. Not to mention that our L'l* is better than his, we certainly shall clan the privilege of employing our own ariti metic in estimating the profit and loss c our dealings with so sharp a customer. Like Autolycus, John is always crying, "Come buy, come buy!" and like Autolycus, he is sure to pick your pocket. He has the multiplication table at his fingers' ends, while "free trade" is ever on the edge of his tongue.—95 to 178 per cent, forsooth! No, brother, that will not do. Did you never hear of a fallacy lurking under figures of arithmetic as well as under figures of rhetoric! Did it never enter your noddle that American glass will serve two purposes to your one? It keeps the cold out of the house and keeps the money »n, which yours can never do, because we must send the money out to pay for it. As to the 150 per cent, on calicoes, you may score down as many figures as you please, but we are old enough to remember seeing British calicoes sold among us at 62 cents a yard, before the protective system had an existence, which would be high in the market now at a shilling. That is a fixed fact, which cannot be got over. "Human experience, which is the only test of truth," says Dr. Johnson, "is perpetually contradicting theory." But let us hear John Bull again: he will "condole in some measure," like his friend Nick Bottom :—
"So long as the American farmer chooses to feed himself and his cattle on taxed salt; to work his land with taxed iron; to dress his wife and daughters in taxed calicoes—not to preserve the national honor, to plant the rapacioos eagle on the towers of Cortez, or to humble the obstinate 'Britishers,' but simply that the world may admire the factory girls of Lowell, and that a few Yankee speculators may get nch in the towns of New England— so long these statesmen may enjoy a poorly iqoired popularity; but the dispelling of that delusion will place them at the feet of their enemies, unless they extricate themselves from the false position which they now occupy."
Now, if the American fanner chooses to feed himself and his cattle, and dress himself and his family, according to his own notions of thrift and economy, as he certainly does, why need John Bull go into fits about it? But he is a compassionate soul, and has pangs of grief to see his neighbors pay too much for their calico. U John had no calico of his own to sell, we might possibly lend an ear to bis neighborly advice in this matter; but
as the case stands, it is quite natural that ] such advice should be looked on with distrust. His theories of free trade are very fine things on paper, but the perverse obstinacy of real events is such as to render them utterly worthless. Facts, naked facts, are the things we want: throw theories to the dogs. What stuff is this about taxed iron and calico? There ought to be no such thing as iron or calico in the United States, if the English theories of free trade have a particle of truth in them. The protective system should have raised the price of these articles above the reach of any farmer in the Union: nobody would have manufactured them, for nobody would have been rich enough to buy them: where there is no demand there will be no supply. Now what has been the fact? We had no protective system, and we paid England enormously high prices for iron and calico. We adopted a protective system, and now we have iron and calico of our own dog-cheap! Is there a farmer in the country who wishes to go back to the days of untaxed iron and calico? Alas for John Bull's theory of free trade! And here we are compelled to ask a question:—Does the writer in the Edinburgh really believe that all these horrors of taxed iron and calico and steam revenuecutters are patiently endured by the people of the* United States, merely that the world may admire the factory girls of Lowell? Does he in good sooth persuade himself that the merchants of New York, the sugar-planters of Louisiana, and the farmers of Ohio, sit down calmly under grinding taxation, in their strong desire to enrich only a few Yankee speculators in the towns of New England? Does he, we ask, seriously believe this? We should like to put him to his corporal oath upon it. If he does believe so, we would give a trifle to see the face and eyes of a man capable of such asinine credulity! By what sort of hocus-pocus does he suppose the American people—a people whose wits in money matters, according to the, universal belief in England, are as sharp as a two-edged sword—by what sort of hocus-pocus does he believe these people to have become in an instant so enamored of the Lowell factory girls as to suffer taxation and tariflfs, and steam revenuecutters into the bargain, for the mere pleasure of knowing that the aforesaid factory girls enjoyed the world's admiration? By what charm, what conjurations, and what mighty magic—for such proceedings they are charged withal—have these half a dozen Yankee speculators in Boston so wormed themselves into the affections of the universal Yankee nation, that everybody else is willing to remain poor that this favorite half dozen may become rich? Yet such presumed facts are taken for granted as the basis of an argument in a grave treatise on political economy in the Edinburgh Review! But let us see what ineffable nonsense this writer can put forth while laboring under such a hallucination:—
"The six States of New England, containing one-eighth of the population of the whole republic, produce two-thirds of its cotton faci tories, three-fifths of its woollens, nearly half its leather, and other articles in almost the same proportion. The single State of Massachusetts owns one-sixth of the manufacturing capital of the nation. As far, therefore, as protection can confer benefit on the producer of the monopolized articles, they, and they alone, have reaped it. The remaining eighteen millions of the proudest and most irritable nation upon earth—men to whom a dollar paid by way of salary to a priest, or civil list to a king, appears an oppression to bo resisted to the last drop of blood—are content to disburse for the benefit of their Yankee brethren a tribute which, in all probability, would defray the civil expenditure of half a dozen small European monarchies. Nay, they have pressed and compelled the modest and reluctant Yankees to accept it.*** The burthen has been usually borne by the tributary States with that stolid patience, or rather that exulting and applauding self-denial, with which large bodies of mankind are in the habit of offering up their contributions to the cunning few!"
We suppose it would be difficult to crowd into an equally narrow space a greater number of absurdities; but what •better could be expected of a man who writes about a people whom he believes to be compounded of contradictions the most impossible in nature ?—irritable and patient, haughty and servile, shrewd and stolid, "no ass so meek, no ass so obstinate?" ■What says he, forsooth? Massachusetts, having most of the manufacturing capital, i<. therefore, almost the only State that reaps' '•went from the protective sysie ^e might as well say, that
the rock on which the Eddystone lighthouse is built is the only spot that reaps any benefit from that lighthouse. Does this writer suppose, that because the springs of the Nile are in Abyssinia, the land of Egypt can get no water from it? Has he never heard of railroads, canals, and ships of mighty burthen, that unite Lowell with Baltimore, and Charleston, and New Orleans, and Cincinnati? Have we to tell him of the hundreds of thousands of barrels of flour that trundle upon cars from Lake Erie, or the hundreds of thousands of bales of cotton that float in ships from the "tributary States" of the South to that of Massachusetts? Have we to tell this profound political economist of the interchange of millions of dollars' worth of valuable products annually between the " tributaries" of the Mississippi valley and the "tributaries" of New England; and that this interchange, reaching every spot and connecting every spot in the Union, is fed and quickened at every moment of its ebb and flow by the manufacturing capital of the country? Massachusetts the only State that feels the benefit of her manufactures! Why, there is not a plantation on the Mississippi, nor a trading house in the remotest corner of the great lakes, that does not feel it. With this writer's representation before him, a reader would imagine that the Old Bay State was something like the happy valley of Rasselas} or Jericho besieged, that "none went out and none came in ;' that she kept all her cash and all her calico to herself. Does he really suppose that the States of the American Union are separated by Alps and Pyrenees, and Chinese walls? and that the terrible squadron of steam revenuecutters, which his alarmed imagination has conjured up, have hermetically sealed the ports of the "free Atlantic?"
To relieve him from the astounding puzzle into which he has been thrown by the spectacle of eighteen millions of the proudest and most irritable of all flesh starving themselves, with their wives and little ones, just for the pleasure of admiring factory girls and rich Bostonians, we will drop a word in his ear:—Good Sir, they do no such thing, the eighteen million irritables that you wot of. They neither starve themselves, nor do they worship Lowell operatives or live Yankees in any uperabundant sort, to their own undoing. Tms organ of veneration is not so strongly eveloped under the skull of any citizen of ay tributary State; and if perchance some »en have exhibited " stolid patience," we rill say this for them, it has been nothing ke the stolid patience with which John lull's colonists in Portugal have borne the lethuen treaty. We are of opinion that Inglish political economists will understand his, and why Brother Jonathan will be areful not to buy too many of John Bull's nanufactures as long as he can perceive be difference
"Twin torn ud Lilian ilare, the lowest or the low I"
In what manner do these eighteen nillion irritables " disburse" the " tribute," o pamper the Boston magnificoes, and tickle the vanity of the Lowell girls? Some of us would like to know. One thing ie do know, namely, that, " tributaries" or not, the eighteen millions under the protective system now get substantial Yankee " long cloths" to wear, instead of the flimsy cotton trash which John Bull's free trade used to bring us from England and British India; and if the Edinburgh writer wishes to know the difference, let him ask »ny good housewife in the United States. What would this philosophical economist havens do, in the warmth of his heart, and the tenderness of his yearnings for our umporal welfare ?" Cast off the protective policy,"quoth he; "buy British cotk>tts because they are cheaper ; pay British laborers because they work cheaper." But we happen to know that they are not cheaper; we feel the fact on the very Lacks of us, that in proportion as we have employed our own labor, and protected our own industry, we have got better shirts for less money. "But you ought not," replies the philosophical Englishman with his free trade hypothesis, "for such a fault contradicts all theory." To this we think it a sufficient reply to say, we cannot help it. His theory required that calico should have been growing dearer and dearer for twenty years past; yet, in perverse contradiction to this, it has been growing cheaper and cheaper. His theory •hnulil have ruined all trade among us by high prices, many years ago ; but in strongheaded obstinacy against British theories, our trade has gone on increasing in the most unprecedented manner. But see
what it is to have a theory, and to believe in it through thick and thin !" Ruin seize thee, ruthless tariff!" cries the free trade theorist. The Ohio farmer must be in a starving condition, because the cotton mills are chiefly in Massachusetts, and theory says that Ohio pigs can never grow fat where 95 per cent, is paid on window glass. Let him ask the pig that sees the wind of protection, before he lays down such logic before our faces again. But the courageous and persevering political economist, having once taken his stand upon a theory, is not to be driven from it by a few awkward facts. "Whether the yellow fever is in the town or not," said the minister, "it is in my sermon." So the speculating champion of free trade exclaims, "Whether the ruin is in the American trade or not, it is in my theory."
John Bull can very easily sit at his own fire-side and persuade himself that all men are fools who will not buy his brass thimbles. He may call this "stolid patience," and disbursing tribute, and the like; he may affect to laugh at our pedlering attempt to "humble the obstinate Britishers ;" but he may rest assured that Brother Jonathan is not to be wheedled by theories. One home thrust of a bayonet, as Corporal Trim says, is worth them all. The American laborer knows, by actual trial, that he gets more work, better pay and cheaper clothes to wear under the protective system, than he ever got without it, and he knows that these benefits have grown out of the system. What are paper theories in the face of these facts? The " tributary" farmer of the great West will not leave off chopping down the trees, because the metaphysics of an Edinburgh philosopher have theoretically struck the axe out of his hands. No—he wants blankets, and shoes, and hats; he knows that the artisans of the manufacturing States can furnish him with these necessaries, and can take his corn for the pay, and he knows that this interchange can be effected in half the time it would cost him to carry on the same traffic across the Atlantic for the benefit of British theorists. The whole matter is as plain as a pikestaff to his comprehension, and until you can argue him out of his eye-teeth, he will believe in protection.
But the "dispelling of this delusion," the English writer assures us, will be an