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sion and boldness with which Mr Thomson habitually acted on any sudden emergency which required instant determination. An article relative to the navigation of the Danube being considered indispensable by Prince Metternich, who entertained ulterior views of the great advantages likely to arise to both Austria and England from the contemplated improvements in the navigation of that river, and Mr Macgregor having reported that such an article would be in contravention of our navigation laws, the question was referred, at a very late period of the negotiations, to Mr Thomson, who boldly took upon himself the responsibility of legalizing such an agreement prospectively by act of parliament, and authorized Mr Macgregor to consent to " a stipulation admitting Austrian ships arriving with their cargoes from the ports of the Danube, upon the same footing as if they arrived direct with their cargoes from the Austrian ports.”

The letter conveying this assent arrived but the day before that on which the treaty was to be finally agreed to or relinquished; and upon the stipulation thus happily acceded to at the proper moment, depended the success of the negotiation. An act was subsequently passed legalizing the article in question; but for which act, not only that treaty with Austria, but that likewise concluded in 1841 with the states of the Germanic Union of Customs, the treaty of the same year with the Hanseatic Republics, and the recent treaty with Russia, would all, in their most important stipulations, have been illegal, or could not have been concluded. *

Our commercial relations with Naples having been seriously injured by the sulphur monopoly, Mr Macgregor was directed by Mr Thomson to proceed to Naples to endeavour to arrange the difference, which, however, was not effected without great intervening loss and interruption to our trade, owing to obstacles beyond the reach of Mr Thomson's influence, although the policy he pursued was ultimately successful.

Negotiations were likewise set on foot by Mr Thomson while presiding over the Board of Trade, for improving our commercial relations with Brazil, Portugal, Spain, and Italy; negotiations which were incomplete when he left the office. And the project of a highly practical and valuable treaty with Turkey was considered and proposed by him.

* The importance to our commercial and shipping interests of the treaty of 1838 with Austria, is fully shewn by Mr Macgregor in the first volume of his elaborate and valuable work on Commercial Statistics." This volume forms a vast storehouse of facts, all combining to teach one great lesson to governments; namely, that the wealth and strength of every country are mainly determined by the more or less liberal character of its commercial policy.

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sion and boldness with which Mr Thomson habitually acted on any sudden emergency which required instant determination. An article relative to the navigation of the Danube being considered indispensable by Prince Metternich, who entertained ulterior views of the great advantages likely to arise to both Austria and England from the contemplated improvements in the navigation of that river, and Mr Macgregor having reported that such an article would be in contravention of our navigation laws, the question was referred, at a very late period of the negotiations, to Mr Thomson, who boldly took upon himself the responsibility of legalizing such an agreement prospectively by act of parliament, and authorized Mr Macgregor to consent to “a stipulation admitting Austrian ships arriving with their cargoes from the ports of the Danube, upon the same footing as if they arrived direct with their cargoes from the Austrian ports."

The letter conveying this assent arrived but the day before that on which the treaty was to be finally agreed to or relinquished; and upon the stipulation thus happily acceded to at the proper moment, depended the success of the negotiation. An act was subsequently passed legalizing the article in question; but for which act, not only that treaty with Austria, but that likewise concluded in 1841 with the states of the Germanic Union of Customs, the treaty of the same year with the Hanseatic Republics, and the recent treaty with Russia, would all, in their most important stipulations, have been illegal, or could not have been concluded. *

Our commercial relations with Naples having been seriously injured by the sulphur monopoly, Mr Macgregor was directed by Mr Thomson to proceed to Naples to endeavour to arrange the difference, which, however, was not effected without great intervening loss and interruption to our trade, owing to obstacles beyond the reach of Mr Thomson's influence, although the policy he pursued was ultimately successful.

Negotiations were likewise set on foot by Mr Thomson while presiding over the Board of Trade, for improving our commercial relations with Brazil, Portugal, Spain, and Italy; negotiations which were incomplete when he left the office. And the project of a highly practical and valuable treaty with Turkey was considered and proposed by him.

In the majority of these efforts of Mr Thomson to improve our commercial relations with foreign countries he was unable to attain success, owing to the unfortunate system of restrictive policy which we had ourselves adopted at the close of the war, and had as yet but slowly and by piecemeal relinquished, and which had naturally disposed other nations to follow our example. The prosperity which, on the whole, English industry and commerce has enjoyed by reason of her extensive colonial empire, * and the extraordinary natural advantages she possesses, were, through a very common error of reasoning, attributed by foreign countries to her restrictive system, which existed, it is true, contemporaneously with these advantages, but had incalculably checked and narrowed the development of which they were susceptible. And although, since the commencement made by Mr Huskisson and Mr Wallace, the government of this country has been gradually relaxing the fiscal obstacles opposed by legislation to the extension of British commerce, the progress has been 80 slow and apparently timid, each concession has been so reluctantly wrung from the legislature, and so large an opposing party has always existed, composed of classes who have or believe themselves to have an interest in the maintenance of protecting duties; and these have been so loud in declaiming and writing against free trade as inimical to native industry, and in favour of fiscal protections as essential to its prosperity, that foreigners, who naturally look to us for instruction on questions of this kind, may well be excused for still hesitating between the two opposite opinions which yet agitate ourselves on this great question.

Above all, until we give up our duties on raw produce, corn especially, it could hardly be expected of Europe and America, that they should enter cordially into arrangements for permitting the introduction of our manufactures. So long as we refuse to admit their staple productions free, they will continue to maintain tariffs of a hostile character towards us.t

* We leave the expression “extensive colonial empire," as used by Mr Poulett Scrope in this biography, but demur to it being the cause of “ prosperity to English industry and commerce;" on the contrary, it is English industry and the indomitable enterprise of English merchants that have saved the mother country from being consumed, ruined, by her colonies. She has been debarred from a free and profitable intercourse with other countries that she might foster the interests of those unprofitable colonies.

+ Extract of a letter from M. Anisson to Mr Poulett Thomson. (translated)

“Paris, April 12, 1839. “I have followed with great interest your discussions on the Corn Laws, and have seen with pain how little progress the question makes. This is a terrible argument against those who are struggling here for commercial liberty; and

* The importance to our commercial and shipping interests of the treaty of 1838 with Austria, is fully sbewn by Mr Macgregor in the first volume of his elaborate and valuable work on “ Commercial Statistics." This volume forms a vast storehouse of facts, all combining to teach one great lesson to governments; namely, that the wealth and strength of every country are mainly determined by the more or less liberal character of its commercial policy.

· The important principle of free trade, to the advancement of which Mr Poulett Thomson devoted every effort, could not, therefore, be generally and fully carried out without affecting interests too powerful for a minister of trade to touch, requiring the consent and co-operation of the entire government. And this he failed in obtaining, but not through want of energetic and persevering remonstrance.

On the corn law question especially, the citadel of the protectionist party, it can be no secret that he exerted himself to the utmost for a series of years to induce the government to propose a change founded on the principles of a moderate fixed duty.

And, individually, he never lost an opportunity of advocating the same principle by his voice or vote. In 1827 and 1828, as has been shewn, he supported Mr Hume and a numerically insignificant section of the House of Commons in denouncing the fluctuating scale then established, and recommending a low fixed duty in its place. In 1830, when called on to accept place under the government of Lord Grey, he declined it unless with the stipulation that he was to be at liberty to speak and vote for an alteration of the existing corn law. In 1834 he vindicated that right, and in the face of the cabinet, of many of his friends who strongly dissuaded him from the course, and of much public and private attack, he spoke powerfully in favour of such a change, in direct reply to his colleague in the government, Sir James Graham. In 1835 he joined the government again on the same condition, and in 1839 he spoke at great length and voted in favour of Mr Villiers's motion for a committee.

His two speeches of 1834 and 1839, contain the most unanswerable arguments upon this question, and in fact will appear, upon examination, to exhaust the subject, comprehending the substance of all that has been said so repeatedly, but never more ably or lucidly, put forward in spoken or written essays, by the recent and numerous advocates of the repeal of the corn law.*

certain recent words of Lord Melbourne do not better our position when we attempt to base it on the experience of England. All this is saddening to those who have only at heart the triumph of truth, the general interests of humanity, and the progress and union of European society."

* On the commercial side of the question, but not on the agricultural, Mr Thomson refers to the bad bargains made by farmers in taking their farms under the Corn Laws; but Mr Cobden, and the editor of this biographic history (if he may be pardoned for referring to himself) were the first to bring out, multiply, and vigorously direct the proofs, that agriculture as a science and as a great national interest had been retarded aud depressed by protection. It was his argument which converted the landlords and ultimately repealed the Corn Laws.-A. S.

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54

FREE TRADE AND THE LEAGUE.

It was therefore in no degree owing to any luke-warmness, or deficiency of zeal on his part upon this most vital question, that the delay took place in its advocacy by the government of which he was a member. That delay may be far more justly imputed, if blame exist any where, to the parties most directly interested in the question, the manufacturing and commercial classes, who so long slumbered over it, and could not be roused from their torpor by the remonstrances of Mr Thomson himself, and other far-sighted members of those classes, until the crisis which he and they anticipated had actually arrived, when the diminished demand of foreign nations, prevented by the corn law from becoming our customers, had brought on an amount of pressure and distress, threatening the decay and destitution of large portions of our manufacturing and commercial industry, which depend for their existence on foreign demand.

So long as this torpor existed, so long as the public out of doors appeared careless of the matter, Mr Thomson could not but yield to the argument of his colleagues, which was based on the indisputable fact, that to bring it forward was to break up the government; and whilst other matters of great importance to the welfare of the people remained unsettled, and could be accomplished only by a liberal ministry, it appeared to him, and to those who agreed in his opinions, right to suspend their determination, and defer the irrevocable step of a ministerial declaration in favour of a great change in the corn law.

The occasion arose in 1841, after Mr Thomson had left the cabinet and England, and the result was what he and all expected who knew the strong feelings of the agricultural party on the question, and their power over the legislature. The government was driven from office, and Sir Robert Peel and his party as protectionists admitted to office instead.

The intense interest felt by Mr Thomson, even while absent and engaged in other absorbing occupations, in the struggle making on this question at home, is evinced by several passages in his private letters from Canada-equally remarkable for the sagacity with which they anticipate all that has since occurred. On the 21st of March 1841, he thus wrote to Lord John Russell :

“ Your finance is what I look to now with most anxiety, I have told Baring that I do not think you will make anything by trying to patch. He may either go to work in downright earnest with commercial reform, sugar duties, timber duties, corn duties, and thus get a large revenue by throwing

The important principle of free trade, to the advancement of which Mr Poulett Thomson devoted every effort, could not, therefore, be generally and fully carried out without affecting interests too powerful for a minister of trade to touch, requiring the consent and co-operation of the entire government. And this he failed in obtaining, but not through want of energetic and persevering remonstrance.

On the corn law question especially, the citadel of the protectionist party, it can be no secret that he exerted himself to the utmost for a series of years to induce the government to propose a change founded on the principles of a moderate fixed duty.

And, individually, he never lost an opportunity of advocating the same principle by his voice or vote. In 1827 and 1528, as has been shewn, he supported Mr Hume and a numerically insignificant section of the House of Commons in denouncing the fluctuating scale then established, and recommending a low fixed duty in its place. In 1830, when called on to accept place under the government of Lord Grey, he declined it unless with the stipulation that he was to be at liberty to speak and vote for an alteration of the existing corn law. In 1834 he vindicated that right, and in the face of the cabinet, of many of his friends who strongly dissuaded him from the course, and of much public and private attack, he spoke powerfully in favour of such a change, in direct reply to his colleague in the government, Sir James Graham. In 1835 he joined the government again on the same condition, and in 1839 he spoke at great length and voted in favour of Mr Villiers's motion for a committee.

His two speeches of 183+ and 1839, contain the most unanswerable arguments upon this question, and in fact will appear, upon examination, to exhaust the subject, comprehending the substance of all that has been said so repeatedly, but never more ably or lucidly, put forward in spoken or written essays, by the recent and numerous advocates of the repeal of the corn law..

certain recent words of Lord Melbourne do not better our position when we attempt to base it on the experience of England. All this is saddening to those who have only at heart the triumph of truth, the general interests of humanity, and the progress and union of European society."

• On the commercial side of the question, but not on the agricultural, Mr Thomson refers to the bad bargains made by farmers in taking their farms under the Corn Laws; but Mr Cobden, and the editor of this biographic history (if he may be pardoned for referring to himself) were the first to bring out, multiply, and vigorously direct the proofs, that agriculture as a science and as a great national interest had been retarded and depressed by protection. It was his ar jument which converted the landlords and ultimately repealed the Corn Laws.-A. S.

over (if he can) landlords, merchants, West Indians, and Buxton & Co. or he may come to a property-tax.

- In the first case, nothing but à general and decided attack upon all these different monopolies—a sort of commercial reform bill—will give him a chance of success. In the second, the impossibility of doing this, must be his plea for taking that course. I feel satisfied that no little petty shifting of duties on one article or another, will give you anything like the revenue you want, and yet the attempt will probably be more troublesome than the greater measure. So, if I did not dare adopt either the one or the other really efficient course, I should recommend him rather to have recourse to a loan, than attempt such petty patchwork as I see is suggested in some of my letters from home. But I suppose you will have decided all this already."

Again, on the 25th of May, 1841, on learning the announcement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr Baring, in bringing forward the budget of that year, he writes thus :

“ You have taken a bold step, and I am all impatience to learn the result, which must of course have been ascertained by this time. But, whatever it be, I sincerely rejoice at your Chaving taken your stand with the country upon a great, an intelligible, and, above all, a practical measure of reform. It has everything to recommend it, in what it touches, and in what it lets alone. It does not meddle with religious prejudices; it does not relate to Ireland; it does not touch on any of the theoretical questions of government on which parties have so long been divided. It is a new flag to fight under, and must prevail eventually, whatever be its success now.

The only critioism I should be disposed to pass on your proceeding, is the mode of introducing the question. I think you might have produced a greater effect if you had disconnected it from the budget; but, at a distance, it is not easy to judge of tactics, and that might have been impossible.”

12th June.-" The last accounts I have make me think that the whole of your plan is likely to be upset by the Tories and the class interests. But, never mind. The seed is sown and the flag of commercial reform is at last unfurled, and sooner or later it must triumph. The debate of the 18th May (my latest news) tells me nothing of what your course will be ; but I trust, for your own sakes and that of the cause, that you will not have abandoned the helm to the Tories upon the mere defeat upon the sugar duties, which was of course inevitable. It seems to me that, having once entered upon this new contest, you are bound to proceed with it. If they beat you on

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