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shall see that there were other factors in British prosperity besides Free Trade. First and foremost were the railways. Consider for a moment what the development of the railway system of the world means, and remember that for a long time England held the lead in railway enterprise. Then we saw the change from sails to steam and the growth of that vast trade in machinery which for some time was only produced in England. Again there were the gold discoveries in California and Australia, adding millions to the wealth of the world. Lastly, England for thirty years after Free Trade was established remained, with the exception of her share in the Crimea, free to pursue the arts of peace, while Continental nations and the United States were engaged in wars. There were wars between France and Austria, Prussia and Austria, Prussia and Denmark, France and Prussia, Russia and Turkey, and, most important for ourselves, was the great Civil War in the United States, which lasted from 1861 to 1865. When the Americans had done fighting each other, they found that England had got the carrying trade of the world in her own hands, and that it was left to them to do the farming. It is, then, the combined effect of railways, steam, machinery, gold discoveries, wars amongst foreign nations, and peace at home, following upon the establishment of Free Trade, which enabled England to attain to the position of the emporium of the world in the early seventies of last century. But now in 1904 we are face to face with a competition which is yet in its infancy, a competition which has been built up and organised by State control, and which has been concentrated with all the organising skill of the protected nations upon the work of successful competition. If once our foreign trade, which, taken at its best, neither shrinks nor expands, begins to go down hill, it will do so with a rush. The insular position which aided us in our prosperity will be our ruin owing to the cheapness of water carriage. We shall become the dumping-ground for the world's rubbish instead of the distributing centre of the world's commerce. To my own mind, therefore, the need for a change is clear. But an attempt, and not an unsuccessful attempt, has been made to discredit any change by reviving the old bogeys of Protection. The conditions under which Protection was maintained in the first half of last century are so absolutely different from any existing now that the alarm seems to me illusory. Take, for example, that side of the question which is the most burning one with the Liberal Unionist Party, and a most important one for an agricultural community. I mean the taxation of the imports of food. I consider that food should only be admitted free when it comes from members of our own Empire, and that we should give to India, the Soudan, and the Colonies such a preference as would enable them to compete with special advantages against our foreign rivals. This applies not only to wheat but to cotton, and recent manipulations in the American market show the advantage of being independent of the United States in the production of Cotton. Now, when the food supply of the population is concerned, it is not likely that the industrial classes will submit to pay a price for their bread which is to any large extent enhanced. Considering that the total number of persons interested in agriculture—landlords, farmers, agricultural labourers, mortgagees—do not exceed 1,400,000 persons, their voice, even if they spoke with one accord, would be practically powerless to raise the price of bread for their own advantage and against the interest of the artisans. So long as agriculture alone was affected by free imports, the town turned a deaf ear to its complaints. It is only when the manufacturers are menaced with the same danger that any demand for Protection is heard. I feel it my duty to say, in an agricultural county like Bedfordshire, that I do not for one moment anticipate that the proposed change in our fiscal system will rehabilitate agriculture. It is proposed to make our Colonies our granary, and to look for our food to men of our own race and not to foreign nations. Farmers as a class may gain for a time, until the great cornfields of Canada, the Soudan and India begin to supply us with corn, by a slightly enhanced value for their produce. Agriculturists will, no doubt, share in the generally improved prosperity of the country. If the condition of the industrial classes is improved by constant employment, they will have more wages to spend on agricultural produce, such as milk, eggs, butter, fruit and vegetables; and if, in the same manner, demand is brisker, if prices are better and wages increased, the agricultural population will have more money to spend on the products of manufacturing towns. But the real source from which agriculture must look for relief is something very different. Agricultural land should in all justice be treated as raw material in the manufacture of bread and meat. As such it is fully entitled to the same exemption from taxation on raw material which is enjoyed by the manufacturing industries. When the great Free Trade debates were carried on fifty years ago, it was always contended that, if Protection were abolished, the burdens upon land must also be abolished. But the Free Traders urged that there must always be a protective duty on wheat because of the cost of freight; the more distant the country the greater the cost of freight. At that time no contradiction of that statement seemed possible. But what is the case to-day ? Why, the cost of the carriage of wheat by sea is infinitesimal, but the burdens upon land are just the same now as they were in the days of the Corn Laws, plus the educational and sanitary rates, to which Sir William Harcourt in 1894 added another heavy burden upon land in the shape of the additional death duties. The natural value of land has disappeared, and therefore rent represents nothing except a low rate of interest for capital invested. I am well aware of the real direction in which the objection to lessening the taxation on land lies. The democracy does not wish to benefit landlords. If agriculture is benefited, landlords must be benefited as well. Now it is hard for me to take an absolutely impartial view of this matter, but I fail to see why landlords should be the only class of capitalists who are expected to be always ready to invest their capital in their estates and yet should be debarred from getting any return for that capital when invested. No doubt there are good landlords and bad landlords, but that is because there is good and evil in the world, and for that we are not responsible. Many men are prepared to face the economic risks of a change in our commercial policy, but they shrink from the dangers which they see in other directions. They dread the degradation of political life, the lobbying of members and the alliance of trades to enforce tariffs and bounties for their mutual advantage. I admit the danger, but there is a remedy. The remedy lies in the hands of the electorate, and the electorate must be trusted to apply it. Men may discuss whether Free Trade or Protection will most rapidly increase the wealth of capitalists. They may assert or deny that trade is declining, but no one can get away from the ugly fact that there are vast masses of men without employ– ment and on the verge of hunger. Let the working man ask himself which system promises to give the most regular employment and to diffuse those means of purchase without which cheapness is a mere mockery. To meet the problem of want of employment Free Trade admittedly is powerless. State encouragement of our natural industries at all events makes an effort to cope with the most crying evil of the day. Free Trade is the policy of inaction, Protection of action. I for one shall join the party that proposes to do something rather than the party which is content to do nothing.
THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
MoRe even than his undoubted ability as a debater, than his excellence as an orator, the fascination of Charles Fox's manner, the amiability of his temper in private life, must account for the influence which a man utterly devoid of principle was able to exercise in politics. That he, whose moving idea was simply “opposition,” should have become the traditional idol of the Whig party, cannot but seem strange to any one who will consider the Whigs as they were in their origin—lovers of their country, but primarily oligarchs, opposed to an extended prerogative and to “divine right.” How entirely the parties were broken up on the accession of George III. is a matter of familiar history, and during the first thirty years of the reign the division between them was largely one of men, not of measures; although measures opposed in the first instance because suggested or insisted on by members of the hostile faction were loudly denounced as iniquitous or brutal. It is in this way that so much false history about the American Revolution came to be talked at the time, or written afterwards. Lord North's Government insisted on the right of taxation of the Colonies as a principle, though, in practice, willing to let it drop ; and the opposition, led by Fox, denounced this as an odious tyranny ; forgetting, or ignoring in their diatribes, that the principle was first asserted by George Grenville—a Whig of the Whigs, and anything but a “king's friend"; and, however modified in detail, was maintained by their darling Rockingham. If the taxation of the Colonies was in itself so utterly abominable, wicked, and unconstitutional, it is as difficult to understand how those who called themselves Whigs so cheerfully followed Rockingham in 1782, as it is to explain the coalition of 1783. These very old considerations have been revivified by the recent publication of Sir George Trevelyan's History of the American Revolution,” a work written in a style which compels attention, even whilst we disapprove of its artificial nature and
* The American Revolution, by Sir George Otto Trevelyan. Longmans, 1903. meretricious adornment. But assuredly I, as a student of history, would not have felt it necessary to make public comment on this, were it not that it has forced on my notice Sir George Trevelyan's persistent misinterpretation of the facts which led to the great struggle ; and against this I do feel called on to enter my protest. It is that his picture—brilliant as are its colours—has the intrinsic error of showing the conflict between the Mother Country and her Colonies as–ab initio—the struggle of vice against virtue. This error, as I believe it to be, pervades all the volumes, in which we are implicitly told that the Revolution, and the war, and the declaration of independence, were forced by a tyrannically-minded king and his vicious satellites on a noble, pure-minded, and loyal people, who took arms only to prevent their most sacred liberties being ruthlessly trodden on. The book is, in fact, an overgrown and sadly belated party pamphlet; having in this a distinct resemblance to the History of England, by the author's illustrious uncle, which was almost avowedly written to show what splendid fellows the Whigs were ; but, at any rate, the Whigs with whom Lord Macaulay was concerned did not make a boast of thwarting the foreign policy of the Government, nor of lending treasonable encouragement and support to the enemies of their country.
Curiously enough, at the same time that an English writer of high repute was bringing out what it would be an affectation to speak of as anything else than a travesty of history, an American writer and an American publisher have brought out The True History of the American Revolution,” a work which may, if rightly used, serve as an antidote to many of the English writer's misrepresentations. Nor does it militate against this purpose that the author is fantastically ignorant of the current English history and English politics, or that his casual references to them are amusing and occasionally startling. His object is the illustration of the Colonial history, and the exposition of the causes of Colonial revolt. For these he has gone to the sources of historical knowledge; and thus, at the very beginning of his work, he strikes what may be called the keynote of the whole, in saying—
Our historians appear to have thought it advisable to omit from their narratives a great deal which, to me, seems essential to a true picture. I cannot feel satisfied with any description of the Revolution which treats the desire for independence as a sudden thought, and not a long growth or development ; or
* The True History of the American Revolution, by Sydney George Fisher. Lippincott, 1902.