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other nations, freely purchasing our unrivalled machinery, are fast making for themselves what they used to buy of us.
It is bad enough thus to lose our place in the race, but there is a blacker side still to the prospect.
What the want of employment can do for us is no matter of speculation or prophecy, but of sad experience. Its history is recorded for us in the great distress which the nation has had to endure in former times, the details of which are constantly set before us as a warning by the writers for the Cobden Club. Thus the poor-rates of one parish are said, in 1816, to have reached 52s. in the pound. In 1817, a parish containing 575 inhabitants, had as many as 409 receiving relief. In 1829, in Yorkshire, 13,000 families were reduced to semi-starvation. In 1842 the reports of factory inspectors showed that 10 per cent. of the cotton mills and 12 per cent. of the woollen mills of Lancashire and Yorkshire were standing idle, and that of the rest only threefourths were fully employed, and so of other places.
There are none so blind as those who will not see, and while a bitter experience has shown us the national disasters which surely attend a want of employment, our "Free Importers " insist on throwing away the employment which the millions we yearly spend in the purchase of foreign manufactures (chiefly articles of luxury) would infallibly afford to our own people if spent upon similar articles of home production.
I say throwing away. I should, perhaps, say inviting the foreigner to filch from us by opening our ports to him while he closes his to us.
The world has not yet learned to account for the causes which bring about from time to time these periods of extreme distress, when employment declines, and threatens almost wholly to fail. I do not for a moment suggest that these paroxysms of distress are under our own control, and still less that they are caused by “Free Imports ”—for they afflict protectionist countries in the present day, and did afflict us when we also imposed import duties for the purpose of “Protection.” But, like most other evil things, they are capable of being mitigated, or aggravated, by our own conduct. However caused, these evil times manifest themselves in the decline of employment; that much is clear: and it is, I think, equally clear that in maintaining a system of “Free Imports," while other countries are yearly adding to the list of those British goods which they exclude from their markets, we are intensifying that very want of employment which is the source of all these troubles.
What, then, is the remedy ? So long as we open our ports free of tax to all comers, there is none. It is not likely that the
foreigner will open his markets to any class of goods which he produces himself, but in which we can excel him, unless he has some strong motive to do so. The benefit to his own people of buying our goods cheaper or better than those made at home is one of which he evidently does not think much. He has long since put it into the scale against the vast advantage of employing his own people, and found it wanting. But a possible refusal to take his goods, an announcement in the practical form of an import duty that our Government has at last discovered the value of British custom, and the power of Great Britain as a buyer, and means to take steps to induce our people to buy of their own countrymen, or of those colonies or countries who will buy of us in return, this may have a softening effect on the harshness of his prohibitory tariff. It may lead to negotiations with the view of reducing taxes and impediments on both sides. In the meanwhile, to whatever extent we exclude the products of a foreign population, if they are of a kind which we can produce at home, we shall confer employment on our home producers. Secure in the possession of this advantage, we can afford to wait until those who want our custom are willing to negotiate with us to obtain it. We shall be ready to purchase employment for our people of those nations who will afford that employment by receiving untaxed the produce of our people's labour and skill. Nor shall we enter upon the negotiation for such a purchase empty-handed, for we can offer British custom as the price of it. British custom, last year, amounted to 426 millions sterling. This is what the British consumer spent last year on the purchase of foreign imports. This was the extent to which foreign capital and labour was remunerated last year out of British pockets, without any discrimination between friend and foe. What if we adopt such fiscal arrangements as will indicate our intention of closing the door in future to the foe, and holding it open to the friend ? It is all a question of selfinterest. I know that it is said that attempts to conclude commercial treaties have hitherto failed, and that nothing can be done in this matter by treaty. I am hardly competent to discuss that question, but I strongly suspect that success would depend upon the circumstances under which the attempt is made, and I have a robust faith in the promptings of self-interest as a motive power.
If the foreigner turn a deaf ear to our proposals, our Colonies may not do so. Their feeling towards us is friendly, and (subordinated to the interests of their own people) there is a stout feeling abroad amongst them in favour of supporting the interests of our common Empire. Is it impossible so to arrange our duties of import as to benefit them as well as ourselves ? It is difficult to believe it. If we are rivals in some classes of goods, there are
many articles of consumption, probably the majority, in which difference of natural advantages and aptitudes offer a wide field of interchange. There is room in the connection with our Colonies for the application of the Free Trade theory, that each community should devote its energies to the work which it does best and cheapest, on a sufficiently extended scale. Moreover this subject is one that admits of tentative experiment. There is nothing necessarily final in the imposition of a duty, and we might feel our way with security as other countries have done.
But in taking a step of this kind we must, no doubt, come down from our pedestal, and cease to pose as a nation wiser than the rest of the civilized world. We must abandon our proud but isolated position, and resign our claim to be far ahead of other nations in commercial insight. In a word, we must be content to sink to the level of, say, American intelligence; and it will compensate us somewhat if we thereby rise to the level of American prosperity, and are able to pay off sundry millions of National Debt yearly as our cousins do in the United States. Our present principles are rare, nay even unique, and rare things are usually costly. How long will our people be content to pay the price of adhering to a system which has belied all the prophecies with with which it was originally heralded ? On the other hand, what danger should we run by departing from it? Is it possible that we can be much longer scared by the bogey of commercial disaster, and a trade shrivelled up under the pestilent blast of Protection, when, staring us in the face, to whatever quarter of the compass we turn, stands some community in robust commercial health thriving under the poisonous influence of protective principles, and advancing in wealth and prosperity by steps that equal where they do not exceed our own. This used not to be the case; the dexterous energy of British hands, and the careful excellence of British work, sufficed in times past to place us far above the rest of the world in manufacturing capacity. So long as we stand on an equal platform with other nations, be it a platform of “Protection," or of “Free Trade,” there is nothing which can prevent us from holding the place we did of old. If Protection be hurtful, our competitor will feel the hurt as we do; if beneficial, we shall reap the same benefit that he does. We may rely upon it that we shall hold our own in any race when all are equally weighted, be the weights light or heavy. What has displaced us, what is daily doing so, is the adherence on our part to a system which the rest of the world repudiates, and has come to repudiate because it has thriven so well under a system directly opposed to it. Is the experience of others, then, to go for nothing? Is tried example of less value than speculative doctrine? Step by step has our great
Colony across the Atlantic felt its way in the increased adoption of protective duties, and at each step finding itself amply repaid, has adopted a Protective system as the avowed national policy supported by both the leading political parties. And now, fortified by the success of previous experiments, Canada can no longer refrain from the attempt to develop her own resources in iron and steel manufacture, by taxing those of other nations, to the heavy loss. and great discouragement, it is said, of us in the mother country. While our not unfriendly Colony is thus providing employment for her own children, we, in a blind adherence to an opinion formed upon faulty expectations forty years ago, are about to ruin, it is said, the one remaining industry which has latterly been profitable in agriculture, by the unrestricted import of foreign hops. It is a painful contrast. Those who happen to be familiar with the incidents of a hop-growing district, will know what this means to the poorest of poor classes ; what of health, what of wholesome enjoyment, to say nothing of indispensable wages, will perish in this cruel abandonment. Where will it all end, and when ? I think I can answer the question. The present disastrous system will last just so long as the intelligent artizan classes continue to wear the bandage over their eyes which political party organization has bound about them, in the high-sounding names of Liberty and Liberal principles.
Once let the true bearings of a fiscal system which fosters the industries of the foreigner at the expense of our own, and hands over to him, through the purchase of his manufactures by British money, between thirty and forty millions of wages every year, be seen and appreciated by our working classes, and it will be all up with “ Free Imports."
Theory will go down before experience, and the madness of superior wisdom will pass away like the memory of a miserable dream.
SHALL WOMEN GRADUATE AT CAMBRIDGE?
WITHIN a very few months the University of Cambridge will be asked to take a step which will be fraught with the most important consequences not only to itself and all its educational connections, but to the well-being of women's education throughout the country. As is well known, women have for some time past been admitted to its Honours examinations; and memorials are now in prepara tion, praying for the further privilege of admission to its membership and degrees. If Cambridge yields to this request, there is no doubt that it will be pressed and cannot be resisted elsewhere ; and the general adoption of the principle of “mixed Universities will only be a question of time, and of a very short time in all probability. As one who has always heartily supported, and will continue heartily to support the cause of the highest education of women, and as one who does not wish to see the development and usefulness of a great educational centre impeded or impaired, I have felt it my duty not to be silent in such a juncture, or to withhold from those who are being forced to consider this question such assistance as from ten years' experience as teacher and examiner of the work of the women's colleges in Cambridge, and from the acquaintance with the practical aspects of the question as regards the University, which can be ensured by continuous residence, and by continuous residence alone, I may be enabled to afford.
The present position of the question is briefly as follows. Up to the year 1880 the students at Girton and Newnham Colleges had been admitted to the University examinations only informally and by the private permission of the examiners. In 1880 a number of memorials, including one from 123 resident members of the Senate, were presented to the Council of the Senate, asking that the admission of women to examinations might be placed on a formal and stable footing, and a strong committee or “Syndicate was appointed to consider the request. They reported in favour of the admission, and their report was confirmed by graces of the Senate on February 24th, 1881. Since then women have been