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mids had with the floods of the Nile ; and we will tell the ex-secretary of the Board of Trade what the relation wasit was that of cause and effect. Mr M Gregor is too well informed not to know that there exists in Cairo a Nilometer, and that, during the period of the inundation, the spirits of the people and the animation of commerce rise and fall with the rise or fall of the prolific stream. It is no wonder they do so, for it is the source of life and prosperity to the whole community. Raised by the power of the Pharoahs from the riches produced by the inundations of former times, the Pyramids are the Nilometer of antiquity, as much as the tower of Babel and the ruins of Babylon were the monument of the opulence of the plain of Shinar ; or as Waterloo Bridge is of the wealth produced by the favourable maritime situation of London, or York Cathedral of the agricultural riches of the plains of Yorkshire. In all these causes there is a relation between the natural advantages which produce the riches and the durable monument to the construction of which they lead, and that relation is that of cause and effect. We entirely concur with the member for Glasgow in thinking that the same connexion, and no other, subsists between the Navigation Laws and the maritime greatness of England as exists between the Pyramids of Egypt and the fertilising floods which encircle their base, and produce the wealth which raised them.
To prove that these remarks are not made at random, but that the Navigation Laws really are the foundation of the maritime greatness of England, and that, when they are repealed, it must of necessity languish and ultimately expire, we subjoin various tables, illustrating the comparative progress of our foreign and home shipping with Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Prussia, the countries with which reciprocity treaties were first concluded, from 1823 to the end of 1847, when the reciprocity system had been a quarter of a century in operation ; the progress of British as compared with foreign shipping, from 1801 to 1823, when the protection of the Navigation Laws was first infringed upon by the adoption of the reciprocity system with the Baltic powers; and the general progress of British and foreign shipping during the latter period.
TABLE showing the comparative progess of British and Foreign Tonnage inwards,
from 1821 to 1847, both inclusive, with Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Prussia.
Thus our shipping declined under the reciprocity system of equal duties, in the countries to which that system was applied in the next twenty years, till it had dwindled to a perfect fraction : our tonnage with Sweden being, in 1847, not more than a sixteenth part of the foreign ; with Norway, a fiftieth part ; with Denmark, somewhat above a sixth ; with Prussia, somewhat under a fourth.
But then it is said these are selected states which do not give a fair average of the reciprocity system, or afford a correct criterion of its probable effects when appllied, as it is about to be by a general repeal of the Navigation Laws, to the whole world. If they are “selected states,” we can only say they were selected by Mr Huskisson and the Freetraders themselves as likely to afford the best specimen of the effect of their principles, and therefore as the first on which the experiment was to be made. Let us then take as the test, as we proposed, the general tonnage of the empire from 1801 to 1823, when the reciprocity system first began,—and we shall take these from the tables of the great statistical apostle of free trade, Mr Porter, to show the effect of free trade in shipping on the comparative growth of our whole tonnage, as compared with that of foreign states—and again from thence to 1847, when free trade in shipping was in full operation by the temporary suspension of the Navigation Laws, from the effect of the Orders in Council in March 1847 suspending the Navigation Laws under the pressure of the Irish famine :
appears from this most instructive table that, under the Protection system, from 1801 to 1823, the British shipping employed in conducting our commerce had gained so decisively on the foreign employed in the same commerce, that it had increased, from having been on an average of five years, at the commencement of the second, about two British tons to one foreign, to be, on the last five years, about four British tons to one foreign : in other words, during these twenty-two years, the proportion of British to foreign shipping had doubled.
Turn now to the contrast afforded by the comparative progress of British and foreign shipping from 1823, when the reciprocity system was introduced with certain states, to 1847, when it was made universal by the suspension of the Navigation Laws in March of that year :
--PORTER's Progress of the Nation, 407, 2d edition; and Parliamentary Paper, 3d April 1848.
Thus it appears that, under the reciprocity system with some countries since 1823, and free trade in shipping with all* in 1847, the foreign shipping employed in carrying on the British trade had so rapidly grown upon the British, that, while at the commencement of the period the British stood to the foreign as 174 to 58, or 3 to 1 exactly, at the close they stood as 49 to 22, or somewhat above 2 to 1 only. And observe the vast start of foreign shipping as compared with British, since free trade was introduced by Sir R. Peel in 1846. For while the British tonnage was to the foreign in 1845 as 43 to 17, or as 27 to 1; in the year 1847 it was as 49 to 22, or 25 to 1 only. So rapid has been the growth of foreign shipping over British in eighteen months of general free trade. In ten years of such a system, it is easy to see that the foreign tonnage employed in carrying on our trade will be equal to the British ; and then our national independence is gone for ever, for we have nursed up in our harbours a body of foreign seamen equal to our own.
But we have not yet done with the parliamentary returns. From the return 3d April 1848, it appears that the total tonnage, British and foreign, employed in carrying on our trade was—
7,196,033 tons. Deduct British and foreign tons employed in the colonial trade, viz.
* Under the Order in Council repealing for that year the Navigation Laws.
Thus the British trade to our colonial settlements is about a hundred times the foreign, and constitutes nearly a third of the whole tonnage employed in carrying on our commerce, and about two-fifths of the total British tonnage, -(1,970,372 out of 4,942,094.)
But it is important to discover what proportion the British tonnage employed in conducting our trade with all the world, except our colonies, bears to the foreign tonnage employed in the same work. That is easily found :
1847. Total British tonnage,
Deduct British colonial tonnage,
Tons Foreign. 4,942,094 Total Foreign tonnage, 2,253,939 1,970,372 Foreign do.,
Remains in trade wit
all the world } 2,971,722
So that, setting aside our colonial trade, the British tonnage is to the tonnage with all the rest of the world as 29 to 22, or as 4 to 3 only! Considering the rapid strides which, under the reciprocity system, established only with a limited number of countries in 1823, the foreign shipping is making in encroachment upon the British, this fact affords room for the most serious reflections. It is clear, from the great advance of foreign over British shipping in the single year of temporary suspension of the Navigation Laws, under the pressure of famine in 1847—viz. from 1,735,679, to 2,253,979; while the British in the same period advanced only from 4,310,639, to 4,942,094,—that two or three years of free trade in shipping will bring the foreign vessels employed in conducting our trade, exclusive of those engaged in the colonial, to an equality with the British. The moment that period arrives, our maritime superiority, and with it our national independence, hang entirely on our colonial trade, which, and which alone, strikes the balance at present in