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Secondly. Supposing England does return to protection, will the working classes be benefited by it?
Will foreign nations buy more of our goods, because we put a duty on their goods ? Certainly not, they will continue to buy from us just what they do now, neither more nor less, what they cannot make themselves, and what they cannot buy better elsewhere. But, on the other hand, we should buy 40,000,000l. or 50,000,0001. less of their goods, and consume 40,000,0001. or 50,000,0001. more of our own goods; and 20,000,0001. or 25,000,000l. of wages that now go into the pockets of foreign operatives would go into the pockets of English operatives.
Would a five-shilling duty on corn benefit the working classes ?
If it merely raised the price of the quartern loaf a halfpenny and did nothing else, it is evident it would not; but if, on the other hand, it caused capital to flow into agricultural industries, if it trebled our production of hore food, if it caused 60,000,0001, that now go abroad to buy foreign food to be spent in cultivating homegrown food, if it increased the income of the agricultural classes 20,000,0001., I think there is little doubt it would benefit them.
I believe fully that if confidence could be restored to our manufacturing and agricultural industries, if land and labour were protected from “unwise and unjust legislation, we should soon produce 50,000,0001. or 60,000,0001. worth more food, and 50,000,0001. or 60,000,0001. worth more manufactured goods, and that our manufacturing and agricultural classes would earn 50,000,0001. or 60,000,0001. worth more wages and income.
My confidence, therefore, is most absolute that when the nation realises its true industrial position, and coinmon sense has removed the question from the arena of party politics, the demand throughout the country from almost every class for a return to protection will be irresistible.
ISOLATED FREE TRADE.
Ox returning to England I am much struck by finding that what was a constant subject of conversation in the Australian colonies is dealt with earnestly at home by persons of eminence. Mr. BadenPowell, in the Nineteenth Century for July, hopes that it may be possible to coax the colonies to deal with England in preference to other countries. I can assure him that no coaxing is necessary. It is the earnest wish of colonists not only that their trade with England should be unobstructed, but that it should be as unfettered as that between Lancashire and Middlesex. Their dealings are chiefly with the mother country. It was calculated that the wool produced in 1879 in Australasia amounted to 364,500,000 lbs. Nearly 288,000,000 lbs. was imported into England in that year from those colonies. Both French and Germans purchase wool in Sydney and Melbourne, which of course is sent direct to those countries. The amount of wool grown in Australasia will rapidly increase for many years; for sheep are being substituted for cattle on many existing runs, while new stations are spreading westward from New South Wales, and from Queensland, into South Australia. Port Darwin, in the northern territory of South Australia, is the centre of a most valuable district, which is being rapidly occupied. Much land is already taken up on the Victoria River in the northern part of Western Australia. Crown leases have been granted for fully 180 miles on both banks of the Fitzroy River, in lat. 18° S., in the same colony, where I have secured 200,000 acres. For some years there have been sheep and cattle on the De Grey River in lat. 20° S., in which neighbourhood sheep and cattle farming is combined with pearl-shell and pearl fishing. As Australasia already produces more wool than England seems able to consume, of a quality not surpassed if equalled in any other part of the world, the manufacturers of Bradford and Leeds would have no cause to fearan enhanced price for their raw material with per
cent. duty on wool which came from places outside the British Empire, as suggested by Mr. Farrer Ecroyd in his letter to the Times. I believe that, on the contrary, such a preference would probably keep down prices. It would give a more certain market for colonial wool, and would therefore reduce the risk of the wool-grower, and consequently the rate of interest which he would have to pay on the money he has to borrow to increase the carrying powers of an established run, or to develope new country.
As I have alluded to Mr. Ecroyd, may I be allowed to point out that I think he has understated the merits of an Australian consumer of British manufactures ? I understand that the consumption per head in Australasia is computed at 8l. 108., as against 78. 81. in France, and 78. per head in the United States. It may be said, the production of wool is already so enormous in Australasia that it does not require encouragement. Perhaps not, but it would be desirable to give it for the purpose, as explained by Mr. Ecroyd and Mr. Baden-Powell, of securing those colonies as consumers of British manufactures. But the case of the growth of wheat is more serious and more important. In 1879 there were imported into the United Kingdom 59,591,795 cwts. of wheat. In the same year the imports were from
187,733 New South Wales
20,420 New Zealand
1,227,967 Dominion of Canada
amounting to over 7,000,000 cwts., not much more than one-eighth of the total imports—the balance, of course, coming from countries which put heavy duties on any of our manufactures which they may admit into their markets. I have no doubt that the amount of wheat grown in Victoria and New South Wales might be enormously increased with a little encouragement. Let it not be thought that in advocating encouragement to wheat-growing in those colonies I am injuring the farming interest in the United Kingdom with which I am so closely connected. I merely wish that the 59,500,000 cwts. of wheat which we import should be grown by English men instead of by our rivals in trade and manufacture.
The Governments of Victoria and New South Wales (the former to an excessive degree) have adopted measures to take the land out of the hands of the squatters, or crown tenants, who hold it in runs of great extent-100,000 acres and upwards—as sheep and cattle runs, and selling it, in fee simple, in farms of a few hundred acres. In well-watered districts, which have easy carriage to the large towns, many of these farmers have grown wheat at a remunerative price. But in other places the selectors, as they are called, are anxious to sell back their lands to the squatters at prices below what they have paid to, or owe, the Government for the fee simple. With a more certain market for wheat, it would, in many districts, be profitable to bore for, or to store, water, and open railways or make rivers navigable, and thus enormously increase the area of profitable wheat production. In New Zealand it would not seem that they stand in much need of encouragement. For when I was in that country I was told that this year the harvest had been 30 and 40 bushels to the acre, weighing 62 and 64 lbs. to the bushel. The grower considers 48. per bushel a paying price.'
The imports of sugar in England in 1879 were
The production of sugar in Queensland in that year was 206,269 cwts. There was an enormous increase last year, but I do not know the amount. I only know that the growers are making large fortunes. With the West Indies and Mauritius, I should think we need not go abroad for sugar.
I need not allude to the enormous amount of gold which has been obtained in Australasia ; but there can be little doubt that much more is to be got than has yet been won; nor to the masses of virgin copper, the square miles of stream tin, the quarries of antimony and bismuth, as well as coal and iron ; nor to the maize, potatoes, wine, butter, hides, tallow, fruits and preserves, precious stones, as well as many other valuable articles. I am full of admiration for the colonies I have visited, and I am anxious, in their interest, to contribute a word in support of the policy so ably advocated by Mr. Baden-Powell and Mr. W. Farrer Ecroyd.
I hold that their system is not opposed to free trade. If a trade has a burden on one side, it should be equalised by a burden on the other. If you cannot have real free trade, an equal trade, or a fair trade, is next best. Obstinately to persist in a lop-sided trade cannot be profitable.
| The shippers in New Zealand have found it advisable not to fill up entirely with wheat, but to load about one-fifth of the capacity of the ship with oats on the top of the wheat. This has raised the market price of oats from Is. 6d. to 28. 3d., which pays the grower, as he gets sixty bushels to the acre.
'THE REVOLUTIONARY PARTY.'
The Quarterly Review of last April, in a very able and interesting article entitled “The Revolutionary Party,' endeavoured to show, by quotations from the speeches and writings of certain more or less prominent members of the Government or of the party in power, that a faction exists in England, the object and end of which can only be described as revolutionary. In the sense that all change may be figured as the segment of a circle which if completed would involve a complete revolution, and that the progress of a nation implies revolution, this statement is undoubtedly correct. But the writer in the Quarterly means more than that; and seeks to show that great and violent, though possibly bloodless, changes, amounting to what is ordinarily understood as a revolution, are imminent in England.
The Prime Minister is described as being educated, and dragged somewhat reluctantly along the downward path, by more energetic and thoroughgoing members of the Government, whose object is the destruction of the British Constitution. Public opinion among voters is stated to be largely in favour of revolutionary views, and an appeal is made to moderate Liberals to unite with Conservatives in making a final attempt to stem the tide. The argument used is that the Liberal party contains a large element of Radicalism; that Radicalism aims at the destruction of the Church, the House of Lords, and the Crown, is in favour of the partition of landed property, and holds other communistic theories which are not entertained by moderate Liberals; and that therefore it is high time for these latter to shake the dust from off their shoes and transfer their allegiance to the Tory party. It is also urged that strong feelings of class animosity are entertained by the wage-earners against other members of the community ; and that, although the leaders and those who guide public opinion know perfectly well that anything like a division of property would be contrary to economic laws, and as useless as immoral, yet that the masses do not recognise that fact, and that the leaders are perfectly willing, and indeed desirous, to make selfish use of popular delusions and to stir up the “ Have nots' against the ‘Haves' in order to achieve their own private ends. Without disputing the accuracy of the statement that there is a revolutionary party in the country, or defending the weakness