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Title: The British Jugernath: Free trade! Fair trade!! Reciprocity!!! Retaliation!!!!

Author: Guilford L. Molesworth

Release date: September 6, 2017 [eBook #55493]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Chris Curnow, John Campbell and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive)



Many Footnotes have two or more anchors. The Footnote will link back to the anchor which occurs first.

Some minor changes are noted at the end of the book.



A gruesome huge misshapen monster void of sight.—Virgil.


G. L. M.


E. & F. N. SPON, 125, STRAND.


Price Sixpence.










The following squib was written in 1883, with the intention of drawing attention to the serious danger into which we are rapidly drifting, through the suicidal policy of our rulers.

Since it was written the evils indicated therein have greatly increased in intensity.

The interests of the producers having been completely sacrificed to those of the consumers; the results of such a policy are becoming painfully apparent, in the increasing number of the unemployed, consequent on unlimited foreign competition.

Working men who are unable to obtain employment can no longer be persuaded, either by the plausible statistics of Mr. Giffen, or by the peevish denunciations of Mr. Bright, that, thanks to Free Trade, they are better off than they were ever before.

Cheap food is of little avail if the means of purchasing it be not forthcoming.

The cry for fair trade is waxing stronger and stronger.

I have endeavoured to show that a light tax on foreign wheat, would, without any appreciable increase in the cost of food, probably enrich England and its dependencies to the extent of about £60,000,000 annually; whilst at present a large portion of this is employed in furnishing the sinews of war which will probably be used against us.

G. L. M.

March 30th, 1885.


Chap. I. —To the Votaries of Jugernāth1
II.The Blasphemer2
III.What is Jugernāth?4
IV.A few ugly Facts6
V.Axioms for Jugernāthians9
VI.Political Economy12
VII.Political Extravagance17
VIII.False Prophets of Jugernāth21
IX.Isolation of Jugernāth24
X.Treachery in the Camp29
XI.Quem Jupiter vult perdere prius dementat33
XII.The wages of Jugernāth35
XIII.Pauperism, Crime, and Intemperance37
XIV.Jugernāth afloat41
XV.Adverse Prosperity43
XVI.Sacred Rights of Property47
XVII.Selections from Jugernāth’s Sacred Writings51
XVIII.The Vampire54
XIX.Odimus quos læsimus59
XX.Prosperous Adversity63
XXI.Ireland under the wheels64
XXII.The Finishing Stroke68
XXIII.Little Greatness71
XXIV.Blunder and Plunder73
XXV.Dear Cheap Food77
XXVI.The Pagoda tree81
XXVII.I know a Maiden fair to see85
Appendix I.Discourtesy versus Argument89
”       II.Unheeded Warning96

[Pg 1]



My Idolatrous Compatriot! Were it not for the gravity of the situation, it would be amusing to watch the self-complacent smile of conscious superiority which you assume, when descanting on the paternal character of our rule in suppressing such abuses as those of Suttee and Jugernāth; unconscious at the same time that the Jugernāth of the wretched Hindoo is dwarfed into complete insignificance when compared with that huge idol which you yourself have set up for worship.

My dear fellow! for goodness’ sake put away the microscope with which you are so patiently investigating the mote in the eye of your Aryan brother, and bear with me, whilst I attempt to extract the huge log which obscures your own visual organs. And should I (contrary to my expectation), succeed in removing so large a mass, you will find that, whilst you have been depriving your Aryan brethren of their comparatively innocent little plaything, which at the most might have crushed some half dozen fanatics, in the course of a year, you have reared up a horrible fantastic creation which you worship, which in its progress is crushing its thousands and even millions every year; which is stamping out the lifeblood of England and[2] its dependencies; whilst all the time you are applauding it, sounding your political tom-toms, blowing your trumpets to shouts of wah! wah! complacently misapplying glib quotations from your sacred Vedas (Adam Smith and Mill), flaunting your banners of political economy while violating every principle of that useful but misused science.


Now, my Friend, I am not sanguine enough to expect a patient hearing from you whilst I revile that idol which you have set up with sound of sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and other kinds of (un)musical instruments.

I am perfectly aware that I shall be cast, by you, into the fiery furnace of criticism; I can imagine, in anticipation, the vials of your wrath poured out on my unlucky head; and I don’t expect to escape like our friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

I am not composed of those materials of which martyrs are made.

I know full well that I shall writhe horribly under the taunt of “ungrammatical twaddle,” for how can I hope to escape an occasional slip of the pen, of which even the heaven-born “Covenanted Civilian” is not always innocent.

I shall wriggle under the analysis of my “illogical reasoning,” my “exploded theories,” my “faulty statistics.”

I shall squirm under the exposure of my “ignorance of facts,” my “want of knowledge of political economy,” my “antiquated notions.”

That I shall suffer severely for my blasphemy I know right well; but I cannot help it. Strike!! but hear me.


I am weary to death of the claptrap and imposition with which your votaries applaud their idol, and attribute the evils caused by it to anything but the right cause. I am disgusted with the blind obstinacy with which you close your eyes to the light of facts; besides, I have the selfish feeling that, sooner or later, I may be jostled by admiring votaries under the wheels of your car, whilst I shall not have even the consolation of deluding myself that I am a martyr ascending to the heaven of your Jugernāthian mythology, but, on the contrary, a victim of your confounded stupidity and obstinacy, and of the incompetence or dishonesty of your leaders.

If I could only stand on the platform of any other audience and address Americans, Dutch, Belgians, Germans, or say Frenchmen, I might secure a sympathetic hearing.

The Frenchman would probably shrug his shoulders and say:—

“I quite agree with, you, mon ami! mais que voulez vous? It amuses these other English, and does not hurt us; on the contrary, we profit by it. We furnish the gilt and gingerbread, the paint and the unmusical instruments; and we are paid for them, vive Jugernāth!! only don’t ask us to be fools enough to put ourselves under its wheels.”

You, on the other hand, my friend, will naturally say:

“Bah! these Americans, Dutch, Belgians, Germans, and French are brutally stupid, and beyond the reach of argument; blind to their own interests. We alone stand on the pinnacle of intelligence in our worship of Jugernāth. Has not our High Priest, the G. O. M., swept away all your argument like chaff?”

Pardon me, my friend. The exuberant verbosity of the G. O. M., combined with his misleading and incorrect statistics, may easily silence an opponent in debate, but they cannot alter stern facts; and facts are against your idol. Your prophets prophesy falsely, and your people love to have it so.


What is Jugernath?

Well! well!! I have put off the evil day as long as possible; but sooner or later it must come out, even if you have not already guessed it.

Stoop low while I whisper in your ear the name by which this destructive fiend Jugernāth is known in England. It is:—

Free Trade!!!

Yes! it is Free trade that has utterly ruined Ireland; that is rapidly dragging England down under its wheels; that drains the lifeblood of India and England’s dependencies.

Free trade is that idol which England worships, but which brings in its train disaster, bankruptcy, pauperism, drunkenness, and crime. It is Free trade that is destroying England’s industries, and is driving her capital to protectionist countries. It is Free trade that, if not soon abandoned, will soon bring about a national bankruptcy in England.

My dear fellow! I know your stale arguments by heart. I have looked into your dishonest and fictitious statistics and discovered their imposture. I know you can make glib quotations from Adam Smith and Mill, and misapply them. It is easy for you to prate about Political Economy, and at the same time to practise Political Extravagance, of the most ruinous description; but I ask you to leave theory for a short time and look ugly facts straight in the face, divesting your mind, if you can, of all prejudice. These facts I will give you in the next chapter. But now don’t misunderstand me. I am not a rabid protectionist. I am[5] not an advocate of Fair trade, Reciprocity, or Retaliation. I hold that Protection, if carried beyond its legitimate limits, is nearly as mischievous in its action as Free trade. And that although “Fair trade,” “Reciprocity” and “Retaliation” are cries that have been evoked by the evils that Free trade has brought upon us, yet they are wrong in practice, as an attempt at a compromise with an utterly false principle; and I am glad that the movement has collapsed.

I hold that Free trade is entirely wrong in principle and disastrous in results. Every argument of the free-trader is based on the misuse, not upon the proper use, of Protection.

Every so-called triumphant exposure of the evils caused by Protection has simply been an exposure of the evils of Protection carried beyond its legitimate limits.

The Corn Laws, to which Free trade owes its existence, were an instance of undue protection; they urgently required alteration, not repeal. Free trade advocates are unable to distinguish the difference between the use and the misuse of a principle. In their abhorrence of its misuse, they would sweep it away altogether. They are about as reasonable as the man who discovers that too much food will cause indigestion, and therefore proposes, as an infallible law of political economy, the dogma that no food whatever is to be taken. And they stigmatize as “simpletons without memory or logic,” as men “beyond the reach of argument”[1] those who decline to accept the Free trade gospel of starvation.


[1] Mr. Bright’s letter to A. Sharp, Bradford, 1879.



I have said that facts are against your idol, let me advance a few of them:—

  (1.)   The prophecies made by the originators of free trade have proved to be false.

  (2.)   England stands alone as a free-trader. Free trade, at the present time, is either an English, or a barbarous custom.

  (3.)   France made a partial trial of free trade, but has drawn back and refused to continue the commercial treaty.

  (4.)   Increased wealth,—due to improvements in science, steam, and electricity, although dishonestly claimed the work of free trade,—has been shared by all civilized nations.

  (5.)   Protectionist countries have made greater relative advance in prosperity than England.

  (6.)   The exceptional prosperity of the years 1871–73 was due to a partial suspension of free trade caused by the Franco-Prussian war.

  (7.)   The rise of wages in England,—dishonestly claimed as the work of free trade,—has been shared by Protectionist countries.

  (8.)   The statistics of decrease of crime and pauperism—claimed as the work of free trade—are fictitious and misleading.

  (9.)   Protectionist America is passing Free Trade England by “in a canter.”

(10.)   Protectionist America contrasts favourably with Free Trade Canada.

(11.)   Canada having lately departed from free trade[7] principles, is satisfied with the result, and clamours for more protection.

(12.)   The Colony of Victoria, which has departed farthest from the principles of free trade, is the most prosperous of the Australian Colonies.

(13.)   Free Trade Ireland contrasts unfavourably with Protectionist Holland, which has every natural disadvantage.

(14.)   The agricultural industry of Ireland has been destroyed, and Ireland ruined by free trade.

(15.)   The manufacturing industries of Ireland, which flourished under protection, have become extinct under free trade.

(16.)   English agricultural industries are rapidly being ruined by free trade.

(17.)   In the last eleven years, about 1,200,000, acres have gone out of tillage in the United Kingdom, and about 7,400,000 acres are lying fallow.

(18.)   Numerous farms are untenanted, or let at nominal rates.

(19.)   The loss to the agricultural classes within the last few years has been estimated at £150,000,000.[2]

(20.)   Many English landowners are realizing what they can from the wreck, and investing the capital in Protectionist America.

(21.)   English manufacturing industries are, for the most part, on the high road to ruin.

(22.)   Silk industry is nearly extinct in England.

(23.)   Cotton and woollen industries are struggling hard for existence.

(24.)   Iron industries are said to have lost £160,000,000 in four years.


(25.)   Protectionist countries have outstripped England in relative increase of commerce.

(26.)   The accumulation of wealth is increasing more rapidly in Protectionist France than in England, in spite of a disastrous war, a heavy war indemnity, a civil war, and an unsettled form of Government.

(27.)   Land cultivation is increasing in Protectionist France and decreasing in Free Trade England.

(28.)   The relative increase in the production of iron is greater in Protectionist countries than in England.

(29.)   The relative increase in general manufacture is Greater in Protectionist countries than in England.

(30.)   The working classes, by whom free trade was carried, though nominally free-traders, are practically extreme protectionists.

(31.)   The working classes, whenever they have obtained predominant influence, have become protectionists.

(32.)   “The revenue returns continue to exhibit a stagnant tendency under all the heads which are considered tests of national prosperity.” (Telegraphic Summary of News, Civil and Military Gazette, December 7th, 1883.)

(33.)   “It is predicted that, unless Freight rates to India speedily improve, a considerable number of steamers now engaged in the trade will be laid up.” (Civil and Military Gazette, December 7th, 1883.)

(34.)   “Gloomy predictions are uttered about the immediate future of our iron-trade. Few fresh orders are coming in, and stocks are consequently increasing in an alarming manner.” (Civil and Military Gazette, December 7th, 1883.)

(35.)   “Again it is alleged that the principles of free trade, which have been adopted in this country, have tended, in a great degree, to produce the disastrous results which[9] we have at present to contend against, and which present a gloomy look-out for the cotton operatives of this country.” (The Mail, December 19th, 1883.)

(36.)   “It is the intention of the leading men among the cotton operatives to move next session for a Royal Commission to enquire as to what extent, if any, we suffer from foreign competition, and what bearing our system of free trade may have on the question.” (The Mail, December 19th, 1883.)

Before I proceed to substantiate the facts above given, I wish to clear the ground by a few axioms which I think few will venture to dispute.


[2] By Mr. John Bright.


Axiom.Action of Free-Trade.
(1.)The object of political economy is to increase the wealth and power of a country.[3]Free trade attaches more importance to consumption than to productive industries.
(2.)The riches or power of a country is in proportion to its produce.[3]
(3.)Industries, or the produce of the land and labour, are the REAL WEALTH of the country.[3]Free trade destroys the sources of employing productive labour.
(4.)The requisites of production are Labour, Capital and Land.[4]
(5.)Parsimony, not industry, is the immediate source of increase of capital.[3]Free trade promotes consumption rather than parsimony.
(6.)Capital is wealth appropriated to reproductive employment.[4]Free trade is rapidly driving capital to Protectionist countries.
[10] (7.)Industries are limited by capital, and cannot be created without capital.[5]
(8.)Increase of capital gives employment to labour without assignable limits.[5]
(9.)Productive labour is labour employed to produce a profit.[6]Free trade makes labour unproductive
(10.)Emigration of productive labour is loss of capital. The Minister of War in France asserts that every individual transported to Algeria costs the State 8,000 francs.Free trade encourages the immigration of productive labour to Protectionist countries.
(11.)Industries carried on without profit, cause loss of capital and credit.
(12.)It is demand only that causes labour and its produce to be wealth.[6]Free trade prefers consumption to demand.
(13.)To purchase produce is not to employ labour.[5]Free trade purchases produce instead of employing labour.
(14.)Capital employed on Foreign trade is less advantageously employed for society than on Home trade.[7]
(In extreme cases Adam Smith shows that capital might be twenty-four times more advantageously employed on Home than on Foreign trade.)Free trade encourages Foreign and Carrying trade, rather than Home trade.
(15.)Carrying trade is less advantageous than either Foreign or Home trade.[7]
[11] (16.)Interest on capital is natural, lawful, and consistent with the general good.[8]
(17.)A struggle between capital and labour is the greatest evil that can be inflicted on society.[8]Free trade leaders encourage a struggle between Labour and Capital, between Landlord and Tenant.
(18.)Land let out for profit is the capital of the landlord.[9]
(19.)The capital of the employers forms the revenue of the labourer.[10]Free trade destroys the capital of the employer.
(20.)Nothing can be more fatal than the cry against capital, so often unthinkingly uttered.[9]Free trade leaders raise this cry against the capitalist landlord.
(21.)Rent does not affect the price of agricultural produce.[9]
(22.)It is to the interest of the labourer that there should be as many rich men as possible to compete for his labour.[9]Mr. Bright says, that rich landlord capitalists are the squanderers of national wealth.
(23.)Agriculture is the most advantageous employment of capital.[11]Free trade has destroyed agriculture in England and Ireland.
(24.)No equal capital puts in motion a greater quantity of productive labour than that of the farmer.[11]
(25.)Cultivated land is more advantageous than pasture.[11] (It has been computed [12] that wheat cultivation per acre, compared with pasture land, produces eight times the quantity of human food, and employs three times the amount of labour.)Free trade leaders urge the substitution of pasture for wheat cultivation in England.
(26.)The interests of the agricultural and manufacturing classes are inseparably connected with those of the whole community.
(27.)Credit when sound is capital.[12]Free trade is destroying credit by causing industries to work at a loss.
(28.)Credit, when it exceeds the present value of future profits, is unsound.
(29.)Credit is the anticipation of future profit.[12]
(30.)Money is the accumulation of past profits.
(31.)Activity of commerce is not necessarily an indication of prosperity.Free trade causes the commerce of Great Britain to be one of consumption rather than production, and consequently unhealthy.
(32.)The true Economist pursues a great future good at the risk of a small present evil.[13]Free trade, to avoid a small present evil, risks a national disaster.


[3] Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith.

[4] Political Economy, by J. S. Mill.

[5] Political Economy, by J. S. Mill.

[6] Political Economy, by H. D. Macleod.

[7] Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith.

[8] Political Economy, by F. Bastiat.

[9] Political Economy, by H. D. Macleod.

[10] Political Economy, by J. S. Mill.

[11] Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith.

[12] Political Economy, by H. D. Macleod.

[13] Political Economy, by F. Bastiat.


Do not suppose, my Friend, that I am opposed to political economy; I am simply opposed to your application of its principles.


Let me illustrate my meaning by a comparison between Mathematics and Political Economy:—

Mathematics may be divided into two classes—“pure” and “applied.”

Political economy may be divided into two similar classes—“pure” and “applied.”

Pure Mathematics, being an exact science, is infallible.

Pure Political economy, being a matter of opinion, is not infallible; but let us for the moment suppose it to be so.[14]

Applied mathematics are not always sound; for example, in applying mathematics to Engineering problems, it is by no means uncommon to find that they appear to err most egregiously; so much so, as to give rise to the saying, that “theory and practice contradict one another.” The fact, in reality, being that theory has not been correctly applied; that innumerable small factors, which can only be ascertained by practice and experience, have been neglected in the application of theory; and even practice often fails to supply these factors.

Applied Political Economy is under similar conditions, but with this difference: 1st, that pure Political Economy is not infallible; 2nd, that the application of Political Economy is affected by a greater number of intricate factors than any ordinary problem in Engineering; 3rd, that the observation of results in a complex question of Applied Political Economy is far more difficult than in the case of those simple materials which are dealt with in Engineering problems.

The eminent Italian Political Economist, Luigi Cossa,[14] warns the student of this difficulty; but free-trading “fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

He says:—

“It is needful to hold ourselves aloof equally from the so-called Doctrinaires who refuse the assistance of practice, and from the Empiricists who obstinately close their eyes to the light of theory.

The Pure science explains phenomena and determines laws; the Applied science gives guiding principles, which practice brings into conformity with the innumerable varieties of individual cases.”[15]

Mill also says:—

“One of the peculiarities of modern times,—the separation of theory from practice,—of the studies of the closet from the outward business of the world,—has given a wrong bias to the ideas and feelings both of the student and of the man of business.[16] ... There is almost always room for a modest doubt as to our practical conclusions.”

Let us take an example of pure and applied science.

You, my Friend, quote an axiom of Pure Political Economy when you say:—

“It is unjust to tax all for the benefit of one class” So far I quite agree with you;—it is to your application of the axiom that I object, when you go on to say—“therefore protection in any shape is wrong.” Your application of pure science to the complex question of free trade is quite incorrect.

I say “it is just and expedient to tax all for the benefit of all.” I hold that the employment of home and colonial labour, and the development of home and colonial produce and industries, is for the benefit of the community as a whole; and that, consequently, protection, if carried only to the extent necessary to secure this, and no further, is just and expedient.


The Corn Laws, as existing in 1846, went beyond this: and their alteration, not their abolition, was needed. Your free-trader’s argument is like that of a man who has discovered that too much water will drown, and proceeds at once to the other extreme of killing by thirst.

All extremes are bad. Free trade is an extreme. Want of competition is bad. Extreme competition is bad. Healthy competition is that which is wanted.

Unlimited competition defeats its own purpose by crushing out weaker industries, diminishing the supply, and enabling the successful competitors to raise their prices as soon as the rival industry has been extinguished.

Even Mill admits that protection may

“be defensible when imposed temporarily ... in hopes of naturalizing a foreign industry.”[17]

And Cossa allows that—

“At certain times, and under certain conditions, protection has given notable advantages to industrial organization and progress.... Colbert’s system and Cromwell’s Navigation Act, contributed not a little to the economic greatness of France and England.”[18]

There seems to be but little doubt that the political economist of the future will hold up England as an awful warning, but an instructive example, of a country ruined by the persistent misapplication of the principles of political economy.

Alexr. Hamilton, the greatest statesman America ever produced, says:—

Though it were true that the immediate and certain effect of regulations controlling the competition of foreign and domestic fabrics was an increase of price, it is universally true that the contrary is the ultimate effect with every successful manufacture. [16]When a domestic manufacture has been brought to perfection and has engaged in the prosecution of it a competent number of persons it invariably becomes cheaper. * * * The internal competition which takes place soon does away with anything like monopoly, and by degrees reduces the price of the article to the minimum of reasonable profit on the capital. (Treasury Report Dec. 1791.)—Fortnightly Review, 1873.

It is not merely your misapplication of the principles of political economy to which I object; I also object to the over-bearing way in which you thrust down the throat of your opponent the opinions of your favourite political economists, as if they were infallible and settled the question beyond all possibility of further argument. This is especially the case when you quote Mill. Now Mill is no doubt an eminently able and powerful writer; but he is deplorably subject to mistakes. He constantly contradicts himself, and is contradicted by political economists equally able and more reliable than himself. For example, Professor Bonamy Price[19] accuses Mill of introducing utter confusion into the topic of Wages.

Cossa speaks of Mill’s “ardent concessions to socialism more apparent than real;” of his “narrow philosophic utilitarianism.”

Also, speaking of Thornton, Cossa says:[20]

“His book on labour is an excellent one; it made a great impression on Mill, and caused him to abandon his theory of wages fund; which has also been opposed by Lange, by the American Economist Walker, and by Bretano.”

Many of the inaccuracies of Mill have been exposed by Professor Cairnes.[21]


Mr. Cook says:—

“Mill, however, is said to have abandoned the seesaw theory in his latest and yet unpublished essays.”[22]

Macleod also, in writing on the question of rent says:—

“This does not exhaust the absurdity of the Ricardo-Mill theory of rent ... but in fact Mill himself has completely overthrown this theory of rent.”[23]

Anyone who has carefully studied the writings of Mill cannot fail to be struck with the manner in which he allows that which Herbert Spencer terms “Political Bias,” and which Cossa terms Mill’s “narrow philosophic utilitarianism,” to affect his opinion, and warp his better judgment; and when this is the case, he is guilty of absurdities, inconsistencies, and illogical reasoning that would disgrace a school-boy.[24]


[14] I venture to maintain that political economy is not a body of natural laws in the true sense, or of universal and immutable truths, but an assemblage of speculations and doctrines which are the result of a particular history coloured even by the history and character of the chief writers.—T. Cliffe Leslie, Fortnightly Review, Oct. 1870.

[15] Guida Allo Studio dell’Economio Politico.—L. Cossa.

[16] Some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy, J. S. Mill, p. 156.

[17] Mill’s Political Economy, Bk. V. Chap. X.

[18] Cossa’s Political Economy, Bk. II. Chap. III.

[19] Practical Political Economy, by Profr. Bonamy Price.

[20] Cossa’s Political Economy, Bk. II. Chap. III.

[21] Some Leading Principles of Political Economy newly expounded by Professor Cairnes. 1874.

[22] Labour. Joseph Cook, p. 179.

[23] Macleod’s Economics, p. 116.

[24] An illustration of this is given in Chap. XV.


You are very fond, my Friend, of talking about political economy. Suppose, for a change, we discuss a certain political extravagance, of which you are guilty.

“Look!” you say, “at the visible signs of prosperity caused by free trade, our annual imports are in excess of our exports by £100,000,000. This represents the annual accumulation of our national wealth.”

Now, my friend, I want you to try and take a common-sense view of things:—

Mill says, that “saving enriches, and spending impoverishes, [18]the community along with the individual.”[25] Now let us apply England’s action in this respect to the assumed case of an individual. Suppose a farmer should allow his land to go out of cultivation and purchase farm produce, for his own consumption, from the open market; suppose at the same time he has a limited supply of iron ore on his estate, which he sells at a rate that does not quite cover the cost of its production; would you argue that the more food such a one purchased and consumed, and the more iron ore he sold, the greater was his prosperity; and especially so because he consumed more than he sold?

In my ignorance of political economy I should have said that such a man was on the highroad to bankruptcy. Now this is precisely what England is doing.

She is allowing her land to go out of cultivation. She is purchasing from foreign countries food which she might produce herself, and which, when consumed, leaves nothing to show for the expenditure. Her manufacturing industries are losing concerns; her shipping is carrying at nominal rates; her iron industry has been losing at the rate of £40,000,000 a year; and she is parting with her limited capital of iron at a loss. The excess of Imports over Exports does not represent wealth capable of accumulation, but consists of consumable articles of food.

The annual imports of the principal staples of food in 1881 were:—

Capable of being produced in England. { Corn and flour
Live animals
£ 60,856,768[26]
£ 105,142,310
[19] Capable of being produced in England’s dependencies { Tea
£ 11,208,601[28]
Total £ 140,639,708

Besides these, there are butter, cheese, eggs, coffee, cocoa, and other articles of food, which must probably amount to something between 20 and 30 millions sterling. So that the excess of £100,000,000 sterling is entirely due to consumable food, much of which might be produced in England. If this be not political extravagance, I am at a loss for a definition of Extravagance. My friend, it appears to me that you are burning the candle at both ends.

Mr. Leffingwell, an intelligent American, writes:[29]

“Should the day ever arrive when most of her mills are silent, her ‘Black country’ again green, her furnaces cold, her shops filled with foreign wares, and her food brought from distant lands, it will add little to her welfare that all other nations find a market on her shores for the products of their factories and fields.”

Let us now hear what America has to say about free trade:—

“If, during the last fifty years, America had permitted a system of unrestricted trade with all the world, she would never have reached that development of her manufactures which has rendered her independent, but would to-day be little more than a huge agricultural colony exchanging the produce of her fields for the manufactures and fabrics of Europe.

“Under a system of protection America has been able to develop her boundless mineral resources, to encourage the growth of her manufacturing industries, until to-day she is not only independent and able to supply her own needs, but she exports to foreign nations, and has begun to compete with England for the trade of the world.”

A few quotations from the utterances of our own countrymen [20]may serve to show what Protection has done for America:—

“The edge tool trade is well sustained, and we have less of the effects of American competition. That this competition is severe, however, is a fact that cannot be ignored, and it applies to many other branches than that of edge tools. Every Canadian season affords unmistakable evidence that some additional article in English Hardware is being supplanted by the produce of the Northern States; and it is notorious how largely American wares are rivalling those of the mother country in others of our colonial possessions as well as on the continent. The ascendency of the protectionist party in the States continues to operate most favourably for the manufacturing interests there, and it is no wonder that under such benignant auspices the enterprise in this direction is swelling to colossal proportions. The whole subject is one demanding the serious attention of our manufacturers.” (Rylands’ Trade Circular, Birmingham, March 4th, 1871.)

“A leading manufacturer expressed himself startled and alarmed at what he saw (at the Paris Exhibition) as the proofs of successful rivalry on the part of the Americans in branches of his own trade.” (Lectures at the Colonial Institution, November, 1878.)

“Unless our manufacturers bestir themselves, the Americans will completely command the markets of Europe.” (Col. Wrottesby’s Letter to the Times, July 6, 1869.)

“Manufactories have been created and fostered by a system of protection, which, through enhanced prices paid by consumers, must have been very costly to the nation, but of the result of which they have reason to be proud, since it has made them to so great an extent independent of other nations for their supply.” (Report of Philadelphia Exhibition, Mr. P. Graham, Vice-President of the Society of Arts.)

“The worsted manufacture of the United States is comparatively of recent origin, but it has made very rapid progress during the past ten or twelve years, the high tariff having greatly stimulated its development.” (Report of Philadelphia Exhibition. Mr. H. Mitchel, Member of Bradford Chamber of Commerce.)

“America is not only supplying her own country with goods, but exporting her manufactures to such an extent that she has become a powerful rival to England.” (Mr. Mundella, Nov. 21, 1874.)

“There is no time to be lost if we mean to hold our own in the hardware trade.” (J. Anderson’s Report on Philadelphia Exhibition.)


“For years Sheffield has supplied not only our own country, but nearly the whole world. The monopoly remains with us no longer. It would be foolish not to recognize the fact that at Philadelphia Great Britain was in the face of a powerful rival in manufactures.” (Report on Philadelphia Exhibition—D. McHardy.)

Some idea of the increase of American manufacture may be found in the example of two items—Paper and Carpets.

Value of paper imported into the United States—
Value of exports of paper—
Tapestry carpet imported into the United States—


[25] ‘Political Economy,’ by Mill, Bk. I. Chap. V.

[26] ‘Statesman’s Yearbook,’ 1883, p. 257.

[27] ‘Whitaker’s Almanack,’ 1883, p. 254.

[28] ‘Statesman’s Yearbook,’ 1883. p. 257.

[29] Albert Leffingwell.


The truth of a religion may perhaps be gauged by the fulfilment of the utterances of its prophets. Let us analyze some of these.

Even the free importation of foreign corn could very little affect the interest of the farmers of Great Britain.... If there were no bounty, less corn would be exported, so it is probable that, one year with another, less corn would be imported than at present.... The average quantity imported one year with another amounts only to 23,728 quarters. (Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith, Bk. IV, Chap. II.) Total importations of wheat in 1881 = 17,000,000 quarters as against 23,728 prophesied by Adam Smith.
[22] The Americans are a very cautious, far-seeing people, and every one who knows them knows that they would never have tolerated their protective tariff if we had met their advances by receiving their agricultural products in exchange for our manufacturing products. (Cobden, 1842.) After receiving the agricultural products of America for thirty-eight years, we find the Americans are as strong protectionists as ever, and the presidential message, 4th December 1883, recommends that America should retaliate on all countries taxing American produce.
I speak my unfeigned convictions when I say I believe there is no interest in the country that would receive so much benefit from the repeal of the Corn Laws as the Farm-tenant interest in this country. (Cobden, 1844.) After thirty-eight years of free trade Prophet Bright admits that the agricultural classes, owners and occupiers of land have lost more than £150,000,000. Numerous farm-tenants have emigrated to protectionist America.
I believe when the future historian comes to write the history of agriculture, he will have to state:—In such a year there was a stringent Corn law passed for the protection of agriculture. From that time agriculture slumbered in England, and it was not until, by the aid of the Anti-Corn-Law- League, the Corn Law was utterly abolished, that agriculture sprung up into the full vigour of existence in England, to become what it is now, like the manufactures, unrivalled in the world. (Cobden, 1844.) to protectionist countries; landowners had sold their land at ruinous prices, and invested the residue in America. Never was ruin more complete.” The true historian will have to record:—
“After the introduction of free trade, although the general advance of wealth due to improvements in science, steam and electricity gave to England, from time to time, the appearance of agricultural prosperity, yet agriculture gradually decayed; and in 1884 millions of acres had gone out of tillage; land had become foul and was badly farmed; hundreds of farms were absolutely untenanted; farmers had emigrated
You have no more right to doubt that the sun will rise in the heavens, than to doubt that, in ten years from the time when England inaugurates the glorious era of commercial freedom, every civilized [23] country will be free-trader to the backbone. (Cobden, 1844.) Not only is no other country free-trader, but even England is getting rather shaky in her adhesion. Mr. Forster, at Bradford, entreated his hearers not to “say anything that might induce foreigners to suspect that our faith in free trade was shaken” Mr. Bright, in his letter to Mr. Lord, wrote; “To return to Protection, under the name of Reciprocity, is to confess to Protectionists abroad that we have been wrong and they have been right.”
I believe that if you abolish the Corn Laws and adopt free trade in its simplicity, there will not be a tariff in Europe that will not be changed in less than five years to follow your example. (Cobden, 1846.) After thirty-eight years not a single country in Europe has been foolish enough to follow our example. France has drawn back from her commercial treaty with us. Mr. Thiers, in his speech of January 18th, 1880, said: “In the first country in the world arrangements are made to protect the different branches of native industry.”
Bastiat prophesied that France would adopt free trade in six years after England had adopted it. France has not adopted free trade, and is more strongly protectionist than ever.
Bastiat prophesied that, without free trade, no country can prosper.Statistics given in the next chapter shows that the relative prosperity of protectionist countries is greater than that of England.
Bastiat prophesied that because Belgium had rejected free trade her ruin was certain.Belgium is enjoying wonderful prosperity.

Professor Cairnes says:—

“The able men who led the agitation for the repeal of the Corn Laws promised much more than this. They told us that the Poor Laws were to follow the Corn Laws; that pauperism would disappear with the restrictions upon trade, and the workhouses ere long become obsolete institutions. I fear this part of the programme has scarcely been fulfilled; those ugly social features, those violent contrasts of poverty and wealth, that strike so unpleasantly the eye of every foreign observer in this country, are still painfully prominent.[24] The signs of the extinction of pauperism are not very apparent.”[30]

Disraeli prophesied in 1852:—

“The time will come when the working classes in England will come to you on bended knees, and pray you to undo your present legislation.”

And it really seems as if the time was approaching for the fulfilment of his prophecy, for I read in a recent Paper:

“It is the intention of the leading men among the Cotton Operatives to move next session for a Royal Commission to enquire as to what extent, if any, we suffer from foreign competition, and what bearing free trade may have on the question.”

Sir Edward Sullivan also stated in a recent speech that:

“Already a number of Operatives, far more than is necessary to turn a general election, have, through their delegates, given in their adherence to Fair trade.”[31]

Fair trade is one step in the direction of protection.


[30] Fortnightly Review, July, 1871.

[31] The Mail, December 19th, 1883.


Carlyle has said—“There are thirty millions of people in Great Britain, mostly fools.”

You remind me, my friend, of the Irishman who complained that he never served on a jury without finding himself associated with eleven of the most obstinate pig-headed men conceivable.

Are all other nations, except England, obstinate, and pig-headed? Is the shrewd American blind to his own interest? [25]Are the phlegmatic Dutchman, the thrifty Belgian, the clever Frenchman, the philosophical German, simpletons and idiots, as Mr. Bright is pleased to call all those who do not implicitly accept the gospel of free trade.

Might not Carlyle’s pithy remark teach a little humility?

No country except England is free-trader. Free trade, at the present time, after a trial of thirty-eight years, is either an English, or a barbarous custom. All other civilized nations are obstinate protectionists; and the worst of it is, that they are growing more and more obstinate in their adherence to protection, as they find they are making greater relative advance in prosperity than England with its free trade. Even Mr. Gladstone himself admits that “America is passing us by in a canter.”

Is not Mr. Gladstone somewhat ashamed to admit that the country, in the government of which he has had so large a share during the present century, should be “passed in a canter” by a country so terribly handicapped by protection. Does not it suggest the idea that the country which he has governed may possibly have been misgoverned. “Passed by at a canter!!” What a damning admission of failure!

His excuse is, that America is a young country with abundant room for its surplus population; but this excuse, like the majority of his ingenious evasions, is utterly fictitious.

England, taken as a whole, with its colonies and dependencies, is two and half times as large as America.[32] She has every advantage that America possesses.[33] She had a good start, and if she had only been governed by statesmen of [26]comprehensive grasp, she ought to have outstripped America in wealth and progress, quite as much as America has now outstripped us.

If England had but carefully protected the interests of its colonies and dependencies, studied their interests as identical with her own, she would now have been foremost in the race.

She drove America from the union with her by her selfish policy, and she is pursuing the same, or rather far more, suicidal policy now.

What is the use of the colonies? our Liberal politicians now cry. What indeed? I echo; so long as free trade neutralizes all possible benefit to be obtained from them or by them; but, properly governed, they would have enabled us to do to America that which Mr. Gladstone admits America is doing to us—“passing us by at a canter.”

Unfortunately we are lagging in the race with other protectionist countries, as the following statement will show.

Free-traders compare our wealth and commerce with what it was before the introduction of free trade, and claim the increase as the result of free trade. If the claim were just, other nations ought to have stood still, or retrograded under protection; let us see if they have done so. The only fair comparison is to take the condition of each country at a given date; assuming its relative condition at that date as 100, and then comparing it with its advance at the present time.

Relative Advance of Nations.

Commerce generally—Years 18601880
Free trade England100to180


Railway Construction—18601882
Railway goods traffic—18601882
Holland and Belgium525
Production of Coal—18601880
Production of Iron—18501882
Production of Copper—18501880
Consumption of Raw Cotton—Years 18601880
General Manufactures—18601880


Woollen Manufacture—1860 18801881
England100 to —122
America  100 to 331
Number of holders of National Securities—18501880
England “consols”100to83
France “Rentes”100547
Legacy probate value—18601880
Amount of Deposits in Savings Banks—18501882
Belgium and Holland 405[34]

For many years England did not feel the evils of free trade. She had a good start in the race, with the commerce and markets of the world in her hands. She had been foremost in improvement of machinery, having secured her manufactures by a system of protection, and she was therefore the first to reap the profits of such improvements. It would naturally take years for other nations to overtake her, when she had so good a start; but the capital she recklessly employed in purchasing commodities which might have been produced at home, was expended in arming foreign nations for successful rivalry with us.

It was not until fifteen or twenty years ago, that this suicidal process was sufficiently advanced to tell upon our trade; but it is now pressing on us with alarming strides, and had not our industries been saved, by partial suspension of free trade, in the American and Franco-Prussian wars, we should now feel it still more severely. As it is, we have not seen the worst. Every day foreign industries are[29] increasing in magnitude and efficiency, and consequently must increase in cheapness of production. At present they have done little more than take up a share from the markets, which were formerly our own. Soon they will invade our own country in force. In the present cotton strike in Lancashire, the employers have given us a reason for the terrible depression of trade, that cloth manufactures from Belgium can now be supplied to the print-works in Lancashire at lower rates than the Lancashire manufactured cloth can be purchased.[35]

You may say the depression of trade is not confined to England, but exists in America. I admit it, but it is very different from that which exists in England. With America it is the reaction of a too rapid increase of new manufacture stimulated by successful enterprise; in the case of England it is the steady decline of old-established industries under crushing competition, of which we have not yet felt the worst.


[32] Area of the United States = 3,602,300 sq. miles. Area of England and its dependencies = 8,982,200 sq. miles.

[33] It may be argued that America is a more compact dominion, but steam and electricity annihilate space, and England’s immense superiority in area far more than outweighs the advantage of compactness.

[34] It must be understood that, in all the statistics above given, “England” and “America” are intended to mean—the United Kingdom and the United States respectively.

[35] The Mail, Dec. 19th, 1883.


How is it, that the men of the working class, who are nominally free-traders, are practically protectionists?

How is it, to use the words of Mr. Wise, an ardent apologist for free trade, that—

“In 1846, the working classes overthrew protectionism in England, and in 1878 the same classes, wherever they have obtained predominant influence, are carrying into practice the extreme theories of their old opponents?”


Mr. Syme also says:—

“In Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, the party of progress has always been identified with a restrictive commercial policy, while the conservatives are the most uncompromising of free traders. Indeed, it may be said, that one-half of the entire English-speaking race are, in one shape or another, in favour of a restrictionist policy, and of this half the great majority are advanced liberals.”[36]

Free trade was an assertion on the part of labourers as consumers; the protectionist policy of America and Australia is the attempt of the same class to obtain privileges as producers. The working men in those countries are possessed by the thorough belief that, by carrying out their policy, they benefit all. Free trade considered that the interests of consumers suffered by protection; the Americans and Australians, with their eyes open, undergo these private inconveniences because they believe the mass of the community is better off thereby. To use the words of an intelligent American:

“We all recognize that a protection tariff forces us to pay for many articles slightly more than they would probably cost us under a system of free trade. We know too that at first our manufactured products, whether of metal, cotton or coal, cost us in general more to make at home than they would have cost us if imported freely from abroad. We know that we are not buying in the cheapest market, but we believe, on the whole, it is best to impose upon ourselves the voluntary tax[37] for the great ends, not of enriching Monopolists, but of promoting the best interest of the nation.”

The average American is neither a fool, nor a knave. To fanciful theories, whose value is problematical, he prefers the solid assurance of experience and fact.


The cause of this apparently inconsistent action on the part of the working classes is easily explained. Free trade was a political job,[38] and the working classes were enlisted, by politicians, into a crusade against their own interests, to assist in the overthrow of those classes which supported the political opponents of the Free-Trading rulers.

For this purpose the working classes were stirred up to class antagonism, and the Free-Traders have kept up the delusion by dishonestly claiming as the work of free trade every advantage which protectionist countries have shared in common with us.

History is repeating itself in the delusion against which poor old Æsop warned us centuries ago by his fable of the “Members and the Belly.”

The members (manufacturing hands) hounded on by Bright and Co. to class antagonism against the belly (the agricultural classes) who were represented as “squandering national wealth,” have now brought England to a pretty pass. The reaction is taking place. Poor old Æsop was, as a political economist, more far-seeing than Mr. Bright; who now, however, seems to be changing his views in the most marvellous manner, for he has at last recognised that the manufacturing interests are affected by the agricultural depression. For he says:—

“Home trade is bad, mainly, or entirely, because harvests have been bad for several years. The remedy will come with more sunshine and better yield of land, without this it cannot come.[39]

“I believe the agricultural owners and occupiers of land have [32]lost more than £150,000,000 sterling through the great deficiency of harvest.”

Bravo, Friend Bright! you are approaching the truth. Without improvement in agricultural prosperity “the remedy for bad trade cannot come.”

But England is not celebrated for sunshine, the sunshine we require is that of protection.

Taking the nine years ending 1881, I find that, in only one year, the rainfall of the United Kingdom has been largely (7¼ inches) above the average of the last seventeen years. In five out of the nine, the rainfall has been a little below the average; in one year, ¼ of an inch above, and in another year, not quite 2 inches above, the average.

There is no doubt that the average produce of farming in England has, of late years, been below the average of former years; but the Mark Lane Express returns show that, in all these years, there has been a considerable percentage of cases in which the crops have been equal to or over the average. From this we may assume that the sun is not wholly to blame, but that want of sufficient capital to farm properly and to recover the results of bad years has been a very important factor in the deficiency of crops. This may be gleaned from the replies to the questions circulated by Mr. Bear as to the condition of the farmers in 1878.

Bedfordshire:—“Farmers are losing heart, and the land is in a much worse state than formerly.... There has been a serious inroad upon capital account during the last few years, and the land has seriously gone back in cultivation.... The condition of the land has sunk.”

Cumberland:—“The last season has been a good one; but the present prices are not satisfactory, and the general depression in trade is now having its influence on farming.”

Essex:—“Farmers suffering from low prices, general depression of trade, the rise in wages.... The work all round is carried on languidly, and year by year the condition of the land is becoming poorer.... A large quantity of the kind very badly farmed.”


Kent:—“More weeds grown last year than I ever saw before.”

Monmouthshire:—“Land going out of cultivation, stock reduced in quantity, only necessary work done.”

Northamptonshire:—“The results of the two last seasons will not supply means for substantial improvements.”

Northumberland:—“An immense deal of land producing nothing, I may say, simply out of cultivation.”

Oxfordshire:—“The land is very foul and poor, partly from the continuous rains and the shortness of stock.”

Shropshire:—“Very few farmers, if any, paying their way.... Hand-to-mouth farming.”

Sussex:—“The land generally is not so clean or so well-cultivated as it was a few years since.”

Lord Derby estimates that, with proper farming, we should obtain twice as much produce as we now get.


[36] Fortnightly Review, April, 1873.

[37] The false economist pursues a small present good which will be followed by a great evil to come, while the true economist pursues a great good to come at the risk of a small present evil. (Political Economy—Bastiat.)

[38] “I am afraid that most of us entered upon this struggle with the belief that we had some distinct class interest in the question.” (Cobden.)

[39] Mr. Bright is deserting his free-trade comrades, who say—“It is not only the beneficial working of free trade that prescribes the agricultural ruin of England: it is the great natural law of the preservation of the fittest that proclaims that, as England is not the best fitted to grow corn, she must grow corn no longer.”


I think you will admit, that if a statesman, pretending to govern by rules of political economy, should make very gross, misleading statements regarding the results of a particular line of policy which he had pursued for years, such a man must be convicted of hopeless incompetency or else of gross dishonesty, either of which ought to disqualify him as an administrator; and your Free Trade statesman certainly comes under such an indictment.

Your Right Hon’ble Ruler rises after a public dinner, and holds forth with matchless eloquence, pointing out the blessings and prosperity Free Trade has brought to the country. His statements are received with thunders of applause, and the Right Hon’ble Orator and his audience disperse mutually satisfied with each other.

I wonder whether it ever occurs to the orator, in the[34] quiet of his chamber, that to use his own words, he “has resorted to the simple but effectual plan of pure falsification.”[40] Can he possibly be so ignorant of current events, and of the subjects with which he ought to be acquainted, as not to know that other nations—protectionist nationshave made greater relative advance than ourselves; that the increase of wealth is universal; that it is shared by all civilized nations in common with us; and that it is due to improvements in science, art, and manufacture—to improved communications by railways, steam navigation, telegraphs, &c., which have made such enormous strides since the date at which Free Trade was adopted. Even Mill admits that—

“So rapid had been the extension of improved processes of agriculture, that the average price of corn had become decidedly lower even before the repeal of the Corn Laws.”[41]

There have been short periods of temporary prosperity in agriculture, and your Right Hon’ble Free Trader has been jubilant in hailing them as triumphs of Free Trade; but Adam Smith says:—

Improvements in manufacture tend to raise the value of land.[42]

Dare you, my Friend, after examination of the statistics given in the foregoing chapter, say, that the general increase of wealth is due to Free Trade; when protectionist nations have shared it in common with us? Aye! and taken the lion’s share too! You claim the temporary prosperity of the years 1871–73 as a victory for Free Trade, when in reality this prosperity is the most damning evidence against it. Are you so utterly blinded, as not to perceive that this prosperity was caused by the Franco-Prussian war, which, by [35]preventing the unlimited importation of French and German commodities into England, caused, in fact, partial suspension of Free Trade? Don’t you know that, in those years of prosperity, the price of wheat rose to 58s. 8d. per quarter, and that, in the present depressed condition of England, it is down to 41s. 5d. per quarter? Don’t you know that, during that time of prosperity, the excess of imports beyond our exports was £60,000,000 less than in the present depressed time? In other words, we were depressing our industries by 60,000,000 sterling per annum less than at present. Now, my Friend, give your verdict; is your Right Hon’ble Free Trader guilty or not guilty, either of hopeless incompetence or gross dishonesty in attributing the general increase of wealth in the world to the agency of Free Trade?—Your friend, Bright,[43] naively admits that “to return to protection under the name of reciprocity, is to confess to the protectionists abroad, that we have been wrong, and they have been right.” Verily! Friend Bright, whether you confess it or not, the truth will out. Friend Bright! you are like the ostrich, burying its head in the sand and thinking no one can see you. The protectionist nations of Europe can see you distinctly, and they are all laughing at your folly.


[40] Applied to the Conservative Party by Mr. Gladstone, in 1879.

[41] Mill’s Political Economy, Bk. I. Chap. XII.

[42] Wealth of Nations, Bk. I. Chap. XI.

[43] Mr. Bright, when brought to bay by unanswerable arguments, is in the habit of pleading that he has “neither time nor inclination” to enter into discussion, and takes refuge in discourtesy. A choice specimen is given in Appendix No. I.—correspondence with Mr. Lord.


I have not yet done with your Right Hon’ble advocate for Free Trade.

I have another charge, of that which Mr. Gladstone terms[36] the “simple and effective plan of pure falsification,” in which he himself appears to be not an unskilful adept.

Your Right Hon’ble Ruler ascribes the rise of wages and consequent prosperity to the beneficial action of Free Trade. If this were the case, wages ought to be depressed, or at all events stationary, in protectionist countries.

Let us see if this is the case:—

Relative rise of Wages.

{Agricultural labourer100150
Gt. BritainSkilled labourer100153
Cotton operative100133
France{Agricultural labourer100125
Skilled labourer100150
Belgium and Holland100130
United States, average labourer100143

It will be seen by this that the rise of wages has been general; due to the general increase of wealth in civilized nations; and that, in some cases, the relative increase has been nearly as rapid in thirty years in the protectionist country as it has been in forty years in England. Mill says:—

“The labourer in America enjoys a greater abundance of comforts than in any other country in the world, except in some of the newest Colonies.”[44]

Is it possible to conceive a more impudent claim than that which your Free-Trader sets up in claiming the rise of wages as the work of Free Trade? It stands to common sense that Free Trade, or, in other words, unlimited foreign competition, must have a tendency to reduce wages. During the agitation preceding the repeal of the Corn Laws, it was[37] one of the arguments in favour of the movement, that cheap bread would enable the British operative to work for lower wages, and thus be able to compete with the continental operative, who enjoyed the advantage of food at lower rates than those obtaining in England.

The general rise of wages which has occurred throughout protectionist countries, as well as in England, has been principally due to the increase in the wealth of Europe; but it has also been partially due to protection in the form of Trade-unionism. For what is Trade-unionism but protection in a somewhat extreme form?

The protection of British labour does not differ in principle from the protection of the results of British labour in the shape of its industries. Amongst the resolutions adopted at the International Conference of Trades Unions Delegates, I find the following:—

“There are two ways of attaining the object:—

(1) Legislation for the protection of the weak against competition;

(2) Organization of workmen who should be united and disciplined as in certain countries.”

Protection for the “weak against competition.” Is this in accord with Free Trade?


[44] Mill’s Political Economy, Bk. II. Chap. XV.


I have still another serious charge to bring against your Right Hon’ble Ruler, who pompously lays before you statistics to show that, since the introduction of Free Trade, pauperism and crime have decreased; and this your Right Hon’ble Ruler claims as one of the results of Free Trade.


The figures produced seem to be all right; but really the statistics of your Right Hon’ble Ruler have been found so very untrustworthy, that a careful scrutiny of them is necessary; and on investigation I find in them unmistakable evidence of either ignorance or dishonesty.

These statistics show that the number of paupers under relief in England was—

In 1862890,000
In 1880799,000
Apparent decrease91,000

In considering these figures, however, it must be remembered that England has of late years greatly increased the rate per pauper;[45] or, in other words, the relief now given will either relieve worse cases of pauperism than before, or else extend relief to other members of the family of the actual recipient. The present rates of relief in England are now four-and-half times as much as those in France, and seven-and-half times as much as those in Belgium and Holland.[46]

In the next place, your Right Hon’ble Free-Trader omits to mention that the private charities of London alone (orphanages, homes, asylums, hospitals, &c.) have increased, since [39]1859, by £1,159,000,[47] a sum sufficient to relieve 526,000 paupers at the French rate, or nearly 900,000 by the Belgian rate.

It is probable that private charities of the rest of England, including the large provincial towns, have increased in the same ratio as those of London; representing an enormous amount of relief.

Then, again, no mention is made of the relief afforded by Trades Unions and Benefit Societies,[48] which now expend about £4,000,000 annually in relief. This, at French rate, represents the relief of 1,800,000 paupers, or at Belgian rate of about 3,000,000 paupers.

Now, my Friend, what is your fictitious saving of 91,000 in comparison with the enormous figures given above?

Mr. Fawcett says:—

“Mr. Torrens, the Member for Finsbury, sought to prove that pauperism was increasing, that vast numbers of able-bodied labourers were unemployed, and that the normal condition of a considerable proportion of our population was one of abject misery and deplorable destitution.

“Mr. Goschen met these statements by a positive and indignant denial. He quoted a number of statistics to prove that the iron trade, the cotton trade, and other important branches of industry were reviving; he was jubilant over the fact that the number of paupers had only increased by 10,000 in a twelvemonth, and he became quite elated when recounting that the working classes were [40]using more tea and sugar, and that their average consumption of beer and spirits was augmenting. The speech was loudly applauded, especially by the commercial members. There are many who still think that the well-doing of a country can be measured by its exports and imports.... It is not our intention to dispute the accuracy of Mr. Goschen’s statistics. There is, however, too much reason to fear that they only tell a small part of the truth; and that, if not judiciously considered, they may conceal awkward and ugly facts which it will be perilous to ignore.”[49]

“Sir Edward Sullivan alluded to a statement made, he said, by a distinguished statesman, that, out of a population of thirty-four millions seven millions were toeing the line of starvation.”[50]

And these statements would appear to be in accord with the figures I have given above.

The statistics of your Right Hon’ble Ruler, which you receive with thunders of applause, are not worth the paper on which they are written.

Again I ask your verdict—guilty or not guilty?

Now for Crime. The statistics in this case are less defensible than in the previous case, because they involve a dishonourable suppression of facts.

The statistics brought forward to show that a diminution of crime has been the result of Free Trade, are as follows:

Convictions in 185913,470
Apparent decrease of crime2,117

Now this apparent decrease is wholly due to the “Criminal Justice Act” of 1855, which enables Magistrates to pass short sentences; and these, coming under the head of “Summary Convictions,” do not appear under the head of “Convictions,” where they would have appeared but for the “Act” of 1855.


If we take the total cases, including summary convictions, the figures stand as follows:—

Convictions in 1859246,227
Increase in crime296,092

In other words, instead of your Right Hon’ble Ruler’s decrease of 2,000 convictions, we have actually an increase of nearly 300,000. Is it possible to conceive a more glaring case of what Mr. Gladstone himself terms “the simple but effectual plan of pure falsification?”

Now for Intemperance. The number of persons fined for drunkenness in England:

In the year 186088,410
In      ”       1881174,481

or roughly speaking, the convictions for drunkenness have doubled in twenty-one years.

Truly, my Friend, you cannot congratulate Free Trade on the decrease of pauperism, crime, and intemperance it has produced.


[45] “In fifty years, Great Britain has lifted her estimate on this point so rapidly that she spends five times as much for a given number of paupers? than she did fifteen years after the opening of the century.” (‘Practical Political Economy,’ by Profr. Bonamy Price, p. 237.)

[46] Comparative Cost of Relief to Paupers.

Belgium and Holland13
(Mulhall’s Statistics, p. 346.)

[47] Expenditure in London Charities.

1859.  1881.  
Homes for aged88,000770,000
Hospitals, &c.301,000596,000

[48] The financial condition of many of the Trades Unions is causing serious alarm. The drain has been so heavy on them, that their capital is greatly reduced, and unless some change takes place, they will become bankrupt. The increase of pauperism will then be enormous.

[49] Fortnightly Review, January, 1871.

[50] The Mail, December 19th, 1883.


I see, my Friend, that you are bringing out your trump card. “Behold!” you argue “the unfortunate condition to which America has been reduced by her protectionist policy; she has scarcely a ship afloat, whilst Free Trade England is carrying the commerce of the world.”

First, I would ask, are you quite sure that all this is caused by Free Trade?

Don’t you think that it is just within the bounds of[42] possibility that our shrewd American cousins may possibly find a quicker and more remunerative investment for their capital, in encouraging their home-productive industries, and in employing their home-labour productively, than in a keen competition with the English for a barren trade that is not worth having?

Are you ignorant of the fact that the shipping trade has been a losing concern for some considerable period?

Are you unaware of the fact that wheat has been frequently carried as ballast, and has paid no freight; that other articles have been carried at almost nominal rates?

In the Civil and Military Gazette of 7th December, 1883, under the Telegraphic Summary, I read—

“It is predicted that, unless freight rates to India speedily improve, a considerable number of steamers now engaged in the trade will be laid up.”

I also read in the Madras Mail, January 9th, 1884, that an organ of the shipping interests in London has drawn up the probable “results of the gross working of thirteen steamers of a well-known Steam Navigation Company, the result of which is a total loss of £34,000 in one year’s trading.”

Are the Americans to be pitied, because they have no share in this losing concern?

If protectionism has kept them out of it, you can scarcely blame it.

But even without such keen competition, the Americans are justified, by the writings of your sacred shastras, as may be seen by the following quotation:

“The capital, therefore, employed in the Home trade of any country will generally give encouragement and support to a greater quantity of productive labour in that country, and increase the value of its annual produce, more than an equal capital employed in the Foreign trade of consumption; and the capital employed in[43] this latter trade has, in both these respects, a still greater advantage over an equal capital engaged in the Carrying trade.”[51]

So you see that the authority of your own sacred writings is favourable to the policy of our American cousins in this respect.


[51] ‘Wealth of Nations,’ by Adam Smith, Bk. II. Chap. V.


I have a few words to say about high wages and prosperity, before I quit the subject.

Although the rise of wages is, in fact, to some extent, the work of protection, I am not proud of it; for trades unionism is protection of an extreme character, generally narrow in its aims, not sufficiently far-seeing, and consequently sometimes mischievous in its results.

The raising of wages within reasonable bounds is desirable; but, in a Free Trade country, it is apt to be attended with serious consequences in raising the cost of the manufactured article, when competing against the manufacture of foreign countries, where wages are lower and hours of work longer.

It is said by Free Trade advocates, that although the cost of provisions has not sensibly increased, yet wages are 50 per cent. higher, and hours of labour 20 per cent. less, than they were forty years ago.

From the political economist’s point of view, this appears to be a decrease of national wealth. Mill says:—

“Saving enriches, and spending impoverishes, the community along with the individual. Society at large is richer by what it[44] expends in maintaining and aiding productive labour, but poorer by what it expends in its enjoyments.”[52]

Now if a stalwart race could have existed, and have done 20 per cent. more work on the lower rate of wages,—although, doubtless, some improvement in the condition of workmen was desirable,—50 per cent. appears to be a large margin, when we consider that the price of provisions is said to be unaltered. The British workman is proverbially extravagant and improvident. High wages encourage extravagance, whilst surplus cash furnishes the means, and short hours the leisure, for gratifying a taste for drink.

Setting aside for the moment the serious evils of intemperance, we have practically, with high wages, the causes that lead to the impoverishment of a community.

A glance at the statistics of Mr. Giffen seems to indicate this, for whilst the consumption per head of those commodities which are termed necessaries of life, have only increased 33 to 40 per cent. respectively, the consumption of those which may be considered luxuries—namely, tea and sugar—have increased 232 and 260 per cent. respectively.

Again, statistics show that, whilst the other classes of the community have increased in number by 335 per cent. of late years, the working classes have only increased by 6½ per cent. In other words, the unproductive classes have increased largely, but, whilst there is only 6½ per cent. numerical increase in the productive classes, their labour has decreased by 20 per cent. from shorter hours of labour.

The drones in the hive have increased very largely, and the workers have not done so, but have developed an alarming taste for honey.

The question of waste of wealth would be comparatively of minor importance were it not seriously complicated by the[45] existence of Free Trade; but we have now to confront the fact, that, in the present day, we have to pay 50 per cent. more money for 20 per cent. less labour than we did forty years ago; whilst Free Trade brings into the market the products of the keen competition of a thrifty and parsimonious class of workmen who accept lower wages and work longer hours. The result must be a gradual extinction of our industries:

Cotton and woollen industries are struggling hard for existence.[53]

Silk manufacture is dying out.

Iron industries in a bad way.

Gloomy predictions are made respecting the shipping trade.

Agriculture is rapidly becoming extinguished.

English pluck, capital, and credit are struggling manfully against disaster, but the struggle cannot last much longer; capital is sustained by credit; and credit is receiving heavy and repeated blows from unremunerative industries. Meanwhile, high wages and extravagant habits are not the best training for the millions that will be thrown out of employment when the crash comes.

Your prophet, Adam Smith, though an advocate for the repeal of the Corn Laws, foresaw and forewarned you of these consequences, as follows:—


“If the free importation of Foreign manufactures were permitted, several of the Home manufactures would probably suffer, and some of them perhaps go to ruin altogether.”[54]

Verily, my Friend, you are like a shipowner who congratulates himself that his sailors were never so well off before—never went aloft less—never kept fewer watches—never remained so much in their warm beds: meanwhile the devoted ship is drifting slowly, but surely, on to the rocks.[55]


[52] ‘Political Economy,’ by J. S. Mill, Bk. I. Chap. V.

[53] Mr. S. Smith, M.P., who is connected with cotton industry, has recently stated that “with all the toil and anxiety of those who had conducted it, the cotton industry of Lancashire, which gave maintenance to two or three millions of people, had not earned so much as 5 per cent. during the past ten years. The employers had a most anxious life; and many, after struggling for years, had become bankrupt, and some had died of a broken heart;” and he added that he believed “most of the leading trades to be in the same condition.”

The cheap production of Belgian fabrics is stated by the employers to be the cause of the depression in the cotton trade. (Times, Dec. 1883.)

[54] ‘Wealth of Nations,’ Bk. IV. Chap. II.

[55] A writer in Vanity Fair, in analyzing the Board of Trade’s statistics for the year ended March 31st, 1883, when compared with those for the year ended March, 1880, or the three years of the Gladstone Ministry, says:

“We were promised cheaper Government, cheaper food, greater prosperity. We find that so far from these promises being verified, they have every one been falsified by the result.

“Our Imperial Government is dearer by £8,000,000; our Imperial and Local Government, together, is dearer by £10,000,000.

“As to food, wheat has become dearer 1s. 3d. per quarter; beef, by from 3d. to 5d. per stone; Mutton, by 1s. 3d.; money is dearer than 1¾ per cent.

“As to prosperity, our staple pig iron is cheaper by 22s. 2d. per ton. We have 398,397 acres fewer under cultivation for corn, grain and other crops; 50,077 fewer horses; 129,119 fewer cattle; 4,789,738 fewer sheep in the country. We have, in spite of the Land Act and the allegation of increased prosperity, 18,828 more paupers in Ireland on a decreasing population. We find that 115,092 more emigrants have left the country in a year, because they cannot get a living in it. We lose annually 349 more vessels and 1,534 more lives at sea. The only element of consolation that these figures” (Board of Trade Returns) “have to show is, that we have 778,389 more pigs and 4,627 more policemen in the country. In fact, we are more lacking in every thing we want; more abounding in every thing we don’t want.

“The price of everything we have to sell has gone down; the price of everything we have to buy has gone up; and what has gone up most is the price of Government.

“Dearer Government, dearer bread, dearer beef, dearer mutton, dearer money; cheaper pig iron; less corn, potatoes, turnips, grass, and hops, fewer horses, fewer cattle, fewer sheep; more paupers, more emigrants, more losses of life and property at sea, more pigs, more policemen.

“These are the benefits that three years of liberal rule have conferred upon us!!!”



I have already stated that Mill, when he allows that which Herbert Spencer terms “political bias,”—and Luigi Cossa terms his “narrow philosophic utilitarianism,” to warp his better judgment,—is guilty of absurdities and inconsistencies that would disgrace a schoolboy. This is notably apparent when he attempts to draw a fundamental distinction between land and any other property, as regards its “sacred rights.”

Mr. Mill greatly admired the prosperity of the peasant proprietors in France and Belgium, unfortunately forgetting that a system, suited to the sober thrifty peasantry of the Continent, might possibly not be equally suitable to the improvident lower classes of Ireland and England,[56] neglectful also of the sensible view taken by M. De Lavergne that “cultivation spontaneously finds out the organization that suits it best.”[57] He wished therefore to establish an Utopia of peasant proprietors in England and Ireland as a panacea for the evils which Free Trade in the first place, and mischievous legislation in the second place, had brought upon agriculture. Without presuming to offer an opinion on the debated subjects of “Grande” and “Petite Culture,” or peasant and landlord proprietorship, I may say that cultivation appears to have found out spontaneously the organization best suited to it, and that, in England and Ireland, landlordism seems best suited to the improvident character of the lower classes, in providing capital to help the tenants [48]over bad times, and enabling improvements to be made in prosperous times.

Be this as it may, peasant proprietorship has proved to be a failure in Ireland, and is rapidly becoming extinct.[58] Writers on the subject state that, under that system, labour was so ill-directed, that it required six men to provide food for ten; and consolidation of holdings is recommended. Mr. Mill, however, thought otherwise, and biased by this political conviction, he has propounded the following extraordinary arguments to prove that the sacred rights of property are not applicable in the case of landed property[59]:—

(1) “No man made the land.”

(2) It is the original inheritance of the whole species.[60]

(3) Its appropriation is wholly a question of general expediency.

(4) When private property in land is not expedient, it is unjust.


(5) It is no hardship to any one to be excluded from what others have produced.

(6) But it is a hardship to be born into the world and to find all nature’s gifts previously engrossed.

(7) Whoever owns land, keeps others out of the enjoyment of it.

Now let us apply Mr. Mill’s arguments to any other kind of property.

Suppose I say to you:—“My friend! you have two coats; hand one of them over to me! Sacred rights of property don’t apply to it; you did not make it; and Mill says—‘it is no hardship to be excluded from what others have produced;’ but it is some hardship to be born into the world, and to find all nature’s gifts engrossed. Your argument that you paid for it in hard cash is worthless. No man made silver and gold, ‘it is the original inheritance of the whole species, the receiver is as bad as the thief, and you have connived in the robbery of those metals from the earth, leaving posterity yet unborn to be under the hardship of finding all nature’s gifts engrossed.’

“The manufacture of your coat is based on robbery and injustice, and you have connived at it; the iron and coal used in its production were made by no man, they are the common inheritance of the species, those who have obtained them have robbed posterity. You have bribed them to do so by silver and gold, also robbed from posterity.

“The very wool of which your coat is formed was made by no man, it was robbed from a defenceless sheep. Your argument that the sheep was the property of the shearer is useless. No man made the sheep, it is the common inheritance of all, &c. Your argument that his owner reared the sheep, is equally worthless. Monster! if you find a child, have you a right to rob him and make a[50] slave of him? such an argument would justify slavery[61] or worse.

“When private property is not expedient it is unjust, and from my ground of view, it is not expedient that this private property should be yours; public only differs from private expediency in degree. ‘He who owns property keeps others out of the enjoyment of it,’ the sacred rights of property don’t apply to this coat; so hand it over without any more of your absurd arguments. Nay! if you don’t, and as I see some one is approaching who may interfere, its appropriation is one of expediency,—individual expediency must follow the same law as general expediency,—it is expedient that I should draw my knife across your throat, otherwise I shall lose that which is my inheritance in common with the rest of the species.” And so I might argue ad infinitum.

Mr. Mill’s sophisms however are, what Cossa terms, “concessions more apparent than real to socialism,” for further on, in his Political Economy, he completely stultifies his argument by stating that the principle of property gives to the landowners:—

“a right to compensation for whatever portion of their interest in the land it may be the policy of the State to deprive them of. To that their claim is indefeasible. It is due to landowners, and to owners of any property whatever recognised as such by the State, that they should not be dispossessed of it without receiving its pecuniary value.... This is due on the general principles on which property rests. If the land was bought with the produce of the labour and abstinence of themselves or their ancestors, compensation is due to them on that ground; even if otherwise, it is still due on the ground of prescription.”

“Nor,” he adds, “can it ever be necessary for accomplishing an object by which the community altogether will gain, that a particular portion of the community should be immolated.”[62]


Unfortunately, however, his mischievous denial of the sacred rights of property in land is eagerly read, while his subsequent qualification of it is neglected by those who, like Mr. Bright, aim at the destruction of a political opponent; or, like Mr. Gladstone, are bent on a particular policy, reckless of the results in carrying it out; or, like Mr. Parnell and his followers, whose hands itch for plunder; and it has produced a general haziness of ideas amongst that well-meaning class of people who are good-naturedly liberal with the property of other people.

Yet, clothe it with what sophism you will, any attempt, whether legalized or otherwise, to deprive the landowner of his property and to violate his rights, is as unjustifiable as the depredations of the burglar or the pickpocket. Nay more so; because the statesman or political economist cannot plead poverty or want of education as his excuse.


[56] If we were to partition out England into a Mill’s Utopia of peasant proprietors to-morrow, it would not last a week; half of the proprietors would convert their holdings into drink, and be in a state of intoxication until it was expended.

[57] ‘Grande and Petite Culture. Rural Economy of France.’ De Lavergne.

[58] The yeomen and small tenant-farmers, men of little capital, have almost disappeared, and the process of improving them off the face of the agricultural world is still progressing to its bitter end; homestead after homestead has been deserted, and farm has been added to farm—a very unpleasing result of the inexorable principle—the survival of the fittest—by means of which even the cultivators of the soil are selected;—but a result which, not the laws of nature, but the bungling arrangements of human legislators, have rendered inevitable. (Bear., Fortnightly Review, September, 1873.)

[59] ‘Mill’s Political Economy,’ Bk. II. Chap. II.

[60] The original inheritors have, through their lawfully constituted rulers, parted with their property, having, in most cases, received an equivalent for it in the shape, either of eminent services rendered to the State, or else of actual payments in hard cash; and these transactions have been deliberately ratified and acknowledged by the laws of the country from time immemorial. It is therefore simply childish to argue that the land thus disposed of still belongs to the original inheritors, after they have enjoyed for past years the proceeds for which they have bartered the land that once belonged to them.

[61] I beg your pardon, my dear Fanatic, I see I have unconsciously made a slight mistake. Mill says, that appropriation is wholly a matter of general expediency, and on that ground you may justify slavery.

[62] Mill’s Political Economy, Bk. II. Chap. II.


Allow me, my dear Idolator, to make a few quotations from one of your sacred Vedas, on the subject of land.

You are fond of quoting them when it suits your purpose.

Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith.Action of Free Trade.
(1.) Every improvement in the circumstances of the society tends, either directly or indirectly, to raise the real rent of land, to increase the real wealth of the landlord, his power of purchasing the labour or the produce of the labour of other people. Free Trade has ruined agricultural industry. Can it be an improvement in the circumstances of the society.
[52] (2.) Every increase in the real wealth of the society, every increase in the quantity of useful labour employed within it, tends indirectly to raise the real rent of land. Free Trade has lowered rents. Can it have wrought increase in the real wealth of society?
(3) All those improvements in the productive powers of labour which tend directly to reduce the real price of manufactures, tend indirectly to raise the real rent of land. The improvements in machinery, science, steam, and electricity prevented the collapse of agriculture at first, and has even given a semblance of temporary prosperity, and this has been dishonestly claimed by Free-traders as their work.
(4.) Whatever reduces the real price of manufactured produce raises that of rude produce of the landlord. In spite of this advantage agriculture has collapsed under Free Trade.
(5.) The neglect of cultivation and improvement, the fall in the real price of any part of the rude produce of the land ... tend to lower the real rent of land, to reduce the real wealth of the landlord, to diminish his power of purchasing either the labour or the produce of the labour of other people. Your Free Trade prophets, Bright and Gladstone, are unceasing in their endeavours to destroy the landlord and diminish his power of employing productive labour.
(6.) The whole annual produce of the land and labour of every country constitutes a revenue to three different orders of people,
1. Those who live by rent.
2. Those who live by wages.
3. Those who live by profit.
      The interest of the first [53] of these three great orders is strictly and inseparably connected with the general interests of the society.
        Whatever either promotes or obstructs the one, promotes or obstructs the other. Free trade obstructs the interests of the first of these three great orders, and necessarily obstructs the general interests of the nation at large.
(7.) The interest of this third order has not the same connection with the general interest of the society as that of the other two.Free trade has emanated from this order.
        Merchants and Master Manufacturers are, in this order, the two classes of people who commonly employ the largest capitals.
(8.) The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce, which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious, attention. If attention had only been paid to Adam Smith’s warning, we should not now have to mourn the decadence of England’s industries.
(9.) It comes from an order of men whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public; who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it. [54] (Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith, Bk. I. Chap. XI.)

How true of your prophet Bright! Free Trade is another fearful example of the deception and oppression practised by this class.

You will probably, attempt to discredit your sacred writings when they do not support your own views.

You will argue that Adam Smith wrote when the conditions of society and commerce were very different from what they are now.

Mathematicians say, that when a formula will not accommodate itself to altering conditions and circumstances, it is unsound. It is the same with political science. Either the political science of Adam Smith is unsound, and he is not reliable, or the serious indictments against Free Trade given in the quotations above are well-founded.


What is the nature of a country-life that it should breed such a vampire,—such a monster of iniquity,—such a “squanderer of national wealth” as the landlord whom your Free-trading friends hold up to public execration? The old classical idea “procul a negotiis” would indicate that it had a contrary influence. How is it then that it produces the unmitigated miscreant whom Bright delights to denounce,—whom Gladstone loves to pursue with ruinous enactments,—and whom Parnell, with his murderous crew, takes pleasure in “boycotting,” maiming, and assassinating? The external appearance of this monster gives no clue to his character. From personal acquaintance with men of this class in England I should have said, that, on the average, they were[55] well-meaning, harmless, good-natured men; not always of the widest of views, or shrewdest intelligence, but with the best intentions, anxious in bad times to help their tenants, and in good times to improve their property. Even your prophet Adam Smith appears to have been deceived by them.[63] Again, appearances are deceptive; for, to my inexperienced eye, there seemed to be a large amount of kindly sympathy between tenant and landlord.

I am unable to speak from personal experience respecting the same classes in Ireland; but all novels and tales of Irish life, which should reflect, with some degree of truth, the general aspect of things, agree in describing scenes, probably founded on facts, from which one would imagine that, before the present agitation and enactments, there appeared to exist much kindly feeling and sympathy between the peasantry and the “Masther,” who, with all his faults, is represented as a generous, rollicking, devil-may-care sort of fellow,[64] quite opposed to the grasping, grinding miscreant whom your friends denounce; of course, there were exceptions.

Mr. A. M. Sullivan seems also to have been mistaken when he says:—


“The conduct of the Irish landlords throughout the famine period has been variously described, and has, I believe, been generally condemned. I consider the censure visited on them too sweeping. I hold it to be in some respects cruelly unjust.... It is impossible to contest authentic cases of brutal heartlessness here and there; but granting all that has to be entered on the dark debtor side, the overwhelming balance is the other way. The bulk of the resident Irish landlords manfully did their best in that dread hour. If they did too little compared with what the landlord class in England would have done in a similar case, it was because little was in their power.... They were heritors of estates heavily overweighted with the debts of a bygone generation.... To these landowners the failure of one year’s rental receipts meant mortgage, foreclosure, and hopeless ruin. Yet cases might be named by the score in which men scorned to avert, by pressure on their suffering tenancy, the fate they saw impending over them. They went down with the ship.

“No adequate tribute has ever been paid to the memory of those Irish landlords, and they were men of every party and creed, who perished martyrs to duty, in that awful time.”[65]

It is wonderful how, at such an awful time, the Irish landlord should have continued to mask his true character.

Still I am rather puzzled.

I quite admit that the Irish landlord is wrong in rack-renting his tenant to the extent of grinding out of him one-third of the amount that is cheerfully paid by tenants in protectionist countries.

I admit that he should not have tried in a Free Trade country to have extorted more than one-tenth of the rent paid by protectionist tenants. Nay, I will go further. I don’t think that a tenant in Free Trade Ireland would farm to a profit even if he had the land rent-free. I admit also that it was selfish of the landlord to allow the question of his own pauperism to weigh in the question of rent.

Still, after making due allowance for all these faults, I cannot quite understand how his guilt is sufficiently proven[57] to warrant his continued persecution and gradual extermination, by enactment after enactment for his ruin, should he chance to escape assassination. A snake or a rat could not be hunted down with greater venom. I must say that, in spite of his crimes, he is an object of pity.

Perhaps an analysis of his villainy may help me to understand the heinousness of his crime; let us apply, therefore, to the political economist for the character of the rent, the instrument with which he commits his crime—what does he say?[66]

“Rent does not affect the price of agricultural produce.”[67]

“Whoever does pay rent gets back its full value in extra advantage, and the rent which he pays does not place him in a worse position than, but only in the same position as, his fellow-producer who pays no rent, but whose instrument is one of inferior efficiency.”[68]

“Rent is reached by bargaining between the landlord and tenant; bargaining founded on the practical elements existing in the business. Profit must satisfy the tenant, or he will not take the farm; and on the other hand, if he claim an unduly low rent, he will find a rival competitor stepping into the farm house.... The position of an in-coming tenant is that of a man who is buying a business for sale (for whether he purchases the farm outright in order to cultivate it, or hires it, makes no difference in the nature of the transaction). He is buying a specific business in a given locality, as any man might do in a manufacturing town, and his motive is profit. This consideration governs the whole of the negotiation between the landowner and himself ... upon the terms of an annual payment of the means of profit which he seeks to acquire.”[69]

Yes! This appears to me to be just and business-like; the tenant hires the land for the profit he expects to get out of it, and his rent is a simple debt. Proceed:—


“To refuse to pay debt violently is to steal, and to permit stealing is not only to dissolve, but to demoralize, society.”[70]

“When a portion of wealth passes out of the hands of him who has acquired it, without his consent, and without compensation, to him who has not created it ... plunder is perpetrated.”[71]

“Law is common force organized to prevent injustice.”[71]

“If the law itself performs the action it ought to repress, plunder is still perpetrated under aggravated circumstances.”[71]

“To place the position itself of a landlord in an invidious light, as a man who exacts from the labours of others that for which he has neither toiled nor spun, is a most unwarrantable process of argumentation.”[70]

“It would be impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this:—the conversion of law into an instrument of plunder.”[71]

Yes, yes! All this appears to me to be just and sensible! but pardon me, I am a little obtuse. I cannot yet see that the landlord’s guilt is proven. Let us recapitulate:—

Rent does not raise the price of corn! The tenant gets value for his rent! He enters into a business contract for profit! The rent is a simple debt. To refuse it, is to steal! To assist legally at this refusal, is to be an accomplice in the theft! In this case Government is the accomplice, and the Government is a plunderer under aggravated circumstances! Moreover, it not only plunders, but demoralizes society. Mr. Gladstone represents Government. Messrs. Bright, Parnell, Davitt and Co. assist in this legalized and illegal plunder; thus demoralizing the society. The property of the landlord passes to another without his consent and without compensation! Messrs. Gladstone and Co. use that which Professor Bonamy Price terms a most “unwarrantable process of argumentation.”

Stop! Stop!! for goodness’ sake!!! My brain is getting confused; in my innocence, had I not been gravely assured [59]that they were angels of light, patriots, philanthropists,[72] I should have mistaken Messrs. Gladstone, Bright, Parnell, Davitt, and Co. for the real criminals.


[63] Adam Smith, in speaking of the class of merchants and manufacturers, says:—“Their superiority over the country gentleman is not so much in their knowledge of the public interest as in their having a better knowledge of their own interest than he has of his. It is by this superior knowledge of their own interest that they have frequently imposed upon his generosity and persuaded him to give up his own interest and that of the public from a very simple but honest conviction that their interest, and not his, was the interest of the people.” (Wealth of Nations, Bk. I. Chap. XI.)

How true in the case of Free Trade!

[64] The landlordism of the days before Famine (1847) never “recovered its strength or its primitive ways. For the landlord, there came of the Famine the Encumbered Estates Court. For the small farmer and tenant class there floated up the American Emigrant ships.” (‘History of Our Own Times,’ Justin Macarthy.)

[65] New Ireland, by A. M. Sullivan, p. 133.

[66] Adam Smith contradicts himself about rent—in one set of passages he says it is the cause, and in another the effect, of prices.

[67] Macleod’s Economics, p. 117.

[68] Political Economy, by J. S. Mill, Bk. II. Chap. XVI.

[69] Profr. Bonamy Price.

[70] Profr. Bonamy Price.

[71] Political Economy, Bastiat.

[72] “Legal plunder has two roots. One of them is in human egotism, the other is in false philanthropy.” (Political Economy, Bastiat.)


Your friend, John Bright, with his usual disregard for accuracy, describes the large landlord as the “squanderer and absorber of national wealth,” but seeing that the total rent of land in Great Britain and Ireland is less than 5 per cent. of the whole national income,[73] and that of this less than one-seventh is in the hands of large landowners, it would require a more able statesman than Mr. Bright to show how he can squander that, of which such a very small proportion passes through his lands.

No? friend Bright. You and your fellow free-traders are the real squanderers of national wealth, and you seek to shift the blame from your own shoulders, by dishonestly [60]laying it on those of the landowner. I command to your perusal the graphic description of a large landowner—the Duke of Argyle—who states that, in Trylee, by feeding the tenantry in bad times, by assisting some to emigrate, by introducing new methods of cultivation, by expenditure of capital in improvements, by consolidating small holdings when too narrow for subsistence, he has raised a community, from the lowest state of poverty and degradation, to one of lucrative industry and prosperity.

The prosperity these tenants enjoy is due to the beneficial and regulative power of the landlord as a capitalist. The greater the wealth of the landlord, the greater is his beneficial and regulative power. There were thousands of landowners who acted up to the limits of their power in this way, until you, friend Bright, ruined them and deprived them of the power of helping their tenants.

No, doubt, there are bad landlords, as there are bad men in all classes, but the interests of the landowner and those of the tenant are inseparably bound together; and the landlord is shrewd enough to see that it is to his own interest to improve the property if he can afford to do so.

The old classic, with his insight into human nature, in odimus quos læsimus, shows that human nature has not altered, and it does not surprise me that you should hold up to execration the class you have so cruelly injured.

You, my Free-trading Fanatic, have (thanks to Mill’s unfortunate sophisms and your leaders’ persistent misrepresentations) such a very hazy view about landowner’s rights and duties, that I think a few words on the subject may clear the atmosphere.

(1.) Landed property is the capital of the landlord.

(2.) Interest on capital is fair, reasonable, and consistent with general good.

(3.) Rent is interest on the capital of the landlord.


(4.) The landlord may sell[74] his land, invest the proceeds in any other way, and thus get interest on his capital.

(5.) The tenant can get rid of rent, either:—

(a) by borrowing money to buy land, in which case he has to pay interest on the loan;

(b) by saving sufficient money to purchase land, in which case he might, instead of purchasing, invest the money, so that its interest would pay the rent.

(6.) In any case the whole question of rent resolves itself into a question of capital, and interest thereon.

(7.) Law, from time immemorial, has recognised the right of property in land.

(8.) In most cases the owner has paid hard cash both for the land and for the improvements of it.

(9.) Land is therefore actual capital just as much as money, coal, iron, cattle, or any other disposable commodity.

It is absurd, therefore, to say, that a man possessing capital in land may not act in the same way as the owner of any other form of capital. (Of course he has his moral obligations, but those are applicable to the possession of any other form of capital.) If the tenant desires capital, he must work for it, or obtain it in some legal manner. If he get it in any other way, it is theft; and any legislation that transfers the capital of the landlord to the tenant without due compensation, is legalized theft.

As regards absentee landlords, I admit it is desirable, on many grounds—on the ground of his own personal interest—to put it on the lowest ground, that he should not be absent; but if the life of the landlord and his family be at stake, is he to be blamed if he declines to take the risk of being boycotted or shot? You argue that he does nothing for his money which he draws, and spends away from the place in which it has been produced, thus impoverishing the district.


Is he different in this respect from the capitalist who invests money in colonial or foreign funds, who does nothing for his money, and spends it away from the country in which it is produced? Is he different in this respect from the London banker, who lends money to the manufacturer in the provinces, or abroad? He does nothing for his money, but spends it away from the locality in which it has been produced. Would you argue on this ground, that the railway shareholder, the foreign bondholder, the London banker ought, in equity, to receive no interest on their money, and should be held up to public execration? If you place any value on the laws of political economy, which you are so fond of quoting, my Fanatical Friend, drop your absurd arguments about landlords. Land is a commodity to be bought, sold, improved by the capital of the landlord, and if you treat it otherwise, you violate every principle of sound political economy.

Admitting that land is capital, and the landlord is the capitalist, what does Political Economy say?—

“If a man has not wealth himself, but only his labour to sell, what is most to his advantage? Why, of course, that there should be as many rich men as possible to compete for his labour.... Nothing can be more fatal than the cry against capital so often unthinkingly uttered.... It would be impossible to conceive a greater benefactor to his country than the one who would permanently reconcile the interests of masters and workmen, and put an end to the internecine wars of capital and labour.”[75]

Verily! Friend Bright, the cry against the landlord is a “cry against capital unthinkingly uttered.” Verily thou encouragest the “internecine wars of capital and labour.” Verily thou art the reverse of a benefactor to thy country.

The verdict of Political Economy condemns thee!!



Total national income£1,247,000,000
Total rent for land58,000,000(Mulhall, p. 7.)
Percentage of rent to total income, 4⅔ per cent.
No.Acres.Average acres per landowner.
Large Landowners346,211,000183,000
Medium ditto8413,156,0003,760
Small     ditto179,64960,912,000330
(Mulhall’s Statistics, p. 266.)

The acreage of large and medium landowners is, therefore, less than one-seventh of the total.

[74] Or could have sold it, until the iniquitous Land Bill was passed. For my own part, I would not, under any consideration, risk money in the investment of land under British rule, which has proved itself capable of legalizing plunder and breach of contract.

[75] Macleod’s Economics, pp. 138–39.



One conclusion at which the Commission of 1882 arrived was, that the agricultural labourers were “never in a better position.” When, however, we analyze the evidence on which that conclusion was based, the case wears a very different aspect. The evidence of landlords, agents, and factors,—of those who have to pay the wages out of their struggle to make both ends meet,—is to the effect that the labourer is well enough off; but the evidence of the labourer himself—the recipient—gives rather a different version of the case. It is true that wages are higher than they were formerly: this naturally must follow the increase of wages in manufacturing districts; but the evidence of the labourer shows that these wages are insufficient to keep a family, or provide for bodily wants, to say nothing of sickness or loss of work; perquisites are being gradually taken away, and no compensation given; families are suffering severely; physique degenerating for want of sufficient food; articles of diet, such as cheese, bacon, eggs are much more expensive than before; the supply of milk, and especially of skimmed milk, formerly so plentiful and obtainable at nominal prices, is now at prohibitory rates. Water, with a little bread, sweetened with sugar, forms the general substitute for wholesome milk in rearing children.

The recent census shows that although the population of England has increased 14½ per cent., there has been, in the purely agricultural districts, a decrease in the population,—a sure sign of want of prosperity. In all parts farms are badly cultivated, in a foul condition, or out of cultivation altogether; neither the landlord nor the tenant, have sufficient[64] capital to make improvements.[76] A clergyman writes from a rural parish:—

“I fear nothing will lessen the evil, the land of England will gradually go out of cultivation, and our villages will become impoverished and empty till the country is all urban, and the population effeminate and demoralized. Then may follow a great war, and disaster will ensue.”

Emerson warned England of the fact that her—

“Robust rural Saxon population had degenerated, in the mills, to the Leicester stockinger, and to the imbecile Manchester spinner far on the way to be spiders and needles.”[77]

Why did a handful of undisciplined Boers beat our soldiers in the Transvaal? Simply because they are physically a finer set of men than our 5 ft. 3 in. army, rapidly degenerating for want of a healthy agricultural population for recruiting purposes.


[76] See Fortnightly Review, November, 1883.

[77] Emerson—Traits, Chap. X.


I repeat the assertion that Ireland has been ruined by Free Trade.

Let us take a brief retrospect of Ireland before the introduction of Free Trade.

At the earlier part of this century Ireland showed great capabilities for improvement and national prosperity, and (in spite of the somewhat selfish policy of England, which did not sufficiently protect from herself the industries of Ireland) she gave undoubted signs of a steady but rapid [65]advance in prosperity. Between the years 1825 and 1835, her exports and imports were more than doubled.

Her population between 1821 and 1841 increased from 6,802,000 to 8,196,000. That this population was not too great for the land, is proved by the fact that the whole resources of land were not utilized; moreover, her population was far smaller per square mile than the population of Holland or Belgium[78]—countries that enjoy a high state of prosperity. In the years of 1826 and 1835, the ratio of exports was as follows:—

Wheat, oats, &c.1·01·9

The county cess rose between 1825 and 1838 in the ratio of 1·0 to 1·5.

The transfers of invested funds from England to Ireland between the years 1832 and 1841 exceeded those from Ireland, to England by £1,840,000.

Deposits in savings banks, in 1831 and 1841, were relatively in the proportion of 1·00 to 2·24. Crime and offences were diminishing.

The Weavers Commission in 1840 reported as follows:—

“The comparative prosperity enjoyed by that part of Ireland where tranquillity ordinarily prevails.—such as the Counties Down, Antrim, and Derry,—testify the capabilities of Ireland to work out her own regeneration, when freed of the disturbing causes which have so long impeded her progress in civilization and improvement.

“We find there a population hardy, healthy, and employed; capital fast flowing into this district; new sources of employment[66] daily developing themselves; and people well disposed alike to Government and to the institutions of the country, and not distrustful and jealous of their superiors.”

In another place the Commission reports that the manufacturing industries of Ireland were doing well, and that—

“The woollen trade in Ireland is in a more sound and healthy condition than it has ever been, and its yearly advance may be confidently expected.”

There was an abundant supply of land for the increasing population—1,200,000 acres of land being capable of cultivation, besides upwards of 1,000,000 acres of bog land capable of reclamation at a cost of little more than £1 per acre.

With such capabilities for advancement, nothing short of the most extraordinary prosperity ought to have followed the general advance of wealth in the civilised world, caused by the improvements in arts, sciences, machinery, steam, and electricity. But what do we find after thirty-six years of the curse of Free Trade? Land out of cultivation; farms abandoned; manufacturing industries extinct; population decreasing by more than three millions[79] in forty years. Anarchy, murder, assassination rampant. No doubt the Famine of 1847 and the subsequent emigration caused a large decrease in the population of Ireland, but disciples of the Malthusian theory would have told you that this was an element of prosperity. I do not hold this view, but any protectionist country would have rapidly recovered the blow, whilst Free Trade Ireland has since steadily decreased in[67] population, and is sinking lower and lower into the Slough of Despond.

You argue that “rack-renting is the cause.” Nonsense! The average rent of land in Ireland is only one-third of that which is paid in prosperous protectionist countries;[80] any rent at all will soon be a rack-rent. There is plenty of land in Ireland to be had at nominal rents, land that has gone out of cultivation; but Free Trade has taken away the possibility of its cultivation at a profit, even if it were rent-free. You urge absenteeism as the cause; it is the effect, not the cause. Moreover, only about one-sixth of the land is owned by absentees.

Ireland is like a child crying out in the pangs of starvation, and you give it opiates in the shape of mischievous enactments (such as the Encumbered Estates Act and the Land Act) which only augment the evil. To use the words of a writer of the day: “Your Statesmanship knows no policy but that of coercion to-day, concession to-morrow.” Ireland cries in the pangs of hunger, you alternately beat and coax it.

You propose wholesale emigration, which may be compared to bleeding the patient to death in order to cure it of starvation.

Fools!! Can’t you see it is dying of hunger? All it wants is food, work, and employment of its labour,—development of its resources.

Take away your iniquitous policy of Free Trade,—abolish your unjust enactments, your legalised instruments of confiscation and plunder,—abandon your insane encouragement of internecine war between capital and labour,—desist from[68] your suicidal encouragement to agitation and class antagonism,—encourage capitalists,—protect industries,—employ labour,—and you will soon find Ireland prosperous, contented, and loyal.

The cry for Home Rule is a protest against your misrule.

If you persist in your insane policy, Ireland must inevitably be depopulated either by starvation or by wholesale emigration.[81]



Population in Ireland in1841256per square mile.
Belgium in480
Holland in312


Population of Ireland in18418,196,597


Averagerent inIreland103per acre.
United Kingdom199  ”     ”
France300  ”     ”
Belgium300  ”     ”
Holland300  ”     ”

[81] I cannot think that, in a country where four millions of acres of valuable land are calling out pitifully for labour,—where thousands of families of agricultural habits and of laborious instincts are pleading for work and hungering for the tenancy of deserted farms,—where labour is becoming scarce,—where the population is deteriorating in quality by the continued exportation of its strongest and most promising elements; that, in such a country, and under such circumstances, Englishmen should resign themselves to accept the continued banishment of the flower of the population to a foreign land as the best and only means of meeting this great national difficulty. (E. Hart, Fortnightly Review, 1883.)


I have not the slightest doubt, that you will tell me that Ireland is not ruined, that she was never before in so satisfactory condition, and that you will bring forward ingeniously manipulated statistics to prove your case.

You will tell me that the farms are larger,—that the farm stock is richer,—that the peasant proprietors who were a failure (contrary to Mr. Mill’s theories) are disappearing, and holdings are more consolidated; but, my Fanatical Friend, if Ireland be not ruined, what is the meaning of this frantic legislation, which many of its supporters can only excuse on the ground of expediency, not equity? How is it that, during the last thirty-two years, nearly 1,500,000 acres have[69] gone out of tillage and 677,000 acres have gone out of farming altogether?

How is it that, during the last nine years, there has been a decrease of 1,000,000[82] live stock in Ireland, or nearly one-ninth of the total?

How is it that, during one year, 114,327[83] acres of land in Ireland have gone out of farming, and that with a decreasing population, and that in spite of a better crop in 1880 than in 1879?

What is the meaning of the increase of 18,000 paupers and 115,000 emigrants in Ireland within the last three years?

Mill would have told you that the extinction of peasant proprietors was a sign of retrogression; whether that be so or not, the crushing out of weaker industries is decidedly not a sign of prosperity.

But now tell me, what would you think of the prosperity of an undertaking in which the original shareholders had been ruined and sold their shares at a greatly depreciated price; and this second set of shareholders again being ruined, again sold their shares at a still further depreciated price, whilst the third set of shareholders, obtaining their shares at this enormously depreciated value, were able to make some little show of temporary prosperity. Would any business-man call that a prosperous undertaking?

Now this is precisely the case with Ireland. Under the [70]Encumbered Estates Act, thousands were reduced to beggary,[84] and the new landlords were able to make a temporary show of prosperity on the ruin of their predecessors. When this was over, the still more iniquitous Land Act of 1881 was passed to complete the ruin of landlords.

Mr. FitzGerald, of Dublin, states that there are more than 600 cases before the Court, and that the Judges have, from time to time, adjourned the sales rather than consent to a “wanton sacrifice of property, for which there are no bidders.”

Land, which one of the Judges declared to be worth thirty years’ purchase, was sold for eleven years’ purchase, and the unfortunate owner was told “You must submit to the inevitable.”

But this is not all; the Land Act of 1880 has put a stop to all possible improvement of land, for no reasonable man[71] will expose himself to the risk of losing his money on improvements, because, notwithstanding any contract he may have made with his tenant, the Land Commission may step in and legalize a breach of the contract.[85]

The typical landlords in Ireland, whom you hold up for public execration, are not rich noblemen; it would be better for Ireland if they were, but they are mostly men of the middle class, struggling hard to escape the pauperism your iniquitous legislation has brought upon them.

Mr. Gladstone on one occasion said:—

“If Great Britain has become a place where the majority can oppress the minority in this way, it has come to be a place of which I should say that the sooner we get out of it the better.”

I repeat Mr. Gladstone’s sentiment with greater emphasis. If Mr. Gladstone, with his majority, are allowed to oppress the minority in this way, England is no longer the place for honest and loyal subjects.


[82] Total livestock in Ireland in 1874, 9,665,700; in 1883, 8,667,000.

[83] Decrease of acreage farmed in 1882—

Cereal crops20,356acres.
Green crops21,072
Meadow and Clover39,256
Total decrease114,327acres.

Statesman’s Yearbook, 1883.

[84] “It forced properties to a general auction, to be sold for whatever they would bring, at a time when legislation had imposed new and unheard of burdens on landed property. At a time of unprecedented depression in the value of land, it called a general auction of Irish estates. English History records no more violent interference with vested interests than the provision by which this Statute forced the sale of a large portion of the landed property at a time no prudent man would have set up an acre to be sold by public competition.” (Tenant Right in Ireland, Butt, p. 881.)

“Estates that would have been well able to pay twice the encumbrances laid upon them, if property was at all near its ordinary level of value, now failed to realize enough to meet the mortgages, and the proprietors were devoted to ruin.... The tenants complain that they have gained little and lost much in the change from the old masters to the new.” (‘New Ireland,’ A. M. Sullivan, p. 88.)

At the sale of Lord Gort’s property thirteen years’ purchase was the maximum; many lots were sold at five. Some portions of the property since resold have fetched twenty-five and twenty-seven years’ purchase.

Excessive rack-renting has been attributed to sales under this iniquitous Encumbered Estates Act.

“In those sales persons buy small portions of property; of course their interest is to get as large a return as they can, and they think of nothing but an increase of rent.” (Minutes of Evidence, Lords Committee, 1867.)

[85] See Speech of Mr. W. H. Smith, M.P., Nov. 19, 1883, commencing “No country on the face of the earth has been so misunderstood and misgoverned as Ireland, &c.”


M. Merimée writes:—

“That which strikes me most in the English politics of our own times, is its littleness. Everything in England is done with a view to keep place” (conserver les portefeuilles), “and they commit all possible faults in order to keep twenty or thirty doubtful votes. They only disquiet themselves about the present, and think nothing of the future.”


Unfortunately the littleness to which M. Merimée refers is not always attended with little results.

In his anxiety to secure the Irish votes, Mr. Gladstone, by his notorious Midlothian speeches, directly encouraged Irish demagogues to agitate.

His advice was followed, and the result has been, as every one expected, anarchy, murder, and assassination.[86]

Froude, the historian, writing in 1880, clearly predicated it:—

“Mr. Gladstone will not willingly allow himself to be foiled. Yet, if he perseveres, he may bring on the struggle so long foretold between democracy and the rights of property, and in a great empire like ours, with such enormous interests at stake, it is not difficult to foresee on which side the victory will be. However this may be, the apple of discord has been flung into Ireland, there to spread its poison.”[87]

Let us charitably hope that the results of Mr. Gladstone’s advice to agitate were not anticipated by him; but a man who will scatter sparks in a powder magazine cannot be held altogether guiltless of the results of the explosion that may ensue, whether he did it in ignorant folly or with culpable intent. Froude, alluding to the Midlothian speeches, says:—“No statesman who understood Ireland would ever have spoken of the ‘Upas Tree,’ unless he was prepared to sanction a revolution.” Mr. Gladstone must, therefore, be held morally responsible for the blood guiltiness—for the atrocious crimes and murders that have disgraced Ireland; he has sown the wind, and he has reaped the whirlwind; he has sown agitation, and reaped dynamite; he has not only caused anarchy by his advice, but has encouraged it by the weakness of his policy.[88]


An admirer of Mr. Gladstone writes in the Westminster Review, describing Mr. Parnell and his associates as “indispensable to the success of Mr. Gladstone!!” A fitting associate indeed in a work of legalized plunder is Mr. Parnell, whom Mr. Forster denounced in the House of Commons as the aider and abetter of assassins and murderers; who dared not stand up and answer the scathing denunciation, but slunk off to America like a whipped hound.


[86] Lord Beaconsfield, with great foresight, vainly warned us of the dangerous state of Ireland.

[87] Nineteenth Century, September, 1880.

[88] An admirer of Mr. Gladstone naively writes in the Westminster Review: “During the six years of Tory repression and Tory refusal of remedial measures, they were as mild as doves and comparatively silent in Parliament, because they knew that the Tories would strike with despotic severity and with exceptional laws; but from the moment the magnanimous and friendly Gladstone came into power ... they excited the excitable Irish people to such a degree against this friendly Government, that there were perpetrated a long run of cruel and brutal outrages, &c.” (Westminster Review, October, 1883.)


I have already shown the utter failure of the prophecies of your Free Trade Prophets, now let me show the failure of the prophecies of your Right Hon’ble Friends with regard to the Land Act of 1881, and ask if such lamentable want of discrimination is fitting in one pretending to be an administrator.

Mr. Gladstone, in 1880, scouted the warning that there would be no bidders for land, after the Land Act had been passed, and he fixed the value of land at twenty-seven years’ purchase. Judge Flannagan, 1883:—
   “The rents are so well secured that the property ought to bring thirty years’ purchase.”
The owner:—
   “Three years ago I could have sold the property for £1,775.”
[74] Judge Flannagan:—
   “You must submit to the inevitable. Is there no advance on eleven years’ purchase? This is the first estate I have had to sell on which the rents have been fixed by the Land Commission. I hoped to get twenty-five or thirty years’ purchase.” The land was sold for £875; according to Judge Flannagan’s valuation it was worth £2,386.
Mr. Forster:—
   “My firm belief is, that no damage can be proved. On the other hand, if the landlord were compensated, you would compensate him for conferring upon him a benefit.”
In 1840, the rents of Mr. Usborn’s estate in Kerry amounted to £2,376 punctually paid. The nearest railway station was then 150 miles distant. There is now a railway station on the property, the landlord has spent money on its improvement, and the the “fair” (?) rent now fixed by the Land Commission is £1,893.
Lord Selborne, 1880:—
   “I deny that it will diminish, in any degree whatever, the rights of the landlord, or the value of the interest he possesses. I should never agree to such a proposal.”
Hansard, cclxiv. 252.
Irish newspapers teem with similar instances.
Judge Ormsby, 1883.
   The Judge then asked if there was any advance on £2,200. Offers were given until £2,450 was reached. Mr. O’Meara, on behalf of the estate, objected to the sale. In Chancery proceedings connected with the estate it was mentioned that £4,500 had been offered for this lot, and refused.
Lord Carlingford, 1880:—
   “I maintain that the provisions of the Bill will cause the landlord no money-loss whatever.”
Judge Ormsby:—
   “No one could foresee what would subsequently occur to depreciate the value of the property. I cannot adjourn for a third time.
[75] Mr. Gladstone, 1880:—
   “I certainly would be very slow to deny that when confiscation could be proved compensation ought to follow.”
Mr. Fitzgerald, of Dublin, states, that the Judges have adjourned sales from time to time rather than consent to a wanton sacrifice of property, and there are “600 estates in the Court waiting for sale, and for these hardly a bidder.”

Again I ask your verdict of guilty or not guilty? Are your Right Hon’ble Rulers either incompetent or dishonest, to have made such prophesies? It was not for want of warning that they have blundered so hopelessly. The whole country rang with warnings[89] that the measure was one of confiscation. Even Mr. Parnell predicted it, telling his hearers that there would be no buyers, and the tenants would have “an opportunity of purchasing their holdings under the Bright Clause.”

The whole measure is one which commenced by breach of faith and ended in confiscation.[90]

Mr. James Lowther, M.P., has been blamed for saying, that “loyal subjects have been deliberately plundered by the Land Act.”

Let us see how the political economist defines “plunder:”

“When a portion of wealth passes out of the hands of him who has acquired it without his consent and without compensation, whether by force or artifice, to him who has not created it, I say that property is violated, that plunder is perpetrated.... If the law itself performs the action it ought to repress, I say that [76]plunder is still perpetrated, and even in a social point of view, under aggravated circumstances.”[91]

Now tell me, my Friend, how do the instances I have given above differ from legalized Plunder as defined by Bastiat?

When Judge Flannagan says, “you must submit to the inevitable,” he says, in fact, “you must submit to be legally plundered.”

When Judge Ormsby says “no one could foresee what would occur,” he says in fact, “no one could foresee that the law would become an instrument of plunder.”

No one could foresee it? Why, every one with common sense could foresee it—every one but those wilfully blind. An admirer of Mr. Gladstone naively writes in the Westminster Review respecting the Land Act:—

“The people of the United States would not have tolerated such an interference with the laws of contract as it involved. No member of Congress could be found who would propose anything so indefensible from the American point of view.”[92]

And he might have added indefensible from every point of view.

Froude, the historian, says:

“It was England which introduced landowning and landlords into Ireland as an expedient for ruling it. If we choose now to remove the landlords or divide their property with their tenants, we must do it from our own resources; we have no right to make the landlords pay for the vagaries of our own idolatries.”[93]


[89] See Appendix No. II, in which is a resumé of the unheeded warnings, drawn up in 1880, from the arguments brought against the Bill. Any one not blinded by party prejudices, who read those arguments, could not fail to see that the Bill must be a measure of confiscation; and the subsequent action of the Bill shows that the forebodings have been verified.

[90] Froude, the historian, writing in 1880, says:—“The policy has been to make the property of the landlords worthless, and their possession so dangerous, that they would find their estates not worth keeping.”

[91] ‘Political Economy’—Bastiat.

[92] Westminster Review, October, 1883.

[93] Nineteenth Century, September, 1880.



Don’t you see, what a fallacy underlies your cry for cheap bread. Does the consumer eat nothing but bread? Is everything to be sacrificed to the consumer? Don’t you see that cheap bread is not all that is necessary to prosperity.

Have not you seen that, during one year of greatest prosperity, the price of wheat rose to 58s. 8d. per quarter, far higher than it was in ten years, 1831–40, before the repeal of the Corn Laws, whilst during the present time of depression it is down to 41s. 5d., and that, in 1835, before the repeal of the Corn Laws, it was down to 39s. 4d.[94]

Cannot you see that cheap food is dear if the causes of its cheapness deprive the labourer of that employment which enables him to purchase it? Cannot you see that, although a healthy competition stimulates production, a crushing competition in the end causes the rise of prices by the lessening of production?

Do you not know that, in the opinion of many political economists, dear food has been considered a cause of progress and prosperity to a nation, by stimulating its inhabitants to exertion and thrift,—notably so in the case of Holland?

Do you not know that, in many countries, where food is cheap, the natives are degraded and wretched?

Cannot you see that the revenue of the country must be raised in some manner, and if a tax be put on corn, it may be taken off some other article of consumption, almost equally important? and therefore that, if the substitute be judiciously chosen, the tax on it comes back to the consumer in[78] some shape or other? Do you not know that an import tax does not always fall on the consumer?[95]


Cannot you see that the want of a light tax on corn (I do not defend the Corn Laws as they existed, for they imposed an excessive tax) has ruined agriculture, and you are preparing for yourself a serious difficulty? In case of war with any combination of strong maritime powers[96] wheat will rise to famine rates.

Don’t you see that if we transferred a small portion of the tax on tea, sugar, coffee, &c., giving a preference to our dependencies in the case of wheat, we should not only encourage our home, but also our colonial, industries, which are trembling in the balance between existence and nonexistence for want of some slight fostering care.

You are like Nero fiddling while Rome was burning. You are fiddling with your Free Trade, whilst England is going to ruin.

How can it be otherwise? Unlimited foreign competition must necessarily end in disaster. Don’t you see that you are handicapping your people in every way. They have higher wages than other nations. You tax them more heavily, and you pass enactments to prevent their working long hours. You thereby place them at a disadvantage with people who are thrifty and industrious and are not restricted in their hours of work. The same amount of money now buys only half the labour it did forty years ago, this increases the cost of production. Competition forces your manufacturers to work only three or four days a week. This again increases it. Increased leisure gives opportunities for intemperance. This again has a deteriorating effect on produce. Your best hands emigrate to prosperous countries not cursed with free trade,—another cause of[80] deterioration in quality of manufactures. The cheap freights, almost nominal, place foreign productions in England at prices very little beyond that at which they can be produced in their native country.

The money spent on foreign produce, instead of being spent in England, is so much capital taken away from this country, helping foreigners to compete with you. You have, in fact, in Free Trade, the most ingeniously devised plan of impoverishing the country. We had a good start, and other countries have been a long time in catching us up, so that we did not feel their competition at first, but they are now passing us hand over hand. English pluck, English capital, and English credit have until now stood the strain bravely, and the general advance of the wealth of the world has blinded our eyes to our real danger, but the struggle cannot last much longer. Capital is draining out to protectionist countries in all directions, but the amount at stake in our manufactories is so enormous that the struggle must be continued at any risk. Credit alone sustains the fabric, and as soon as that is thoroughly shaken, the collapse will be terrible and sudden. The working classes, so long as they receive higher wages than before, are unable to see the danger, but when the collapse comes—and come it surely will before long—the working classes will be the first to demand protection. There are symptoms of it already, for Sir Edward Sullivan has stated:—

“Already a number of operatives, far more than is necessary to turn a general election, have, through their delegates, given in their adherence to Fair Trade.”[97]


[94] Average price of corn for ten years ending 1845 = 57s. 10d.

[95] Taxes on commodities do not always fall on consumers, but sometimes on producers, and sometimes on the intermediate agent. When a duty is imposed on a foreign commodity, which the importing country has facilities for producing at home, in ordinary cases the duty falls, in the first instance, on the consumer; but when the duty has the effect of increasing competition, the tendency is to a reduction in price, and therefore to the ultimate benefit of the consumers. As the duty equalizes the conditions of production between the local and foreign producers, it enables an entirely new class of competitors to enter the field,—namely, the local producers; and as the circle of competition becomes extended, the rivalry among producers becomes keener, and prices become lower; for competition inevitably leads to this when it is genuine and not a monopoly in disguise, as is often the case. If the duty fails to increase competition, it goes direct into the treasury as revenue; if it fails partially as a revenue tax, owing to the local producer contributing part of the supply, and paying no duty, the competition between the local and foreign producers will cause a reduction in price to the consumer, so that the falling off in the revenue will in some measure be compensated for. If the revenue from duty fail altogether, owing to the local article taking the place of the imported and duty-paying article, a three-fold benefit will be secured. The consumer will gain by a reduction in the price of commodities; the public will gain by increased employment of labour and capital; and, lastly, the State will gain by increased revenue from the additional number of revenue-producing population, supported by the new industry. (David Syme. Fortnightly Review, April, 1873.)

So with the English shipping dues, which, as a matter of fact, are not paid by the merchants or consumers, but by the shipowners.

In answer to a deputation which waited on the Chancellor of the Exchequer recently, Mr. Lowe, adopting the popular view on the question, attempted to explain that the shipowners did not pay the dues out of their own pockets, that they only advanced the money to the merchant, that the merchant again indemnified himself by raising the price of goods to the consumer. But it appeared that in this particular case Mr. Lowe’s theory did not square with the facts, as the deputation, which consisted of the leading shipowners in England, positively assured him that no such transfer took place.

A tax may, under certain conditions, have the very opposite effect from that which it usually has, for instead of increasing the price of a commodity it may have the effect of diminishing it. (This has been the case with cotton in America, as shewn by the evidence given before the Select Committee of the House of Commons, in 1840.) (Fortnightly Review, 1873.)

[96] Competent authorities state, that the French navy alone will be far more powerful than that of England, when the ships now in course of construction have been completed, and the French navy can be much more concentrated than ours, which must be distributed over the whole world.

[97] The Mail, Decr. 19th, 1883.



What has become of the Pagoda tree? Is it a myth? Did it ever exist?

These are questions which you must have heard over and over again.

Have you ever tried to answer them? No!

Well! let me do so.

The Pagoda tree is no myth. It exists, but in a deplorably dilapidated condition, and bears but little fruit. Your car of Jugernāth has crushed its roots; your wheels have excoriated its bark; you have torn down its branches to cremate your victims. You have denied it water and manure. Its vitality has been sadly lowered, but it is not quite dead.

Only smash your detestable car of Jugernāth; send your false prophets adrift; and devote a little attention to the cultivation of the Pagoda tree; and it will flourish and bear more fruit than it has ever borne before.

Let us drop metaphor a little.

India has every requisite for the production of unbounded wealth—for the employment of untold capital. How is it then that, with all the advantages it possesses, its industries languish and struggle for bare existence, and in many cases die out altogether? How is it that, with all its material advantages, it does not enjoy unbounded prosperity? I have no doubt that you will point to the increased exports and imports of India, and claim this as an instance of unbounded prosperity due to Free Trade. I contend that it is wholly due to extension in railways, improvement in facilities of transport, and that with these improvements its prosperity ought to have been enormous. If it be prosperous, why do[82] we have essays on the Poverty of India?[98] Why do Viceroys dwell on the subject of its poverty?[99] Why do its industries languish and die out?

India has untold wealth, and wonderful natural resources, whether agricultural, mineral, or industrial, but they are to a great extent dormant.

It has coal of an excellent character, and inexhaustible in quantity; it has fine petroleum, large supplies of timber and charcoal; it has iron, of a purity that would make an English iron-master’s mouth water, spread wholesale all over the country,—in most places to be had by light quarrying or collection from the surface; it has chrome iron capable of making the finest Damascus blades; manganiferous ore; splendid hematites in profusion. It has gold, silver, antimony, tin, copper, plumbago, lime, kaolin, gypsum, precious stones, asbestos. Soft wheat, equal to the finest Australian; hard wheat, equal to the finest kabanka.[100] It has food grains of every description: oilseeds, tobacco, tea, coffee, cocoa, sugar, spices, lac, dyes, cotton, jute, hemp, flax, coir, fibres of every description; in fact, products too numerous to [83]mention. Its inhabitants are frugal, thrifty, industrious, capable of great physical exertion, docile, easily taught, skilful in any work requiring delicate manipulation. Labour is absurdly cheap; the soil for the most part wonderfully productive, and capable of producing crop after crop without any symptoms of exhaustion.

The present yield of wheat is about 26,500,000 quarters, or about 9,500,000 quarters in excess of the total imports of wheat into England; and in the Punjab alone there is cultivable waste land sufficient to produce 12,000,000 quarters, besides enormous parts in Burmah and other parts of India, only requiring irrigation or population to bring them under the plough.[101]

England imports annually commodities to the value of about £148,500,000 under six heads alone,[102] a large portion of which might be diverted to India by simply adopting a preferential tariff slightly favorable to her dependencies. Take, for example, wheat. If England be determined to persist in the endeavour to ruin its agricultural industry for a political whim, a slight tax on American and Russian wheat would suffice to turn the whole of the wheat import trade to India and Australia. Such a tax would, I believe, tend to lower, rather than raise, the price of wheat, because India would steadily go in for the production of wheat, if its calculations were not liable to be disturbed by a slight fall [84]in the price of wheat in America or Russia, which may throw back a quantity of wheat on the hands of the Indian producers or dealers.[103]

Again, India suffers from a tax which prevents the export of rice except on a tariff which is sometimes as high as 14½ per cent. on the value of the rice. This not only handicaps India in its exports when compared with other countries, but it drives the natives to grow less remunerative crops of oilseeds for export, and the result of this is that, when famine arises, there is no surplus food which might be retained from exports, and thus prevent the painful scenes of starvation and distress that India has witnessed of late years. To take off the tax would prevent depletion, for no foreign country could compete with the demand which failure of crops in any part of India would inevitably cause.

There is about £32,000,000 of English capital invested in Indian manufacturing industries, of which £18,000,000, or more than one-half, is invested in indigo, tea, coffee, jute, cotton, sugar, coal and iron industries, and how are these thriving? Everywhere throughout Bengal you see the ruins of English Indigo factories.

Coffee and tea are struggling hard for existence. Planters are ruined, and their estates bought at depreciated rates in times of depression. This enables the industries to survive with some show of prosperity in good times. Agricultural industries, such as coffee or tea, draw off surplus population, and employ them on land that would otherwise be uncultivated. Coal is doing fairly, but not nearly so well as it might do if our manufacturing industries prospered.


Cotton manufacture sprung up under a protective tariff, and appeared to be prospering; but selfish Manchester called aloud for the sacrifice of the industry. The tariff was removed, and the industry is left to struggle for life, or perish, as it may. Several capitalists who have embarked capital in cotton manufacture on the faith of this tariff, have lost their money. Everywhere in India, you may see evidences of native iron manufacture crushed out by Free Trade, with nothing but slag heaps remaining to testify to former prosperity. The splendid native iron being superseded by cheap worthless iron of English manufacture. Many attempts have been made by English capitalists to revive, or start, fresh iron industries, but they have one and all been crushed out for want of a little fostering protection. The latest attempt nearly succeeded, but the modest request for a little help was sternly refused:—What!!! Foster your industry? What sacrilege to advocate the violation of every principle of Jugernāth!!! and so the helpless babe was thrown under the relentless wheels of Jugernāth. There was a crunch,—a faint moan from the ruined shareholders,—and then all was over. Hurrah for Jugernāth!! Pereat India!!!


[98] “India is suffering seriously in several ways, and is sinking in poverty.” (Poverty of India, by Dadabhai Naoreji.)

[99] “India is, on the whole, a very poor country: the mass of the population enjoy only a scanty subsistence.” (Lord Lawrence, 1864.)

“I admit the comparative poverty of this country as compared with many other countries of the same magnitude and importance, and I am convinced of the impolicy and injustice of imposing burdens on this people which may be called crushing or oppressive.” (Lord Mayo, March, 1871.)

“It is not too much to say that the very existence of our rule in India may be gravely imperilled unless the finances of the country are placed in a more satisfactory position.” (Professor Fawcett, Feb., 1879.)

“The first thing to do is to point out well that frequent iteration, which alone impresses political masses, that India is of no real use at all to us, that we should be richer, stronger, better, happier without it, that we are cramped, distracted, and impoverished by it.” (Why keep India? by Grant Allen.)

[100] Dr. Watson’s Report.

[101] Government of India Records. Home Agriculture, and Revenue Department, clx. p. 16.



[103] “With a more certain market for wheat, it would, in many districts” (of Australia), “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.” (Duke of Manchester, Nineteenth Century, 1881.)


I know a maiden fair to see. Take care!

Trust her not, she is fooling thee. Beware!!

Fair Trade! Reciprocity! Retaliation! Such are the cries that have been raised by those who have felt the evils of Free Trade, without fully realising the mischievous principle involved in it.

England, with its dependencies, if properly governed, might[86] be independent of foreign nations for its trade, commerce, markets and productions.

“Retaliation” is an action at once undignified, inexpedient and unjust.

Are we to injure ourselves by the imposition of protective tariffs, which are mischievous when unnecessary, and to attempt to injure our neighbour, because he declines to imitate our folly in ruining ourselves for an economic “ignis fatuus?”

The only true and statesmanlike policy of a great nation like England is to pursue the even tenor of her way, governing the empire with its dependencies as one vast country, the interests of any one portion of which should be considered inseparable from those of the whole;—protecting jealously every industry; seeking every possible means of employing the labour and developing the resources of all;—fostering every industry when it needs fostering, and releasing the fostering care as soon as such care is seen to be unnecessary; protecting only to the extent that may be needed to prevent the decay of an existing industry, or to enable a new industry to spring up; the primary aim being to utilise the labour and produce of the whole, and to ensure a market for the produce in our own great United Empire.

With our enormous territory, two-half times as great as that of America,—with our enormous capabilities and varied productions, we ought, if governed rightly, to be able to secure this; and holding such an immense area of territory we should have no want of healthy competition without calling in foreign nations to compete with us.

We have within our grasp an imperial policy which would enable us to outstrip America in a far greater degree than she is now outstripping us.

By an imperial policy I do not mean that narrow insular[87] policy which takes all it can from its dependencies, and gives nothing in return;—I do not mean that selfish policy which drove America to separate from us, and which is now disgusting our Colonies, and forcing them to federation—the first step towards separation.

I mean a generous enlightened policy, which considers the welfare and prosperity of each and every dependency identical with its own.

We want the federation of union with England, not the federation of separation from her. But where are we to look for such a policy, surely not to the littleness described by M. Merimée, which “commits all possible faults to keep a few doubtful votes—the policy that disquiets itself about the present, and thinks nothing of the future,”—not to the politicians who put party before nation,—not to the petty caucuses of those economic charlatans who have impoverished the empire. We want an extension of franchise, but not mob franchise such as Chamberlain and his crew propose. We want extension of franchise to India and the Colonies. We want, in the House of Commons, representatives of the interests of England’s dependencies. We want practical, far-seeing, intelligent men—those who have seen the world in its different aspects, and know, by experience, its wants; not mere “globe-trotters” and travelling M.P.s, who return to their country more ignorant and puffed up with their partial knowledge than when they started; but representative men who have lived out of England long enough to have shaken off the idea that their “Little Pedlington,”—be it London or Liverpool, or Manchester or Birmingham,—is the pivot on which the world revolves. We want in fact an Imperial Parliament, not a wretched caucus of narrow-minded party politicians, whose view is limited to the horizon of the coming election, and whose whole business in life is to stump the country, making flatulent speeches, with exuberant[88] verbosity, to gaping admirers, and pandering to the fleeting popularity of the mob.[104]


[104] The old colonial system is gone. But in place of it no clear and reasoned system has been adopted. The wrong theory is given up, but what is the right theory?—There is only one alternative. If the colonies are not in the old phrase, possessions of England, then they must be a part of England; and we must adopt this view in earnest.

We must cease altogether to say that England is an island off the north western coast of Europe, that it has an area of 120,000 square miles and a population of thirty odd millions.

We must cease to think that emigrants when they go to the colonies, leave England or are lost to England. We must cease to think that the history of England is the history of the Parliament that sits at Westminster, and that the affairs that are not discussed there cannot belong to English history.

When we have accustomed ourselves to contemplate the whole Empire together, and call it all England, we shall see that here too is a United States.

Here too is a great, homogeneous people, one in blood, language, religion and laws, but disposed over a boundless space. We shall see that though it is held together by strong moral ties, it has little that can be called a constitution; no system that seems capable of resisting any severe shock. But if we are disposed to doubt whether any system can be devised capable of holding together communities so distant from each other, then is the time to recollect the history of the United States of America. For they have such a system. They have solved this problem. They have shown that in the present age of the world political unions may exist on a vaster scale than was possible in former times.

No doubt our problem has difficulties of its own, immense difficulties. But the greatest of these difficulties is one which we make ourselves.

It is the false preconception which we bring to the question, that the problem is insoluble, that no such thing ever was done or ever will be done; it is our misinterpretation of the American Revolution. (Expansion of England, by J. R. Seely, M.A., p. 158.)




Mr. Blood’s Letter to Mr. Bright.

32, Charlotte Street, Birmingham.

Dear Sir,—The Birmingham newspapers have recently published a letter written to you by Mr. W. G. Lord, of Bradford, on the subject of Free Trade. The letter is somewhat brief, and it struck me that, though you might not feel called upon to enter into correspondence on such subjects with persons who are not your constituents, possibly you might feel more disposed to discuss the question with an Elector of Birmingham.

You say, to imagine that the bad trade from which Bradford is suffering is due to hostile tariffs, is absurd; and then, as though in your opinion it was an unanswerable objection to those who contend that hostile tariffs have a great deal to do with it, you add, “because you have had great prosperity with the same tariffs.” Now, I venture to submit that this is no argument at all,—that it is merely a statement based upon false conclusions. You are, or at least you ought to be, aware, that the circumstances under which the trade of this country is carried on have entirely changed during recent years. At the period when, as you say, we “enjoyed great prosperity with the same tariffs,” the foreign nations, which now exclude our manufactures from their markets, were not sufficiently advanced to do without our assistance. Whether they liked it or not, they were compelled to buy of us largely, and, therefore, comparatively speaking, their tariffs were harmless. Now they can not[90] only dispense with the bulk of our manufactured goods, but, in many branches of industry, can also compete with our manufacturers in our own markets. Hence, hostile tariffs, which were once of little moment, have become serious, and if you look at the question from this point of view, you will probably see that absurdity is not with those who cry out against the hardships of foreign tariffs, but with those who, like yourself, shut their eyes to the changes going on around them, and blindly adhere to an old system after it has become obsolete and absolutely mischievous. You cannot be unaware that, since the great Exhibition of 1851, the commercial relations of this country with other nations of the world have undergone an entire change for the worse. Then it did seem as though England was to become the “workshop of the world,” as the apostles of Free Trade predicted she would be. But at that Exhibition the manufacturers of Europe and America were invited to inspect our machinery, were shown all the intricacies of its mechanism, and made familiar with the secrets of our manufactures. Among our visitors at that period were experts, whose eyes were open wherever they went, and who have since made good use of the information obtained. With equal good nature—or shall I call it folly—we have sent our machinery abroad, and skilled workmen to work it, without any regard to consequences, and hence foreigners, who but for the open-hearted candid nature of John Bull, would still have been in the background, are now fully ahead of us in a great many branches of manufacturing and commercial enterprise. Unprejudiced persons cannot fail to see that arguments based on a state of things which existed thirty or forty years ago, have no force, now that state of things has passed away; and your contention that hostile tariffs have nothing to do with our commercial depression, because under the same tariffs we enjoyed prosperity years ago, falls to the ground. On the contrary, unless our prosperity is to still further decline, it becomes a matter of vital necessity that in those manufactures in which England can still keep the lead, she shall have the[91] same privileges as she ungrudgingly gives to others; or that we should be protected in our markets from those who refuse us admission to theirs.

You go on to say “to suppose your case will be improved by refusing to buy what you want from foreigners, to punish them for not buying freely from you, is an idea and scheme only worthy of the inmates of a lunatic asylum.” But, if you seriously believe this statement, you must believe also that the astute, far-seeing citizen of the United States,—the plodding, theorizing German,—the thrifty and ingenious Frenchman,—and the hard-headed, practical Russian,—the intelligent Italian,—and even the hard-working Swede and Norwegian, are all lunatics. Are you prepared, seriously, to assert this as your belief? The fact is, you adopt an ingenious way of misstating a principle. No one thinks of refusing to buy from the foreigner when it is to our interest to do so. In our commercial relations one with another, it is usual for every man to buy from one who will probably become a return purchaser, or to put it in plainer language, each man supports the person who will be most likely to support him in return. But in buying from the foreigner, we are buying from the man who will never buy from us if he can possibly help it, and leaving those who would be our customers in return to starve.

Again, you say, that “to return to Protection under the name of Reciprocity, is to confess to the Protectionists abroad that we have been wrong, and that they are right.” But the fact is, no such confession is necessary. The Protectionist abroad knows too well that he is right, without any confession on our part. The vast progress of the United States, the immense strides they have made in commerce, manufactures, and wealth—strides so vast that our own progress, even at its greatest, is insignificant—will convince every intelligent American that the principle of protection to native industry is, under many circumstances, wholesome and necessary. The same may be said of France, which has made even greater progress in some particulars[92] than ourselves; and of Russia, which, under protection, seems likely to come to the fore.

Again, you ask, “Who dares to propose another sliding scale or fixed duty on the import of foreign corn?” Are you not aware that even amongst your own constituents there is a large party who have the courage to do this? You take it for granted that good seasons would enable agriculturists to carry on their avocation with profit. But many persons who have the best practical acquaintance with the subject think differently. If, in the result, they should prove to be right, are you prepared to see the bulk of the land of the country go out of cultivation rather than impose a duty on the import of foreign corn? With agriculture ruined, and its capital absolutely gone, what would become of our home trade? But the fact is, we don’t want any foreign corn at all. Our Colonists, who could be induced to trade with us on reciprocal terms, could supply us with all the corn we want, even though not one single quarter of foreign grain found a place in our markets. The result might be a very trivial rise in the price of bread-stuffs for a few years, but I venture to submit that the disadvantage of this rise would be more than counterbalanced by larger revenues from imports, which would result in reduced direct taxation, not only to the farmer, but to all classes, and by the increased occupation for the artisan and labourer, which would result from the extension of our Colonial markets, and from keeping our home trade to ourselves.

As this is a question which, at the present time, is agitating the public mind, and every one is looking for some practical solution of existing difficulties, I shall be glad to have your opinion on the views expressed in this letter. Your previous communication has been widely circulated through the Press, and, therefore, I purpose in due course, to publish this letter also, together with any reply with which you may favour me.

Yours faithfully,


Mr. Bright’s Reply.

Duchy of Lancaster Office, London, W.C.

Sir,—Mr. Bright desires me to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 27th instant.

In reply, Mr. Bright directs me to say that he has neither time nor inclination to enter into a correspondence with a gentleman who believes that we need no supplies of corn from foreign countries, and who would impose duties on its importation. He fears that no facts and no arguments can be placed before such a person with any advantage.

I am, sir, Your obedient servant,

Frederick Blood, Esq.,
32, Charlotte Street,

Mr. Blood’s Reply to Mr. Bright.

32, Charlotte Street, Birmingham.

Sir,—I am in receipt of your reply to my previous communication on the Subject of Free Imports. You decline to discuss the question, and in adopting this course, possibly you act wisely. There is so very little to be said from your point of view in favour of our existing system, that I can understand your reluctance to state your case fully. Whether dignified silence would not have been preferable to the uncourteous and dogmatic assertions in which you take refuge, is another matter. You seem surprised that any one should believe in the possibility of our doing without “Foreign” wheat, but is your surprise real or feigned? Do you wish to mislead the public by inducing it to attach a wrong meaning to the word “foreign?” You know the meaning I attach to it, and you know further that my statement was absolutely true, and that it has often[94] been made in public by persons who have a greater claim to a hearing on this subject than yourself.

I stated, that our Colonies and Dependencies could supply us with all the wheat we require, and that we could do without any foreign supply. Do you doubt this statement? If so, the doubt is scarcely creditable to your intelligence, or to your industry in making yourself acquainted with the facts. You may fix yourself on the horns of which ever dilemma you please, but the public will hold you guilty of a want of information, which is unpardonable, or else of a desire to mislead. Happily, our Colonies are not foreign powers, however much the policy of the government of which you are a member has recently tended to drive them to become such. Hence my statement holds good. I can only imagine that you presumed upon the scanty information of many of your constituents as to the difference in the meaning of the two words “Foreign” and “Colonial,” and trusted to throw dust in their eyes by this means. If your opinions require to be supported in this dishonourable manner, I can only say that they are manifestly unsound, and the sooner they are renounced the better for your political reputation. The position you hold in Her Majesty’s Government, although a lucrative one, is generally regarded as a sinecure, and, therefore, I fail to see how you can plead want of time as an excuse for writing a discourteous and contemptuous letter to one of your constituents, who wrote you in perfect good faith. But I shall leave it to public opinion to judge as to whether such conduct is worthy of the prefix of “Right Honourable” which is now generally attached to your name.

It is scarcely necessary to add that no one proposes to tax the imports of Colonial wheat to the same extent as that of foreign growth, and for this reason; the Colonists are willing to adopt a differential duty,—that is, to trade with us on something like reciprocal terms. The foreigner will take no steps towards meeting us fairly; hence the difference between the two cases is apparent at once. Supposing a duty of 20 per cent. were imposed on Foreign, and 10 per cent. on Colonial, wheat, it is[95] well known that this would not increase the price of the four-pound loaf more than a half-penny. To an average working man’s family this would not enhance the cost of living more than fourpence a week, and as it can easily be shown that increased employment for labour would follow on the judicious adoption of import duties, the working classes would be large gainers, especially as the revenue derived from these duties would enable us to reduce our other taxation.

In a former letter to me you stated that the price of the loaf would be doubled if we had not Free Trade in corn. It would be interesting to know how you arrived at this conclusion. I fear your usual method of assertion, without any endeavour to arrive at the truth, was at the bottom of it. The statement was altogether without foundation, although, no doubt, many people who have no time to think out the matter for themselves were influenced by it. You are now legislating for the people of Ireland, but has it never struck you that the immense flood of importations from America, which has been poured upon Ireland, has been the cause of much of the suffering which that country has endured? It has rendered agriculture unprofitable both in Ireland and in England, and therefore labourers have been thrown out of work, while farmers, especially the smaller ones, have been steadily impoverished. The natural result of poverty is sedition. The agricultural classes having no money to spend, all classes have suffered. Just now there is a cry for fostering manufactures in Ireland, but how many manufactures can you foster in which foreign competitors cannot undersell you in the streets of Dublin? If matters go on, they may perhaps eventually end in an attempted revolution, and if not put down with the strong arm of force, there will be a separation. How long in that case would Ireland, under the rule of her own people, allow America to drain away her wealth and prosperity? The foreign competition, against which agriculturists have to contend, will shortly be intensified by increased importations of beef and mutton from Queensland and other parts of Australia, and the struggle in England will become keener,[96] while Ireland will find it impossible to continue any of the small exports of cattle and food she now sends us, except at still more unprofitable prices.

This letter is somewhat lengthy, but the abrupt and discourteous nature of your communication has led me to write more fully than I should otherwise have done.

Yours faithfully,

P. S.—As this is solely a public matter, I shall send my letter to the Press, and shall be glad to take the same course with any reply you may favour me.


The three F’s: Fixity of Tenure, Fair Rent, Freedom of Sale.

Contemporary Review, February, 1881.

The grounds on which the principle of the three F’s were opposed in 1880:—

The Act of 1870 was to be final, and it is a breach of faith to reopen the land question.

  1. The Land Act of 1870 was an encroachment on the rights of landlords, but was allowed to pass on the understanding that it would be final.

  2. To reopen the question with further confiscation is a gross breach of faith.

  3. More especially it is a breach of faith with those landowners who have, on the invitation of Government, purchased land in the “Encumbered Estates Court.” The indefeasible title granted to them by the Court (and for which they paid large sums) would be turned into a mere claim to a precarious rent charge.


The three F’s are an infringement of the rights of the landlord. He must be compensated for the material, moral, and sentimental wrong which he will suffer.

  4. “Tenant right” is landlord wrong.

  5. Land is the absolute undoubted property of the landlord, and he has a right to do that which he wills with his own. Any curtailment of his power is an injustice, and affects the very principle of property.

  6. If the State interferes with his freedom of action, and causes him any material, moral, or sentimental injury, it must properly compensate him.

  7. To take away the enjoyment, control, and management of his land is a very tangible infringement of rights, and one for which compensation must be given.

  8. To fix a rent is to deprive the landlord of the advantages of competition, and affects him financially.

  9. It would reduce him to the position of a mere mortgagee, but without the security and certainty of payment.

10. To deprive him of his power of eviction, is to take away a privilege, a necessity.

11. The tenant’s claim to a “right” in the soil is not founded on any tangible or real historical basis.

The abuse of eviction or raisings of rent is rare; the use is necessary and justifiable.

12. There is little or no abuse of the power of arbitrary eviction; and even when rent is not paid, the landlords, as a class, are lenient. It is occasionally necessary for the good of the estate to evict (compensation for “disturbance” being paid) in order to consolidate holdings.

13. Eviction is seldom enforced, except in the case of bad and wasteful tenants; good and improving tenants are never evicted. Therefore, any diminution in the power of eviction would be disastrous to the prosperity of the country by retaining on the land worthless tenants.


14. Most landlords do properly compensate their tenants for any improvements effected by them.

15. They are justified in raising the rents when the land produces greater increase.

16. Even if a few bad landlords injure their tenants, it is unfair to visit on the heads of the majority the sins of the few by bringing them all under the same confiscating law.

17. The existing law provides ample safeguards against arbitrary and unjust eviction; the landlord’s power is sufficiently curtailed.

The relations of landlord and tenant are those of contract; the State must not interfere in freedom of contract.

18. Any State interference in contract between man and man is very inexpedient and demoralizing, more especially in interference in the matter of price and value.

19. The relations between landlord and tenant are merely those of contract.

20. The movement of progressive societies is from status to contract, and not the reverse.

21. It is illogical and unfair of the tenant to demand freedom of contract in the sale of tenant-right, and ask for curtailment of contract in his dealings with the landlord.

The objections to a fixed rent; and the difficulties in the way of fixing a fair rent.

22. It would be impossible to fix a rent which would content both parties.

23. As tenants vary in ability, character, and energy, it would be impossible to legislate so that the rent the tenant had to pay would be that which he is able to pay.

24. A fixed rent, even if fair at first, would soon weigh heavily on one or other of the parties.

25. All future enhancements of rent, based on whatever ground, would be strenuously resisted.


26. While the landlord would be bound to accept the valuation, the tenant could refuse to pay it and quit his holding.

27. If the Government, by valuation or arbitration, were to fix the rent, the landlord would consider that he had been guaranteed his rent by the State; while the tenant (in bad seasons) would look to the State to assist him to pay it.

28. If fixity of tenure were conceded, the next demand would be for the abolition of the rent charge, more especially on the ground of increased absenteeism, which would itself have been encouraged by the change.

29. At all events, in bad seasons, a demand would be made for abatement of rent, on the ground that otherwise the value of the tenant-right would be injuriously affected.

30. The power conceded to the landlord of selling the “tenant-right” on breach of contract, would be rendered nugatory by the combination of tenants to prevent a purchase; and so the landlord would be deprived of all means of obtaining his rent, or of preventing subletting or subdivision.

31. It is illogical and unjust that, in the matter of rent, the landlord should be deprived of the benefits of competition, while in the sale of tenant-right competition should be allowed.

32. The landlords, bound by a hard-and-fast rule, would expect to receive their full fixed rents, and would not be willing or able, as they are now, to allow indulgences in time or remission in bad seasons.

33. The pressure of violence would be brought to bear on the valuators to induce them to undervalue the rents.

The right of free sale of “tenant-right” would amount to confiscation of part of the landlord’s property. It would benefit only existing tenants, and would cripple all future tenants.

34. As the existing tenants would, on the day of the passing of the law, be able to sell their tenant-right for a large[100] sum, having done nothing to earn it, the amount at which it can be valued, is so much subtracted from the rightful gains of the landlord.

35. As tenants had not this scheme in view when they bargained for their farms, its adoption would be conceding them a valuable privilege entirely at the expense of the landlords.

36. Only the existing tenants would benefit pecuniarily from the change; all future in-coming tenants would be burdened by the amount they would have to pay for the “tenant-right,” and the interest on this payment in addition to the “fair” rent, would constitute a sum exceeding any rack-rent.

37. The unhealthy “earth-hunger,” which exists in Ireland, would force up the price of tenant-right far above the real value, and thus entrench on the security of the landlord for his rent, whilst reckless tenants would outbid the prudent.

38. The payment for tenant-right would cripple the in-coming tenant just at the moment when he most required capital to cultivate the land—to the injury of production, while it would leave him no margin to fall back upon in bad times.

39. The tenants who would benefit most would be those who have had indulgent landlords. When rents are low “tenant-right” would be more valuable than when they are high.

40. The tenants can obtain security of tenure by demanding and accepting leases; many landlords are willing to grant long leases at fixed rents on fair terms.

41. Therefore, at the most the law should force the landlords to grant “security leases,” and leave them to obtain (by means of a fine) any extra value which security will fetch.

42. Any further privileges obtained by the tenant would only be used as additional facilities for borrowing money at ruinous rates.


43. The Ulster tenants have obtained their tenant-right by purchase, or by a quid pro quo; the concession of free sale would gratuitously endow existing tenants with a valuable property, which they have neither earned, bought, nor inherited.

44. Many landlords have bought up the tenant-right on their farms; it is manifestly unfair to reimpose it without compensation.

The landlords have largely invested capital in the soil; the three F’s would prevent them in future from making improvements; and the tenants’ power to do so would also be diminished.

45. The landlords, as a class, have invested capital very largely in the improvement of the soil; the improvements have been by no means entirely effected by the tenant.

46. It would no longer be to the interest of the landlord to invest his capital in the soil; an effectual obstacle would have been placed in the way of his doing so.

47. Therefore, those improvements,—drainage, straightening fields and boundaries, &c., which affect many holdings, and can only be done by the landlord, would no longer be executed.

48. As he will have to pay for the “tenant-right,” the in-coming tenant will have less capital to invest in the soil than at present, while the sum he has paid will be taken out of the land for ever; thus, on both hands, the capital available for these purposes would be diminished, and production would suffer.

Further evils which would result from the adoption of the three F’s.

49. By making the landlord merely a rent-charger, and depriving him of all power or interest in his land, absenteeism and non-residence, with their attendant evils, would be enormously increased.

50. The proposed scheme would perpetuate the present system of landlord and tenant, while the desirable aim should be to increase the number of proprietors.


51. The tenant, possessing security of tenure, would be less desirous of purchasing land, while sale, except to the tenant, would be greatly hindered.

52. It would perpetuate the absurd distribution of land at present existing in many parts of Ireland.

53. While it would confirm not only good and bad tenants in their tenure of land and affect equally good and bad landlords,

54. It would increase the antagonism between the landlord and the tenant;

55. It would be practically impossible to prevent subdivision and subletting with their manifold attendant evils.

56. The Irish people are so miserably lazy, thriftless, and short-sighted, that no reform of the land-law would benefit them.

57. Nothing short of separation from England will satisfy the Irish; land-reforms are useless.

58. Under small proprietors or semi-proprietors, the lot of labourers would be harder than ever.

59. The various parts of Ireland differ so much in every way that it would be inexpedient and impossible to apply one scheme to the whole; if it answered in one part it would necessarily fail in others.

60. If the principle of the three F’s were once conceded, it would form a precedent for land-legislation in England; and then for legislation directed against all forms of property.

61. It is the first step towards democratic and socialistic legislation.

62. The concession is the more dangerous, inasmuch as it is only conceded to clamour and lawlessness.





Obvious typographical errors and punctuation errors have been corrected after careful comparison with other occurrences within the text and consultation of external sources.

Except for those changes noted below, all misspellings in the text, and inconsistent or archaic usage, have been retained. For example, livestock, live stock; highroad, high road; Free Trader, Free-Trader; descanting; squib; cess; uncourteous.

Pg 26, ‘Liberal politicans’ replaced by ‘Liberal politicians’.
Pg 41, ‘nearly 3,000,000’ replaced by ‘nearly 300,000’.
Pg 47, ‘M. DeLavergne’ replaced by ‘M. De Lavergne’.
Pg 58, ‘without his cousent’ replaced by ‘without his consent’.
Pg 74, ‘cause the landord’ replaced by ‘cause the landlord’.
Pg 84, ‘thoughout Bengal’ replaced by ‘throughout Bengal’.
Pg 87, ‘posperity of each’ replaced by ‘prosperity of each’.
Pg 92, ‘for the artizan’ replaced by ‘for the artisan’.