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Chapter 8



Though the encouragement of exportation, and the discouragement
of importation, are the two great engines by which the mercantile
system proposes to enrich every country, yet, with regard to some
particular commodities, it seems to follow an opposite plan : to
discourage exportation, and to encourage importation. Its
ultimate object, however, it pretends, is always the same, to
enrich the country by an advantageous balance of trade. It
discourages the exportation of the materials of manufacture, and
of the instruments of trade, in order to give our own workmen an
advantage, and to enable them to undersell those of other nations
in all foreign markets; and by restraining, in this manner, the
exportation of a few commodities, of no great price, it proposes
to occasion a much greater and more valuable exportation of
others. It encourages the importation of the materials of
manufacture, in order that our own people may be enabled to work
them up more cheaply, and thereby prevent a greater and more
valuable importation of the manufactured commodities. I do not
observe, at least in our statute book, any encouragement given to
the importation of the instruments of trade. When manufactures
have advanced to a certain pitch of greatness, the fabrication of
the instruments of trade becomes itself the object of agreat
number of very important manufactures. To give any particular
encouragement to the importation of such instruments, would
interfere too much with the interest of those manufactures. Such
importation, therefore, instead of being encouraged, has
frequently been prohibited. Thus the importation of wool cards,
except from Ireland, or when brought in as wreck or prize goods,
was prohibited by the 3rd of Edward IV. ; which prohibition was
renewed by the 39th of Elizabeth, and has been continued and
rendered perpetual by subsequent laws.

The importation of the materials of manufacture has sometimes
been encouraged by an exemption from the duties to which other
goods are subject, and sometimes by bounties.

The importation of sheep's wool from several different countries,
of cotton wool from all countries, of undressed flax, of the
greater part of dyeing drugs, of the greater part of undressed
hides from Ireland, or the British colonies, of seal skins from
the British Greenland fishery, of pig and bar iron from the
British colonies, as well as of several other materials of
manufacture, has been encouraged by an exemption from all duties,
if properly entered at the custom-house. The private interest of
our merchants and manufacturers may, perhaps, have extorted from
the legislature these exemptions, as well as the greater part of
our other commercial regulations. They are, however, perfectly
just and reasonable; and if, consistently with the necessities of
the state, they could be extended to all the other materials of
manufacture, the public would certainly be a gainer.

The avidity of our great manufacturers, however, has in some
cases extended these exemptions a good deal beyond what can
justly be considered as the rude materials of their work. By the
24th Geo. II. chap. 46, a small duty of only 1d. the pound was
imposed upon the importation of foreign brown linen yarn, instead
of much higher duties, to which it had been subjected before,
viz. of 6d. the pound upon sail yarn, of 1s. the pound upon all
French and Dutch yarn, and of 2:13:4 upon the hundred weight of
all spruce or Muscovia yarn. But our manufacturers were not long
satisfied with this reduction: by the 29th of the same king,
chap. 15, the same law which gave a bounty upon the exportation
of British and Irish linen, of which the price did not exceed
18d. the yard, even this small duty upon the importation of brown
linen yarn was taken away. In the different operations, however,
which are necessary for the preparation of linen yarn, a good
deal more industry is employed, than in the subsequent operation
of preparing linen cloth from linen yarn. To say nothing of the
industry of the flax-growers and flaxdressers, three or four
spinners at least are necessary in order to keep one weaver in
constant employment; and more than four-fifths of the whole
quantity of labour necessary for the preparation of linen cloth,
is employed in that of linen yarn ; but our spinners are poor
people; women commonly scattered about in all different parts of
the country, without support or protection. It is not by the sale
of their work, but by that of the complete work of the weavers,
that our great master manufacturers make their profits. As it is
their interest to sell the complete manufacture as dear, so it is
to buy the materials as cheap as possible. By extorting from the
legislature bounties upon the exportation of their own linen,
high duties upon the importation of all foreign linen, and a
total prohibition of the home consumption of some sorts of French
linen, they endeavour to sell their own goods as dear as
possible. By encouraging the importation of foreign linen yarn,
and thereby bringing it into competition with that which is made
by our own people, they endeavour to buy the work of the poor
spinners as cheap as possible. They are as intent to keep down
the wages of their own weavers, as the earnings of the poor
spinners ; and it is by no means for the benefit of the workmen
that they endeavour either to raise the price of the complete
work, or to lower that of the rude materials. It is the industry
which is carried on for the benefit of the rich and the powerful,
that is principally encouraged by our mercantile system. That
which is carried on for the benefit of the poor and the indigent
is too often either neglected or oppressed.

Both the bounty upon the exportation of linen, and the exemption
from the duty upon the importation of foreign yarn, which were
granted only for fifteen years, but continued by two different
prolongations, expire with the end of the session of parliament
which shall immediately follow the 24th of June 1786.

The encouragement given to the importation of the materials of
manufacture by bounties, has been principally confined to such as
were imported from our American plantations.

The first bounties of this kind were those granted about the
beginning of the present century, upon the importation of naval
stores from America. Under this denomination were comprehended
timber fit for masts, yards, and bowsprits; hemp, tar, pitch, and
turpentine. The bounty, however, of 1 the ton upon
masting-timber, and that of 6 the ton upon hemp, were extended
to such as should be imported into England from Scotland. Both
these bounties continued, without any variation, at the same
rate, till they were severally allowed to expire; that upon hemp
on the 1st of January 1741, and that upon masting-timber at the
end of the session of parliament immediately following the 24th
June 1781.

The bounties upon the importation of tar, pitch, and turpentine,
underwent, during their continuance, several alterations.
Originally, that upon tar was 4 the ton ; that upon pitch the
same; and that upon turpentine 3 the ton. The bounty of 4 the
ton upon tar was afterwards confined to such as had been prepared
in a particular manner ; that upon other good, clean, and
merchantable tar was reduced to 2:4s. the ton. The bounty upon
pitch was likewise reduced to 1, and that upon turpentine to
1:10s. the ton.

The second bounty upon the importation of any of the materials of
manufacture, according to the order of time, was that granted by
the 21st Geo. II. chap.30, upon the importation of indigo from
the British plantations. When the plantation indigo was worth
three-fourths of the price of the best French indigo, it was, by
this act, entitled to a bounty of 6d. the pound. This bounty,
which, like most others, was granted only for a limited time, was
continued by several prolongations, but was reduced to 4d. the
pound. It was allowed to expire with the end of the session of
parliament which followed the 25th March 1781.

The third bounty of this kind was that granted (much about the
time that we were beginning sometimes to court, and sometimes to
quarrel with our American colonies), by the 4th. Geo. III. chap.
26, upon the importation of hemp, or undressed flax, from the
British plantations. This bounty was granted for twenty-one
years, from the 24th June 1764 to the 24th June 1785. For the
first seven years, it was to be at the rate of 8 the ton; for
the second at 6; and for the third at 4. It was not extended to
Scotland, of which the climate (although hemp is sometimes raised
there in small quantities, and of an inferior quality) is not
very fit for that produce. Such a bounty upon the importation of
Scotch flax in England would have been too great a discouragement
to the native produce of the southern part of the united kingdom.

The fourth bounty of this kind was that granted by the 5th Geo.
III. chap. 45, upon the importation of wood from America. It was
granted for nine years from the 1st January 1766 to the 1st
January 1775. During the first three years, it was to be for
every hundred-and-twenty good deals, at the rate of 1, and for
every load containing fifty cubic feet of other square timber, at
the rate of 12s. For the second three years, it was for deals, to
be at the rate of 15s., and for other squared timber at the rate
of 8s.; and for the third three years, it was for deals, to be at
the rate of 10s.; and for every other squared timber at the rate
of 5s.

The fifth bounty of this kind was that granted by the 9th Geo.
III. chap. 38, upon the importation of raw silk from the British
plantations. It was granted for twenty-one years, from the 1st
January 1770, to the 1st January 1791. For the first seven years,
it was to be at the rate of 25 for every hundred pounds value ;
for the second, at 20; and for the third, at 15. The management
of the silk-worm, and the preparation of silk, requires so much
hand-labour, and labour is so very dear in America, that even
this great bounty, I have been informed, was not likely to
produce any considerable effect.

The sixth Bounty of this kind was that granted by 11th Geo. III.
chap. 50, for the importation of pipe, hogshead, and barrelstaves
and leading from the British plantations. It was granted for nine
years, from 1st January 1772 to the 1st January 1781. For the
first three years, it was, for a certain quantity of each, to be
at the rate of 6; for the second three years at 4; and for the
third three years at 2.

The seventh and last bounty of this kind was that granted by the
19th Geo. III chap. 37, upon the importation of hemp from
Ireland. It was granted in the same manner as that for the
importation of hemp and undressed flax from America, for
twenty-one years, from the 24th June 1779 to the 24th June 1800.
The term is divided likewise into three periods, of seven years
each; and in each of those periods, the rate of the Irish bounty
is the same with that of the American. It does not, however, like
the American bounty, extend to the importation of undressed flax.
It would have been too great a discouragement to the cultivation
of that plant in Great Britain. When this last bounty was
granted, the British and Irish legislatures were not in much
better humour with one another, than the British and American had
been before. But this boon to Ireland, it is to be hoped, has
been granted under more fortunate auspices than all those to
America. The same commodities, upon which we thus gave bounties,
when imported from America, were subjected to considerable duties
when imported from any other country. The interest of our
American colonies was regarded as the same with that of the
mother country. Their wealth was considered as our wealth.
Whatever money was sent out to them, it was said, came all back
to us by the balance of trade, and we could never become a
farthing the poorer by any expense which we could lay out upon
them. They were our own in every respect, and it was an expense
laid out upon the improvement of our own property, and for the
profitable employment of our own people. It is unnecessary, I
apprehend, at present to say anything further, in order to expose
the folly of a system which fatal experience has now sufficiently
exposed. Had our American colonies really been a part of Great
Britain, those bounties might have been considered as bounties
upon production, and would still have been liable to all the
objections to which such bounties are liable, but to no other.

The exportation of the materials of manufacture is sometimes
discouraged by absolute prohibitions, and sometimes by high

Our woollen manufacturers have been more successful than any
other class of workmen, in persuading the legislature that the
prosperity of the nation depended upon the success and extension
of their particular business. They have not only obtained a
monopoly against the consumers, by an absolute prohibition of
importing woollen cloths from any foreign country; but they have
likewise obtained another monopoly against the sheep farmers and
growers of wool, by a similar prohibition of the exportation of
live sheep and wool. The severity of many of the laws which have
been enacted for the security of the revenue is very justly
complained of, as imposing heavy penalties upon actions which,
antecedent to the statutes that declared them to be crimes, had
always been understood to be innocent. But the cruellest of our
revenue laws, I will venture to affirm, are mild and gentle, in
comparison to some of those which the clamour of our merchants
and manufacturers has extorted from the legisiature, for the
support of their own absurd and oppressive monopolies. Like the
laws of Draco, these laws may be said to be all written in blood.

By the 8th of Elizabeth, chap. 3, the exporter of sheep, lambs,
or rams, was for the first offence, to forfeit all his goods for
ever, to suffer a year's imprisonment, and then to have his left
hand cut off in a market town, upon a market day, to be there
nailed up; and for the second offence, to be adjudged a felon,
and to suffer death accordingly. To prevent the breed of our
sheep from being propagated in foreign countries, seems to have
been the object of this law. By the 13th and 14th of Charles II.
chap. 18, the exportation of wool was made felony, and the
exporter subjected to the same penalties and forfeitures as a

For the honour of the national humanity, it is to be hoped that
neither of these statutes was ever executed. The first of them,
however, so far as I know, has never been directly repealed, and
serjeant Hawkins seems to consider it as still in force. It may,
however, perhaps be considered as virtually repealed by the 12th
of Charles II. chap. 32, sect. 3, which, without expressly taking
away the penalties imposed by former statutes, imposes a new
penalty, viz. that of 20s. for every sheep exported, or attempted
to be exported, together with the forfeiture of the sheep, and of
the owner's share of the sheep. The second of them was expressly
repealed by the 7th and 8th of William III. chap. 28, sect. 4, by
which it is declared that " Whereas the statute of the 13th and
14th of king Charles II. made against the exportation of wool,
among other things in the said act mentioned, doth enact the same
to be deemed felony, by the severity of which penalty the
prosecution of offenders hath not been so effectually put in
execution ; be it therefore enacted, by the authority aforesaid,
that so much of the said act, which relates to the making the
said offence felony, be repealed and made void."

The penalties, however, which are either imposed by this milder
statute, or which, though imposed by former statutes, are not
repealed by this one, are still sufficiently severe. Besides the
forfeiture of the goods, the exporter incurs the penalty of 3s.
for every pound weight of wool, either exported or attempted to
be exported, that is, about four or five times the value. Any
merchant, or other person convicted of this offence, is disabled
from requiring any debt or account belonging to him from any
factor or other person. Let his fortune be what it will,
whether he is or is not able to pay those heavy penalties, the
law means to ruin him completely. But, as the morals of the great
body of the people are not yet so corrupt as those of the
contrivers of this statute, I have not heard that any advantage
has ever been taken of this clause. If the person convicted of
this offence is not able to pay the penalties within three months
after judgment, he is to be transported for seven years; and if
he returns before the expiration of that term, he is liable to
the pains of felony, without benefit of clergy. The owner of the
ship, knowing this offence, forfeits all his interest in the ship
and furniture. The master and mariners, knowing this offence,
forfeit all their goods and chattels, and suffer three months
imprisonment. By a subsequent statute, the master suffers six
months imprisonment.

In order to prevent exportation, the whole inland commerce of
wool is laid under very burdensome and oppressive restrictions.
It cannot be packed in any box, barrel, cask, case, chest, or any
other package, but only in packs of leather or pack-cloth, on
which must be marked on the outside the words WOOL or YARN, in
large letters, not less than three inches long, on pain of
forfeiting the same and the package, and 8s. for every pound
weight, to be paid by the owner or packer. It cannot be loaden on
any horse or cart, or carried by land within five miles of the
coast, but between sun-rising, and sun-setting, on pain of
forfeiting the same, the horses and carriages. The hundred next
adjoining to the sea coast, out of, or through which the wool is
carried or exported, forfeits 20, if the wool is under the value
of 10; and if of greater value, then treble that value, together
with treble costs, to be sued for within the year. The execution
to be against any two of the inhabitants, whom the sessions must
reimburse, by an assessment on the other inhabitants, as in the
cases of robbery. And if any person compounds with the hundred
for less than this penalty, he is to be imprisoned for five
years; and any other person may prosecute. These regulations take
place through the whole kingdom.

But in the particular counties of Kent and Sussex, the
restrictions are still more troublesome. Every owner of wool
within ten miles of the sea coast must give an account in
writing, three days after shearing, to the next officer of the
customs, of the number of his fleeces, and of the places where
they are lodged. And before he removes any part of them, he must
give the like notice of the number and weight of the fleeces, and
of the name and abode of the person to whom they are sold, and of
the place to which it is intended they should be carried. No
person within fifteen miles of the sea, in the said counties, can
buy any wool, before he enters into bond to the king, that no
part of the wool which he shall so buy shall be sold by him to
any other person within fifteen miles of the sea. If any wool is
found carrying towards the sea side in the said counties, unless
it has been entered and security given as aforesaid, it is
forfeited, and the offender also forfeits 3s. for every pound
weight. if any person lay any wool, not entered as aforesaid,
within fifteen miles of the sea, it must be seized and forfeited
; and if, after such seizure, any person shall claim the same, he
must give security to the exchequer, that if he is cast upon
trial he shall pay treble costs, besides all other penalties.

When such restrictions are imposed upon the inland trade, the
coasting trade, we may believe, cannot be left very free. Every
owner of wool, who carrieth, or causeth to be carried, any wool
to any port or place on the sea coast, in order to be from thence
transported by sea to any other place or port on the coast, must
first cause an entry thereof to be made at the port from whence
it is intended to be conveyed, containing the weight, marks, and
number, of the packages, before he brings the same within five
miles of that port, on pain of forfeiting the same, and also the
horses, carts, and other carriages; and also of suffering and
forfeiting, as by the other laws in force against the exportation
of wool. This law, however (1st of William III. chap. 32), is so
very indulgent as to declare, that this shall not hinder any
person from carrying his wool home from the place of shearing,
though it be within five miles of the sea, provided that in ten
days after shearing, and before he remove the wool, he do under
his hand certify to the next officer of the customs the true
number of fleeces, and where it is housed; and do not remove the
same, without certifying to such officer, under his hand, his
intention so to do, three days before. Bond must be given that
the wool to be carried coast-ways is to be landed at the
particular port for which it is entered outwards; and if my part
of it is landed without the presence of an officer, not only the
forfeiture of the wool is incurred, as in other goods, but the
usual additional penalty of 3s. for every pound weight is
likewise incurred.

Our woollen manufacturers, in order to justify their demand of
such extraordinary restrictions and regulations, confidently
asserted, that English wool was of a peculiar quality, superior
to that of any other country; that the wool of other countries
could not, without some mixture of it, be wrought up into any
tolerable manufacture; that fine cloth could not be made without
it ; that England, therefore, if the exportation of it could be
totally prevented, could monopolize to herself almost the whole
woollen trade of the world; and thus, having no rivals, could
sell at what price she pleased, and in a short time acquire the
most incredible degree of wealth by the most advantageous balance
of trade. This doctrine, like most other doctrines which are
confidently asserted by any considerable number of people, was,
and still continues to be, most implicitly believed by a much
greater number: by almost all those who are either unacquainted
with the woollen trade, or who have not made particular
inquiries. It is, however, so perfectly false, that English wool
is in any respect necessary for the making of fine cloth, that it
is altogether unfit for it. Fine cloth is made altogether of
Spanish wool. English wool, cannot be even so mixed with Spanish
wool, as to enter into the composition without spoiling and
degrading, in some degree, the fabric of the cloth.

It has been shown in the foregoing part of this work, that the
effect of these regulations has been to depress the price of
English wool, not only below what it naturally would be in the
present times, but very much below what it actually was in the
time of Edward III. The price of Scotch wool, when, in
consequence of the Union, it became subject to the same
regulations, is said to have fallen about one half. It is
observed by the very accurate and intelligent author of the
Memoirs of Wool, the Reverend Mr. John Smith, that the price of
the best English wool in England, is generally below what wool of
a very inferior quality commonly sells for in the market of
Amsterdam. To depress the price of this commodity below what may
be called its natural and proper price, was the avowed purpose of
those regulations ; and there seems to be no doubt of their
having produced the effect that was expected from them.

This reduction of price, it may perhaps be thought, by
discouraging the growing of wool, must have reduced very much the
annual produce of that commodity, though not below what it
formerly was, yet below what, in the present state of things, it
would probably have been, had it, in consequence of an open and
free market, been allowed to rise to the natural and proper
price. I am, however, disposed to believe, that the quantity of
the annual produce cannot have been much, though it may, perhaps,
have been a little affected by these regulations. The growing of
wool is not the chief purpose for which the sheep farmer employs
his industry and stock. He expects his profit, not so much from
the price of the fleece, as from that of the carcase; and the
average or ordinary price of the latter must even, in many cases,
make up to him whatever deficiency there may be in the average or
ordinary price of the former. It has been observed, in the
foregoing part of this work, that 'whatever regulations tend to
sink the price, either of wool or of raw hides, below what it
naturally would be, must, in an improved and cultivated country,
have some tendency to raise the price of butcher's meat. The
price, both of the great and small cattle which are fed on
improved and cultivated land, must be sufficient to pay the rent
which the landlord, and the profit which the farmer, has reason
to expect from improved and cultivated land. If it is not, they
will soon cease to feed them. Whatever part of this price,
therefore, is not paid by the wool and the hide, must be paid by
the carcase. The less there is paid for the one, the more must be
paid for the other. In what manner this price is to be divided
upon the different parts of the beast, is indifferent to the
landlords and farmers, provided it is all paid to them. In an
improved and cultivated country, therefore, their interest as
landlords and farmers cannot be much affected by such
regulations, though their interest as consumers may, by the rise
in the price of provisions.' According to this reasoning,
therefore, this degradation in the price of wool is not likely,
in an improved and cultivated country, to occasion any diminution
in the annual produce of that commodity; except so far as, by
raising the price of mutton, it may somewhat diminish the demand
for, and consequently the production of, that particular species
of butcher's meat, Its effect, however, even in this way, it is
probable, is not very considerable.

But though its effect upon the quantity of the annual produce may
not have been very considerable, its effect upon the quality, it
may perhaps be thought, must necessarily have been very great.
The degradation in the quality of English wool, if not below what
it was in former times, yet below what it naturally would have
been in the present state of improvement and cultivation, must
have been, it may perhaps be supposed, very nearly in proportion
to the degradation of price. As the quality depends upon the
breed, upon the pasture, and upon the management and cleanliness
of the sheep, during the whole progress of the growth of the
fleece, the attention to these circumstances, it may naturally
enough be imagined, can never be greater than in proportion to
the recompence which the price of the fleece is likely to make
for the labour and expense which that attention requires. It
happens, however, that the goodness of the fleece depends, in a
great measure, upon the health, growth, and bulk of the animal:
the same attention which is necessary for the improvement of the
carcase is, in some respect, sufficient for that of the fleece.
Notwithstanding the degradation of price, English wool is said to
have been improved considerably during the course even of the
present century. The improvement, might, perhaps, have been
greater if the price had been better; but the lowness of price,
though it may have obstructed, yet certainly it has not
altogether prevented that improvement.

The violence of these regulations, therefore, seems to have
affected neither the quantity nor the quality of the annual
produce of wool, so much as it might have been expected to do
(though I think it probable that it may have affected the latter
a good deal more than the former); and the interest of the
growers of wool, though it must have been hurt in some degree,
seems upon the whole, to have been much less hurt than could well
have been imagined.

These considerations, however, will not justify the absolute
prohibition of the exportation of wool ; but they will fully
justify the imposition of a considerable tax upon that

To hurt, in any degree, the interest of any one order of
citizens, for no other purpose but to promote that of some other,
is evidently contrary to that justice and equality of treatment
which the sovereign owes to all the different orders of his
subjects. But the prohibition certainly hurts, in some degree,
the interest of the growers of wool, for no other purpose but to
promote that of the manufacturers.

Every different order of citizens is bound to contribute to the
support of the sovereign or commonwealth. A tax of five, or even
of ten shillings, upon the exportation of every tod of wool,
would produce a very considerable revenue to the sovereign. It
would hurt the interest of the growers somewhat less than the
prohibition, because it would not probably lower the price of
wool quite so much. It would afford a sufficient advantage to the
manufacturer, because, though he might not buy his wool
altogether so cheap as under the prohibition, he would still buy
it at least five or ten shillings cheaper than any foreign
manufacturer could buy it, besides saving the freight and
insurance which the other would be obliged to pay. It is scarce
possible to devise a tax which could produce any considerable
revenue to the sovereign, and at the same time occasion so little
inconveniency to anybody.

The prohibition, notwithstanding all the penalties which guard
it, does not prevent the exportation of wool. It is exported, it
is well known. in great quantities. The great difference between
the price in the home and that in the foreign market, presents
such a temptation to smuggling, that all the rigour of the law
cannot prevent it. This illegal exportation is advantageous to
nobody but the smuggler. A legal exportation, subject to a tax,
by affording a revenue to the sovereign, and thereby saving the
imposition of some other, perhaps more burdensome and
inconvenient taxes, might prove advantageous to all the different
subjects of the state.

The exportation of fuller's earth, or fuller's clay, supposed to
be necessary for preparing and cleansing the woollen
manufactures, has been subjected to nearly the same penalties as
the exportation of wool. Even tobacco-pipe clay, though
acknowledged to be different from fuller's clay, yet, on account
of their resemblance, and because fuller's clay might sometimes
be exported as tobacco-pipe clay, has been laid under the same
prohibitions and penalties.

By the 13th and 14th of Charles II. chap, 7, the exportation, not
only of raw hides, but of tanned leather, except in the shape of
boots, shoes, or slippers, was prohibited ; and the law gave a
monopoly to our boot-makers and shoe-makers, not only against our
graziers, but against our tanners. By subsequent statutes, our
tanners have got themselves exempted from this monopoly, upon
paying a small tax of only one shilling on the hundred weight of
tanned leather, weighing one hundred and twelve pounds. They have
obtained likewise the drawback of two-thirds of the excise duties
imposed upon their commodity, even when exported without further
manufacture. All manufactures of leather may be exported duty
free ; and the exporter is besides entitled to the drawback of
the whole duties of excise. Our graziers still continue
subject to the old monopoly. Graziers, separated from one
another, and dispersed through all the different corners of the
country, cannot, without great difficulty, combine together for
the purpose either of imposing monopolies upon their
fellow-citizens, or of exempting themselves from such as may have
been imposed upon them by other people. Manufacturers of all
kinds, collected together in numerous bodies in all great cities,
easily can. Even the horns of cattle are prohibited to be
exported ; and the two insignificant trades of the horner and
comb-maker enjoy, in this respect, a monopoly against the

Restraints, either by prohibitions, or by taxes, upon the
exportation of goods which are partially, but not completely
manufactured, are not peculiar to the manufacture of leather. As
long as anything remains to be done, in order to fit any
commodity for immediate use and consumption, our manufacturers
think that they themselves ought to have the doing of it. Woollen
yarn and worsted are prohibited to be exported, under the same
penalties as wool even white cloths we subject to a duty upon
exportation; and our dyers have so far obtained a monopoly
against our clothiers. Our clothiers would probably have been
able to defend themselves against it; but it happens that the
greater part of our principal clothiers are themselves likewise
dyers. Watch-cases, clock-cases, and dial-plates for clocks and
watches, have been prohibited to be exported. Our clock-makers
and watch-makers are, it seems, unwilling that the price of this
sort of workmanship should be raised upon them by the competition
of foreigners.

By some old statutes of Edward III, Henry VIII. and Edward VI.
the exportation of all metals was prohibited. Lead and tin were
alone excepted, probably on account of the great abundance of
those metals; in the exportation of which a considerable part of
the trade of the kingdom in those days consisted. For the
encouragement of the mining trade, the 5th of William and Mary,
chap.17, exempted from this prohibition iron, copper, and mundic
metal made from British ore. The exportation of all sorts of
copper bars, foreign as well as British, was afterwards permitted
by the 9th and 10th of Willimn III. chap 26. The exportation of
unmanufactured brass, of what is called gun-metal, bell-metal,
and shroff metal, still continues to be prohibited. Brass
manufactures of all sorts may be exported duty free.

The exportation of the materials of manufacture, where it is not
altogether prohibited, is, in many cases, subjected to
considerable duties.

By the 8th Geo. I. chap.15, the exportation of all goods, the
produce of manufacture of Great Britain, upon which any duties
had been imposed by former statutes, was rendered duty free. The
following goods, however, were excepted: alum, lead, lead-ore,
tin, tanned leather, copperas, coals, wool, cards, white woollen
cloths, lapis calaminaris, skins of all sorts, glue, coney hair
or wool, hares wool, hair of all sorts, horses, and litharge of
lead. If you except horses, all these are either materials of
manufacture, or incomplete manufactures (which may be considered
as materials for still further manufacture), or instruments of
trade. This statute leaves them subject to all the old duties
which had ever been imposed upon them, the old subsidy, and one
per cent. outwards.

By the same statute, a great number of foreign drugs for dyers
use are exempted from all duties upon importation. Each of them,
however, is afterwards subjected to a certain duty, not indeed a
very heavy one, upon exportation. Our dyers, it seems, while they
thought it for their interest to encourage the importation of
those drugs, by an exemption from all duties, thought it likewise
for their own interest to throw some small discouragement upon
their exportation. The avidity, however, which suggested this
notable piece of mercantile ingenuity, most probably disappointed
itself of its object. It necessarily taught the importers to be
more careful than they might otherwise have been, that their
importation should not exceed what was necessary for the supply
of the home market. The home market was at all times likely to be
more scantily supplied ; the commodities were at all times likely
to be somewhat dearer there than they would have been, had the
exportation been rendered as free as the importation.

By the above-mentioned statute, gum senega, or gum arabic, being
among the enumerated dyeing drugs, might be imported duty free.
They were subjected, indeed, to a small poundage duty, amounting
only to threepence in the hundred weight, upon their
re-exportation. France enjoyed, at that time, an exclusive trade
to the country most productive of those drugs, that which lies in
the neighbourhood of the Senegal ; and the British market could
not be easily supplied by the immediate importation of them from
the place of growth. By the 25th Geo. II. therefore, gum senega
was allowed to be imported (contrary to the general dispositions
of the act of navigation) from any part of Europe. As the law,
however, did not mean to encourage this species of trade, so
contrary to the general principles of the mercantile policy of
England, it imposed a duty of ten shillings the hundred weight
upon such importation, and no part of this duty was to be
afterwards drawn back upon its exportation. The successful war
which began in 1755 gave Great Britain the same exclusive trade
to those countries which France had enjoyed before. Our
manufactures, as soon as the peace was made, endeavoured to avail
themselves of this advantage, and to establish a monopoly in
their own favour both against the growers and against the
importers of this comnmdity. By the 5th of Geo. III. therefore,
chap. 37, the exportation of gum senega, from his majesty's
dominions in Africa, was confined to Great Britain, and was
subjected to all the same restrictions, regulations, forfeitures,
and penalties, as that of the enumerated commodities of the
British colonies in America and the West Indies. Its importation,
indeed, was subjected to a small duty of sixpence the hundred
weight; but its re-exportation was subjected to the enormous duty
of one pound ten shillings the hundred weight. It was the
intention of our manufacturers, that the whole produce of those
countries should be imported into Great Britain; and in order
that they themselves might he enabled to buy it at their own
price, that no part of it should be exported again, but at such
an expense as would sufficiently discourage that exportation.
Their avidity, however, upon this, as well as upon many other
occasions, disappointed itself of its object. This enormous duty
presented such a temptation to smuggling, that great quantities
of this commodity were clandestinely exported, probably to all
the manufacturing countries of Europe, but particularly to
Holland, not only from Great Britain, but from Afrira. Upon this
account, by the 14th Geo. III. chap.10, this duty upon
exportation was reduced to five shillings the hundred weight.

In the book of rates, according to which the old subsidy was
levied, beaver skins were estimated at six shillings and eight
pence a piece; and the different subsidies and imposts which,
before the year 1722, had been laid upon their importation,
amounted to one-fifth part of the rate, or to sixteen pence upon
each skin; all of which, except half the old subsidy, amounting
only to twopence, was drawn back upon exportation. This duty,
upon the importation of so important a material of manufacture,
had been thought too high; and, in the year 1722, the rate was
reduced to two shillings and sixpence, which reduced the duty
upon importation to sixpence, and of this only one-half was to be
drawn back upon exportation. The same successful war put the
country most productive of beaver under the dominion of Great
Britain ; and beaver skins being among the enumerated
commodities, the exportation from America was consequently
confined to the market of Great Britain. Our manufacturers soon
bethought themselves of the advantage which they might make of
this circumstance; and in the year 1764, the duty upon the
importation of beaver skin was reduced to one penny, but the duty
upon exportation was raised to sevenpence each skin, without any
drawback of the duty upon importation. By the same law, a duty of
eighteen pence the pound was imposed upon the exportation of
beaver wool or woumbs, without making any alteration in the duty
upon the importation of that commodity, which, when imported by
British, and in British shipping, amounted at that time to
between fourpence and fivepence the piece.

Coals may be considered both as a material of manufacture, and as
an instrument of trade. Heavy duties, accordingly, have been
imposed upon their exportation, amounting at present (1783) to
more than five shillings the ton, or more than fifteen shillings
the chaldron, Newcastle measure ; which is, in most cases, more
than the original value of the commodity at the coal-pit, or even
at the shipping port for exportation.

The exportation, however, of the instruments of trade, properly
so called, is commonly restrained, not by high duties, but by
absolute prohibitions. Thus, by the 7th and 8th of William III
chap.20, sect.8, the exportation of frames or engines for
knitting gloves or stockings, is prohibited, under the penalty,
not only of the forfeiture of such frames or engines, so
exported, or attempted to be exported, but of forty pounds, one
half to the king, the other to the person who shall inform or sue
for the same. In the same manner, by the 14th Geo. III. chap. 71,
the exportation to foreign parts, of any utensils made use of in
the cotton, linen, woollen, and silk manufactures, is prohibited
under the penalty, not only of the forfeiture of such utensils,
but of two hundred pounds, to be paid by the person who shall
offend in this manner ; and likewise of two hundred pounds, to be
paid by the master of the ship, who shall knowingly suffer such
utensils to be loaded on board his ship.

When such heavy penalties were imposed upon the exportation of
the dead instruments of trade, it could not well be expected that
the living instrument, the artificer, should be allowed to go
free. Accordingly, by the 5th Geo. I. chap. 27, the person who
shall be convicted of enticing any artificer, of or in any of the
manufactures of Great Britain, to go into any foreign parts, in
order to practise or teach his trade, is liable, for the first
offence, to be fined in any sum not exceeding one hundred pounds,
and to three months imprisomnent, and until the fine shall be
paid ; and for the second offence, to be fined in any sum, at the
discretion of the court, and to imprisonment for twelve months,
and until the fine shall be paid. By the 23d Geo. II. chap. 13,
this penalty is increased, for the first offence, to five hundred
pounds for every artificer so enticed, and to twelve months
imprisonment, and until the fine shall be paid ; and for the
second offence, to one thousand pounds, and to two years
imprisonment, and until the fine shall be paid.

By the former of these two statutes, upon proof that any person
has been enticing any artificer, or that any artificer has
promised or contracted to go into foreign parts, for the purposes
aforesaid, such artificer may be obliged to give security, at the
discretion of the court, that he shall not go beyond the seas,
and may be committed to prison until he give such security.

If any artificer has gone beyond the seas, and is exercising or
teaching his trade in any foreign country, upon warning being
given to him by any of his majesty's ministers or consuls abroad,
or by one of his majesty's secretaries of state, for the time
being, if he does not, within six months after such warning,
return into this realm, and from henceforth abide and inhabit
continually within the same, he is from thenceforth declared
incapable of taking any legacy devised to him within this
kingdom, or of being executor or administrator to any person, or
of taking any lands within this kingdom, by descent, devise, or
purchase. He likewise forfeits to the king all his lands, goods,
and chattels; is declared an alien in every respect; and is put
out of the king's protection.

It is unnecessary, I imagine, to observe how contrary such
regulations are to the boasted liberty of the subject, of which
we affect to be so very jealous ; but which, in this case, is so
plainly sacrificed to the futile interests of our merchants and

The laudable motive of all these regulations, is to extend our
own manufactures, not by their own improvement, but by the
depression of those of all our neighbours, and by putting an end,
as much as possible, to the troublesome competition of such
odious and disagreeable rivals. Our master manufacturers think it
reasonable that they themselves should have the monopoly of the
ingenuity of all their countrymen. Though by restraining, in some
trades, the number of apprentices which can be employed at one
time, and by imposing the necessity of a long apprenticeship in
all trades, they endeavour, all of them, to confine the knowledge
of their respective employments to as small a number as possible
; they are unwilling, however, that any part of this small number
should go abroad to instruct foreigners.

Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production ; and
the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far
as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer.

The maxim is so perfectly self-evident, that it would be absurd
to attempt to prove it. But in the mercantile system, the
interest of the consumer is almost constantly sacrificed to that
of the producer ; and it seems to consider production, and not
consumption, as the ultimate end and object of all industry and

In the restraints upon the importation of all foreign commodities
which can come into competition with those of our own growth or
manufacture, the interest of the home consumer is evidently
sacrificed to that of the producer. It is altogether for the
benefit of the latter, that the former is obliged to pay that
enhancement of price which this monopoly almost always occasions.

It is altogether for the benefit of the producer, that bounties
are granted upon the exportation of some of his productions. The
home consumer is obliged to pay, first the tax which is necessary
for paying the bounty ; and, secondly, the still greater tax
which necessarily arises from the enhancement of the price of the
commodity in the home market.

By the famous treaty of commerce with Portugal, the consumer is
prevented by duties from purchasing of a neighbouring country, a
commodity which our own climate does not produce ; but is obliged
to purchase it of a distant country, though it is acknowledged,
that the commodity of the distant country is of a worse quality
than that of the near one. The home consumer is obliged to submit
to this inconvenience, in order that the producer may import into
the distant country some of his productions, upon more
advantageous terms than he otherwise would have been allowed to
do. The consumer, too, is obliged to pay whatever enhancement in
the price of those very productions this forced exportation may
occasion in the home market.

But in the system of laws which has been established for the
management of our American and West Indian colonies, the interest
of the home consumer has been sacrificed to that of the producer,
with a more extravagant profusion than in all our other
commercial regulations. A great empire has been established for
the sole purpose of raising up a nation of customers, who should
be obliged to buy, from the shops of our different producers, all
the goods with which these could supply them. For the sake of
that little enhancement of price which this monopoly might afford
our producers, the home consumers have been burdened with the
whole expense of maintaining and defending that empire. For this
purpose, and for this purpose only, in the two last wars, more
than two hundred millions have been spent, and a new debt of more
than a hundred and seventy millions has been contracted, over and
above all that had been expended for the same purpose in former
wars. The interest of this debt alone is not only greater
than the whole extraordinary profit which, it never could be
pretended, was made by the monopoly of the colony trade, but than
the whole value of that trade, or than the whole value of the
goods which, at an average, have been annually exported to the

It cannot be very difficult to determine who have been the
contrivers of this whole mercantile system; not the consumers, we
may believe, whose interest has been entirely neglected; but the
producers, whose interest has been so carefully attended to ; and
among this latter class, our merchants and manufacturers have
been by far the principal architects. In the mercantile
regulations which have been taken notice of in this chapter, the
interest of our manufacturers has been most peculiarly attended
to; and the interest, not so much of the consumers, as that of
some other sets of producers, has been sacrificed to it.

Adam Smith

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