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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 51

Preface to the Present Edition

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Preface to the Present Edition.

This little work, which was written in 1879, has enjoyed a wide circulation, owing chiefly, no doubt, to some words of praise from a great orator,* and to the powerful propagandism of the Cobden Club. We are now in 1881, and I have little to add to, or to subtract from, either the facts or the principles embodied in it. I have, however, carefully revised the present edition, and made a few corrections in trifling matters of detail.

The present position of our trade with the United States of America curiously confirms the doctrines advanced in this little book. In August, 1879, Mr. James Howard, the present member for Bedfordshire, asked me my opinion as to how the United States had been paid for their large exports to us; my reply was as follows:—
1.The Americans have been buying largely, from both England and the Continent, of their own Bonds and Stocks, and have given prices above the marketable value of them in Europe.
2.Normally the United State are exporters of gold, they being producers of it. Latterly they have ceased sending gold to Europe, and the flow has set in from Europe to America,—not to an extent inconvenient to us, for we have a redundancy, but to an extent that may become inconvenient to the United States if the influx should continue; for when it reaches a certain point, gold will diminish in value (in other words, prices will rise), and importation will be encouraged and exportation checked; and their protective system will be severely tried.
3.Notwithstanding the redemption of American Bonds and Stock referred to, the United States have still to remit a very large sum page vi annually to Europe for interest and dividends, for which they pay in exports.
4.The commercial operations of one year are so interwoven with those of the year before and of the year after, that a series of years must be taken into account;—and the enormous increase of the American bread-stuffs, which deficient harvests have compelled Europe to import, only dates a couple of years back. Its effects are not yet fully disclosed.
To these remarks I fully adhere, and I may take this opportunity of adding that:—
1.It is not our gold that has gone to pay for our large imports from America. Our stock of bullion has remained remarkably steady throughout, and is more than ample for our requirements.
2.American indebtedness to England, far from being reduced, is now greater than it was, for our fresh investments in the United States exceed the amount of American State Bonds, &c., redeemed.
3.Our exports to the United States have, in spite of the exorbitant import duties, exhibited within the last two years a very considerable augmentation.
4.The largely increased revenue-receipts of the United States customs, in consequence of their largely increased importations from Europe, constitute a largely increased tax on the American consumers. For that revenue comes out of their pockets, and is not paid by the European exporters, who have made handsome profits on their sales.
5.As long as America continues to export largely, she must also import largely, at whatever enormous cost (under the present tariff), to American consumers.
6.The superfluously large Customs' revenue that is being raised by heavy duties on heavy importations, will year by year become a source of greater trouble and perplexity to the United States Government.
7.Every fresh addition to the productive and exporting power of American agriculture will increase the difficulty and hasten the crisis. For there is 110 escape from the inexorable law that the more a country exports, the more, in the same proportion, it must import.

Augustus Mongredien.

Forest Hill, London, S. E.

* Right Hon. John Bright, in his speech of the 25th October, 1879.