The Economist: Preliminary Number and Prospectus (August, 1843)

Created: 5 February, 2013
Updated: 5 February, 2013


[James Wilson (1805-1860) ]



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Preliminary Number and Prospectus (August, 1843)


"If we make ourselves too little for the sphere of our duty—if, on the contrary, we do not stretch and expand our minds to the compass of their object—be well assured that everything about us will dwindle by degrees, until at length our concerns are shrunk to the dimensions of our roindi. It it not a predilection to mean, tor did, home-bred caret that will avert the consequences of a false estimation of our interest, or prevent the shameful dilapidation into which a great empire mutt fall by mean reparation upon mighty ruins." — Burke.


"If a writer be conscious that to gain a reception for his favourite doctrine he must combat with certain elements of opposition, in the taste, or the pride, or the indolence of those whom he is addressing, this will only serve to make him the more importunate. There is a difference between such truths as are merely of speculative nature and such as are allied with practice and moral feeling. With the former all repetition may he often superfluous: with the latter it may just be by earnest repetition, that their influence comes to be thoroughly establislied over the mind of an inquirer." —CHALMERS.

It is one of the most melancholy reflections of the present day, that while wealth and capital have been rapidly increasing, while science and art have been working the most surprising miracles in aid of the human family, and while morality, intelligence, and civilization have been rapidly extending on all hands; — that at this time, the great material interests of the higher and middle classes, and the physical condition of the labouring and industrial classes, are more and more marked by characters of uncertainty and insecurity. In vain has the hand of ART (led on and guided by a complete glare of SCIENCE, aided by INDUSTRY of unsurpassed intelligence and perseverance, nurtured and fertilized by CAPITAL almost without limit) developed the resources of the human mind and the material creation in a manner which has at once astonished and exalted the world; — in vain have all parts of the earth been brought nearer and nearer to us; — our Indian territory within forty days' journey, the great American continent within ten days' sail, our continental neighbours and very part of our own country separated only by a brief space of a few hours; — in vain the producers and consumers of the whole world, the administrators of mutual wants, the encouragers of mutual industries, have been brought in easy and close collision and contact, and thus facilitated the supply of every want, and the demand for every exertion of human skill and industry; — in vain do we acknowledge all these unequalled and undoubted elements of national prosperity: for at this moment the whole country — every interest without exception, — the owner and occupier of the soil, the explorer of our great mineral world, the manufacturer who gives form, shape, and utility to the produce of nature, the artisan, the labourer of every description, the merchant and shipowner (the great links of exchange), and the capitalist who facilitates the operations of all, — every one of these interests stand at this moment CONFESSEDLY in a condition of the most unprecedented depression, anxiety, and uneasiness. And what rather adds to this anomaly than in any way accounts for it, is, that our population has been rapidly increasing, not only in numbers, but also in great skill and productive ability.

But While Art, Science, Intelligence, and Enterprise have been thus engaged for the last half century in behalf of our country and the human race, in what manner has legislation been occupied? Let cool and calm deliberation determine this question. In the early part of that period the little time which could be spared by the legislature from the excitement of political strife, the struggle for political power and place, was occupied with the stirring events attendant on the long and continued wars in which we were engaged, and the principles of commercial and industrial legislation attracted little of its attention. Under such circumstances it was not difficult for those interests who possessed great political influence to obtain enactments which they supposed would be beneficial to themselves. Unfortunately, however, both governments, and classes, and individuals have been too apt to conclude that their benefit could be secured by a policy injurious to others; and too often the benefit proposed has even been measured by the injury to be inflicted: hence all the laws which were framed under this influence had a tendency to raise up barriers to intercourse, jealousies, animosities, and heartburnings between individuals and classes in this country, and again between this country and all others; and thus, under the plea of protecting individuals or classes against each other, and the whole against other countries, was the system of COMMERCIAL RESTRICTION completed by the enactment of the corn and provision laws, passed in 1815; amid the utter forgetfulness on the part of the legislature, that it had no power or privilege which could enable it to confer a favour or wealth on any one part of the community, without abstracting as much from others; in fact, that it possessed no inherent source of productiveness which could enable it to be generous.

The policy of England, always, but especially at this particular time, looked up to by all the world as the highway to greatness, was eagerly followed in her commercial regulations by other countries; navigation laws, hostile tariffs, prohibition of English manufactures, were resorted to by other governments, each in a way according to the notions they had of their own interests, in imitation of, or opposition to, the policy of England; [4] each country inflicting on itself as much mischief and injury as England had done by similar policy.

It was thus while Art, Science, Capital, Commercial Enterprise, and Labour were eagerly demanding a greater arena to multiply and extend their benefits to ALL, that legislation, ignorance, and prejudice associated with short-sighted selfishness, were actively engaged in frustrating all these nobler efforts and designs. And so far had they succeeded in creating a war among the material interests of the world, that in 1819 the collision occasioned thereby threatened the most serious consequences to our Social and Commercial existence. This crisis caused reflecting men to turn their attention to the hitherto neglected science of Political and Commercial Economy. The philosophy of Adam Smith found a clear and able enunciator in Ricardo. The political and legislative application of these great principles, so eloquently put forth to a wondering but ignorant audience by Burke, found an ardent, warm, and able echo in Huskisson. The philosopher wrote, and was not refuted. The legislator debated, and by his earnestness, industry, and eloquence, aided no doubt by the pressing exigencies of the time, gained a partial triumph over the ignorance and prejudice which ruled; and shadowed out for the first time the principles of Political Economy into the embodyment of FREE TRADE as their practical result. He saw that our interests and commerce had far out-grown the narrow limits which ignorant legislation had assigned them: that all the up-heavings and convulsions in the country were but the external symptoms of the fierce struggle which was going forward between our rapidly-advancing productive power, earnestly demanding a larger field of exchange, and the principles of restriction and monopoly, blindly and vainly attempting to confine them to their ancient and narrow limit: that it was a severe contest between intelligence, which pressed forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress.

He commenced his commercial reform by revising our truly Anti-Commercial Navigation laws; he followed that effort by revising the import duties on the raw materials of manufactures, of silk, wool, flax, &c.; he reduced the differential duty on coffee and wine, and by these and various other changes, but far more by the broad, intelligent, and enlightened arguments by which he supported his policy, gave great and cheering hopes that the emancipation of industry and commerce was at hand. Under the salutary influence of these reforms the country recovered, and with returning prosperity, discontent was dispelled, — peace was restored. Every measure was attended with eminent success. With reduction of duties he increased the revenue; with protection, removed or lowered, he increased the competition and import, without injury to the producer at home. Increased supply only tended to stimulate demand. The Minister and his principles became equally popular. The silk weavers in Macclesfield, who declared themselves ruined by his policy in 1825, drew his carriage triumphantly into the town in 1830, on his last and fatal journey to Liverpool. The Free-Trade Minister died, and left no successor. The progress of his policy was thus arrested at its outset, and was soon forgot in the stormy political events of 1830.

In 1831 commenced the great Reform struggle: fascinated with the excitement, intoxicated with the success, the country totally forgot the ends of good government in the struggle for its means: — its means were obtained, its ends were neglected. The Corn Laws and Commercial restrictions were denounced on the hustings, but unheard of in Parliament; and it is a serious reflection on the intelligence and wisdom of the times, that the greatest popular political influence which ever existed in this country, scarcely achieved one important act of liberation to commerce and industry; that it left the Corn Laws and all the great glaring monopolies and restrictions as it found them: it spent its whole strength in things good, but good only as a means to an end. A succession of a few good harvests, and the development of Huskisson's then neglected principles, sustained our onward progress for some years, — until we reached the end of 1838, — when the occurrence of a single bad harvest, proved to all thinking men the critical point at which we had arrived. Wealth abounded, useful productions were multiplied beyond all precedent, but the field of exchange had become so narrowed, that the most serious national sacrifices were required to supply the deficiency of the first necessary of life during the three following years.

Twenty years had passed away: six millions had been added to our population: art, science, ingenuity, and industry had been working their miracles — but legislation still sought to confine the country in the same swaddling clothes in which it had been wrapt a quarter of a century before; and, with the exception of the few acts of Huskisson, no means had been taken to afford a wider field for our increasing numbers and powers.

The fierce struggle for more room, for wider markets, for freer exchange, visible in 1819, was now again, as before, exhibited by new upheavings and convulsions — productive energy and intelligence were again in keen antagonism with monopoly and restriction. The great manufacturing population was the first to suffer, but that sympathy between all the different parts of the state, the existence of which has always been overlooked in framing restrictive and protecting laws, gradually extended the mischief, until it reached every interest in the country: the lessened means of consumption on the part of the artisans of one class reacted generally on the demand for the produce of their fellow artisans of other classes; which again reacted more strongly on the shopkeepers and small dealers; again affecting the wholesale dealer and importer; — the consumption of articles of foreign growth being thus curtailed in quantity and price, the power of our foreign customers to consume our manufactures was again, in their turn, lessened; and thus reacted once more on the producing classes at home; trade had a constant tendency to contraction; the shipping interest became deeply depressed; capital became profitless; the revenue suffered; new taxes became needful; consumption was thus once more [5] lessened; and at last, though not with less certainty, the agricultural interest, that interest which is most strongly protected by law, but far more strongly by the stern necessity which exists for their produce in priority to all other articles, was involved in the common lot of increased charges, diminished demand, and lower prices: and thus the narrow policy of restriction and protection worked mischief to all, benefit to none; for where is the interest which does not at this moment confess itself in a state of depression without parallel? — It is no longer complaints of a class, or of classes, it is a universal national embarrassment; — an embarrassment which has disturbed and complicated our commercial relations over the whole world.

WHERE IS THE REMEDY? — who is the man that would remain as he is? —who is the man that would go back into greater restrictions, into a narrower field; into less demand? All now begin to feel and acknowledge that want of consumption is the true cause of depression and low prices, — that the real cause of all our evils is found in the want of employment for the labour, energy, and capital of the country as it now is: but how is that to be remedied? Only by extending our markets abroad, by increasing our exports: but we can only increase our exports by being willing to INCREASE OUR IMPORTS, and this can only be done from those large productive countries, the produce of which, at this time, is practically prohibited. No revision of the tariff will be of any practical benefit which will not admit in the greatest abundance all the first necessaries of life, and which does not open the markets of those great countries which produce them. It is of no avail to open freely our ports for articles of small and trifling consumption, to open our trade to small and comparatively unimportant specks on the ocean; — if we will really extend our trade, we must be willing to take freely and regularly articles of extensive consumption from countries of wide and rich territory, having great wants. We must be willing to take the corn of Prussia, Poland, and America; the sugar and coffee of Brazil, Cuba, and Java; and by the acts indicated in these two lines give to our great population, round whose well-being we have discovered all other interests revolve, — the two-fold blessings of ABUNDANCE and EMPLOYMENT.

We must retrace the whole of that narrow and ignorant legislation which seeks falsely and in vain to prop up and protect individual interests — which has only deceived and misled; we must rely alone on the great principles of public good for public prosperity. We must relieve industry and capital from all restrictions; we must know that there is no safety for our great active population but in the freest intercourse with the producers and consumers of all the world; in short, as the only true guarantee for prosperity and peace, we must honestly and fearlessly carry into practice those principles which all parties are ready to advocate in theory involved in


To no country in the world that ever did or does exist are these principles of the same first importance that they are to us, for in no country does so large a portion of the population and property depend on commerce and industry alone, in order that they shall have any value. We believe that this important and critical fact has been entirely overlooked, or has never been considered in one tithe of its importance. Let us consider what a huge portion of our property and reliance for employment consists of, and depends upon, the vast variety of factories, mills, and other manufacturing establishments, and their numberless aiders, assistants, contributors, and ministers, found in every variety in manufacturing districts; our extensive and rich kingdom of minerals; our canals, railroads, and various facilities of internal transport; our endless variety of public companies; our huge and splendid commercial marine; our docks, basins, and public warehouses; and our great cities attached to and dependent on the same interests.

Now the important fact to which we wish to draw attention is, that the labour and property thus involved, not only depend on trade, but on a SUFFICIENT EXTENT OF TRADE, to retain any value whatever. As long as they are profitably employed they represent their full amount of cost in the sum of national wealth; and are of their full amount of utility in affording employment to the population: but with an increasing population and ingenuity always at work, supply must have a constant tendency to increase. If the demand for the produce of our factories be not correspondingly increased, but on the contrary, diminished, competition must become greater and greater, until all profit ceases; the capital is sunk, and until there is a loss competitors will persevere. When that period arrives, when the price of the goods will not repay the labour and cost of the raw material, then the whole of this property vanishes, and its means of giving employment to labour, and its various contributors, ceases: for of what value or utility is a factory, and all its magnificent and complicated machinery and arrangement, with its steam-engine still and motionless? As long as our mines of iron and of coal yield a profit, they represent at least the whole value of the labour employed in exploring them, and generally much more in the form of rent or royalty; but increase the quantity of iron or coal without an increase of demand, and competition will lower the prices, so that first all rent will vanish, and as soon as the price does not pay the expense and labour of raising the mineral, we are no richer with coal or iron fields than if they were beds of quicksand: their power of employing labour is at an end, and all the money invested ceases to be national wealth. As long as railways and canals are profitable, they truly represent in real wealth the capital invested: but diminish the amount of traffic only so much as pays the profit — until the receipts do not cover the necessary wear and tear and expenses — and they are no longer wealth. Increase our number of ships, without proportionably increasing the consumption of articles of foreign growth — first the competition will destroy the merchant's profit and yield only freight, but next competition will reduce freight, until the wages and expenses are not covered, and then all wealth in ships [6] ceases: and the capital invested in them is so long an absolute abstraction of national wealth. With a given amount of trade all this wealth is secure, with a little less it vanishes. And let us well consider that it is not the mere surplus of these various interests that thus suffers, for no man will consent voluntarily to be the surplus: — no man will close his factory, blow out his furnace, lay by his pit, or lay up his ship, until they become a source of loss. It is true the weakest must go first: the worst factory must be closed, the poorest mines must be laid by, and the worst ship must be laid up first; and then follow the next in degree; but the moment a little diminution of supply lessens the loss, a portion of the idle start afresh into competition. It may be coolly said, this state of things must cure itself in time, if it were only by a course of ruin; but, be it remembered, the population still goes on increasing, ingenuity and invention are still at the highest pressure of necessity, and as one class of competitors are destroyed, another class are immediately in their place. We can safely refer to each and all of these interests, if this is not a literal description of their present condition. The want of more trade prevents that trade we have being profitable: the excess of produce beyond the demand lessens the value of the whole producing ability; and this must continue as long as demand keeps not pace with production, as long as no effort is made to extend our markets, as our population and productive ability increase. But inasmuch as consumption is only created by production, the two should always in a natural state of things keep pace with each other; the demand for productions should always increase as they become abundant and cheap, for abundance implies great production, and great production an extensive means of consumption. Then why do we find this country so great an exception to this natural law? Because by our


we limit the supply of one great class of productions, and thus practically limit the demand for all others, however much we affect to encourage our commerce. During the last thirty years one great class of producers at home has been limited by the nature of the country and Acts of Parliament. The land has given employment to no portion of the increase of the population: the whole additional six millions of our people, since 1821, have been thrown upon other employments. In 1821, 4,790,000 of the population were engaged in producing food for, and consuming the products of, the remaining 9,600,000: in 1812 the number of 4,790,000 of producers of food and consumers of manufactures is somewhat reduced, while the consumers of food, irrespective of the producers, are increased to 11,400,000; but the law practically enacts that the 14,400,000 in 1812 shall be fed by the same means that fed the 9,600,000 in 1821; and moreover, for such is the effect, that in 1842, 14,400,000 manufacturers, dealers, various producers, professions, &c., shall only have the same number of customers with whom to exchange for the first great necessaries of life as the 9,600,000 had twenty years ago; and thus there has been a constant tendency for the produce of the rapidly increasing number to exchange for a smaller quantity of the produce of the stationary number, or, in other words, while agricultural produce has all along maintained a high price, all other kinds of goods have fallen rapidly during the period; and the demand being thus far stationary, while the supplies were increasing so much, there was a constant tendency during the whole period to an excess of production on one hand, only because the same constant tendency existed to a limited and deficient production on the other hand. Had the producers of food kept in the same proportionate increase of numbers and quantity as the other class, there had remained the same relative value and demand for the produce of each, and excess or over-production would not have arisen in the one case nor deficiency in the other. This excess, or what is termed over-production, is precisely that surplus which we have before shown has been so long, and still is, undermining the commercial and industrial existence of the country; — for however great the struggle may be among farmers to occupy, or of labourers to cultivate, this fixed quantity of land, their numbers do not increase: they only require the same number of ploughshares, the same quantity of saddlery, the same number is still only to be shod and booted, still only the fixed number of backs to be clothed, still only the same number of consumers of colonial produce; while the class who depend for food on this fixed number, and who seek to minister to their wants of ploughshares, of saddlery, of shoes, of clothing, who import and supply foreign produce, and have other occupations, are six millions more since 1821, and still increase at the rate of one thousand per day. In another eight years, if the increase goes on in the same proportion, in 1851, while the food producers remain at 4,790,000, the other classes will have increased to 17,000,000; and if it be possible that suicidal restriction and monopoly still prevail, it must require a still larger portion of the conflict of the large class to obtain the produce and minister to the wants of the smaller class; and it is an important fact, that the great competition to occupy, and to labour upon, this fixed quantity of land, has a constant tendency to keep the largest portion of even this smallest class in the utmost poverty and depression.

Thus far as regards the power of exchange in the home trade for the first great article of food: — next as to the greatest foreign article of consumption, and therefore of exchangeable ability, Sugar. Here again the same principle has been acted upon, the same result has followed. Restriction and monopoly have again here attempted to confine the supply of the 27,000,000, which we now are, to the same means which supplied 21,000,000, twenty years ago. In 1821, the quantity of sugar available for the consumption of 21,000,000 of people was 4,176,178 cwts. — in 1812 the quantity similarly available for the consumption of 27,000,000 was only 4,082,312 cwts., being actually 93,866 cwts. less. The competition, therefore, of 27,000,000 to obtain only the same or a less quantity in exchange for their articles of produce, has [7] had the constant tendency to cause a smaller quantity of sugar to exchange for a larger quantity of goods. The same quantity of sugar which exchanged, twenty years ago, for a given quantity of manufactures, iron or hardware, will now command at least three times the quantity of those articles. Thus, while the supply of these great necessaries is limited to a given quantity, the chief effect of increased production at home is to lower its exchangeable value for the article of which the quantity is fixed. If the producers of our sugar increased in the same proportion as the consumers have, the same relative value would be always maintained between the goods of this country and that article, because the demand would always increase in proportion to the supply; but the restriction affects us in two ways; first, by making sugar dear, and secondly, by making our goods cheap; inasmuch as we limit our market in other sugar growing countries in consequence of the practical prohibition to consume their produce. And thus it is, with these restrictions, that we have a constant tendency to that surplus or excess of one class of productions, which weighs down and depresses the great industrial interests of the country; that we have every day a greater tendency to that little trade, which makes trade profitless, and which brings about the exact state of things which at present exist.

There is no cure, there is no remedy, for all these evils but increased demand; there can be no increased demand without increased markets; and we cannot secure larger markets without an unrestricted power of exchange, and by this means add to our territory of land, as far as productive utility is concerned, the corn fields of Poland, Prussia, and above all, the rich and endless acres of the United States; to avail ourselves of the vast and rich productiveness of Brazil, Cuba, Java, &c.; and thus, at the same time that a plentiful and proportionate supply of all the great necessaries of life would be maintained, we should always, in exchange, have a corresponding demand for our increasing productions at home; the equilibrium of the various classes of producers would be restored and maintained. With free trade we might go on increasing our productions without limit, for in this only natural state of things increased production could only create the power and means of increased consumption. There is no other remedy. It is in vain that deputations of distressed interests pass resolutions merely affirming their distress; seek interviews with Ministers of the Crown only to repeat their resolutions, without an opinion to offer as to the cause or cure; all will be in vain until they have this important truth palpably and at all times before them, that they are increasing by millions, while the law practically prescribes only a fixed, stationary quantity of the great necessaries of life for their consumption, only the same number of customers with whom to exchange their productions, whatever may be the quantity: until this conviction compels them to demand an unrestricted exchange, until they demand FREE TRADE as a simple act of justice and policy.

But we may be told these are all only opinions, well enough reasoned and difficult to answer, and perhaps very like the truth; but the experiment is great — we want something more than opinions. Well, then, we will endeavour to prove and illustrate every opinion we have offered to the full; and that by our own experience in four of the most important articles of the consumption of this country — Coffee and Sugar, as representing the Colonial interests; Wool and Corn, as representing the Home or Agricultural interests.

[a lengthy discussion of Coffee, Sugar, Wool, and Wheat has been cut]

And now we beg to submit the following detail of the plans which we have thoroughly organised to carry into effect these objects of our ardent desires, in the following


of a weekly paper, to be published every Saturday, and to be called


which will contain

First. — ORIGINAL LEADING ARTICLES, in which free-trade principles will be most rigidly applied to all the important questions of the day — political events — and parliamentary discussions; and particularly to all such as relate immediately to revenue, commerce, and agriculture; or otherwise affect the material interests of the country.

Second. — Articles relating more especially to some practical, commercial, agricultural, or foreign topic of passing interest; of the state of the revenue, foreign treaties, &c.

Third. — An article on the elementary principles of political economy, applied in a familiar and popular manner to practical experience; especially in relation to the laws of price — wages — rent — exchange — revenue — taxes — and the relation between producers and consumers abroad and at home; proved and illustrated by the experience of this and other countries.

Fourth. — PARLIAMENTARY REPORTS: Giving at greater length all discussions peculiarly interesting to commerce and agriculture, and especially involving the principles of Free Trade.

Fifth. — POPULAR MOVEMENTS: A report and account of all popular movements throughout the country in favour of Free Trade.

Sixth. — GENERAL NEWS: A summary of all the news of the week, — the Court — the Metropolis — the Provinces; Scotland and Ireland. [15]

Seventh. — COMMERCIAL: Under this head a careful and elaborate account will be given of the trade of the week; with special notices of changes in fiscal regulations; state and prospects of the markets, especially indicating the progress of stocks and consumption; of imports and exports; latest Foreign News, likely to influence future supply; the state of the manufacturing districts; notices of important new mechanical improvements; shipping news; an account of the money market, and of the progress of railways and public companies

Eighth. — AGRICULTURAL: Under this head we will give frequent articles on improvements in agriculture; on the application of geology and chemistry; on new and improved implements; and in every way, to the utmost of our power, assist that true and independent spirit which is everywhere rising among the best landlords and farmers, to rely on the only safe support agriculture can have — intelligence, ingenuity, and perseverance, instead of deceptive protection. We will give a general detail of incidents, state of crops, markets, prices, foreign markets and prices converted into English money; and we have made an arrangement to communicate, from time to time, in some detail, the plans pursued in Belgium, Switzerland, and other well-cultivated countries.

Ninth. — COLONIAL AND FOREIGN: In which we will furnish the earliest information respecting the trade, produce, political and fiscal changes, and other matter interesting; and, particularly, we will endeavour to expose the evils of restriction and protection, and the advantages of free intercourse and trade.

Tenth. — LAW REPORTS: These we will confine chiefly to such as are particularly important to commerce, manufactures, and agriculture.

Eleventh. — NOTICES OF BOOKS: Confined chiefly, but not so exclusively, to such as treat of the foregoing subjects; including all treatises on political economy, finance, or taxation.

Twelfth. — COMMERCIAL GAZETTE: Price currents and statistics of the week.

Thirteenth. — CORRESPONDENCE, INQUIRIES, &C.: Under this head we especially invite every one to apply for information on all the topics herein enumerated, which we do not furnish, or which is not given in such detail as may be required. We have made an arrangement by which inquiries shall be replied to in the next number, if received by Thursday morning, on all subjects enumerated in this prospectus: — POLITICAL ECONOMY AND COMMERCE; FOREIGN COMMERCIAL REGULATIONS; TARIFFS, RATES OF DUTIES, AND PORT REGULATIONS; EXISTING COMMERCIAL TREATIES; POINTS OF COMMERCIAL LAW; GENERAL STATISTICS, connected with our trade for the last twenty years, or earlier, when they exist; AGRICULTURAL STATISTICS AND IMPROVEMENTS; and on other practical and economical subjects required.

EXTRA MONTHLY STATISTICAL AND PARLIAMENTARY PAPER NUMBER: — In each month we will publish an extra number, devoted exclusively to statistics, and the preservation of the statistical parts of documents laid before parliament; many of which, of great value, never at present reach the public eye, or at least in a very limited way. There can be no question that, whether we speak of the economist, the legislator, the merchant, or the trader, statistics must form the most important ground-work of the whole of his reasonings, opinions, and actions; they are, in short, the fundamental facts on which all his opinions and actions must be based to be true; it is difficult to estimate their importance. At the same time we must remark, that however powerful and useful they may be as an instrument, they cannot be used with safety without considerable knowledge of the peculiar subjects, and without the exercise of great discretion in drawing results. This we will endeavour to aid by explanatory notes and observations in the collection and arrangement. Our plan is, — to divide this monthly number into two parts, one for permanent statistics, in which we will commence and collect together in alphabetical order the statistics of our revenue and trade, including exports and imports, navigation, agriculture, and currency for the last twenty years: — the trade with our colonies, and of our colonies with each other, and with this country: — and various interesting statistical statements which we can get relating to the same subjects in foreign countries: the other part we will apply to the statistics of the day: the comparison of our trade, imports, exports, consumption, stocks, &c, of all the leading articles of commerce, between the current year and the corresponding period of the preceding yea; and other matters useful and interesting to the material interests of the country.

And at the end of each year, we will furnish a title-page and general index to the whole paper, including the statistical numbers, so that the whole may form a useful volume of reference to the economist, the politician, the merchant, and manufacturer, the agriculturist, and the general reader.

We have made such arrangements, and under such superintendence, as will secure the accomplishment of all that we propose, in a way which we trust will render our objects and exertions useful to the country: — we have no party or class interests or motives; we are of no class, or rather of every class: — we are of the landowning class; we are of the commercial class interested in our colonies, in our foreign trade, and in our manufactures: but our opinions are that no one part of these can have any lasting and true success that is not associated and co-existing with the prosperity of all.

And lastly — if we required higher motives than bare utility, to induce that zeal, labour, and perseverance against all the difficulties which we shall have to encounter in this work — we have them. If we look abroad, we see within the range of our commercial intercourse whole islands and continents, on which the light of civilization has scarce yet dawned; and we seriously believe that FREE TRADE, free intercourse, will do more than any other visible agent to extend civilization and morality throughout the world yes, to extinguish slavery itself. Then, if we look around us at home, we see ignorance, depravity, immorality, irreligion, abounding to an extent disgraceful to a civilized country'; and we feel assured that there is little chance of successfully treating this great national disease while want and pauperism so much abound: we can little hope to improve the mental and moral condition of a people while their physical state is so deplorable: — personal experience has shown us in the manufacturing districts that the people want no acts of parliament to coerce education or induce moral improvement when they are in physical comfort — and that, when men are depressed with want and hunger, and agonized by the sufferings of helpless and starving children, no acts of parliament are of the slightest avail. We look far beyond the power of acts of parliament, or even of the efforts of the philanthropist or the charitable, however praiseworthy, to effect a cure for this great national leprosy: we look mainly to an improvement in the condition of the people. And we hope to see the day when it will be as difficult to understand how an act of parliament could have been made to restrict the food and employment of the people, as it is now to conceive how the mild, inoffensive spirit of Christianity could ever have been converted into the plea of persecution and martyrdom, or how poor old wrinkled women, with a little eccentricity, were burned by our forefathers for witchcraft.