The Insular Supremacy and the German Commercial Union
What a great nation is at the present day without a vigorous commercial policy, and what she may become by the adoption of a vigorous commercial policy, Germany has learnt for herself during the last twenty years. Germany was that which Franklin once said of the State of New Jersey, ’a cask which was tapped and drained by its neighbours on every side.’ England, not contented with having ruined for the Germans the greater part of their own manufactories and supplied them with enormous quantities of cotton and woollen fabrics, excluded from her ports German grain and timber, nay from time to time also even German wool. There was a time when the export of manufactured goods from England to Germany was ten times greater than that to her highly extolled East Indian Empire. Nevertheless the all-monopolising islanders would not even grant to the poor Germans what they conceded to the conquered Hindoos, viz. to pay for the manufactured goods which they required by agricultural produce. In vain did the Germans humble themselves to the position of hewers of wood and drawers of water for the Britons. The latter treated them worse than a subject people. Nations, like individuals, if they at first only permit themselves to be ill-treated by one, soon become scorned by all, and finally become an object of derision to the very children. France, not contented with exporting to Germany enormous quantities of wine, oil, silk, and millinery, grudged the Germans their exports of cattle, grain, and flax; yes, even a small maritime province formerly possessed by Germany and inhabited by Germans, which having become wealthy and powerful by means of Germany, at all times was only able to maintain itself with and by means of Germany, barred for half a generation Germany’s greatest river by means of contemptible verbal quibbles. To fill up the measure of this contempt, the doctrine was taught from a hundred professorial chairs, that nations could only attain to wealth and power by means of universal free trade. Thus it was; but how is it now? Germany has advanced in prosperity and industry, in national self-respect and in national power, in the course of ten years as much as in a century. And how has this result been achieved? It was certainly good and beneficial that the internal tariffs were abolished which separated Germans from Germans; but the nation would have derived small comfort from that if her home industry had thenceforth remained freely exposed to foreign competition. It was especially the protection which the tariff of the Zollverein secured to manufactured articles of common use, which has wrought this miracle. Let us freely confess it, for Dr Bowring(1*) has incontrovertibly shown it, that the Zollverein tariff has not, as was before asserted, imposed merely duties for revenue — that it has not confined itself to duties of ten to fifteen per cent as Huskisson believed — let us freely admit that it has imposed protective duties of from twenty to sixty per cent as respects the manufactured articles of common use.