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I have been murdered by inches, and am still being murdered—I am stretched upon the rack-am burning at the stake-starving in a dungeon--and thus have been for years and years and years—so that I have scarcely found leisure for anything more than a sorry newspaper paragraph--for which I always get more kicks than coppers.
F. G. F.
A PRODIGIOUS PREDICTION.*
HAPPENING the other day to step into Decker and Dyer's to look at the papers and pick up the news, and drink a glass of—I mean Adam's ale-I am a temperance man-my attention was presently arrested by the conversation of two or three of our most eminent sages upon the tariff. As I sat by the fire it was the snowy Tuesday) warming my toes and musing over the last telegraph, (I am staunch for Jackson, and go the whole quadruped, as Major Noah has it,) I heard sundry grave tirades and pathetic lamentations against and concerning this same most judicious and truly American tariff. As usual, my unlucky tongue soon got the better of my discretion, and began, without due reverence for my masters, to utter an off-hand lecture upon political economy. Political economy, by-the-way, is my hobbyand I intend to enlighten or rather to astonish the natives on this theme, at the lyceum, some time or other. But let that pass.
“Sir,” said I, addressing the last speaker, “I have bestowed a good deal of attention upon this subject.”— this I premised modestly, and as an apology for my apparent presumption—"and I venture to predict that, before ten years, the cotton planters will be more clamorous for a tariff to protect their staple commodity than the Yankees themselves now are”—and I urged some ponderous reasons why and wherefore.
* Printed in the Nashville Herald, December 15, 1831.
“Faith, (replied my hero,) and I have studied the subject too, and know all about it, and you are a blockhead, and therefore may as well hang up your whistle.” This was a knock-me-down syllogism. And so I was silenced, dumbfounded, and put hors de combat, in a trice, as I deserved. After gathering up my scattered brains as well as I could, I sat quietly as a listener again—a docile learner, as befitted me, at the feet of these accomplished Gamaliels. Having been, for some twenty years past, a diligent, though somewhat plodding (modesty again) student in the school of Smith, Malthus, Ricardo and Say, I tried to console myself for the untoward logical drubbing by soberly realizing the extraordinary privilege of being thus casually within hearing of the living and present oracles of their most curious and not very comprehensible science. I was therefore all ear—after the gentle hint above recited—which, by-the-way, was pretty much such a hint as Paddy got when he was kicked down stairs.
As I had no note-book at hand to keep a running record of the pithy sentences and orthodox dicta which were put forth on the occasion, and as my memory, which is but treacherous, at best, was not a little discomfúzzled at that particular conjuncture, I may be unable to do justice to the learned gentleman as a reporter, and must therefore move onward or back out, as best I can, in my own muddy fashion.
Among other memorabilia, foreign commerce was lauded sky high, as the principal source of national and individual wealth. Interalia, Poland was instanced to prove that domestic industry, (meaning domestic manufactures,) without an extended foreign commerce, can enrich, but must necessarily impoverish a country. Now I (egotism is abominable) lad always opined that Poland was pretty tolerably poor, because she was merely an agricultural, and not a manufacturing country. And that the very means of insuring wealth to the Poles (after giving them liberty) would be to introduce the mechanical arts among them, and to induce them to manufacture at home tlie raw material with which their fine territory abounds, instead of depending on distant nations for most of the comforts and luxuries of life—and for which they have nothing to give in exchange but wheat:--an article too cheap and abundant to be worth growing for a foreign market. Fifty bushels of wheat would not procure a Warsovian exquisite a fashionable coat from London or Paris.
I have learned (learning is a humbug) from history and geography and political economy (ah, me miserum !) and a little travelling about in the world (I have been to Boston) with my eyes wide open, that a purely agricultural people are always comparatively poor-except (exceptio probat regulam) when and where they happen to monopolize particular agricultural products, as was once the case with tobacco (see King James' Counterblast) in Virginia—and as is the case, to some extent, with rice, cotton, sugar and coffee in the West Indies and in our Southern States. This too is the sole reason why slaves are profitable in such countries. Destroy the monopoly, and slavery cannot exist. The system would be too expensive. Could cotton, rice, sugar and coffee be now grown in Great Britain, France and New England, as well as in Jamaica, Georgia and Louisiana, not a slave would be worth the keeping five years hence. Again, were Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York to enjoy a monopoly of wheat, so that the rest of the Union and half of Europe should be dependent on those States for their bread, then slaves would be more profitable there than they now are in any part of the world
Now, cotton may be grown over half the surface of our globe, and in Peru besides—and when it shall be cultivated by freemen (ecce signum, in Liberia) anywhere extensively, so as to compete in the market with our Southern cotton, I guess we shall soon be as poor as Poland, notwithstanding our foreign commerce —unless we shall, in the mean time, discover some other agricultural rarity of general demand, and peculiar to our own region, or unless we become manufacturers for ourselves.
That the ill-starred tariff has a tendency to hasten the crisis—that is, to stimulate the growth of cotton in other countries, may be true enough. But then, the mischief is done. The malign influence is abroad. The impulse has been given, and it is felt. The dreadful work has commenced. A repeal of the tariff tomorrow would neither arrest nor retard the mighty revolution which is going forward in this respect. All we can now hope for, is the continued monopoly of the