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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/305

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291
GOVERNMENTAL INTERFERENCE.

this period in breaking down the artificial barriers which they had previously erected against international trade, but they also sought, as never before, to overcome the natural impediments that had hitherto limited the extension of their trade relations—internal as well as external—by improving their highways, constructing and combining railways, and undertaking such stupendous engineering operations as the St. Gothard and Arlberg tunnels.

How wonderfully the trade of the states of Europe, that thus mainly co-operated for promoting the freedom of exchange, coincidently developed, with an undoubted corresponding increase in the wealth and prosperity of their people, is shown by the fact that the European trade of the six nations of Austria, Belgium, France, Holland, Italy, and Great Britain increased, during the years from 1860 to 1873, more than 100 per cent, while their aggregate population during the same period increased but 7·8 per cent. How much this remarkable increase of trade was due to the existence and influence of the commercial treaties noted, is demonstrated by the further fact that the increase of the trade of the above-named six nations during the same period with all other countries, in which the conditions of exchange had presumably not been liberalized, was at the rate of only 66 per cent. It is also interesting to note that the response made by the Chambers of Commerce and various industrial bodies throughout France to an inquiry addressed to them by the Government in 1875, not only testified to the great benefit which had accrued to French trade and industries by reason of her commercial treaties, but also expressed an almost universal wish that they might be renewed upon their expiration upon even a more liberal basis; and it is altogether probable that a similar response would have been made in most of the other countries in Europe bad like inquiries at the same time been instituted.

But, after the continuance for some years of the almost universal depression of trade and industry which commenced in 1873, or after the year 1876, the tendency of the governmental policy of the states of Continental Europe, and to a great extent also popular sentiment, turned in an opposite direction, or toward commercial illiberality. And now nearly all of the liberal commercial treaties above referred to have been terminated, or notice has been given of their non-renewal; and, with the exception of Great Britain, Holland, Sweden and Norway, Denmark,[1] and possibly China, there is not a state in the world claiming civilization and maintaining commerce to any extent with

    Trade, at the annual meeting of the British Association for the Promotion of Social Science, October, 1875.

  1. Denmark must be regarded as a purely agricultural country, possessing no mineral resources or mining population, and very few manufactories, "and while one half of the population live exclusively by agriculture, the industries and various branches of general trade and commerce afford occupation to less than one fourth of the whole number."—Testimony British Commission on the Depression of Trade and Industry.