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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/322

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perity have melted away; the French mercantile marine has ceased to grow; and the whole scheme has proved so disastrous a failure that the late Paul Bert, the eminent French legislator and orator, in a speech in the French Assembly, seriously undertook to defend the French war of invasion in Tonquin, on the ground that its continuance would afford employment for the new French mercantile marine, which otherwise, we have a right to infer, in his opinion would have remained idle.

The experience of the mercantile marines of Europe during recent years affords the following curious results: It shows, first, that the payment of bounties has practically availed nothing in arresting the continued decrease in sailing-tonnage; second, that in the eight years prior to 1880, French shipping, in its most valuable branch—steam—increased faster than the shipping of any of its Continental competitors; but after 1880, the increase in the steam-marine of Germany, where no bounties were paid, was relatively greater both in number and tonnage of vessels than in France where large bounties were given after 1881; and was also greater as respects the aggregate tonnage of all vessels—sail and steam. The obvious expectation of the French Government in resorting to the bounty system for shipping was that ships built and navigated with the aid of the bounties, would carry French manufactures into foreign countries, and thus open new markets for domestic products. But experience, thus far, has shown that all that has been effected is a transfer, to some extent, of the carriage of goods formerly brought in foreign vessels, to French vessels. But, on the other hand, the increase of tonnage, under the stimulus of the bounties, beyond the requirements of traffic, and the consequent reduction of freights, has entailed "a loss, and not a gain to the French nation; by throwing upon it the burden of a shipping interest that, but for the Government aid, would have been unprofitable, and which, because of such aid, can not conform itself to the demands of trade."[1]

The experience of Great Britain, occupying as she has, the position of being the only country in the world of large production and commerce which has not within recent years imposed restrictions on the competitive sale of foreign products in her markets, is also exceedingly interesting and instructive. That British trade and production has been injured by attempts in the nature of forced sales on the part of competitors in protected countries to dispose of their surplus products in the English duty-free markets—while the tariffs of their own countries have shielded them from reprisals—and that from like causes Great Britain has experienced severe foreign competition in neutral markets where British trade had formerly almost exclusive possession, can not be doubted. Thus, the report of the British Commission "On the Depression of Trade and Industry" (1886) shows that the importation

  1. "Report on the mercantile Marines of Foreign Countries," by Worthington C. Ford. U. S. Department of State Ex, Doc, 1886.