in the clearest. And yet it is quite clear that it would be utterly impossible to apply that principle in a state of society such as that in which we live, without a due consideration of the interests which have grown up under the protection of former laws. While contending for the justice of the abstract principle, we may at the same time admit the necessity of applying it partially; and I think the proper object is first of all to lay the foundation of good laws, to provide the way for gradual improvements, which may thus be introduced without giving a shock to existing interests. If you do give a shock to these interests, you create prejudices against the principles themselves, and only aggravate the distress. This is the principle on which we attempted to proceed in the preparation of the tariff."
Our present conditions correspond almost exactly to this statement; and the logic of events is bringing almost all economic students, many legislators, and also nearly all the intelligent leaders in the manufacturing and mechanic arts to the same conclusion to which Sir Robert Peel was brought by the logic of events when he took office in 1840; especially by the very disastrous condition to which Great Britain had been brought under an obstructive tariff policy the effect of which culminated at that date.
One may also refer to one of the greatest speeches that Daniel Webster ever made—a speech which he delivered at Faneuil Hall in October, 1820, at a meeting which had been called to resist an increase of duties above the very moderate revenue tariff of 1816, which was then in force—a meeting such as ought to be held now to protest against a worse measure. This meeting was called by men whose names are familiar to every Boston man—by William Gray, James Perkins, Nathan Appleton, Abbott Lawrence, Joseph Sewell, George Bond, Thomas Wigglesworth, William Sturgis, and by many others whose names have been household words among the merchants and manufacturers of Massachusetts for generations. In dealing with the high tariff measure, which was then being forced upon Massachusetts against her will, Webster said:
"To individuals this policy is as injurious as it is to government. A system of artificial government protection leads the people to too much reliance upon government. If left to their own choice of pursuits, they depend on their own skill and their own industry; but if government essentially affects their occupations by its systems of bounties and preferences, it is natural that when in distress they should call on the government for relief. Hence, a perpetual contest follows, carried on between the different interests of society. Agriculturists taxed to-day to sustain manufactures—commerce taxed to-morrow to sustain agriculture—and then impositions perhaps on both manufactures and agri-