Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/60

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

whether at any time in the nation's history there has been so deep and general an interest felt in the subject as exists to-day. The chief feature in the renewed controversy is in the presentation of the free-trade argument from the English standpoint, and the method of reasoning there employed, with that used by the distinguished advocate of protection, which is so familiar to us. We shall endeavor to show that the former is the only method by which a satisfactory and truthful result can be obtained in any discussion regarding a subject of so complex a nature as trade. No word more aptly describes the nature of the Gladstone-Blaine controversy than "duel." The nature of the dispute necessitates direct antagonism. Free trade and protection stand directly opposed to each other. Like similar poles of a magnet, they are mutually repellent. They stand as much opposed to each other as virtue and vice. There are no grounds, nor can there be, for any compromise. One is freedom, the other restraint. The one recognizes a natural, the other an artificial law. If one is right, the other is wrong. The combatants in the recent contest are champions of their respective schools. Both were well equipped for the encounter, and each side has undoubtedly had the best words possible spoken in its behalf. Especially is this true in the article for protection. No abler advocate of the system could have been chosen. Moreover, this duel means more to Mr. Blaine and the Republican party than a mere intellectual contest. Far beyond any literary value the discussion may possess lies its political significance. A great political battle has been recently fought on this very issue, and, unless our prophets and wiseacres completely err, the presidential election of 1892 will occupy the same battlefield. Every incentive that pride and ambition can furnish conspired to urge Mr. Blaine to endeavor, to the best of his ability, to successfully refute his opponent's arguments and put him utterly to rout, even though he appear in the person of so illustrious and respected a man as the English ex-premier.

In any dispute arising between freedom on the one hand and restriction on the other, the burden of proof necessarily falls upon the advocate of restriction. Freedom is first in the order of things. Restriction is an innovation, and should explain its raison d'ĂȘtre. It would be sufficient for the free-trader to deny the advantages claimed for the protective system, and leave its advocate to prove his case. Mr. Gladstone has, however, gone further, and has not only given a general denial, but, by a series of arguments as brilliant as they are logical, demonstrated the superior advantages that flow from free trade.

The nature of the succeeding remarks finds its apology in the absence of anything like logic in the disquisitions of modern political writers. When so great an authority as the acknowledged