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History of the National progress - Continued.

Trade and Commerce of the United Kingdom - Analysis of the Imports and Exports - Animal and Vegetable Food - Drinks - Raw Materials of Manufactures - Manufactured Goods - Enormous Preponderance of Food and Raw Materials in Imports, and of Manufactured Goods in Exports - Dependence on Supplies of Food from Abroad - Wealth of the Country - Estimates of the Annual National Income - Professor Leone Levi and Mr. Dudley Baxter - Progress of the Nation during the Ten Years 1860 - 1870.
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The direction which the industry of the United Kingdom has taken, and the progress it has made in recent years, is, indeed, indicated by nothing more strikingly than by its foreign commerce. In the very nature of the goods which a nation purchases from other peoples, and of the goods it sells to them, the character of its own occupations is necessarily more or less clearly reflected. A mere glance at the catalogue of British imports and exports shows at once how vast is the manufacturing industry of this country, and a comparison of the returns! of the most recent years with those of earlier dates places, in the clearest light, the immense strides with which that industry has of late been progressing. The commercial greatness of Britain dates not from yesterday. Her reputation, as the greatest commercial nation the world has ever seen, has, in fact, been the growth of centuries. Yet even if we go no farther back into the past than the commencement of the nineteenth century, and compare the foreign trade of Britain of that period with that of the present day, we shall find that, though at the former period her commerce was already the envy and admiration of the whole world, it was as yet but in its infancy. In 1805 the value of the British and Irish produce exported from the United Kingdom was declared to be about thirty-eight millions sterling. In 1871 the exports of home produce amounted in value to two hundred and twenty-three millions. The imports from abroad in 1805 were valued in the aggregate at not more than twenty-eight and a half millions sterling. In 1871 their value had reached three hundred and thirty-one millions. The total imports and exports in 1805 were estimated at sixty-six and a half millions. In 1871 the year's imports and exports reached the almost incredible total of five hundred and fifty-four millions, or more than eight times the value at which they stood near the commencement of the century.

The large increase of population in the United Kingdom during the present century has already been noticed, and we have now shown that that increase of population was concurrent with a still larger increase in the foreign trade of the country. While the population had only doubled itself in the interval, the foreign trade had advanced to eight and a half times its former value. As regards the general character and nature of the goods exchanged with the rest of the world, the imports consist in an overwhelming proportion of food, and of the raw materials of manufactures. The quantity of manufactured goods imported into the United Kingdom, compared with the imports of food and raw materials, appears altogether inconsiderable. The mere fact that the value of the food alone which was imported into the United Kingdom in the last few years amounted to more than one hundred and thirty millions sterling (130,000,000) annually is highly significant. The exports of food, on the other hand, are now comparatively trifling. Even in the year 1871, when the quantity of corn, meat, and other provisions exported was vastly in excess of the average, owing to the prolonged siege of Paris, and other events in the Franco-German War which was then raging, and when large quantities of provisions were dispatched from England to the relief of the starving population of the unfortunate capital and other localities in France - even in that most exceptional year, not more than ten millions' worth of food and drinks was sent out of the ports of the United Kingdom, the total value of the exports in that year being two hundred and thirty-three millions. But even ten millions sterling is a very high and unusual figure for the exports of food and drinks from the United Kingdom in the most recent times. The exports of corn and flour have not averaged more than 400,000 per annum since the year 1851, and they were still smaller for a long time previously to that date. But in the year 1871, principally owing to the extraordinary events referred to, corn and flour to the value of as much as 3,441,982 were exported from this country. Formerly agricultural produce was largely exported from Britain; but of late years the soil has not produced sufficient food even for the home population, necessitating the importation of food and drinks into the country in vast quantities. The value of the corn and wheat imported in 1871 was as much as 42,691,464, and in the following year it had risen to 51,228,816; and the total value of the food and drinks of every class imported in 1872 was, in round numbers, upwards of one hundred and forty millions sterling.

The extent to which, in the second half of the nineteenth century, the United Kingdom had become dependent on other countries for the supply of the necessaries of life, cannot indeed be better shown than by comparing the value of the food and drinks, and of ingredients of food and drinks, brought into the country from abroad in the most recent years, with that of the same articles imported in earlier years. To illustrate this fact we will compare the changes which have taken place within the fourteen years from 1858 to 1871. And first, as to animal food - the quantity of oxen, sheep, pork, bacon, beef, &c., which the United Kingdom drew from abroad, was, within the period in question, almost quadrupled, as will be seen from the following list: -

Value of Animal Food Imported into the United Kingdom in 1871 and 1858

Oxen, Calves, &c3,582,501962,090
Sheep and Lambs1,789,826 410,631
Bacon and Hams...2,725,909480,330

From this table it appears that while the animal food imported into the United Kingdom in 1858 was worth less than six millions sterling, the quantity imported in the year 1871 was estimated to be of the value of nearly twenty-four millions, or within a trifle of four times as much as that of the same class of imports fourteen years earlier.

The imports of vegetable food from abroad have, how ever, always been much, larger than those of animal food. Since the abolition of the Corn Laws, the quantity of grain imported into the United Kingdom has been constantly and rapidly increasing; and, next to cotton, the various kinds of corn form the most important class of all commodities brought into this country from abroad. The extent to which the importations of vegetable food have recently been increasing, may be seen by reference to the following list of the principal articles of that class imported: -

Value of the Vegetable Food Imported into the United Kingdom in 1871 and 1858

Corn (of all kinds)42,691,46420,164,811
Oranges and Lemons.1,008,954525,970
Dried Yeast333,722111,539

Here it will be observed that while the value of the vegetable food imported in 1858 was little more than thirty-eight millions sterling, it had risen within fourteen years to upwards of sixty-eight millions, and was, therefore, less than eight millions short of doubling itself.

Putting the imported animal and vegetable food together, it appears that while their aggregate value in 1858 was nearly forty-four millions sterling, it had increased in 1871 to more than ninety-one millions; so that, in other words, the United Kingdom had, within a space of fourteen years, grown nearly twice as dependent on the rest of the world for its supplies of food as it was earlier.

Drinks, and commodities used in the preparation of beverages, form another and very important section of this class of imports, in which also a great increase has taken place in recent years. The most considerable of them are contained in the subjoined list: -

Drinks, and Ingredients used in Making Beverages, Imported into the United Kingdom in 1871 and 1858


The value of this class of commodities, therefore, as appears from these figures, had nearly trebled itself in the course of the fourteen years under consideration.

From what has been hitherto stated, therefore, it appears that this class of imports has increased to the extent of more than 220 per cent, between the dates we have been considering. Before a final comparison can be drawn, however, there are certain additions yet to be made to the total, comprising a number of commodities either undistinguished by name or too numerous to be given in detail. With the addition of these minor articles, the grand total of food and drinks imported into the United Kingdom will be as follows:

Aggregate Value of Food and Drinks Imported into the United Kingdom in 1871 and 1858

Principal Articles of - Animal Food23,992,1405,934,890
Vegetable Food68,293,01538,050,134
Other Articles (estimated)11,131,2784,411,927

It is therefore clear that, in the course of the fourteen years between the dates selected, the imports of food from abroad have more than doubled themselves, having risen from the value of fifty-nine millions sterling in 1858, to upwards of one hundred and thirty-one millions in 1871. The proportion of food and drinks imported rose from forty-one shillings' worth per head of the population at the earlier date, to eighty-two shillings' worth at the later period. The revenue of the Government exceeded the value of these imports in 1858 by ten millions sterling. In 1871 the importations of food and drinks had reached in value a sum nearly twice as great as the national revenue.

The relative extent to which the population of the United Kingdom was dependent for the most necessary articles of food on foreign nations, may perhaps be more clearly illustrated by showing not simply the value, but the average quantity of the principal articles of food imported in the most recent years. The annual average quantity of wheat and wheat-flour imported in the three years 1858 to 1860, was equal to twenty-five million hundredweights. Assuming the average annual consumption of wheat of each. individual in the population at about four hundredweights, this quantity would furnish about six and a quarter millions of people with their year's supply of bread - that is, between one-fourth and one-fifth of the entire population of those years. In 1871 the quantity of wheat and flour imported was equivalent to thirty-nine and a quarter million hundredweights, which furnished bread enough for nearly ten millions of people - that is, for nearly one-third of the increased population of those years. The following tables show the average quantities of all the principal articles of food and drink imported in each of the three years 1858 to 1860, and in each of the three years 1868 to 1870, with the increase per cent, at the latter dates, as compared with the average ten years earlier: -

Quantities of Principal Articles of Food Imported into the United Kingdom

Yearly Average, 1858 - 60.Yearly Average, 1868 - 70.Increase per Cent.
Cattle (head)344,843759,984120
Meat - Beef (cwts)216,790230,0306
Eggs (number)150,337,133418,994,640178
Corn - Wheat (cwts)20,400,75433,745,60865
   Other kinds18,913,67231,833,46568
Rice (qrs)2,238,0284,782,320113
Potatoes (cwts)957,2081,491,18956

Quantities of Colonial and Foreign Produce (Principally Drinks and Ingredients thereof) Retained for Home Consumption

Yearly Average, 1858 - 60.Yearly Average, 1868 - 70.Increase per Cent.
Coffee (lbs)35,011,92329,808,830-
Cocoa (lbs)3,034,9575,657,20986
Tea (lbs)75,438,580112,054,30248
Sugar (cwts)9,484,45312,849,16035
Spirits (gallons)5,012,2958,337,00666
Wine (gallons)6,587,75114,958,534127

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