The Ashburton Guardian. Magna Est Veritas et Prevalebit. FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16, 1881. The French Commercial Treaty.
TOWN EDITION. [lssued at 4.30 p.m. j ___ nWß
The Commercial Treaty between Great Britain and France which was negotiated in iB6O, and was to have expired this year, was calculated to be of so much benefit to both countries that it would be a loss to the civilised world if it were allowed to lapse. It has proved not merely to be a great blessing financially to both countries, but has greatly served in other respects as a close connecting link betweentwoof the foremost —if not the two foremost—countries in modern civilization. The laws of political economy, however, are little understood in France, and the splendid advantages of free trade are little appreciated, except by those who have especially gained in purse by them. The French Parliament is still in the main a Protectionist Parliament, and though the manufacturers of brandy, wine, silks, etc., are well aware of what they have gained by the treaty, there is another section of manufacturers afraid of the competition of British cotton and woollen goods, and quite willing to sacrifice their country for their own personal profit. At the instance of these persons, M. Tirard, on behalf of the French Government, urged on the British Commissioners appointed to negociate a renewal of the treaty, that special duties should be imposed upon the classes of goods mentioned, and the British Commissioners very naturally refusing, it was thought by many people that the treaty which had worked so well in both countries would come to an end. It was agreed, however, as a sort of compromise, in the French Parliament that further negociations for the renewal of the Commercial Treaty should not be opened until it was ascertained that the British Government intended to conclude a new treaty. That assurance having been given in the Queen’s Speech on dissolving Parliament, the question has been re-opened, and the old treaty has been provisionally extended to Feb., 1882.
It is not yet at all certain whether a new commercial treaty will be concluded with France. It it is not, it is very certain that trade between the two countries to the extent of several millions of money will be lost. The British Commissioners are anxious to avoid the incurring of such a loss, but at the same time are not at all prepared to accede to any terms which France may dictate, and have therefore stated in very distinct language that they will not accept any treaty less favorable to free trade between the two countries than that now expiring. That is the present position of the question. That commercial treaties have the tendency to direct trade into particular channels is clearly proved in the case of the Melhven treaty with Portugal at the beginning of the 18th century. By virtue of this treaty the duties on Portuguese wines were so far lowered that 1 ever since port wine has been almqst jtlje,. national beverage of Great Britain,*and the light wines of France,
which were previously in the greatest request, became almost entirely neglected, or only used by the wealthy or those to whom price has been ho object. . Even in the colder part of the empire, in Scotland, the clarets which were specially in use in Stuart’s reign have been almost entirely superseded by port wine, until the commercial treaty of iB6O brought the older drink again into vogue. It may be freely admitted by all who have directed their attention to political economy that commercial treaties are more or less infringements of the sound doctrine bf free trade, and are clumsy expedients. But wiih regard to a knowledge of this science, both theoretically and practically, it may be fairly asserted, without undue boasting, that the Continental nations of Europe are far behind Great Britain-, and allowances must be made for their ignorahcE They do hot seem yeb to understand that in international trade whatever injures your customer injures yourself, that whatever benefits him benefits yourself, and that those people who want their commodities paid for in cash and not in the usual way by goods, will soon find their customers elsewhere to people who trade In the usual and most cprtveriient Way; Meantime 'commercial treaties, am better than prohibitory duties'. _ Already the commercial treaty negotiated in 1860 between the Emperor Louis Napoleon on behalf of France and Mr Cobden on behalf of Great Britain has done much towards educating the French people as to the principles oi trade, and they will learn more yet.
A Reaper and Binder Hospital.— The aocount of “ a look-in at Ray’s,” the well-known reaper and binder expert, in the Wakanui road will be found on another column.
TttE Weather. —Hot, dry winds have been the rule and not the exception throughout Canterbury during the past week, and it is feared the crops will suffer in consequence. In the Timaru and Oamaru districts they have never Had such a dry .season for years as the present one, and the crops will be very light indeed.
Longbeach School Committee. A meeting of this body was held on Wednesday evening, to make arrangements for a tea meeting and concert, the proceeds of which are to be appropriated to the purpose of giving the school children prizes and a treat. It was decided to hold the tea meeting and concert on the evening of the 23rd inst., and the treat on the following day. The former will take place in the Main School, and the latter in a paddock near the school, kindly placed at the disposal of the Committee by Mr Dawson The tables at the tea party will be provided for by Mesdames Grigg, Frampton; Dawson, Taylor, Ruridell, and Donaldson. Several ladies and gentleirien have consented to assist at the concert, and as the object is a praiseworthy one we hope to see a good attendance. Nice Distinctions. —The Veto Zealand Times states that some absurd reasons were given by voters for the way they voted on Friday, none were probably more so than those given in the Hawke’s Bay Herald. At Havelock one man openly stated that he polled against Captain Russell “ because he wore an eye glass.” At Hastings several others gave as their reason for voting for Mr Sdtton f£ that he had promised to relieve tho working man of direct taxation,” evidently completely ignorant of the fact that the working man does not now pay direct taxation. And to these men is viven tWranohiao We know of one voter who refused to vote for a “ Liberal ” because the candidate dyed his moustache.
Poor Humanity. —At the Round-hill diggings, Invercargill, on Wednesday a Chinaman was buried alive in his claim. His remains have since been unearthed, and brought to Riverton. Elgin School. —The monthly meeting of tlie Committee of the above was held on Wednesday last ; present—Messrs J. Stanley Bruce (chairman), T. Holmes, A. Letham, and G. Cox. The Chairman stated that since the last meeting the Board of Education had temporarily appointed Mr T. M. Wilson in charge until a master can be obtained. Further, that since Mr Wilson had taken office the attendance had very greatly increased. It was resolved that a fortnight’s holidays be given from the 23rd instant, terminating on the Gth January, and that the general holidays be fixed by the new Committee, to take effect during harvest. It was further resolved that the Chairman make the best arrangement he can to have the schoolhouse cleaned. It was also resolved that Mr Proudlock be requested to return the Committee’s ac-count-book, and settle his account to date of his leaving. Accounts were passed amounting to LlO 4s sd, and the Committee adjourned.
West Coast Middle Island Railway. —At Greymouth last night a public meeting was held, at which a committee was appointed to receive a commission appointed by the Christchurch Chamber of Commerce to report upon the East and West Coast Railway, and furnish all possible information as to the resources of this district, and as to the necessity of starting the construction of the line from this end as well as from the Canterbury side. The meeting was well attended, and the committee was composed of leading citizens, managers of coal mines, saw millers, the county engineer, etc.
False Pretences —At the criminal sittings of the Supreme Court at Timaru yesterday the charge against John King, the well-known auctioneer, of obtaining money under false pretences, was heard, and resulted in the accused being sentenced to one year’s imprisonment.
The Break in the Cloud. —There are (says the New Zealand Herald) indications of a returning prosperity in several directions at the present moment. Those corners whereat the unemployed have been wont to congregate and rail against everything and everybody, are less frequented than they were a few months ago, and any combined cry as to want of employment has n I 1 beard for some months. In ail the suburbs residences are being erected, and everywhere there appears to be a minimum number of houses unoccupied. Most of the manufactories in the town have large quantities of work in ‘hand. Revivals of prosperity are seldom other than slow, but it is to be hoped the indications referred to are to be relied upon, and that we have seen the last of the recent depression.
There’s Nothing Like it. —An American exchange says :—The man who does not advertise has it done for him finally under the head of “ failures in business.”