We published an article entitled Dearness-Cheapness, which gained for

us the two following letters. We publish them, with the answers:

DEAR MR. EDITOR:--You upset all my ideas. I preached in favor of

free trade, and found it very convenient to put prominently forward

the idea of cheapness. I went everywhere, saying, With free trade,

bread, meat, woolens, linen, iron and coal will fall in price. This
br /> displeased those who sold, but delighted those who bought. Now, you

raise a doubt as to whether cheapness is the result of free trade.

But if not, of what use is it? What will the people gain, if foreign

competition, which may interfere with them in their sales, does not

favor them in their purchases?

MY DEAR FREE TRADER:--Allow us to say that you have but half read the

article which provoked your letter. We said that free trade acted

precisely like roads, canals and railways, like everything which

facilitates communications, and like everything which destroys

obstacles. Its first tendency is to increase the quantity of the article

which is relieved from duties, and consequently to lower its price. But

by increasing, at the same time, the quantity of all the things for

which this article is exchanged, it increases the demand, and

consequently the price rises. You ask us what the people will gain.

Suppose they have a balance with certain scales, in each one of which

they have for their use a certain quantity of the articles which you

have enumerated. If a little grain is put in one scale it will gradually

sink, but if an equal quantity of cloth, iron and coal is added in the

others, the equilibrium will be maintained. Looking at the beam above,

there will be no change. Looking at the people, we shall see them better

fed, clothed and warmed.

DEAR MR. EDITOR:--I am a cloth manufacturer, and a protectionist. I

confess that your article on dearness and cheapness has led me to

reflect. It has something specious about it, and if well proven,

would work my conversion.

MY DEAR PROTECTIONIST:--We say that the end and aim of your restrictive

measures is a wrongful one--artificial dearness. But we do not say

that they always realize the hopes of those who initiate them. It is

certain that they inflict on the consumer all the evils of dearness. It

is not certain that the producer gets the profit. Why? Because if they

diminish the supply they also diminish the demand.

This proves that in the economical arrangement of this world there is a

moral force, a vis medicatrix, which in the long run causes inordinate

ambition to become the prey of a delusion.

Pray, notice, sir, that one of the elements of the prosperity of each

special branch of industry is the general prosperity. The rent of a

house is not merely in proportion to what it has cost, but also to the

number and means of the tenants. Do two houses which are precisely alike

necessarily rent for the same sum? Certainly not, if one is in Paris and

the other in Lower Brittany. Let us never speak of a price without

regarding the conditions, and let us understand that there is nothing

more futile than to try to build the prosperity of the parts on the ruin

of the whole. This is the attempt of the restrictive system.

Competition always has been, and always will be, disagreeable to those

who are affected by it. Thus we see that in all times and in all places

men try to get rid of it. We know, and you too, perhaps, a municipal

council where the resident merchants make a furious war on the foreign

ones. Their projectiles are import duties, fines, etc., etc.

Now, just think what would have become of Paris, for instance, if this

war had been carried on there with success.

Suppose that the first shoemaker who settled there had succeeded in

keeping out all others, and that the first tailor, the first mason, the

first printer, the first watchmaker, the first hair-dresser, the first

physician, the first baker, had been equally fortunate. Paris would

still be a village, with twelve or fifteen hundred inhabitants. But it

was not thus. Each one, except those whom you still keep away, came to

make money in this market, and that is precisely what has built it up.

It has been a long series of collisions for the enemies of competition,

and from one collision after another, Paris has become a city of a

million inhabitants. The general prosperity has gained by this,

doubtless, but have the shoemakers and tailors, individually, lost

anything by it? For you, this is the question. As competitors came, you

said: The price of boots will fail. Has it been so? No, for if the

supply has increased, the demand has increased also.

Thus will it be with cloth; therefore let it come in. It is true that

you will have more competitors, but you will also have more customers,

and richer ones. Did you never think of this when seeing nine-tenths of

your countrymen deprived during the winter of that superior cloth that

you make?

This is not a very long lesson to learn. If you wish to prosper, let

your customers do the same.

When this is once known, each one will seek his welfare in the general

welfare. Then, jealousies between individuals, cities, provinces and

nations, will no longer vex the world.