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      A PICTURE OF MERCHANDISE.

FRENCH Protectionists of great wealth and
influence, aided by able literary allies, are
now fighting hard for supremacy, and are
defending themselves with might and main
against Free Trade. They are terribly
afraid of an English invasion, when it is
threatened in the shape of a broadside of
sugar-loaves; of a charge of cutlery from
Sheffield and Birmingham; of a battering
with iron pigs from Merthyr Tydvil; of a
smothering with cotton goods from Manchester;
of a choking with salt fish from our
maritime towns; of a torturing by machinery;
and even of a stunning by music, and a
bewitchment by philosophical and optical
instruments.

Against all these dangers, the French coast
is well defended, and is not likely to capitulate,
much less to surrender. Meanwhile, it
may be instructive for us to know by what
repulsive forces got in action by laws,
ordonnances, and decrees now in vigour,
our commercial missiles are prevented from
penetrating to the heart of Gaul. These
duties are the subject of a Government publication,
called the Tarif Général des Douanes
de France, and dated eighteen hundred and
forty-four. Two supplements have since appeared,
one in eighteen hundred and forty-five,
the other in eighteen hundred and fifty.
During the following years, fresh alterations
have been made; and, to serve the requirements
of the day, in eighteen hundred
and fifty-three a new edition was published
of the Tableau des Marchandises Dénommées
au Tarif Général des Douanes de
France. At this Tableauthis picture, catalogue,
or listthe reader shall be treated to
a peep; perhaps, by looking sharp, he will
be able to detect a few curiosities of Customs
Literature.

The original weights and moneys of the
Tarif will be intelligible if the English
reader will only bear in mind that French
accounts are kept in francs (value tenpence),
and in centimes (the hundredth part of a
franc). As ten centimes make a penny
English, nothing is easier than the reduction
of centimes into pence, by simply rejecting
the accompanying cipher, when there is
one, or by taking any odd five centimes to
represent a halfpenny. Thus, fifty centimes
is fivepence; twenty centimes, twopence;
fifteen centimes is a penny-halfpenny;
seventy-five centimes, sevenpence-halfpenny.
To reduce large amounts of francs to pounds
sterling, divide the sum by twenty-five;
thus, a hundred francs is four pounds;
a million francs, forty thousand pounds.
The weights mostly quoted on the Tarif
are kilogrammes, or thousands of grammes,
often abbreviated into kilos. A kilo is two
French pounds; therefore half a kilo is a
pound, which is considerably heavier than
the English pound avoirdupois.

The foremost group of the fiscal picture
is composed of living animals. Horses
and mares pay twenty-five francs a-head;
while he-asses and she-asses pay only twenty-five
centimes. That is, an ass is considerably
more inferior to a horse than a tailor
is to a man; an ass is reckoned as, not the
ninth, but the hundredth part of a horse.
Notwithstanding which, good asses fetch
such a good price in France, that the importation
of a few would be a promising speculation.
Colts pay fifteen francs; mules, the
same. But mules imported by French and
Sardinian ships, or by land, pay a duty of
only six francs a-head. There is a special
convention with the Sardinian states respecting
these and other products. The
duty on oxen is fifteen francs per head; a
safeguard for native graziers. Cows pay
twenty francs a-head; bulls (being uneatable,
or nearly so) only fifteen francs; calves,
three francs. Rams, ewes, and mutton-sheep,
are taxed five francs a-head, amounting,
together with the cost of transport, to a
heavy duty on a flock; lambs, only thirty
centimes; and kids, put on a level with asses,
twenty-five centimes. Goats, he and she
(either sex uneatable when adult), are let in
for a franc and a-half per head. Live poultry
pay two per cent, on their value. While the
useless (for the national benefit) sporting-dog
is admitted for half-a-franc, the useful pig is
kept out by a lofty barrier twelve francs
high. It is not often that pigs are sufficiently
buoyant to clear that gate. A pig is thus
four and twenty times as formidable as a
pointer or a retriever. Sucking-pigs may enter
for forty centimes; but a really sucking-pig,
alive, is a helpless babe without his mamma.

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