Some years ago I was in Madrid, where I attended a session of the Cortes. The subject under discussion was a treaty with Portugal for improving navigation on the Douro. One of the deputies rose and said: “If the Douro is canalized, shipping rates for cargoes traveling on it will be reduced. Portuguese grain will consequently sell at a lower price in the markets of Castile and will provide formidable competition for our domestic industry. I oppose the project, unless our cabinet ministers agree to raise the customs duty so as to redress the balance.” The assembly found this argument unanswerable.

Three months later I was in Lisbon. The same question was up for discussion in the Senate. A great hidalgo said: “Mr. President, the project is absurd. At great cost you have set guards along the banks of the Douro to prevent an invasion of Portugal by Castilian grain, and at the same time you propose, again at great cost, to facilitate that invasion. It is an inconsistency to which I cannot assent. Let us leave the Douro to our children in just the same condition as our forefathers left it to us.”

Later, when the question of improving the Garonne was being discussed, I remembered the arguments of these Iberian orators, and I said to myself: If the deputies from Toulouse were as good economists as those from Palencia, and the representatives from Bordeaux as skillful logicians as those from Oporto, certainly they would leave the Garonne

To drowse in the soothing murmur of its overflowing wave.

For the canalization of the Garonne would favor, to the injury of Bordeaux, its invasion by products from Toulouse, and, to the detriment of Toulouse, its inundation by products from Bordeaux.


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