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financial and Political
SITUATION OF THE COUNTRY,
IN THE YEAR 1815;
BEING A CONTINUATION TO THOSE OF
ADDRESSED TO THE
EARL OF LIVERPOOL, &c. &c.
BY F. PERCIVAL ELIOT, ESQ.
February 1815. IN my two last addresses, I took the liberty of submitting to your Lordship’s consideration the strong necessity for pointing your early attention to the subject of the agricultural interests of the kingdom ; on which the immediate subsistence of the people, and the consequent wealth and welfare of the enipire, are so absolutely dependent. In those letters, however, the present question was only touched upon in few and general terms; their more immediate subject being the recommendation of making weight the preponderating standard in the sale of corn; and the suggestion of a more simple and uniform scale of weight and measure, for the valuation of all saleable commodities. I have since seen several other propasitions for the uniformity of weights and ineasures, but none which appears to me to embrace the same comprehension of all measures and all weights, with the same simple and uniform combination of relative proportions, and at the same time so little deviation from the most generally useful of those now in existing practice, as that which I had the honor of laying before you.
1 It has been thought best to continue the numeral series unbroken for the benefit of readier reference.
2 Numbers 6 and 7 dated on the 20th and 28th of June 1814.
»In my present address to your Lordship, I mean to confine myself to the question of obtaining the most ample provision possible of corn for the consumption of the kingdom, at the lowest price consistent with the security of the interests and prosperity of the land-owners and cultivators of that land at home.
How essentially conducive the latter consideration must inevitably be to the success of the former, and how miserably defective in sound policy that system which, by neglecting the agriculturist at home, would throw us entirely into the arms of foreign importers, as our great reliance for supply, is too manifestly evident to require proof. · The national purse has been but too much drained already by the vast sums' paid for foreign corn for some years past.
In the latter end of the year 1800, and commencement of 1801, when the great scarcity prevailed, I had a correspondence of some length on this subject, with the Earl of Harrowby, then Deputy President of the Committee of Privy Council for Trade and Commerce ; (which his Lordship will probably do me the honor of recollecting) of this correspondence I have fortunately preserved a copy; and the substance of it will appear in the progress of my present communication; to which I am the more encouraged, because I remember that, though both Lord Harrowby and myself were perfectly agreed as to the inpracticability of putting my plan in execution at the moment of scarcity, his Lordship observed that it certainly deserved consideration for a future time; and also because that time seems now to be pointed out in the very able conclusion of the report of the select Committee of the House of Commons in July last; with which, I trust, that my suggestions will not be found to be in the least incompatible, but rather tending to promote its views.
To prevent our dependence on the precarious and expensive mode of foreign supply, and to enable us at all times to look forward with a well grounded hope to our own lands for at least the much greater part of our home consumption, it is quite clear that the first object to be attended to is the security of the grower for obtaining a fair and reasonable remuneration for his labor? and Seonably fixed at not less than an additional
i Upwards of 7 millions sterling in the year 1810, and in the year 1800-1, more than 10 millions exclusive of importations from Ireland.
2 That greater skill and more assiduous labor should secure larger profits, has been a claim acknowledged as irresistible from the days of Cresinus the Roman farmer, who, when he was accused of witchcraft by his simple neighbours for having produced more abundant crops, and bred finer caitle than themselves, answered the charge by bringing into the forum a heavier plough and stronger bullocks than those in common use, with this brief but energetic defence, “Hæc sunt veneficia mea! hæ meæ artes ! nec possum vobis ostendere, aut in forum adducere, lucubrationes meas, pervigilia, et. sudores!"
hat he should make at least ten per eliere there are few trades, though
his skill after the deduction of all outgoings' whatever.
Our next consideration must be to prevent the cost of
What that just and moderate price should be the proper line of demarcation between the the grower and the consumer, is probabli of our investigation, because the task of ing it within a moderately fluctuatin settled, would noi, in my opinio labor.
tax alone excepted, which must be thrown entirely out of the proper keing a demand of the government not upon the gross pro
" the outgoings of the land, but upon the clear profits of the
the occupier. For instance, suppose a farm of 200 acres to
Passion of £1600. per annum, of which one half, or 2800. is W e the process of keeping it in a high state of cultivation; another
is paid to the Landlord for rent, and the remaining fourth mare accrues to the farmer as his profit, being £200. or 5 per cent
ital of £4000. and 5 per cent additional as a remuneration for and labor, it is quite clear that when the property tax is at 10
on all income, the utmost which the public can require will be
onum from the Landlord for his share of the profits arising in the
treat, and £40. more from the occupier as the tenth of the profits S a ting and capital. Those few surveyors, or land agents, therefore,
giving their evidence to Parliament, have asserted that this tax has
(or at least ought to be considered as operating,) either on the rate or price o roduce, have quite mistaken the question; and it will be
udeed, 1 more sensible and well informed, that is a great maSo have p
e aside, as forming no part of the estimate. The differen
ner or occupier is, that in times of war or great
0. he puts but £360. into his pocket, in the same ainer as
to is entitled to a salary of £400. per annum for his
artment, has £40. stopped at the Exchequer and receives b
every case it is a sacrifice demanded by the situation the co
aone has the sufferer a right to transfer the burthen roun his
s to those of any other person. The
n is something like the sad nonsense which two or Shave uttered about the supposed depreciation of curence between a cash and a paper capital in the hands ecting the rate of rent and price of product.
seems an almost invariable opinion, that less than ten shillings per Winchester bushel, or four pounds per Quarter, would not, under all the circumstances of the present times, afford either a fair rent to the Landlord, or a reasonable profit to the occupierI mean the present times with a general view of the age we live in ; without particular consideration either of the unfounded depression of the present year, or the over-strained profits of the preceding ones.
And in this I am led to concur from a calculation I had made at the time of my former correspondence on this subject, wherein I stated to Lord Harrowby that at that period (1800-1) I considered the gains of a laborer's family to be about fourteen shillings per week, and that according to such supposition, I fixed eight shillings and sixpence as the proper price of a Winchester bushel of wheat. The data on which my calculation was grounded, were chiefly those of Lord Chief Justice Hale (temp. Car. II.) and of Gregory King ; (temp. Gul. et Mar.) the former stating the necessary earnings of a laborer, his wife and four children, (two able to do some work and two helpless,) at ten shillings per week or twenty six pounds per annum ; the latter in 1690, makes a laborer's family, consisting of 3, souls per average, to gain £15; these, though raised on apparently different data, come nearly to the same point; as both allow at the rate of twenty pence per head for weekly expenditure and mine for the year 1800 allowed two shillings and four pence each for the same proportion of time. The present earnings of a family (in 1814-15) according to Lord Hale's enumeration, (which from the practical experience of a large farm in my hands for several years and the consequent employment of many laborers, I know to be about the average number, as those who have more than four children generally get the eldest out to service, and few have less) I calculate at about eighteen shillings per week, including the gains of all, which allows a weekly expenditure of three shillings for each individual, or rather better than five pence per diem each; and will bring the proportional price of wheat to about ten shillings and two-pence halfpenny per bushel, or four pounds, one shilling, and eight-pence per Winchester quarter.
During the last sixty years of the seventeenth century, including the times of both the above writers, the average price of wheat was five shillings and eight-pence per bushel Winchester ; and the proportion is as follows as ten shillings per week earnings, are to five shillings and eight-pence per bushel price, so are eighteen shillings per week earnings, to ten shillings and two-pence halfpenny per bushel-price-or four pounds, one shilling and eight: pence per quarter, which tallies almost exactly with the calcula. NO. X. Pam. : VOL. V.