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enumerated, proceed upon an assump. bounty which might compensate this tion, therefore, which is wholly erro. difference, and enable the British grow. neous, and which implies in the legis- er to undersell the foreign merchant, lature the most careless waste of the would involve this country, which alnational resources, and great ignorance ready incurs so great an annual expenof the natural limits and real objects diture, in a waste of money which the of a bounty on exported corn. What most urgent necessity alone could justi. could tempt any statesman to propose fy. Till some important change take a bounty, which should give foreigners place in the relative situation of this so great an advantage, as the author's country to the rest of Europe, or the argument supposes, in the purchase of danger of scarcity become more immeBritish corn, it is difficult to conjec. diate and alarming, there can be no hope, ture ; yet, without bestowing on the therefore, of the re-establishment of the foreign market this unnatural and un. bounty. There are other expedients, necessary preference, it is impossible however, which have already been a. that its demand should ever interfere dopted with great advantage. We can. with the reasonable interests of the not, indeed, secure all the benefits of a British consumer, or lead to the un. bounty by means of these expedients; happy consequences which are antici. we have, therefore, but a choice of diffipated by the reviewer.
culties. --But as an opportunity may reSuch then is the nature, and such cur in which it will be politic to re-esta. the operation of a bounty on export. blish the system of bounties on exporta. ed corn. The country which grants tion, it is of importance to vindicate that the encouragement suffers a loss pure. system from the numerous objections ly commercial to the extent of the which it has become fashionable to ar. bounty ; and this is the real amount ray against it. As the regulations, be. of the inconvenience which it sustains. sides, which are under the consideration The other evils, which have been enu. of the legislature, have a reference to merated by different writers, are ima. the great principles of the corn-trade, ginary.-The loss, however, which is and as these principles cannot be betinevitably sustained by granting a ter discussed, than in considering the bounty, may in some circumstances be question respecting the bounty, the come a subject of the most serious con. foregoing enquiry must have prepared sideration. National security and in the way for the reflections which are dependence are objects of the first im. now to be offered on the line of policy portance ; but if the danger of scarcity of late recommended to parliament. be not imminent, and there exist other Those who think that exportation means by which it may be averted, cannot be encouraged, will admit, the policy of granting a bounty on ex. however, that it ought to be free, ported corn will become more than But this is not enough; and in conquestionable, where the general cir- tending that more may and ought to cumstances of the country are un be done, we advance to that contro. propitious to the measure. In the versy which has of late excited so present state of this country and of strong a sensation throughout the Europe, it seems impracticable to re- country. The question is, whether establish the bounty ; for it has been entire freedom of importation shall be proved by the evidence before the com. allowed; whether the agriculture of mittees of both houses of parliament, this country shall be exposed by fo. that Polish wheat may be brought to reign competition to great hazard, if market at one half the price at which not to utter destruction ?- It is almost British wheat can be sold. To give a unnecessary to repeat, that the object of restraints on importation is the the country, and the peculiar nature same with that which the bounty of the trade in corn. If no wars had aims more completely to attain--to existed for the last twenty years ; if ensure as far as may be possible the no new taxes had been imposed; if independence of the country on fo- commercial intercourse with the conreign supplies--to avoid the evils of tinent had been uninterrupted; if the scarcity, and thus, in some measure, prices of grain, and of other commodito equalize the price of grain.
ties in this country, were on a level These objects can be accomplished with those of the rest of Europe, it only by keeping up the prices in the might be difficult, although not imhome market to a certain extent du possible, to find a good reason for imring years of plenty ; by securing to posing restraints on the importation of the farmer an adequate return for his foreign grain, since the expence and capital and labour ; and thus afford. difficulty of transporting so bulky an ing a regular and steady encourage- article would probably afford sufficient ment to agriculture. Those who, protection to our farmers. But now while contending for restrictions, deny that we are in a state so very different that in ordinary years they will keep in all respects from that which has just up prices, involve themselves in contra. been described a state perfectly artidictions by which their enemies know ficial with regard to prices, we shall do well how to profit. Let it be confessed well to pause before recommending an at once, therefore, that it is the object immediate freedom of importation. The of the proposed regulations to encou. events of the late war,--the operation rage British agriculture, and that this of the Berlin and Milan decrees, and encouragement can be given only by of our orders in council, put such securing to the farmer profits which restrictions on the importation of corn might be endangered by foreign com during the last five years, as were petition.-Such are the objects of the nearly equivalent to an act of parliaproposed regulations; and there seem ment imposing very high duties, and to be many reasons in support of such gave the British farmer the benefit of a system of policy.
nearly the whole demand of the Bria But here we are met by the general tish market. The consequences have argument that if you allow foreign been high prices in the first instance grain to be freely imported, you will an increased supply, and ultimately always find as much as you require a fall in the price of corn, proceeding from foreign countries, at the lowest from the great encouragement given prices; that if you thus secure the to its production. A large additional cheapness of corn, the wages of manu capital has been invested in agriculture, facturing labour will be low; your and more agricultural industry has been manufactures will be able to preserve employed under the stimulus of this their superiority in foreign markets ; accidental protection. and although you may import foreign. The result of this singular combinagrain in large quantities, you will ex. tion of circumstances has been that port your manufactures in abundance in the years 1811 and 1812, a surplus to pay for it. It may be answered, of corn was exported to the value of however, that although such reasoning nearly 300,0001. each year; and there be quite consistent with the general is reason to believe that the surplus principles of political economy, the was not of less value during the fol. question, how far it is expedient at lowing year, although the destruction present to act upon such views, de- of the documents to prove it, by the pends on the actual circumstances of fire at the Custom-house, renders it impossible to ascertain the precise a. ber of his farm servants and labourers. mount. The domestic supply of corn, The immediate effects, therefore, of a therefore, is quite abundant, and the free importation would be ruin to the agriculture of the kingdom has been British farmer—the diversion of the ca. brought almost to a state of perfec- pital employed in agriculture to other tion. Nor is the price too high, when channels the diminution of agricul. considered with reference to the ge. tural produce, and the same deficient neral circumstances of the country. supply which this country so lately “ Under all these circumstances it has experienced. If foreign corn can be been asked, Is it expedient suddenly brought to market at less than one to allow a free importation of corn half the price at which British corn Will such a proceeding ensure to the can be produced, the agriculture of country the continuance of that pros. the country must not only languish, perous state of agriculture which to but perish entirely. If the Poles can this moment has existed, and that ex. send their wheat into the British mar. tent of supply and moderation of price ket at less than 40s. a quarter, while which we now enjoy ? Or will it not the English farmer, to pay his ex. throw every thing back, and directly pences and afford him a reasonable lead, first, to a diminished supply of profit, must charge 80s. it is evident corn ?- secondly, to a high price? - that our own farmers must be ruined and, lastly, to scarcity and famine ?” by a system of free importation.
The state of the agriculture of the Some of the advocates for restriccountry at present has been compared tions on importation have no doubt to that of the silk manufactures ; and endeavoured to prove too much, and it has been asked, whether, “ if the have seriously injured the cause which duty on the French manufacture of they are so anxious to sustain. They this article were repealed, the manu. have asserted, that even if a sufficifacture at home would not be ruined ? ent supply of corn could be obtained So in respect of corn ; if, after agri. from abroad, the price would not be culture has been brought to its present so low, upon the whole, as if we state of perfection by the restrictions were to subsist entirely on corn of which have been accidentally imposed our own growth. Although, if to on importation, now that these restric. the stock we have now on hand, (it tions are removed by the peace, no law has been said,) of our own growth, a should pass, in some degree to supply quantity of foreign growth were add. their place, foreign corn would be im. ed, the market price would be lower ported, and a sudden stop put to cul. than it now is; and if to the quantity tivation ?"*
of corn which we shall derive from the In illustration of this opinion it has next harvest, á quantity of foreign corn been observed, that the Poles can af. were added, the price of corn for the ford to bring their corn to Danzic at next year would be lower than it 82s. a quarter ; that the quality of otherwise would be ; yet if in the their wheat is excellent ; that if the next sowing season much less grain importation were left free, vast quan- should be sown than was sown last tities of it would immediately be im. year, and the crop in consequence ported, and the price of grain would be should fall much short of that quanti. lowered so much as to deprive the Bri. ty which is sufficient for our own con. tish farmer of all profit on his stock, sumption, then the market price would and to compel him to reduce the num- be governed by a different principle
* Vide Sir H. Parnell's speech on the Corn Laws.
from that which governed it 'till that culture is in fact the object of all such time; it would be regulated, not by the regulations; but agriculture can never cheapness of corn abroad, but by the be encouraged except by raising the dearness of it at home, which would price of grain to a higher rate than it be the inevitable effect of a short sup. would have attained without legislaply."-But this argument supposes tive interference. that foreigners who are accustomed to I t is an error also to suppose, as grow corn for the British market, will some writers have done, that « after be guided by different principles from a great deal of capital has been withthose which influence our own farmers. drawn from agriculture, and our ave
The same author remarks,“ that the rage production shall be less than it motives which must govern the con. now is, that is, less than our average duct of the importing merchants are consumption, if we should have a bad that they may bring corn to the coun. harvest; and if, at the same time, try with the utmost possible profit; the harvest abroad should also be a that to do this they leave the defici bad one, then we should be in this cri. ency of our own supply to run up tical state-that, just in proportion as prices very high before they will come we stood in need of a greater supply into the market ; that the established of foreign corn than usual, foreign traders will take care so to manage as countries would be the less able to let not to let the price, however, get so us have it, and that we should then not very high as to encourage new specu- only feel the effects of a system of free lators to come into competition with importation by very high prices, but them ; but having got the prices as also by the pressure of scarcity and high as they can, without incurring famine."-Surely the respectable persuch a hazard of competition, then sons who maintain such opinions, disthey will begin to feed the market play an indiscreet anxiety to magnify with foreign corn, but only in such the evils of a free importation. If this quantities as shall keep down compe. country were to become regularly detition against themselves, but not to pendent on foreign nations for a supan extent which would have any great ply of corn, that supply would be re. effect in lowering the price of corn." gularly produced to meet the wants Nothing can be more unsatisfactory of the British market; and although than this reasoning. The foreign it might be equally, it could not be merchant, who is supposed to pro- more exposed than the produce of our vide in part for the wants of our mar- domestic agriculture, to the varying ket, will act upon the same principles influence of the seasons. There might with the farmers at home, and will be a failure in foreign crops as well as bring his corn into the British market in the crops of this country ; but this as soon as he can do it with advantage. is an evil to which, under any circumTo taik of his waiting till the prices stances, we must remain exposed. have attained the utmost limit, is to As a limitation on Dr Smith's arsuppose that he is regulated by diffe- gument that the expence of tranrent principles from those which guide sporting corn must be sufficient to give other farmers and merchants in similar our own farmers a decided protection,” circumstances. It is quite unreason- it has been well remarked, that “when able, therefore, to contend that any re- Dr Smith wrote his work it might strictions upon importation will keep have been sufficient, because the price down the price of corn in the British of corn and other commodities of this market. The encouragement of agri, country, was on a level with that of the rest of Europe. But to say that placed by the advocates of a free it is now sufficient, is to betray'a want trade," says he,“ upon that general of due consideration for the peculiar principle of Dr Smith's, which lays circumstances which belong to this down the expediency of a perfect free. period; and which ought to direct us dom in all trades whatsoever. in our application of the general prin “ It is well worthy of observation, ciples of political economy. Every that, though Dr Smith has repeated. one who has at all attended to the sys. ly urged the policy of a free corn tem of prices which has been establish. trade, he has not supported his doced for many years, and to the price of trine by applying this principle to it. foreign corn, must allow, that the It is, therefore, fair to infer, that he expence of bringing corn now from did not think it could be applied; and Dantzic to Leith, Hull, or London, it is also fair to make this farther in. affords no sort of protection to our ference, that those who now bring it farmers "*
forward, as applicable to the present The general arguments of the au- question, have not well considered it. thor of the Wealth of Nations, and “A noble lord, who argued upon other enlightened political economists this maxim, asked why the principle in favour of a free trade, have been of buying where we could buy the often resorted to in discussing the cheapest was to be considered as a question of free importation, as well as fallacious principle ? and urged the that of the bounty. That, as general policy of buying corn from foreigners, principles, the doctrines of these emi. rather than of attempting to grow it nenr men are perfectly just is ad. at home, because they are able to grow mitted ; but in applying them to par- it cheaper than we can grow it. But ricular cases, it is necessary to consider this question proved he had taken a the object with a view to which such superficial view of Dr Smith's argumaxims have been established, and to ment, and of the peculiar nature of reflect whether that object be the only the corn trade. one which an enlightened legislature "When Dr Smith recommends a ought to contemplate, when regulating free trade, he has in view, not merely the trade in corn. That entire free to pointout how we can buy what wheat dom of trade is favourable to national we want at the cheapest rate, but the wealth admits of little doubt; and it most direct way of adding to the stock is indisputable that the maxims of Dr of industry, annual produce, and geSmith have been established with re. neral wealth of the country. His ference to this object alone. But if in whole object is to shew what course legislating on the corn trade, different of policy will most contribute to the views ought to influence parliament, riches of the community: then the general maxims will not ap- “ Before, then, the principle of a ply to this particular case, since it free trade can be urged, as that prin. were absurd to adhere to the mere ciple which ought to govern us, when terms of any general proposition, with legislating on the corn trade, it ought out considering the whole views of its to be made appear to be a trade, conauthors.
cerning which no other consideration Upon this subject Sir Henry Par- should have weight, besides the limitnell has made some very sound obser- ed consideration of what plan ot deal. vations. " But the greatest stress is ing with it will, in the end, give us
* Vide Sir H. Parcell's Speech on thc Corn Laws.