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industry, and the fatal consequences which are inseparable from its decline. Mr. Smith himself owns, that agriculture labours in this country under disadvantages peculiar to itself; in consequence of which, a much smaller proportion of the national capital is attracted to that employment of industry, than would be under a more perfect system of Political Economy. If it could be proved, therefore, that the bounty tends to the encouragement of agriculture, the argument in its favour would, in my apprehension, be complete on the same sound principle on which Mr. Smith himself justifies drawbacks, as tending not to destroy the natural course of things, but to counteract those causes by which that natural course is disturbed. To those who reflect on the circumstances by which agriculture is essentially distinguished from all the other employments of industry, these observations cannot fail to appear with much additional force.

As far as I am able to judge, the general interests of all the different parts of the world would be best attained by leaving the trade of corn perfectly open,-supposing that the liberty of commerce were established in every other instance, and of consequence, that agriculture were free from the influence of those laws which give a preference to the industry of the towns over that of the country. But in the present state of Great Britain, whatever regulations can be proved to be really serviceable to the cultivator of the ground, cannot, in my opinion, be censured as deviations from the general principles of freedom, as long as this most important of all employments labours under so many burdens, inseparable perhaps from the constitution of modern society. It gives me much pleasure to observe the coincidence. between these remarks and the following passage, which occurs in a new edition of Mr. Malthus's Essay:

"If things had been left to take their natural course, there is no reason to think that the commercial part of the society would have increased beyond the surplus produce of the cultivators; but the high profits of commerce from monopolies, and other peculiar encouragements, have altered this natural course of things; and the body politic is in an artificial, and

in some degrees diseased state, with one of its principal members out of proportion to the rest. Almost all medicine is in itself bad, and one of the great evils of illness is the necessity of taking it. No person can well be more averse to medicine in the Animal Economy, or to a system of expedients in Political Economy, than myself; but in the present state of the country something of the kind may be necessary to prevent greater evils. It is a matter of very little comparative importance, whether we are fully supplied with broadcloths, linens, and muslins, or even with tea, sugar, and coffee; and no rational politician, therefore, would think of proposing a bounty upon such commodities. But it is certainly a matter of the highest importance, whether we are fully supplied with food, and if a bounty would produce such a supply, the most liberal political economist might be justified in proposing it, considering food as a commodity distinct from all others, and pre-eminently valuable."*

To the same purpose, this author elsewhere observes, that, "if throughout the commercial world every kind of trade were perfectly free, one should undoubtedly feel the greatest reluctance in proposing any interruption to such a system of general liberty; and indeed, under such circumstances, agriculture would not need peculiar encouragements. But under the present universal prevalence of the commercial system, with all its different expedients of encouragement and restraint, it is folly to except from our attention the great manufacture of corn which supports all the rest. The high duties paid on the importation of foreign manufactures are so direct an encouragement to the manufacturing part of the society, that nothing but some encouragement of the same kind can place the manufacturers and cultivators of this country on a fair footing. Any system of encouragement, therefore, which might be found necessary for the commerce of grain, would evidently be owing to the prior encouragements which had been given to manufactures. If all be free, I have nothing to say; but if we protect and encourage, it seems to be folly not to encourage that * [On Population, Book III. chap. ix. ; Vol. II. p. 235, seq., third edition, 1806.]

production which of all others is the most important and valuable."*

While, however, I acquiesce in the general spirit of these observations, and consider them as a complete answer to Mr. Smith's reasonings against the bounty, in so far as these reasonings are founded on those abstract principles which conclude universally in favour of a free trade, I am by no means so sanguine as Mr. Malthus and the other advocates of the bounty, when they lay any considerable stress on this or any other artificial expedient, as a remedy against the present acknowledged disorder in our agricultural resources. I would not go quite so far as Mr. Howlett had done, and question, "whether the Corn Laws have occasioned one single acre to be cultivated which would not have been done if they had not existed."† But I am fully satisfied that the influence of all legal regulations with regard to the importation and exportation of grain is perfectly trifling, when compared with the permanent and overbearing influence of the state of agriculture in the country. The actual disproportion in this country between the produce and the consumption, is an evil of too great magnitude to be corrected by a feeble palliative of this sort; and one of its worst consequences is to withdraw the attention of statesmen from those just and enlarged principles of freedom, by the gradual operation of which alone a remedy can be provided for such an evil. What these principles are, I have already, in different parts of this course, had occasion to point out.

[SUBSECT. IV.]—Of the Trade of the Merchant Carrier or Importer of Corn for future Exportation.

The last branch of the corn-trade mentioned by Mr. Smith, is that of the merchant carrier, or importer of foreign corn, in order to export it again. Mr. Smith despatches this branch of the subject in a very few sentences, and I have nothing to add to what he has advanced with regard to it.-(End of interpolation from Notes.)

* [Ibid. Book III. chap. x.; Vol. II. p. 272, seq., third edition.]
+ [Dispersion, &c., p. 38.]

[SUBSECT. V.]-Miscellaneous Observations upon the Corn


The reasonings which have been already stated on the subject of the Corn-Trade, seem abundantly to justify our doubts, whether the interference of legislators in this branch of commerce has not, in most instances, aggravated the evils which they were anxious to correct; and whether, on the whole, the welfare of a great agricultural nation, such as ours, would not be most effectually consulted by leaving the course of imports and exports to be regulated entirely by the interested speculations of individuals, according to the variable circumstances of the market. As I am always apprehensive, however, of the dangers which may be incurred by an unqualified adoption of general political principles, I would not be understood to deny, that cases may occur, in the revolution of seasons, in which it may be necessary for Government to co-operate actively in providing for the wants of the people, either by holding out bounties to importation, or by temporary regulations, calculated to economize the general consumption of the necessaries of life. The exceptions justified by such extreme cases imply, in truth, nothing defective or erroneous in our general principles, the soundness of which is sufficiently vindicated if they are conformable to the ordinary course of human affairs, although they may not admit of a universal application to every possible contingency. The number of these exceptions, however, may be expected gradually to diminish, in proportion as the arrangements of Political Economy, by becoming more comprehensive and systematical, provide a remedy for the apparent anomalies of nature, in the uniformity of her general laws. In the instance, for example, now under our consideration, there is every reason to believe, that little occasion would be left for extraordinary interpositions of the Legislature, if agriculture were uniformly to hold the pre-eminent rank to which it is justly entitled, among the various objects of national attention.

I have been led into these reflections by our late experience of the general distress occasioned, all over the island, by the



failure of the crop of 1799, in consequence of the rains which continued almost incessantly during the spring, summer, and autumn of that year," a year," according to Mr. Young, paralleled in the meteorological annals of Great Britain." The activity with which Government availed itself, on this occasion, of all the means it possessed to obtain information from every quarter, procured, it may be reasonably presumed, more accurate returns concerning the actual extent of the scarcity than were ever collected in any former instance; and the zeal with which its efforts to alleviate or to remedy the evil were seconded by various public-spirited and enlightened individuals, gave a certain degree of uniformity and system, not only to public measures, but to the exertions of private beneficence. A short summary, therefore, of the most important facts and conclusions which were thus brought under general discussion, may, at some future period, be an object, perhaps, not merely of curiosity but of use; and even at present, when it must necessarily possess an inferior degree of interest, from the lateness of the events to which it refers, it will not (I flatter myself) be considered as forming an improper conclusion to the speculations in which we have been lately engaged.

Among other writers whose abilities were called forth by the scarcity of last year, was that indefatigable veteran, Mr. Arthur Young, at the distance (if I recollect right) of about forty years from the date of his earliest publications. His pamphlet (which is entitled The Question of Scarcity plainly stated [1800]) is valuable chiefly as a record of the information which he received concerning the deficiency of the preceding crop, in consequence of letters of inquiry which he addressed to his correspondents in every part of the kingdom. It exhibits the authorities upon which he founded the opinions delivered in his examination before the Committee of the House of Commons, and, in this point of view, is unquestionably a document which deserves a place in the collections of all those who turn their attention to researches of this nature.

The result of Mr. Young's inquiries led him to conclude, on the whole, that the deficiency of the crop of wheat (including

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