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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, "unparalleled 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

both quality and quantity) amounted to more than onethird.

"The original letters," he adds, "are all in my possession, and may be consulted by any gentleman who wishes to examine them. I have very little reason to doubt that the accuracy is as great as can reasonably be expected in such investigations; and the number of counties reported is so large, that I have no great apprehensions of any material error affecting the general average, the particulars being so numerous, that the error on one side may probably be corrected by counter-errors on the other."

By the deficiency of a crop, (it is to be observed,) Mr. Young means, the rate at which it falls short of an ordinary or average crop. An average crop, in the case of wheat, he states in his examination before the Corn Committee, at something between twenty-two and twenty-four bushels per acre. In his own private opinion, he intimates in his pamphlet, it might be stated at twenty-four bushels nearly; but he expressed himself to the Committee with a certain degree of latitude, in order to avoid any suspicion of a wish to exaggerate the deficiency of the crop in question.1

In truth, this deficiency, great as it is, falls short of what most persons expected beforehand, from the general aspect of the season. In England (we are told) no year was ever too dry for wheat,—a plant which thrives well in Spain, where rain has been known to cease for twenty-two months together; and in the Greek islands, where the heat, as Tournefort observes, perfectly calcines the earth.2

By many, both in and out of Parliament, the accuracy of

1 According to Mr. Young, the average produce of wheat, as hitherto ascertained by the Board of Agriculture, appears to be 231 bushels per acre. From the minutes which he himself collected thirty years ago, in the course of three agricultural tours through England, (extending to about 5000 miles,) he was led to state it at twenty-four bushels;

and the result of his remarks during various tours, made during the last fifteen years, was precisely the same, confirming the accuracy of his former inquiries to a degree which exceeded his expectations.

2 Young's Pamphlet, Question of Scarcity, &c.,] p. 42.

Mr. Young's estimate was disputed; and it was very strongly asserted by some, that the deficiency did not exceed one-fourth. Without, however, ascribing any superiority to this gentleman either in point of information or of general correctness, it must, I think, be allowed, that, in the present instance, his conclusions are entitled to a peculiar degree of credit, in consequence of the extensive scale on which his inquiries were conducted. It is extremely possible, after all, that they may be wide of the truth; but they certainly possess an authority, in the determination of the question now under consideration, altogether different from what belongs to any local observations, however rigorously exact they may be in all their details. I mention this circumstance, because farmers, and even country gentlemen, are but too apt, on occasions of this kind, to appeal obstinately to their own individual experience, in opposition to those more comprehensive results which they conceive to be influenced by views of self-interest, or the spirit of theory; forgetting that the same circumstances which bestow on practical knowledge so inestimable a value in managing the little concerns of agricultural improvement, have a tendency to bias or warp the judgment in whatever relates to the general interests of an extensive country, diversified by numberless causes both moral and physical. One testimony in favour of the foregoing estimate it may be worth while to mention it is that of the Speaker of the House of Commons, who in his speech of March 6, 1800, states it as a fact now very generally admitted, that the deficiency of the preceding crop amounted to one-third.1

With respect to the deficiency in Scotland, Mr. Young expresses himself with more diffidence. "If the accounts," says he, "which I have received in conversation, be correct, the deficiency in the wheat crop amounts to one-half. That in the oat crop," he adds, "is stated to be the same."

After collecting every possible information concerning the deficiency of the crop in 1799, an important fact remained to be ascertained with respect to the stock in hand at the period of the harvest. This was estimated very differently by different 1 Young, [Question of Scarcity, &c.] p. 56.

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