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VOL. XIII. No. 19.]

LONDON, SATURDAY, MAY 7, 1808.

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The withdrawing of 300,000 quarters of barley from the distilleries, being one-sixteenth of the whol "quantity grown in the country, will have a great effect in lowering the price of that article, and, in th " event of a failure in his crop, how is the farmer to pay his rent and taxes ?.. .If barley i dear, it is owing to the shortness of the last year's crop; if it had been more plentiful, and, of cours "cheaper, it would have been much better for the farmer in every respect...... The proposed

prohibition, by depreciating the price of barley, will, in fact, lay a partial tax upon the farmer."SIR ROBERT BUXTON's speech at the Norfolk meeting to petition against the intended Distillery bill. 705]

SUMMARY OF POLITICS.

CORN AGAINST SUGAR (continued from page 686).This I do think one of the most important questions that I have ever known agitated, not merely as it concerns the interests of the West Indian planter and the English farmer, but as it concerns the nition in general, as it affects its resources, the means of its strength and safety.—I do not recollect so early, and apparently so determined an opposition to any measure proposed to parliament, and what renders the question the more interesting is, that the opposition appears, at present, to have nothing to do with party.I have now before me, 1st. the speeches of the Norfolk corn men made at a meeting, called by the Sheriff, and held at the Shire-house at Norwich, on Thursday, the 28th of April; 2d, the Petition of the corn men in the town and neighbourhood of Royston, in the counties of Cambridge and Hertford; 3d, a copy of the Report of the Committee of the House of Commons upon the subject; and, 4th, a copy of the minutes of the evidence, given before the said committee by Mr. ARTHUR YOUNG, Secretary to the Board of Agriculture.I shall insert these in the order in which they stand, offering to my readers, upon each of them, such observations as occur to me, and as I think likely to be of public utility.

I. The meeting in Norfolk is stated to have been composed of the " landed inte"rest;" but, if nothing contrary to the general interest had been intended, if, as is professed by some, a concern for the safety of the nation had been the motive of op. position, why were not the freeholders in general convened? It will appear, however, from the whole tenor of the proceedings, that misguided self-interest was, at this meeting, at least, the prevailing motive. I take the report from the Norfolk Chronicle of the 30th of April.-—“. SIR "ROBERT BUXTON then addressed the

meeting; he said that the measure which

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"had been recommended by a Select Com "mittee of the House of Commons, to

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was laid upon the land, he thought it a "little hard that any measure should now "be recommended that would operate to "reduce the price of this staple commodi

ty; but he more particularly objected to "the principle of laying any restrictions on "agriculture at all; when he had the ho

nour of a seat in Parliament, he had "freely expressed his opinion against all "legislative interference whatever with the "agriculture of the country; and he had "always thought, that had it not been for "the Corn Laws, which operated as a re "striction upon agriculture, we should not "have been under the necessity of import"ing corn from foreign countries. Greater "restrictions would prejudice the sale of

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barley-the farmers would grow less-the "withdrawing of 300,000 quarters from "the distilleries, one-16th of the quantity "stated to be grown in England (4,800,000

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quarters), would, have a great effect in lowering the price of that article, and in "the event of a failure in his crop, how "was the farmer to pay his rent and taxes? "It appeared from a pamphlet by an old "friend of his (sir Win Young), that at "the commencement of the French revo

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lution, and when France ceased to receive

sugar from their revolted colony, St. Do. mingo, the planters in our own islands "began to cultivate new lands, and to such an extent as enabled them to send im "mense quantities of sugar to England; "which, with the produce of the conquered "colonies, had glutted the market, and

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"caused a great depreciation in the price of "that commodity. But was it reasonable "that the landed interest should be called

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upon to make good the speculations of the "West India planters? Why was the agri"culture of the country to be made the sub"ject of experiment? If barley was dear, "it was owing to the shortness of the last year's crop; if it had been more plenti"ful and of course cheaper, it would have "been much better for the farmer in every "respect. The proposed prohibition, by depreciating the price of barley, went in "fact to lay a partial tax upon the farmer. "The measure in every point of view was "the most injurious to the country that "could possibly be conceived. He did not "wish to mix politics with the ques"tion, but he had strong objections to "the measure in a consitutional point of "view: the discretionary power to be vest"ed in the privy council he thought highly "unconstitutional; it was to the legislature,

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to their representatives, and not to a privy "council, that the landed interest was to "look up for redress. With these impres❝sions he should move some resolutions expressive of the sense of the country, and "" request the members to communicate to "parliament the sentiments of their constituents on this important subject. He "felt the utmost pleasure in saying, that "no member had paid more attention, or "rendered greater services to the agricul; "tural interests of the country, than an

hon. gent. (Mr. Coke). The resolutions, "which appear in another part of this paper, were then read and unanimously "adopted; and a committee was appointed "from the gentlemen present, to act as "circumstances should require." MR. "PLUMPTRE stated the motives which had "induced him to sign the requisition;

and then proceeded at considerable length "to comment upon the Report of the "Select Committee, (for copies of which "the meeting were indebted to Mr. Wm. Smith, M, P. who, aware how deeply Gr many of his constituents were interested in the subject, had re-published it in "the form of a pamphlet). That report, "Mr. P. said, contained some inconsis"tencies and omissions, which he doubted "not would be hereafter explained. He "C thought that all legislative interference "with agricultural produce, operated to "the detriment of the country; if the "measure was bottomed on an apprehen"sion of a scarcity, he should bow to the "decision of the committee, but it would, "in that case, be necessary to extend the

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"prohibition to Ireland, which the com"mittee do not recommend. Mr. P. con"cluded by recommending to the attention "of the gentlemen present, the New "Encyclopædia, publishing in numbers, "as containing a complete history of the "Corn Laws. MR. COKE said, as a lover "of agriculture he could not but express "his best thanks to the high sheriff, for

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convening this meeting. and to the "worthy baronet, who moved the resolu "tions. He had not had the good fortune to agree with him at all times; but on "the present occasion he joined most hear. "tily with him, in condemning this inter"ference with the agriculture of the coun

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try. In 1798, when a similar application " was made by the West India merchants, "Mr. Pitt, who conceived the substitution "of sugar instead of malt in the distilleries "would be injurions both to the revenue

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as well as to agriculture, set his face "against it; and about two years ago, "when the application was renewed, he "(Mr. Coke) wrote to a cabinet minister

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to know his sentiments on the subject, "and to assure him that he should call "the attention of his county to it; and "do every thing in his power to oppose it. "Mr. Fox returned for answer, 'you

may keep your county quiet; and so "the application again fell to the ground"He admitted the distresses of the plan"ters to be great, which were however "in a great measure occasioned by their

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gambling speculations. He could not "admit that the present committee was

fairly appointed; it was composed principally of West India planters and mer "chants; application was made to admit 06 county members, but without success; " and afterwards the members for the

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barley counties, but the chancellor of "the exchequer would not hear of it"With respect to the price of barley, had "it not been fo: the failure of the pea

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crop, barley would not have been so "dear. When he first knew Norfolk, all the "western parts of the county grew nothing "but rye, by superior husbandry it had "become a wheat county, and he trusted "that nothing would be done to discourage "the growth of barley or to alter the re

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gular system of Norfolk husbandry. It *** had been recommended to the farmers "tò use sugar and molasses for the fattening of cattle, but he did not think it "would answer; if there was a prospect of it, he was certain that the intelligent men whom he had the honour of ad"dressing would have made the experiment.

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"Norfolk was the first barley county in the "kingdom, and its yeomanry of the most i respectable description, and they might

"be sure of his attention to their interests

" on all occasions. From a report which

accidentally fell into his hands, it appear"ed that 90 years ago, five millions of peo"ple consumed more malt than nine mil"lions do at this time, this he could not

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account for, but perhaps the brewers 86 could; for John Bull was as fond of beer now as he was 90 years ago."- Suppose we begin our remarks with this last part of Mr. Coke's speech. It has nothing at all to do with the main question; but, it affords a good opportunity of questioning a popular opinion, which appears to me to be founded in error. -The report, of which Mr. Coke speaks, was, doubtless, the report of the evidence of Mr. Arthur Young, who stated, that," by the return to the act of "41. Geo. III. it appears, that the number "of the people in 1720, was 5,565,000,

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and that, in the period of that act, it was "9,343,578;" and yet, "that at the former period more malt was consumed than at the latter period."- -Of the utility of this statement we shall, probably, have to speak bye-and-by; but, where did Mr. Young learn that the number was 5,565,000 in 1720 Not" by the return to the act ;' or, at least, I never saw or heard of any such return; and I thought that all the returns to that act were in my possession. Mr. Young may have heard of a census, or numbering of the people, in England and Wales, previous to the year 1801; but 1 never did, and, I am of opinion, that he has now spoken from no better authority than that of GREGORY KING, who, indeed, was so minute and accurate a gentleman, that he included in his estimate the number of rabbits in England and Wales. When the returns were made to the House of Commons, Mr. Chalmers and others looked back to Gregory's estimate, and triumphantly exclaimed, see how our population has increased! But, in viewing the strength of this kingdom as relative to that of the neighbouring nations (which was the object of Mr. Chalmers in particular), some attention should have been paid to what our old painstaking friend Gregory said about the population of France, which, at the epoch of his estimate, he stated at 12,000,000; and we now know, that, in the time of Necker, there were in France, 26,000,000 of people. So that, supposing Gregory's estimate to have been correct, the population of France had increased much more than the population of England, a fact which it never occur

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red to Mr. Chalmers to notice in his " e "mate of the relative strength of Gr "Britain; but, indeed, it was a fact t did by no means answer his purpose, wh was to please Pitt, and one way of doi which was to persuade the nation that it v in a most thriving and flourishing sta while it was weighed down to the very ea with taxes, and had constantly in its bosc an immense army of tax-gatherers-No as to the fact, my opinion is, that the pop lation of England and Wales has decreas during the last hundred years. Lond has increased, but look at the distant cou ties; look at the hundreds of towns an villages, once considerable and now almo nothing; look at the large churches in place which now contain scarcely people enoug to fill a large pew; but, above all, look a the ancient marks of the plough imprinte upon millions of acres of land which nov bear scarcely a blade of grass. Let any mai look at the sides of Old Winchester hill (nea Warnford in this county ;) let him look a the sides of the down near Twyford and Morestead, where the land, in order to enable the horses to go, was first mowed with the spade, and placed in the form of steps of a stair; let him proceed westward even to the land's end, observing the same all the way; and then let him say, what demand for food that must have been, which could have driven the cultivators of the land to such undertakings. All these lands are now uncultivated; and, I think, that this fact alone is quite sufficient to prove, that there is now less food required in the country than there formerly was; and, of course, that the population has diminished.- -Returning from this digression, for which the reader must blame Mr. Coke, I come to that part of the speeches, which applies to the question before us. Upon what, SIR RoBERT BUXTON said it will not be necessary to say much, seeing that the worthy Baronet was kind enough to answer himself, as will be perceived by the sentences which I have taken for my motto. In one breath he tells us, that lowering the price of barley will disable the farmer to pay his rent, and taxes; in the next breath, that if harley were cheaper, it would be much better for the farmer in every respect, in the third breath, that, by depreciating the price of barley, you lay a partial tax upon the farmer. This was pretty well, I think, for one smgle speech; and, if the committee, which was, it appears, -appointed by the meeting to act as circumstances might require, should but discover sagacity, equal to Sip on bert, their affairs are, it must be confessel,

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in a most promising way.—MR. PLUMPTRE said nothing, and Mr. COKE seeins to have spoken as an amateur rather than a practitioner. He took care, however, to say a great deal of himself, and seems to have been very anxious to cause it to be believed, that he is the main prop of the farming interest. "When," says he, "about two years ago, an application to the effect of "the present measure was made to the mi"nisters, he wrote to Mr Fox to assure him "that he should call the attention of his

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county to it, and do every thing in his "power to oppose it; that Mr Fox return"ed for answer, you may keep your county quiet, and SO the application fell to the "ground;" and SO, I trust it will not fall to the ground now; for, if the ministers are to be thus turned aside from doing what they are convinced is for the general good, there can be no term of reproach too severe to be bestowed upon them.The distresses of the planters have. I allow, little to do with the question, which I confine merely to the general interests of England; but, what does Mr. Coke mean by asserting, that these distresses have arisen chiefly by the gam bling speculations of the planters?" The planters are no more gamblers, and, perhaps, not nearly so much, as the Norfolk farmers are. In the families of many of them their plantations have been for several generations; and their pursuits partake as little of the nature of gambling as do the pursuits of Mr Coke. There have, of late years, been speculations enough in farming, speculations, too, bordering upon gambling; and yet Mr. Coke would not like to hear the accusation applied to himself and "his county."

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II. The following is a copy of the Petition to parliament from "the Owners and occupiers of land, resident in the town and neighbourhood of Royston.

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"That

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your petitioners are many of them owners, "but the greater part of them occupiers of "lands, in a district where barley is the principal article of produce, and where, from the great proportion of arable land, "it is presumed more barley is cultivated yearly than in almost any other district of equal extent in this country.—— That "your petitioners and it extremely difficult, by their most laborious exertions, to "obtain a remuneration, even in kindly

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seasons, proportionate to their labour, owing to the increased expense of every "article necessary to husbandry, and the "oppressive weight of rates and taxes, to "which they are liable. That they have at all times cheerfully borne the full share "of public burthens, in the hope that they

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"would have been enabled to procure a "fair and reasonable profit from the pro"duce of their land. But they have lately been very sensibly alarmed at the measure which they understand has been re"commended by a committee of your ho"nourable house, to whom it was referred "to consider of the expediency of prohibiting the use of barley, malt, and other grain in the distilleries of British spirits, "and of substituting sugar and molasses in "their stead; a circumstance which can"not fail, as your petitioners most humbly "insist, to depreciate in a very considerable

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degree those essential articles of subsistence, the growth of our own country, in "favour of others (useful, indeed, in their na ture, but of considerably less consequence), the produce of our own:distant colonies; and "your petitioners beg leave humbly to repre

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sent to this hon. house, that the depression "of our own produce, for the benefit of our "distant colonies, appears to your petition "ers both impolitic and unjust. That such

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a plan, if adopted by the legislature of the "country, and passed into a law, must be

highly detrimental to the farmer, and "throw a damp on the increasing spirit of

agriculture (in the perfection of which "the permanent security of the kingdom "will be found to exist) at a time the most "dangerous for such an experiment to be "made; and that the landed interest, upon "which the greatest proportion of the pre"sent taxes are thrown, will be still more

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depressed, and, of consequence, lose that equal weight in the scale of the country, "6 to which at least it is entitled.--Your petitioners beg to urge to your hon, house as an unquestionable fact, that the growth of grain in this country must be propor tionably diminished, by lessening the de"mand for it, whilst every extension of the "market, will encourage and increase the

growth, and thereby improve our internal "resources, and lessen our dependance upon other countries: and that the present growth of grain has of late years been "much increased, and is capable, by impar "tial legislative protection, of being ren

dered equal to the supply of every domies. "tic market that can be opened to it.

That a great proportion of your petition "ers' lands lie in a common field state, "subject to the rights of sheepwalk, and to invariable rotations of cropping, and the depreciation of the value of their barley crop will therefore be more deeply inju "rious to them; and that, from the compa

rative poverty of the soil of a large part of "this district, the crops are obtained by a

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"greater exertion, and a more expensive | partiality of taxation.-
"mode of farming, than in many other
parts: your petitioners must, therefore,
necessarily be more proportionably de-
"pressed by a decrease of the value of the
crop. Your petitioners, therefore,
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think it incumbent on them to lose no
"time most humbly to implore your hon.
"house, to take the circumstances of their
case into your consideration, and that you
"will not permit a restriction, in its nature
66 so injurious to your petitioners, and to the
"landed interest of the country in general,

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to pass into a law; and that you will af"ford them such relief in the premiums, as "to your wisdom and justice shall seem meet."There is nothing new in this petition, if we suppose it to have been of later date than the speeches of Sir Robert Buxton and Mr. Coke, otherwise that part is new, which speaks of the heavy taxes borne by the land-owners and farmers. Sir Robert spoke as if almost all the taxes fell upon the land. Almost the whole of the poor-rates certainly do fall immediately upon the land; but, are they not finally paid by the consumer of the corn, after the same manner that the tax upon sugar and rum is paid by the consumer? A gallon of rum is brought into England, the importer pays, perhaps, ten shillings duty and five shillings in purchase money; but, if he sell it to me, do I not pay the duty? The corn is taxed by the overseer of the poor; the farmer pays him the tax, but do not I, who consume the corn, pay the tax in the end?--It is otherwise with the income, or property, tax. There the land owner has a decided advantage; for, his income, which he has in perpetuity, , pays no higher rate of tax than the Income of a carpenter or smith, whose income, and the existence of whose family, depend entirely upon his life, nay upon that very precarious thing, his health. Sir Robert Buxton has, we will say, five thousand pounds a year, derived from land; and, of course, he pays £500 a year income tax. A tradesman gains five thousand pounds a year by his trade, and he pays £500 a year income tax. But, Sir Robert's land is held in perpetuity; it is productive whether he be well or sick, and it descends to his heir after him; while the tradesman's gains may cease in a moment, are subject to a hundred casualties, and are, in fact, not worth above 3 or 4 years purchase, while Sir Robert's are worth 30 years purchase at the very least. In such a state of things the land owners, and especially the great land-owners, might, one would think, were it merely for decency's pake, abstain from complaining about the

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-These petitioners

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state, that, "even in kindly seasons, they can hardly obtain a sufficient rentunera“tion for their labour, owing to the high "price of every article necessary to hus "bandry, and the oppressive weight of

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rates and taxes."- What do they mean by "kindly seasons?" Do they mean plentiful years? Why, in plentiful years corn is cheap, and that, according to their apparent view of the matter, is a great injury to them, they being, in fact, petitioners for a high price! And, as to articles necessary to husbandry, the principal of which is labour, does it not; gentlemen, bear (taken together with the poor-rates) an exact proportion to the price of your corn? Do not rents also preserve this proportion, upon an average of years; and must not this be the case? Is it not so in the nature of things? And, upon any other supposition, would there not be some sense in the standing toast of the farmers.: Cheap land and dear corn?"---Mr. Young, too, talks, as we shall see byeand-by, about rates and taxes and expensive utensils and the many other discouragements to agriculture; but, when, a few weeks ago, Mr. Young was writing to me with a view to obtain a general enclosure bill, he agreed with Mr. Spence, that there were more farmes than farms, and that capital was every day more and more pressing forward to be employed in agriculture. The fact is so. It is notorious, that, if there be a farm to let, the owner is instantly beset with applicants for it. Is this a proof that farming yields little profit? Does this corroborate the idea of Mr. Wakefield (whom, by the bye, f should have been glad to hear from again), that "the farmer is not sufficiently reward"ed for his labour and the use of his ca

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pital?"

III. The Report of the Committee of the House of Commons, recommending the use of Sugar instead of Corn, in the Distilleries, is very long; but, it will be sufficient for all the purposes of the discussion to insert the concluding part of it, which contains the result of their inquiries.- "It appears to your committee, that considerable quan"ties of wheat, flour, and oats, have been "annually imported into Great Britain for some years past, while the export of those "articles has been very trifling. The an"nual import and export of barley is very

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small. This furnishes a sufficient proof that we have of late years depended, in some degree, upon our foreign connec "tions for a supply of food for the inhabi"tants of this country, and your committee are not informed of any circumstances at

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