sure. I beg, Mr. Cobbett, that you would not conceive I ever meant to say one word against the legislature granting relief to the distresses of the West-Indies; I have no doubt at all of the propriety of such a measure, and mean only to contend, that the relief should come from the nation at large, and not at the expense of any particular. class in it least of all, of the producers of a grain, higher taxed perhaps than any other commodity, equally important, on this globe, -Now, Sir, in answer to all I have said, I know it may be replied, that the measure is a mere experiment, and subject to repeal by an order of council. This refers the matter to the judgment of the administration for the time being, and nothing can be fairer than my asking whether there has, for one moment, existed in the last forty years an administration, who, relative to corn of all sorts, have had any other object than to keep the price as low as possible? The tillage of the kingdom received a fatal blow in 1773. In the ten years preceding that period we exported 2 millions of quarters; in the ten years following we imported 8 millions of quarters; for 20 years following 1773 the price was se low (the result of importation) that the plough was discouraged, Barley, within a few years, was at 18s. and 20s. a quarter, in our eastern counties. I beg to ask, what administration then did for us? And yet it was an act of their own, that so reduced the price. To tell us, therefore, that this measure is an experiment, and that government may give relief, is to feed us with a very thin diet indeed; whipt syllabub has cream and sugar in it, and water is an wholesome beverage, but the police of corn in England is framed (to use a farming expression), to starve a lark. What has been, may be, is saying too little; what has been uniformly for 40 years WILL be.-There is one passage in your paper with which I am particularly pleased: it is that wherein you Jiberally and candidly admit, that party has had no share in this discussion. The remark is perfectly true, and it is much to your honour to have made it. Give me leave, Sir, to add, that I could not contemplate the transactions of the committee-room without delight. When and where did the sun ever shine upon a country that exhibited such a spectacle? Planters and merchants, agents and revenue officers, landlords and their plain tenants, nay even dabblers in political economy, all listened to with patience and candour, as if but one motive animated every bosom,-a wish to ascertain the truth. What a spectacle! and whence has it arisen, but from the beneficent providence of a

Deity that has poured out on this happy country the unexhausted blessings of matured freedom. Who that lives in such a kingdom but must draw in gratitude to heaven with the very air he breathes ? And thee! bold destroyer of the world's repose, that strivest to sweep from its basis the noblest monument of felicity that human efforts ever reared, thy restless energies, dreadful as they are, will still, unaided by ourselves, be vain. Let Britons be true to their God, their king, their country, and themselves, and, that unseen, but mighty Hand, which has rendered us the envy of the world, will, with infinite wisdom, protect what infinite goodness bestowed.-I have the honour to be, &c. &c.-ARTHUR YOUNG -Bradfield-hall, 27th April, 1808.


(Mr. Wakefield's 5th Letter.) SIR,It was not my intention, in my letter of the 14th of March, to state the are rage import of 1,447,500 quarters of corn to be only of wheat, that import consists of va rious species of grain; and the difference between my amount, and that spoken of in the report of the committee, arises from my account being the import into Great Britain, from which has been subtracted the import from Ireland; leaving the balance of import into the United Kingdom as stated in the report. It is of little if any consequence to our arguments, as they do not depend upon the details of the import, but upon the single undisputed fact, that this country does import a considerable proportion of its food. -Having corrected this erior, I will proceed to notice the observations you have made in the last Register; and in doing so, I shall nearly follow the order you have adopted. And first, Sir, permit me to cite your admission, that "unless we can in some way or other add to the quantity of corn produced at home, we must in proportior to the quantity of corn now imported experience additional distress, if a year of scarcity should unhappily arrive."-The truth of this proposition is indeed undeniable, and between us all argument would be at an end were it not for the some way or other;" and the


omission of one word in the next sentence, for I think the way in which this addition is obtained is very important; and, instead of stating without qualification, that we must add to the quantity of corn produced at home, I should say, we must add to the sur plus quantity, for if we grow no more than we consume, what are we to do" if a year of scarcity should unhappily arrive"? Supe pose we could double our present growth of

provisions, where would be greater security against dearth, if at the same time our necessary consumption also doubled? Our necessary consumption we cannot lessen, but at the expense of comfort, of national content, of health; in one word, at the expense and hazard of diminishing the national prosperity. This being the case we should endeavour to create or obtain some new bank to draw upon, and I can discover only three securities against the chances of the seasons; the means of inport and export which may be stopped, or a luxurious consumption as to import; the pressure of famine may compel it, but wretched is the policy which leads a country to depend upon such a resource; and ruinous is the necessity which tempts us to make use of it. A large export is of all resources the best, it is a resource always available, and while not wanted enriches the country, and advances the cultivation of the land. At present we have not the power to import, this forms our present danger; because, if " a year of scarcity should arrive" we cannot obtain foreign aid; we must now at all events, hazards, and consequences depend upon ourselves, upon our internal means. Now, Sir, what are they? We have no export to stop. What resource then have we? I say we have an available and certain one in a large luxurious consumption; you would waste this before the period of necessity arrives, I would husband it until the last extremity. You say, the distilleries, &c. &c. consume it. I say the existence of the market creates it ;, take away this market as you recommend.from the fear of consumption when produced-and, I say, looking a little further forward than the present hour, you prevent the production of the very resource which we both agree the country will probably stand in need of in a short time. This part of the question is narrowed to this point; does the existence of a market of demand, for any article whatever, act as the means of creating or consuming it? With confidence I answer, it is the means, the only means of creating what you want. I agree with you in your instance of "a little nation growing a thousand quar ters of corn annually, and containing a thousand inhabitants." And I am gratified in discovering, that you at length acknowledge, that for such anation to raise half as much again as it consumes, would be "to set the seasons at defianco," and "to take a bond* of fate." It is the very thing for which I am contending. It is the very policy I recommend: you also confess the security and benefit which would follow, but you doubt if it is possible to reduce the theory to prac


tice; of the excellence of the theory you are as much convinced as I am, you doubt only of its practicability, and your doubts are of two sorts. First. That there would be labour required to produce the surplus corn. Second. That, by such production the land would be worn bare. The greatest error into which politicians are apt to fall, is that of considering things positively, rather than relatively. It is common to say a large population makes a nation powerful." It does no such thing. It is a large disposeable population that fills the ranks of an army, and mans the ships of a fleet. If no one produced more of food, clothing, and other articles than his own necessities required him to consume, where would be found that disposeable population whose labours augment the national wealth, and by which the state is defended? But the truth is, the labour of one man engaged in the cultivation of the earth, is capable of producing suthcient to support several persons. How then shall those other persons be employed, part of them in manufactures and commerce, part in the public service, and part I should wish to see engaged in raising a surplus of food over and above our necessary consumption? But, Sir, when raised what are we to do with it? It is of too perishable a nature to be stored up, and we have no export for it. Could we store up grain as we do manufactures, we should not need (as it affects existence) either exports or a luxurious consumption, as a security against a year of scarcity. Therefore, instead of that part of the population which is not required to be employed in the production of the necessary food of the people, being all devoted to objects of manufacturing and commercial pursuit, and to national defence, I wish to see a small portion engaged in producing a surplus of food, and which surplus production can only be obtained by offering a market for it when produced. Having no export there does not exist any other market than an internal luxurious consumption. Yet, of this the planter is seeking to deprive the farmer, and the nation is called upon to prefer gain to security. But to your second objection, that by such production the land would be worn bare; permit me, Sir, to appeal to the knowledge of old and experienced cultivators for the affirmative of the following position, that no land is so productive as that which is in a constant course of good husbandry. "Rested land;" that is to say, neglected land, is not "land-enriched," nor is it "ready for the plough." If by "rested" you do not mean neglected land, then labour must be bestowed upon it. But is will

not be done unless a profit follow, and how can a profit follow unless the land is in a course of cropping? Besides, experience of our present luxurious consumption is conclusive proof, that this theory is practicable; "to and if it is, you own it will enable us set the seasons at defiance," and "to take a bond of fate." The great advantages and security to be derived from raising a surplus production in common years, will be yet further shewn by examining your observation, that "one year of short crop never yet


was greatly distressing; in this kingdom "it cannot from the nature of things be so, "and if there are rested fields always ready "for the plough, there can be only one year

of short crop at a time." This observation may well be considered in two ways. First, by admitting its truth for the purpose of the argument; and then, by shewing wherein its fallacy consists. Now, Sir, admitting your observation to be true, what is the consequence? Why, that according to your argument we are to bear the distress (such as it is) of a year of scarcity in the first instance, and hope for plenty iti a subsequently more extended agriculture. But, according to mine, the relief is at hand; we have not to wait a day at any time, the distilleries may be prohibited the use of grain, and thus instantaneous relief may be obtained. Anticipate this resource Now, prohibit the use of grain in the distilleries, and so either reduce production, or augment necessary consumption to the amount of grain so used, and the result is, the resource when wanted, will have been anticipated, it will have been wasted, and in the moment of necessity we shall seek for it in vain, and curse the cupidity which has mislead us to exhaust for the sake of profit, a resource which should have been husbanded for the sake of subsistence. But independent of this argument, founded upon an admission of the truth of your observation, I deny its truth, for "one year of short crop" is not only distressing, but amounts almost to famine to a large portion of the community. The bad Larvest of 1799 produced a scarcity in 1800, in 1798, and 1799: the price of wheat had averaged at 58s. 10d. the quarter; but in 1800 the price averaged at 113s. 7d. the quarter. I am aware that to the whole community the deficiency of the crop was not felt in any proportion to the advance of price, but amongst the lower classes it was so felt. Though the advance of price only deprived the middle and higher orders of some comforts and more luxuries, it deprived the lower of many meals; the lower classes felt their necessary consumption unprovided

for in nearly the same proportion as the dif ference of price; the next year another short crop occurred, and the price advanced to 118s. 3d. the quarter, and then the distress mounted higher, nof so much from the increase of 4s. 8d. the quarter, as from the previous impoverishment of the lowest of the middle class. I think, then, that it follows from this reference to fact, that one year of short crop does produce great distress. I have not, however, done with this observation, for I have another objection to make. I have already denied (and that from knowledge gained by personal experience) that "rested fields" are always, or indeed, ever ready for the plough; and, I say more that out of the regular course of cropping no land can be properly said to be "ready for the plough." The true question between us is, however, this. Cught or ought not a nation to grow annually more than its necessary consumption? Both you and myself think it ought so to do, and even the friends of a provision import, will in the present state of things agree that this ought to be done. Now, how can this surplus production be obtained? I contend that it can only be obtained by finding a market for it when produced; and, unless an export, or to use other words, a foreign market can be found, there cannot in the nature of things be any other demand offered to the grower than that of a large internal luxurious consumption. Now we have no other luxurious consumption than the distilleries and the breweries, over which an instantaneous command can be held. If your argument is good for any thing, it is good to the extent of prohibiting the use of malt in the brewery of beer. But the glaring impolicy, (glaring in its extent the principle is the same whether distillery or brewery) of this application of the same principle to the breweries, which is proposed to be applied to the distilleries, has deterred the planter from seeking to oust the farmer from this part of his market, and so to deprive the country of this part of its resource against the season of scarcity and distress. But, inasmuch as beer is more nécessary, and less a luxury than spirits, in the same proportion it is right to husband the resource of the distillery, that in the period of dearth the greater luxury may be sacrificed before the lesser one is made to give way to the pressure of distress,No part of the subject more pointedly shews the fallacy of the principle than this, carry your principle on-confine the farmer to only use his barley for the food of hogs. And need I ask, if his interest will not point out to him, not to create, not to produce that which he cannot

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]


sell?-Far from 'expressing sorrow that the supply of foreign grain is cut off by the enemy, I have throughout my correspondence with you, lamented and reprobated the shal low, weak, and ruinous policy, which has led the country to prefer import to export; to encourage the first rather than the last, to depend upon foreign aid instead of internal resource. You, indeed, speak with confdence of the silence of the landed interest during the last thirty years, in which import has taken place and increased. But, surely, Sir, you have forgotten the opposition to the zct of 1791, and the county meetings, the county petitions, and the corn committee of 1804; and that parliament was detained in order to pass a law pursuant to the recommendation of that committee. Was this no alarm? No opposition? Surely this was neither silence nor acquiescence. No, Sir; every one acquainted with the principles which generate and guide public prosperity, foresaw the dangerous consequences in this change of our agricultural policy. Many years back, Colonel Dirom was roused by the prospect of the dangers to which the country was exposed by it, to undertake his admirable Essay on the Corn Laws." And above thirty years since, Mr. Young, to whose well-earned and extended fame, my praise cannot add, raised a warning voice against it; and ere long, sad and suffering experience will prove the truth of their predictions. With regard to my remarks relative to the loss of the distillers, I must beg you will recollect, that I urged it under the twofold view of injustice to him, and loss to the revenue. Has he not been encouraged to invest his capital in his plant, in consequence of the legislatures having imposed duties amounting to a prohibition of distilling from sugar and molasses? The encouragement on the faith of which the distiller acted, was no secret," it was never "whispered" amongst the trade, it was an open, avowed, public, and long standing agreement between the distiller and the government; and so I observe, that the sugar committee consider it, for they recommend the distilling from sugar should be confined to the present malt distilleries; that is to say, to those who on the faith of parliament have invested their property in a plant, adapted to the malt distillery. Far then from the distiller" whispering his fears to his partner," if this destructive measure is pursued, he will have a fair and well-grounded right to apply to parliament, to either make good to him the loss of his plant, or to follow the recommendation of the committee.-As to the revenue, I still retain my former opinion, which in


deed, you do not endeavour to impuga, fo your remarks are against all taxation, instear of tending to shew that the revenue will not suffer. And, indeed, your " Hampshire correspondent" shews an additional loss in this respect, for he says, as much spirit may be obtained from 1,435,000 cwt. of sugar, as from 900,000 quarters of grain or malt; and that this quantity of sugar costs £2,000,000 and pays £2,500,000 to the revenue. Now the present price of barley is under 50s. the quarter, which is only £2,250,000, so that the whole of the duty upon sugar must be drawn back, to which must also be added the loss of the duty upon the malt consumed in the distilleries.But, Sir, you ask ine, "what is the difference between an import "in the shape of sugar, and one in the shape "of corn?" and then say, that "if it was



proposed to import 300,000 qrs of corn "from the colonies, it would not be object-"ed to." For one I should certainly object, and that, because I consider all import of provisions to be bad policy, injurious to the farmer, and dangerons to the safety of the country. There is, however, an essential difference between an import of sugar and one of corn. If the West Indies could supply us with 300,000 qrs. of corn, and such import were consumed in the distilleries, or any other surplus consumption, then when the season of scarcity arrived, it would be an available resource, for we could stop the distillery and eat the corn; but by stopping the distilleries we cannot couveri sugar into food. Besides, Sir, suffer me to advert to the idea upon which you so much dwell, that corn used in the distilleries must be considered for all the purposes of the present ar-' gument, as corn thrown into the sea." Pray what is this sugar to be? If a luxurious consumption of corn, is " corn thrown away," is not a similar consumption of sugar thrown away; the one thrown away to encourage the British farmer, and insure the nation against the chances of the season; the other to profit the planter? So that, if there is any "absurdity" in my idea of so consuming a portion of the farmer's produce, there is the same absurdity in your pleading for a similar consumption of the planters, with this difference however, that the utmost good to the planter is to save him a money loss, that the benefit to the country by my proposal is extending agricultural and national security.I purposely put off the discussion of the policy of inclosures and improvement, wirich have in many respects, through not in all, the same consequences; because, as I stated in my former letter, I considered then "rather to be the effect of prosperity, than its

[ocr errors]

positive parent." In your view of the sub-be pernicious, is not my intention; my wish ject, you only regard the increase of quantity at present is, that previous to the entering operating upon price; now, you should like- into any detail respecting the quantity of wise consider, that the farmer's profit is re- corn and sugar on hand, or the relative loss gulated by two other circumstances besides which the suspension of the use of either in that of price; by his expenses, and by the any way will contribute to the proprietor, quantity of his produce. If, then, the ex- the principle upon which sugar is to be pses of the cultivator do not increase in consumed, and corn to be prohibited, or the 1. sme proportion as the quantity of pro- converse, should be clearly comprehended. de. e will still derive benefit, although I confess, Sir, that if this has already been the price should fall in proportion to the done, I must apologise for my dullness in augmentation of that produce. But, Sir, ac- not having discovered it; and yet that you cording to my idea of inclosures and-imshould have immerged into the confusion of provements, they will not operate as a secu- particulars before you had established prinrity against the chances of the seasons, unless ciples, is so dissonant to your habits on all the additional produce of them be either ex- former occasions, that I can scarcely perported, or luxuriously consumed in com- suade myself that you have departed from mon years. They are. a great and extensive so wholesome a plan in discussing the pregain to a nation in other ways, they are sent important topic. Perhaps you wil equivalent to an extension of territory, and excuse me, Mr. Cobbett, if I venture to they increase the number of the people; state my sentiments in regard to principles, an these internal colonies, if I may be al- in deference to which, all argument I should lowed the expression, require no additional insist, must be founded. In the first place, care or expense in their defence, while they Sir, I presume it to be an established axiom, open a new, profitable, and increasing mar- that all articles of manufacture, or merchanket to the produce and manufactures of every dize do, of themselves, find a level in repart of the empire; for, if all the waste lands spect of their value; and that any artificial were cultivated and peopled, our consump interposition, whether legislative or other tion of other things would be proportionably wise, is generally, if not always, more inincreased. Thus, Sir, it appears to me that jurious than beneficial. The manufacturer an import of corn is an uncertain and ruin of hardware will not remain in the conous resource, that in the present state of tinued occupation of his trade, if he finds things we cannot even expect momentary re- that the profits upon the article he vends liet from it, and that in order to secure the produce a bare subsistence, while those nation against the chances of the seasons, we arising from farming, support a luxurious ought to annually produce more then our table; and I conjecture that whenever from necessary consuraption; that to obtain this accident that should be the case, the num surplus produce a market must be found, ber of manufacturers would diminish, whilst and that such, market can only be found in the farmers would experience a propor either on export or a luxurious consumption. tionate increase, until their respective arti Give to the farmer an export, and I, for one, cles of merchandise should produce an equal readily consent to give the planter the mar- advantage in the sale. The consequence of ket of luxurious consumption; but, until the this axiom is, i am disposed to believe, this: joyous and prosperous times of a corn export that all articles of merchandise, whether of shall arrive, our internal market of luxurious corn or metals, will be sold at such a profit consumption should be secured to the cultias may be considered fair and reasonable. vator, and every exertion called forth in orThat in average years of sale this must be der to increase and extend this market, in so, there can be little doubt. Now these stead of permitting it to be encroached upon axioms are so clear, that there requires no by any description af persons whatever ghost to impart the discovery, and I should I am, Sir, &c.EDWARD WAKEFIELD.probably have passed over these preliminary Duke Street, Westminster, May 6, 1508. data, but for the expressions which have escaped your pen, and which have rather astonished me; I mean that passage of your address where you deride the idea that may be entertained, lest corn should be sold too

cheap. Now if "cheap" has any solid meaning attached to it, it must be a relative one, and must of necessity imply, that corn either is at present, or has been heretofore, sold at a profit which ought not to have

[ocr errors]


SIR. When a genius and experience like yours, adopts with no inconsiderable

perunacity, any particular tenet, it becomes

the novici.te to panse before he ventures an opposition. To say, therefore, that the proposed measure of government for prohibiting the use of corn in distilleries will

« ElőzőTovább »