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with fine wool affecting our staple manufacture, and which Mr. Preston ventured to recommend in his previous work.*
But the author properly looks beyond the present time, and insists that the increase of pauperism must be prevented; 6 since, unless the present alarming condition of the labourers shall be improved, their morals will be corrupted, their industry will cease, or their activity will be directed from useful labour to riot, and still more serious consequences will ensue.” (p. 41.) . • We admit the accuracy of this afflicting view; but Mr. Preston here, as elsewhere, seems to consider the landed as the only existing interest; and consistently with this notion, he says:
« Agriculture is the main and principal source of employment. It is certain, continual, and may, without any great exaggeration, be said to be inexhaustible: in no other mode can a large population be so useful to themselves, or to the community, or equally useful or safe to the state. Without the assistance of agricultural ·labourers, scarcity, perhaps famine, is to be expected. They provide food for themselves, and for an equal number, at least, of persons pot contributing in labour to the increase or production of food. The present want of employment of this useful part of the community will, on the one hand, render them the victims of indolence, and ultimately of famine, unless the evil be speedily averted. The state will have a disturbed population, and the industry of the country a burthensome and mischievous poor.” (p. 21.)
These economists do not admit the proper relative importance of arts and manufactures to agriculture. They will not pretend that the republic of Holland, contracted as its territory was to the extent of an English county, derived its high rank’amongst the nations of Europe from its agriculture; nor will they assume that the Hanse towns, Venice, and, generally, the Italian maritime states, (situated in bogs and morasses, from which no produce could be drawn,) acquired that power from agriculture, which enabled them to rival extensive kingdoms. By way of avoiding misapprehension, and of disposing of all lofty pretensions not founded on just principles, it may be convenient here to shew how far these advocates for the plough admit the claims of the loom, and they allow all we require.
They agree, that if agriculture produces wealth by creation, manufacture preserves it by accumulation; or, that a nation which accumulates the manufactures into which it
* Vide Critical Review, of April last, Series the Fifth, Vol. III. p. 410. has transmuted its food, will be richer than one which consumes its food without such transmutation; just as a man who applies his income in constructing buildings, and purchasing articles of permanent utility, will be richer than another who devotes it wholly to the indulgence of gluttony. The nation, then, employing agricultural produce in feeding manufacturers, will be more wealthy than if the food subsisted only idlers; since the latter contribute notbing, but the former make a return for the produce they annihilate. Although the economists (among whom we must rank Mr. Preston,) insist that agriculture is the only source of wealth, yet they concede, that a piece of cloth, which now costs ten quarters of grain, would, without the assistance of art, have cost twenty quarters; and that the augmentation of capital, and the improvement of manfae ture, do indirectly conduce to the opulence of a country.
Those who plead the cause of this description of ingenuity and industry, want nothing more: they do not pre tend, that in manufacture the like creative miracle is performed, by which the seed thrown into the ground breaks its enclosure, forces its passage to the light; expands into stem, leaf, and fruit, and ultimately produces fifty or a hundred fold; but they contend for the vast utility and inportance of their art, since no country can accumulate wealth without it, and, deprived of this stimulus, agriculture itself would languish, and yield only the bare subsistence uncivilized man requires.
On the principles we have now explained, we entirely differ with Mr. Preston, that a distressed tenantry and proprietorship cause necessarily a stagnation in trade and in commerce, or that it is easy to demonstrate that agriculture may thrive without commerce. (p. 21.) Many of the power. ful states to which we have alluded had neither tenants for proprietors in agriculture; and we may, perhaps, correctly say, that there is no example of national wealth and prosperity produced solely by the labours of the field, unassisted by the impulse of commercial interchange. Sicily was the exuberant granary of ancient Rome, while that intercourse subsisted; but at this time, deprived of that sti. mulating principle, she is scarcely productive enough for the maintenance of her own impoverished and wretched natives. '
“ Britons,” says our author, 6 venerate the plough: this is the sound and useful policy to be inculcated: it was the policy of our ancestors.” This appeal to our patriotism
is the substitution of passion of reason, to which Mr. Preston, on such a grave subject, should always address himself. Our ancestors, rude and inaccessible, knew nothing of the confidence and harmony subsisting between merchant and merchant, and nothing of the benefits these were likely to obtain in the interchange of the necessaries, conveniences, and luxuries of life. As late as the time of James 1., the whole customs of England amounted only to 127,0001., and so small was the trade of the counties, that no more than of the sum 17,0001. was collected by the provincial officers, the capital engrossing nearly six-sevenths of the little commerce the land possessed. * What would have become of Great Britain, with the expensive wars she has had to conduct, if such only were the resources of her revenue for the customs? and how would she have been preserved from the perdition that awaited her, without the enterprise of the merchant, regardless of this “ policy of our ancestors,” which is the theme of applause with the author? On the official computation for the quarter end. ing the 10th October last, the annual revenue from the customs would be 6,000,0001., and the exports in 1814 (the last we have on sufficient authority) amounted to upwards of 56,000,0001, sterling. To send us back to the policy of our ancestors" on such subjects, is to revert to bankruptey, nakedness, and barbarism.
Another position our author assumes is, that “ manufacturing labour must diminish in the same proportion as agricultural labour shall cease to be in demand.” (p. 21.) The proposition would not be more incorrect, if the terms os manufacturing” and “ agricultural” were interchanged, and it should be said, “ agricultural labour must diminish in the same proportion as manufacturing labour shall cease to be in demand." The fact is, that both the descriptions of employment are auxiliary to each other; but the infirmity of the human mind ever attaching superior importance to the immediate object of its own pursuit, the proper gradation is often not ascertained, excepting by those who have no conflicting interests to deceive them as to the true situation.
Mr. Preston having to his own satisfaction disposed of these subjects, introduces a great many ingenious and extensive expedients for the employment of the indigent and industrious; and this is certainly a most valuable part of this publication, shewing also an intimate acquaintance
• Collier's Essay on the Law of Patents, p. 20.
orry that, if it were
differ, than what, not
with the state of the country; and we should be extremely sorry that our limits did not allow us to follow him in this walk, if it were not more immediately our business to point out where we differ, than where we concur, with the writer under our review; and that, not to avoid the dulness and insipidity of courtly assent, but to render our observations (dull as they may be, even assisted by the spirit of controversy) of some general and public advantage. We cannot, however, wholly quit the subject of pauperism without congratulating the country on the parliamentary inquiries in progress, which do so much honour to the legisla. ture, nor without observing on the magnitude of the concern from a comparative view of the rates. The average cbarge in the reign of Charles II. was something above 700,000l. annually ; under Anne it increased to 1,000,0001.; and in 1789, 1784, and 1785, to nearly 2,200,0001.; but in 1809 it approached 5,250,0001.; and it is in the present year computed as high as 10,000,0001.-an amount more considerable than the entire revenue of government a short time before the accession of the present King.
It may also deserve the particular attention of Mr. Pres. ton, as a member of Parliament, that the act of the 17th Geo. II. c. 2, although it removed much that was objeetionable in former statutes, yet has left the system, clogged as it is with the old materials and machinery, extremely imperfect; and his rational object will be, to reduce by every prudent expedient the number of paupers, and aug. ment the resources of the country by a great increase of productive labour. Some notion may be formed of the importance of regulation, since it is computed that the deficient exertions of 400,000 adults, receiving parocbial assist. ance, is computed at the loss of 4,000,0001. annually. On the whole view of the case, we are inclined to believe, that discreet arrangement only, would relieve the public of half the poor-rate. Si
The author is in great alarm about the importation of corn, and he is most anxious that the Parliainent should be assembled without delay, in order to enact a protecting duty to obstruct the intercourse with the Continent. * ." The land-owner feels that he must, in some stage, bear his proportion of every taxation. A direct tax best suits his interest and his situation. It is absurd, however, and impracticable, to impose
* We assume that he would have no measnre retro-active, and therefore he is somewhat too late in his solicitude, wheat, barley, and oats, being now admissible,
any new tax on him without reviving the confidence of the tenantry, and their security against unreasonable and ruinous depreciation, or giving them the ability to pay rents founded on a calculation that wheat is worth 10s. per bushel as an average price. The farmers are aware that large quantities of corn are warehoused on the Continent, and ready for the British market, as soon as such corn shall bé saleable in that inarket, consistently with the regulation of the warehousing act. Should such corn come into the market, then another race of depreciation will take place: the certain consequence will be general despondency among agriculturists; positive ruin, to those who are now preserved from the wreck, by the kindness and forbearance of their landlords, or the extent of their capital, National bankruptcy, from the inability to pay taxes,-and, within two years, positive starvation and famine, from the inability to obtain food for sustenance, will be the unavoidable consequences. "T" This is advanced with the fullest conviction of the probability and 'moral certainty of the result of such a state of things; and with that integrity of heart which dares to state the truth as it occurs to the mind. In many districts cultivation would entirely cease. In the counties of Devon and Cornwall it is already so diminished, that wheat was lately selling at from 14s. to 16s. per bushel! The accounts from different parts of the country agree that every farmer in these districts, who can convert his land into grass, is already pursuing that course.” (p. 30–31.)
Such apprehension, excited by such a cause as the reduction of the price of the first necessary of life, expressed in a work professedly on pauperism, would lead us to assume that the whole system was wrong; that we were placing the pyramid on the little end, and stuffing all the rubbish we could find in the form of rolls of parliament to prop it up. It was judged by the legislature, that the importation regulated by the home price of 80s., was an adequate protection to the farmer; but no sooner is the rate advanced to this limit, than the author demands further prohibitions, and Mr. Preston has the modesty to propose that, in addition to the restraint on import under the late act, there should be a duty on foreign corn of 20s. per quarter He says: .“ After a duty of 20s. a quarter sball be imposed on wheat of foreign growth, the foreigner or the British merchant could afford to sell foreign wbeat in the British market at or under 80s. a quar. ter, and (for this is a most important consideration) derive a greater profit from his capital so employed, than the average of British farmers derive from their capital at like prices." (p. 18.)
Let us attend for a moment to what all this complication of statutes would lead us, and what is the sacrifice at which we are to purchase this monopoly of the domestic market
Crit. Rev. VOL. IV. Nov. 1816. 9M