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feeling on such a subject, as I should the manufacturer, whoʻprofesses to call out for cheap bread, solely in order that the poor may be better fed, when' his real object is that he may pay them less wages, and have an increased demand for his goods." Phe interests of both classes are inseparably connected. The manua facturer, merchant, and tradesman, consume the corn grown by the farmer, who unquestionably owes to the increase of manufactures, and the extension of trade and commerce, a great increase of de mand for his produce; but the farmer, landholder, and all who are more or less remotely connected with the soil, and who form the largest part of society, are the best customers of the martifacturer and merchant; and i think there is no doubt, that if domestic demand is materially affected, the want of it would be little com pensated by the foreign market.

The modifications which Parliament have deemed it proper to inake in the coru-laws of 1815, render it probable either that these laws will be a good deal altered, or that a constant importation with a protecting duty will be substituted for them. The occurrence of heavy crops after the large importations of 1818 and 1819, and the consequent glut of corn and reduction of price, tended to convey to the minds of agriculturists themselves donbts as to the policy of a statute which knows no medium between full 'admission and complete exclusion .

If Parliament should, however, be disposed to permit constant importation with a protecting duty (which is exceedingly probable), it will then be a grave matter of consideration, what amount of duty will afford a sufficient protection to the British agriculturist. An average price of from 60s. to 64s. per quarter, seems, 'by the instructions given to Mr. Jacob,' to be that which government considers as sufficient to remunerate the grower of corn; and Mr. Jacob thinks, that with a duty of 10s. or 128. per quarter on imported wheat, it would require an average price of above 64s. to re-establish the trade with the Baltic. You yourself consider an average of 555. as the utmost lo' which it would be politic to raise the price of wheat in this country; and view this price as one which, with 10s. or 12s. of duty, would be sufficient to produce the same effect. But here is a difference in opinion of such magnitude, as to show clearly that with the best information, and I think I may say with the best intentions, there is a great liability to err in all calculations of this kind. With your strong feelings in favor of change, you admit that we are at present « legislating somewhat in the dark ;” and you are so little confident of the propriety of any specific enactment on the subject, as to be favorable,

See Mr. Jacob's Report, 1826.

in the first instance, to a graduated seale of duty, which may

afford the necessary experience which is now wanting on the subject, and enable us best to meet the difficulties of the case, and to reconó cile the conflict of interests involved jo the questioni 1 sl 9113 Bila

b At the same time it is to be observed, that in your regolated scale, you consider 10s. as a sufficient protecting duty when com is at 558., and 58. when it is at 655.- ilitudo [*}"

With a difference of four or five millions per annum between wbat Mr. Jacob and you consider, on the one hand, as remunera tive to the farmer, and, on the other, as sufficiently encouraging to importation, with a difference, likewise, of nearly one-half, between what you regard as a sufficient protection and what he does, it is quite obvious that no precise duty can be now determixed on, which can under every circumstance be admissible, or which can in any way be satisfactory to all parties. It is important, therefore, to feel our way in this difficult species of legislation; and to take especial care that there should be no occasion to retrace our steps.

The late Mr. Ricardo, a gentleman of distinguished talents and acuteness, and, moreover, an enthusiast in the corn question, was of opinion that 20s. per quarter, in the first instance, was not too great a protection for the British farmer ; and that this duty should be reduced, by the sum of Is. per annum, till it reached 10s. From an observation contained in the Report of the Agricultural Committee of 1821, it would appear, " that there never was an inportation of foreign corn to any amount during the short intervals that the high duties were demandable; and yet those duties, at po part of the time, exceeded 24s. 3d. per quarter." This, therefore, seems to be beyond the duty which it would be desirable to fix on in the first instance. But Mr. Ricardo's proposition of 20s. to commence with, is a prudent and safe one; for a high protecting duty would guard against that influx of core which is so much a subject of apprehension among agriculturists, while, at the same time, the duty could readily be reduced, either after experience has demonstrated that such fears were groundless, or after any accumulation which there might exist of foreign praduce has gradually come into the market, and passed off.

If the views which you and Mr. Jacob entertain as to the small probable amount of future importation be correct, where would bę s the disadvantage of gradually preparing the agricultural world for the permanent permission of an importation, bearing so small a proportion as that proposed to the whole exportation of the country? Prejudices would thus be removed by the delay, and apprehensions allayed. For if next harvest should be a pleotiful one, or Mr. Jacob's and your calculations prove a little erroneoas

1. (neither of which circumstances are improbable), the most serious

and irremediable mischief might be induced by want of caution in so important a subject. It is very well known, and you candidly admit the fact, that" one season of agricultural distress sweeps off numbers of the poorer farmers; and that if it continue beyond that period, as it most commonly does when it once begins, the whole farming body feel it most severely."

w You lay great stress on the propriety of conciliating the good opinion of the manufacturing population, by acceding to an alteram tion in the corn-laws; and you apostrophise the agricultural community to agree to their wishes with a seriousness and pathos which are hardly justified by the benefit wbich you assume will be produced by such alteration. But are they not warrauted in doing their utmost to prevent any changes being made in the present system, without a guarantee against the evils which may be produced by them? Is it not fair to expect that when their existence as an important part of society is at stake, something more

than specious assurances should be afforded, that the changes so t urgently demanded will not be injurious ? A portion even of mor

bid apprehension may be excusable in men who still smart under recent suffering; and in whose minds, perhaps, a little dread inay likewise be produced, on comparing the ardor with which changes are pressed with the small advantages which, according to ostensible calculations, they are likely to effect. They may be inclined to suspect some ulterior, unknown, and deleterious influence, beyond that which is represented to them; for I am inclined to think, that if a guarantee could be given that no more importation than 600,000 quarters would, under ordinary circumstances, take place, their fears would be considerably removed.

Now, with regard to the reasonableness of these fears, I would observe, that though great attention is due to the interesting infor mation which Mr. Jacob has furnished relative to the probable quantity of grain to be afforded by the Baltic, there are many circumstances which may affect its accuracy, and materially alter or modify the expected results.

In the first place, corn has always been capable of being procured in very much more than the ordinary quantity, when there was a great demand and a large price. In the years 1801, 1802, 1811, 1818, and 1819, the average excess of importation above exportation, exclusive of Ireland, was 1,283,941 quarters of wheat; though the average excess of importation above exportation for twenty years, from 1801 inclusive, was 543,179 quarters, and setting aside the five years of large inportation, 369,976 only. The average price of the three first mentioned years was respec

tively, 113s. 70., 1185.9d., and 106s. 2d.; but of the year 1817, 943. 9d., and of 1818, 84s. Id. Here, therefore, was an example. of a difference of no less than 34s. 8d. between the inducements thus afforded to the importation of corn into this country; and we are hardly capable of demonstrating, m such a way as to remove the necessity of caution, that after the long period at which importation into this country has been prevented, no glut could, under any circumstances, again overwhelm the English market; particularly if Mr. Jacob's calculations (as I have before observed) be a little erroneous, or the next harvest in this country be very favorable.

We do not hear unfrequently of goods being sold at a loss, under an urgent demand for money; and though this will not affect the general interests of trade, (for it is clear that no trade will be long carried on without gain), yet it may have an unfavorable operation at a particular period. So it is with a trade in corn; and it is only by insuring, at the commencement of a new system, against an overwhelming glut, that any material changes in the corn-laws are admissible. Duties, in this case, ought to be viewed as experiments; but it would be very unphilosophical, in instituting experiments, to contemplate and to be prepared for one particular result only.

The Agricultural Committee of 1821, whose Report is distinguished by great judgment and moderation, were alive to the dangers of a glut of foreign corn, after the posts had been sbut only thirty months. They have now been shut (except during a short period for oats) for more than three times that period; and the market price of any corn which may be accumulated in consequence, cannot now any more than at that time, as the Committee very properly observes, be considered “as the measure of the cost at which it has been produced, or of the rate at which it can be afforded by the foreign grower, but the result of a general glut of the article, of a long want of demand, and of the extreme distress and heavy loss on the part of those by whom it has been raised, and of those by whom it is now beld, either in the warehouses of the Continent or of this country."

You consider the adoption of an improved principle in legislation as important; and you view as a public benefit, the dismissal from our code of certain laws which you regard as injurious, as contrary to common sense and sound judgment, and as deranging the natural and most beneficial order of things. It surely, then, can be of little moment, at what precise period, whether a year or two sooner or later, so salutary a change as that which you recommend in those laws comes ivto full and complete operation.

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211 You admit that we are legislating “somewhat in the dark;" you allow that all calculations relative to the influence of certain changes on the price of corn “are liable to considerable error,” and that "nothing but experience can decide the exact level at which prices would settle, after the existence of the trade for so long a period, as to have produced its full effects.” I am justified, therefore, in the expectation, that in waiting for this experience the agricultural community shall not be placed in a state of unnecessary peril.

It is an ungracious sort of discussion to compare the respective importance of different classes of society. Both parties, perhaps, think too strongly on this subject, and magnify to an undue extent their own consequence. All, however, agree in considering our home trade as the most valuable to the country; and a very little consideration will evince to any one, who is at the trouble to examine the question, how much the prosperity of this trade is connected with the fair position in society of the landholder, farmer, and all who are connected with them in the various meanderivgs and ramifications, into which the landed interest is spread.

The merchant, manufacturer, and tradesman possess more rank and importance in this country than any other. Their talents and energy merit this distinction; but with the rise which they have obtained in the scale of society, it is no wonder that the Agricultural Committee, “ looking to the institutions of the country, in their several bearings and influence in the practice of our constitution, should be in a high degree anxious to preserve to the landed mterest, the weight, station, and ascendency which it has enjoyed so long, and used so beneficially."

It may be said, that the elevation of the agricultural interest, by the profits of land, has been, of late years, more in proportion than that of other classes. It is quite certain, that though it did not profit by the loans, contracts, and other good things, which have poured wealth so lavishly among mercantile men, and by almost the monopoly of the trade of the world, which the latter so long possessed, agriculturists enjoyed, for a few years, an important advantage in the high price of agricultural produce, and in the increased value which this, and an improved system of cultivation, afforded to them. But then high prices did not depend, in any great extent, as they have been supposed to do, on the protections afforded to them as a favored class of the community; for on this subject we are informed by Mr. Tooke, (who is the more unexceptionable authority, because he is exceedingly favorable lo the commercial view of the corn-laws,) that he entertained doubiy " whether the prices of corn, within the last twenty or thirty years, have been kept up so much by the protecting duties, as by the great expenses VOL. XXVIII. Pam. NO. LV.


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