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contrary events have taken place, yet the prophets continue to take credit to themselves, for having said that the war would ruin Britain, which they maintain is done because there are some present difficulties that we have to encounter.
Though Buonaparte fell-though we are not bankrupts—the circulation of gold is resumed; in short, though the very reverse of what was augured has taken place, yet the men who have so failed, still boast of their sagacity, and continue to prophesy!
They do not, indeed, arrogate to themselves the gift of inspiration, but they lay claim to a superior degree of political sagacity, and the main thing wanted to the fulfilment of their predictions, was allowing them to manage the afairs of the nation, which, had it been done, would probably have brought to pass a great part of what they did predict. i As to the rest, that patriotic band only concurred in two public measures brought before Parliament, namely, the last Corn Bill, and the abolition of the Income Tax, which are the two worst things that the Parliament has done of late years.
The selection of the political forebodings of the Patriots will be useful, and cannot be considered as unfair, inasmuch as the Patriots still assert their claim to superior wisdom, and it is but right to ascertain whether or not their claim is wellfounded.
In our next Number, we shall give some Specimens, as the commencement of that interesting Series.
OF AGRICULTURAL AND MANUFACTURING DISTRESSES,
AND THEIR REMEDIES.
The world has scarcely ever witnessed a more astonishing phenomenon, than, that improvements unexampled in extent, and totally unprecedented in agriculture and manufactures, should be attended with greater privation and distress, than when both were in a rude state.
In most arts men can produce ten times what they did a century ago, and in agriculture double; yet numbers go scantily fed, and scarcely clothed at all.--Though one man can manu. fácture enough to clothe twenty, or by labour, produce food -sufficient for five, yet many are in want of those very articles, which they can so abundantly supply. • We say that this is a strange phenomenon; and we are happy to think that it is strange and difficult to be accounted for, as upon this, are founded the best hopes, that such an unnatural state of things will not be of long duration. .
Another and a great cause of hope, and reason for comfort, under our présent difficulties is, that when this wonderful nation has been in difficulties hitherto, it has always overcome them, when fairly roused, so as to exert its latent energies.
In contemplating the situation in which we are, though there are these reasons for hoping that the difficulty and distress may be got over, it is not to be disguised that great efforts well directed will be necessary for that purpose.
Hitherto, those who have the most in their power, appear not to have occupied themselves seriously, and the time that might have been more advantageously employed, has been occupied with theories. This seems to be the age of systems. Experience and plain common sense, have ceased to be the guides that regulate men's conduct, and accordingly very little progress has been made towards effecting what is wanted to be done.
This, however, is not the only evil; for even if the inquiries set on foot had been successful, as nothing has been done in consequence, no good could have resulted, for if the proverb is true, that “hard words break no bones,” it is equally so “that fine speeches and learned theories cure no sores." · It is true that the subject is very important, and that too much care cannot be taken in going the right way to work; but again, on the other hand, there are many measures that may be taken to ameliorate the situation of the country, that are not attended with any sort of risk or danger, and in some of which, there is little, if any difference of opinion, yet even there nothing is done nor attempted!
The greatness of the evil will, no doubt, soon compel those interested, to pay to the subject serious attention ; but it is to be regretted that men of knowledge and good intention, will not set seriously to work until they are compelled by absolute necessity. As this necessity approaches with giant steps, it is very important to inquire into what is best to be done, and by that means avoid errors that not only occasion loss of time, but discourage those by whom they are to be made.
It appears from a very minute investigation into the causes and remedies for our agricultural distresses, by Mr. W. Playfair *, that the whole agricultural population labours under a mistake, when they attribute the difficulties mainly to high rents and excessive taxation. • As to taxes, there is no means of reducing them much, and if the rents were reduced one third, it is clearly proved that it would not make one halfpenny difference in the price of the quartern loaf. : The whole rental of Britain in the last year of the war appeared by the income tax, to amount to 42,300,0001. and as there are 40 millions of acres, the average rent does not amount to twenty shillings, for as houses, mills, manufactories, and every erection for which rent is paid, were included in the 40,300,0001., more than thirty-six or thirty-seven millions should not be set down to the land alone.
* Published by Mr. Sams, St. James's Street. The work is illustrated with some charts that throw great light on the subject.
The complaints about poor's rates are certainly exaggerated, for though the sum is enormous, being about eight millions a year, yet that only amounts on the average, to two and sixpence an acre, yet we hear of it being fifteen and eighteen shillings in the pound ! How is this?
A return ought to be demanded by the legislature, and the truth ascertained, and then a remedy applied where the grievance is found to exist.
As the king's taxes that fall on land are not equal to the poor's rate, taking the whole country together, it may be set down at two shillings more, therefore the whole burthen cf taxation on landed produce is only four and sixpence an acre on the average. The land-tax is a deduction from rent, and does not fall separately on produce.
A moderately good acre of land properly cultivated, produces three and a-half quarters of wheat, which, made into loaves, will give 480 from an acre, and at ten-pence a loaf, the present price, the total value will be twenty pounds; and as rent and taxes do not amount to more than one-tenth of this, at an average, the reduction for which such a clamour is made, does not amount to one penny in the quartern loaf.
These calculations are given with accuracy in the work alluded to, but to follow them minutely, would require more space than we can allow the subject in this miscellany, therefore those who want the particular statements and calculations, may consult the work, which after shewing what are not the principal causes of the distress of the farmers, proceeds to shew what are.
'The proportion between the price paid to the farmer whether in grain or other produce, such as cattle, butter, cheese, &c., is very different from what it was formerly. Provisions of every sort have increased in price at a most extravagant rate, owing to the deulers that interfere between the grower and consumer.
This enhancement of price is traced to two causes. First to careless practices that prevailed when farmers were getting enormous profits during the war, and were better pleased to sell in a wholesale way to factors and dealers, than to carry their produce to market themselves, as they formerly did ; as they always ought to have done, and as they must do again before things get right.
The second cause is, the credit taken by the rich from their bakers, butchers, and other tradesmen in the provision line, who again take credit from the dealers, and pay from fifteen to
twenty-five per cent more than they would do if they paid in ready money.
The reality of this latter cause, for provisions being too dear in proportion to the price paid to the farmer, is evinced beyond dispute, by the ready-money bakers and butchers, who undersell those who give credit, more than twenty per cent.
If the public were all supplied without those intermediate men who are, in reality, regraters and forestallers, according to the original meaning of the terms, then the farmer would receive a much better price for his produce.
This subject requires to be carefully examined into by the legislature, but instead of inquiry or making any regulations, the existing laws have become a dead letter, they are no longer enforced, and the rage for doing away with regulations and leaving trade free, has occasioned some good and wholesome laws to be revoked and others to be left unexecuted.
The assize on bread was abolished in 1816, and instantly the bakers combined by circulating each week a paper regulating the price, and that regulation was always considerably higher than what they would have received had the assize act been in force. At the présent price of wheat in Mark Lane, the loaf of four pound five ounces and eight drams, that is the quartern loaf, would be eight-pence or eight-pence-farthing at most; but it is fixed very modestly by the bakers at tenpence! So much for leaving trade free, and so much also for the attention that the legislature pays to that important subject.
Dr. Adam Smith, that able writer who threw much light on a great variety of subjects relative to political economy, was in some instances, greatly mistaken. He studied that science in Paris, when he was there as tutor to John Duke of Buccleugh, about the year 1762, and although he improved greatly on many of the French theories, still his book was very strongly tinctured with them.
We believe that it is not generally known that the French Economists were the principal instigators of the Revolution that took place in their country not many years after Adam Smith left it. Those Economists were enemies to all Companies, Corporations, and Regulations in Trade, on the principle that individuals understood their own interests best. Apprenticeships, and all regulations and restraints, were considered by them as injurious to private exertion and public prosperity, and the revolutionists, when they put their maxims in practice, made the discovery with the help of other theorists, that they were contrary to the Rights of Man, and accordingly they were all swept away by the Great National Reformers, who had completed their work before it was discovered, that they had done more mischief in a few weeks, than could be repaired in a whole century, Unfortunately, Adam Smith's character, which stands deservedly very high, has made many people of great abilities take his opinion on trust, and we know that as freedom of trade is a fashionable and favourite theory, we may be considered as not having reared our due portion of those New Lights that broke in upon mankind towards the end of the last century ; but that consideration is with us of little weight, and though it would be going into a tedious and tiresome argument to prove, that Dr. Smith adhered too much to the French Economists, we may be allowed to give as proofs of that, the respect with which he speaks of the first founders of the sect, and of the Marquis de Mirabeau; and, furthermore, to request those who doubt that those principles were connected with the Revolution, to observe with what contempt Dr. Smith speaks on various occasions of the pageantry of courts, and the ignorance of legislators in general in affairs of trade,
If, however, the principles of Adam Smith are sometimes 'wrong, they are generally right; and, amongst other things, he says, that all the operations of agriculture, from the first sowing the seed, to the grinding and baking, require economy, and cannot be carried on with advantage on a very large scale. Unhappily, our landholders, farmers, millers, &c., have all thought that things ought to be carried on extensively, and from that error has partly arisen the difficulties of the present day.
Nothing is more certain than that very small farms are also injurious to a country; but there is a medium, and Sir John Sinclair, as well as several intelligent writers on agriculture, have endeavoured to determine the most advantageous size both for the advantage of the country, and of the individuals themselves.
Grazing farms must naturally admit of being more extensive than where nearly all the land is employed in producing grain, and it may be added they require to be so ; for though a family might be maintained comfortably and well on a ploughed farm of one hundred and fifty or two hundred acres of land, it could not do so on a grass farm of that extent.
Into those details, however, we need not here to enter. It is enough to know that in general the country suffers from farms being too large, and as the proprietors of the soil are to be the sufferers, they can, and probably will, remedy the evil.
It is not a little curious to observe that large farms were preferred by the land-holders to smaller ones principally because they gave them less trouble, and the rents were paid with greater regularity, which is exactly a reason similar to that, which made the farmers prefer selling their produce to middle men or wholesale dealers rather than to the retailers, and they Have both suffered for their negligence. The farmers are now 'obliged, through nécessity, to sell to dealers as they did from