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Effects of the Introduction of Foreign Grain upon the Condition of the

Labouring Population. SIR, There is no subject which at the ject of Free Trade, I am not aware that present moment occupies so much of any one has yet accurately defined the ihe public attention as the new sys- meaning of the phrase. I confess I feel tem of Free Trade, and none certain considerable difficulty in attempting to ly can be more deserving of it. The do so now. If we confine ourselves to legislature has the power, by altera- the literal meaning of the words, they tions in the laws which regulate trade, describe a state of things that never to alter-let it be remembered, for the has existed, nor ever can exist, amongst better or the worse, as the alterations civilized nations. To find a perfect exare, or are not, judicious—not only the ample of Free Trade, it must be looksituation of the country in general, ed for amongst the savage tribes of but the relative situation of every in Africa or America, or it may be found dividual in it.

amongst the Laplanders lateiy discoThe great majority of every nation vered by Captain Parry. There, baris composed of those whose sole pos ter is free and unfettered, and may session is their labour. Their benefit, afford us a perfect model for imitation. therefore, should be the principal, if Whatever designation the new sysnot the exclusive object of every al- tem may claim, it certainly has no teration in the laws which regulate pretensions to be called a Systein of trade. Whenever labour receives an Free Trade. Its advocates may assert, ample and steady reward, every class in that it has at least a right to be termthe community must be in a thriving ed a System for extending a greater condition, and the real wealth of a Freedom to Trade, by abolishing all nation ought to be looked for more prohibitions, and substituting proteclin the amount of the conveniences and ing duties instead. Whether it has, necessaries of life enjoyed by its la or has not, this merit, depends entirebouring population, than in any other ly on the mode in which it is applied, circumstance. An increase in the ca as it must be admitted that a protectpital, the commerce, or manufactures ing duty, if sufficiently high, will have of a country, is not beneficial, unless every effect that can possibly be deit tends to maintain a high value of rived from absolute prohibition. The labour, and to secure that value from New System is not, therefore, the apgreat and sudden fluctuations. With plication of a general rule, which is to respect to the present situation of affect equally all the different interests Great Britain, it is asserted that a per- in the kingdom. Our whole system fect freedom of trade is the only thing is to be new-modelled ; and that each wanting to improve, and maintain in part of it shall partake, in an equal an improved condition, the labouring degree, in the benefits of the altcraclasses, and to enable the country to tion, if benefits they prove, depends arrive at a degree of wealth and pros- on the will of an individual, provided perity hitherto unknown. Although, always, that he possesses power to refor some years past, much has been gulate the effects of a total change in spoken as well as written on the sub- a system reared up and perfected by VOL. XXI.



the wisdom of ages. It may indeed in Germany, the report of Mr Jacob be suspected, that this New System is, leads to a result still more favourable after all, nothing more than an old to Great Britain. From his statement, acquaintance appearing amongst us it appears that the labour of alınost under a new name; and that Free the entire population of Poland, and dom of Tråde may be found as power- the North of Germany, is required to ful an agent in effecting a change of produce the food of the community. rank and property in this country in He states, that the wages of labour in 1826, as Liberty and Equality proved Prussia are about 2s. 6d. per week, or to be in a neighbouring one in 1792. Is. 6d. less per week than the colliers

These observations cannot be deem- at Birmingham, and elsewhere, will, ed superfluous, at a time when mo in these times of unexampled distress, dern politicians seem to have adopted agree to accept of per day; and faras their creed the preamble of our ther, that throughout Poland, the cul. turnpike acts, and when to alter and tivators are also proprietors of the soil, amend appears, in the estimation of which they cultivate by means of a the President of the Board of Trade, to peasantry, till lately bound to the soil, be synonymous terms. What is called and who are still slaves in point of the principle of Free Trade, has already fact. That their wages consist in such been applied to some of our manu a portion of the coarsest produce of factures, though, it may be asserted, the soil, as will enable them to live that time enough has not elapsed to and propagate their species, while the enable us to judge with what effect. remainder is the property of their The application of the principle to landlord, which, as no market can be the agriculture of the country, has found for it amongst a slaving pealong been advocated by enlightened santry at home, he is, of course, willtheorists and disinterested corn-deal- ing to dispose of to foreign nations, at ers; and, as his Majesty's Ministers the best price he can obtain. have expressed their determination to He states farther, that, in Prussia, revise the existing Corn Laws early in small proprietors, or yeomen, if they this session of Parliament, iny present do not often want the necessaries of object is to inquire, in what way, and life, have seldom anything beyond to what extent, the labouring popula- them. That the most industrious may tion of the country would be benefito be able to keep a cow, but that meat ed by the introduction of foreign corn; of any kind they rarely taste. This feeling convinced, that a measure, is the state, which, according to the which is to be beneficial to the labour. theory of Mr Ricardo, a country far ing, cannot be injurious to any other, advanced in wealth and population classes, and, that the interests of the must have nearly approached, from landlord in particular, and the labour- the necessity of cultivating poorer ing classes, are indissoluble. With a soils, whose produce must always diview to this inquiry, I shall endea- minish, when compared with the lavour to prove the following proposi- bour employed on them. Thus, as tion

Poland appears to be the country in THAT THE AGRICULTURAL PRO Europe, where the produce bears the DUCE OF BRITAIN REQUIRES A LESS emallest proportion to the labour emQUANTITY OF LABOUR AND CAPITAL ployed in producing it, the cultivation FOR ITS PRODUCTION THAN THAT OF of poor soils must be carried to the ANY COUNTRY IN EUROPE.

greatest extent. I do not, however, The statements of Mr Colquhoun mean to assert, that the small compaon this subject appear to me une rative produce of the north of Germaanswerable. In comparing the agri- ny, and Poland, is solely to be attribucultural produce of France and Eng- ted to the poverty of their soil, though, land, he proves that the labour of one if that soil were of double its present third of the population of England is fertility, there can be no doubt that sufficient, and is, in fact, all

that is the produce would be much increased, employed to produce the food of the and the situation of the community reminder, while the labour of two- consequently much improved. thirds of the population of France is The statements both of Mr Cole required to effect the same object. In quhoun and Mr Jacob lead, therefore, comparing the relative quantity of equally to the same conclusions, that labour necessary to produce a given the agricultural produce of Britain quantity of corn in this country, and requires a less quantity of labour and



here, is to be attributed in the smallest to removing the cause of importation,
degree to the cultivation of poor soils ? that is to say, if the cause of impor-
And is it not evident, that the conse- tation is the difference of taxation, a
quence of a Free Trade in Corn must duty equal to the amount of that dif-
be, to enable the produce of poorer ference must remove the cause none
soils on the Continent, to undersell could consequently be imported. As
and drive out of cultivation richer to the artificial sterility here spoken
lands in England ? It is somewhat of, is it anything else than an increase
singular to observe the complacency in the money price of corn, from the
with which such an event is contem- effects of direct and indirect taxation ?
plated by modern theorists, of which Having, I trust, succeeded in esta-
the following passage affords a strie blishing the truth of the proposition,
king instance:

that less labour and capital is required
" It has appeared in a former chapter, to produce an equal quantity of corn
that when, in consequence of natural in this than in any other country in
sterility, a given quantity of capital em- Europe, I wish now to direct the pub-
ployed upon the soil, cannot raise so lic attention to the fact, that the agri-
abundant a supply of corn as by prepa- cultural produce of any country can-
ring wrought goods it could purchase not be sold for any length of time,
from the foreign grower, the happiest either much above or below its natu-
consequences are produced by leaving ral price, that is, the price necessary
importation free. Now, the same holds for the production of the whole quan-
good with what may be called the arti- tity required. As this is one of the
ficial sterility induced by taxation. When, few propositions in Political Economy
in consequence of various imposts presse on which all the most celebrated wri-
ing unequally upon the land, the expenses ters on the subject are agreed, it is
of growing corn are so much increased, needless for me to enter upon it. Al
that a given quantity of capital, vested in
cultivation, will not raise so abundant a

though, however, the agricultural pro-
produce as the saine capital, directed

duce of a country can never be sold to some branch of industry less heavily for any length of time either much burdened, could purchase from abroad, it above or below the price necessary for

itself evident, that in such a branch of its production, yet circumstances may industry it receives its most beneficial cause a very great difference in the occupation, and conduces most power. amount of that price in different counfully to increase wealth, and promote tries. According to the theory of Mr prosperity. It is also self-evident, that Ricardo, the price of agricultural proif, by taxing our land, we increase the duce must rise when a country is forexpense of producing corn at home be- ced to answer the demand for it by yond the expense of producing it in other cultivating poorer soils, which require countries, our prices will be higher than a greater quantity of labour to protheirs, and we shall be an importing ra- duce a given quantity of corn. Thus, ther than an exporting country. But it when the labour of twenty men is has already been fully shown, that a conn. required to produce in one country try, the circumstances of which are ad- what in another country is accom*erse to the exportation of produce, can plished by the labour of ten, the price escape fluctuating supply, and unsteady of agricultural produce in the former price, only by granting perfect freedom country will be greater than in the in the import trade in corn.

latter, by value of the labour of ten If we increase, by means of taxa men. Or, if the circumstances of the tion, the cost of growing corn at home, two countries are similar, the price of we must, if the trade is free, import it corn should be double the price in the from abroad. But does it not appear, former of what it is in the latter; but that if the cause of the higher price if, in the latter country, owing to the at home is taxation, the amount of babits of the people, the demand and that taxation which can be levied, supply of labour, or other circummust be diminished in proportion to stances. the ten men should obtain the quantity of foreign corn import- the same quantity of food and necesed, unless a duty equal to that amount saries in exchange for their labour in is levied upon it ? and as the imposi- the one country that the twenty do in tion of that duty would be equivalent the other, it appears to me that the

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Torrence on the Corn Trade.
† Mr Malthus, chap. jii, section 3. Mr Ricardo, chap. iy.

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