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Different effects of the, Uc.

diseased state, with one of its principal members out of proportion to the rest. Almost all medicine is in itself bad ; and one of the great evils of illness is the necessity of taking it. No person can well be more averse to medicine in the animal economy, or a system of expedients in political economy, than myself; but in the present state of the country something of the kind may

be necessa. ry to prevent greater evils. It is a matter of very little comparative importance, whether we are fully supplied with broadcloth, linens, and muslins, or even with tea, sugar, and coffee ; and no rational politician therefore would think of proposing a bounty upon such commodities. But it is certainly a matter of the very highest importance, whether we are fully supplied with food; and if a bounty would produce such a supply, the most liberal political economist might be justified in proposing it; considering food as a commodity distinct from all others, and pre-eminently valuable.

CHAPTER X.

Of Bounties on the Exportation of Corn.

IN discussing the policy of a bounty on the exportation of corn, it should be premised, that the private interests of the farmers and proprietors should never enter in the question. The sole object of our consideration qught to be the permanent interest of the consumer, in the character of which is comprehended the whole nation.

According to the general principles of political economy, it cannot be doubted, that it is for the interest of the civilized world that each nation should purchase its commodities wherever they can be had the cheapest.

According to these principles, it is rather desirable that some obstacles should exist to the excessive accumulation of wealth in any particular country, and that rich nations should be tempted to purchase their corn of poorer nations, as by these means the wealth of the civilized world will not only be more rapidly increased, hut more equably diffused.

Of bounties on the exportation of corn.

It is evident, however, that local interests and political relations may modify the application of these general principles"; and in a country with a territory fit for the production of corn, an independent, and at the same time a more equable supply of this necessary of life, may be an object of such importance as to warrant a deviation from them.

It is undoubtedly true, that every thing will ultimately find its level, but this level is sometimes effected in a very harsh manner. England may export corn a hundred years hence without the assistance of a bounty; but this is much more likely to happen from the destruction of her manufactures, than from the increase of her agricul: ture; and a policy which, in so important a point, may tend to soften the harsh corrections of general laws, seems to be justifiable,

The regulations respecting importation and exportation adopted in the corn laws that were established in 1688 and 1700, seemed to have the effect of giving that encouragement to agriculture, which it so much wanted, and the apparent result was gradually to produce a growth of corn in the country considerably above the wants of the actual population, to lower the average price of it, and

Of bounties on the exportation of corn.

For fifty

give a steadiness to prices that had never been experienced before.

During the seventeenth century, and indeed the whole period of our history previous to it, the prices of wheat were subject to great fluctuations, and the average price was very high. years before the year 1700, the average price of wheat per quarter was 31. lld, and before 1650 it was 61. 8s. 10d. From the time of the completion of the corn laws in 1700 and 1706, the prices became extraordinarily steady; and the average price for forty years previous to the year 1750, sunk so low as ll. 16s. per quarter. This was the period of our greatest exportations. In the year 1757, the laws were suspended, and in the

year 1773 they were totally altered. The exports of corn have since been regularly decreasing, and the imports increasing. The average price of wheat for the forty years ending in 1800, was 21. 9s. 5d.; and for the last five

years

of this period, 31. 6s. 6d. During this last term, the balance of the imports of all sorts of grain is estimated at 2,938,357,2 and the dreadful fluctuations of price

· Dirom's Inquiry into the Corn Laws, Appendix, No. I.

? Anderson's Investigation of the Circumstances wluch led to Scarcity, Table, p. 40,

Of bounties on the exportation of corn.

which have occurred of late years, we are but too well acquainted with.

It is at all times dangerous to be hasty in drawing general inferences from partial experience; but, in the present instance, the period that has been considered is of so considerable an extent, and the changes from fluetuating and high prices to steady and low prices, with a return to fluctuating and high prices again, correspond so accurately with the establishment and full vigor of the corn laws, and with their subsequent alterations and inefficacy, that it was certainly rather a bold assertion in Dr. Smith to say, that the fall in the price of corn must have happened in spite of the bounty, and could not possibly have happened in conse

of it." We have a right to expect that he should defend a position so contrary to all apparent experience, by the most powerful arguments. As in the present state of this country, the subject seems to be of the highest importance, it will be worth while to examine the validity of these argu . ments.

He obseryes, that both in years of plenty, and in

years of scarcity, the bounty necessarily tends

quence of it."

" Wealth of Nations, vol. ij. b. iv. c. v. p. 264.

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