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therefore can never operate till the domestic supply exceeds the internal demand by some impediments in commercial speculations, forcing an extraordinary portion of capital into those upon land. But this is merely a temporary alteration; and, upon the whole, we may safely assert that bounties upon export cease to operate when a country has decidedly advanced into the commercial and manufacturing state of society, and only inferior lands remain uncultivated. For, to sum up in a few words the preceding argument, the high price of corn induced by the increasing demand for food will always exceed that at which the agricultural nations can raise it, at which therefore other nations may easily purchase it; consequently, at which it can be sold when exported by the manufacturing nation. The law then encouraging exportation must be a mere dead letter, unless it contain the ruinous and unfair enactment of an excessively high bounty. . Happily, however, it becomes useless too by the force of circumstances, because a superior impulse is given to agriculture by the demand from a commercial and manufacturing community.
But another system of policy then becomes imperative, namely, to protect the agriculture carried on upon the inferior lands now brought under cultivation from interference and eventual ruin, arising from a competition with corn grown upon the rich and unembarrassed soil of the agricultural countries. It is obvious that this can only be done by duties upon importation, tending to keep up the price in the domestic market sufficiently high to remunerate the cultivator of inferior land. From the nature of things these duties must vary, and they must vary
so as to increase as society advances. For of the inferior lands, the best remaining will upon the average be of course first brought under cultivation, leaving at every step in the progress only others still inferior to the last, to be cultivated at an expense continually increasing. The protection therefore to be effectual must vary with every step, so as to cover that continually increasing expense. Thus, as I observed before, a people must pay, and ought justly to expect to pay, for every advantage they draw from their advancing wealth and happiness by the progress of society. They may choose whether they will enjoy or forego those advantages; but having made their election they must not shrink from the necessary consequences of the alternative they have chosen.
We see then that, to ascertain the nature and extent of the encouragement necessary to the prosperity of domestic agriculture upon inferior soils, many facts must be previously inquired into. As first, the average capability of the country to raise actually, or within a reasonable period of encouragement, produce enough for its own consumption ; because upon this will not only depend the possibility of placing it ultimately in a state of independence upon foreign supply; but the circumstance will also materially affect the prospect of immediate competition from the corn-growing countries. This will be treated in the remainder of this chapter.
Next we must also take into our calculation the several component parts of which the expense of raising produce upon inferior land is made up; as 1st, Rent, or landlord's interest and profit upon his capital laid out in purchase or improvement: 2dly, The ex
pence of cultivation, or tenant's interest and profit upon his capital and labour; and lastly, Taxes and all other outgoings imposed upon land. Considering also the variable and uncertain amount of agricultural produce, especially upon inferior soils, we must always recollect that no corn laws can fulfil their object of encouraging the cultivator of such land, unless they secure to him a high price in years of deficient produce, a moderate price, or what is called the growing price, in years of average produce, and a low price in years of extraordinary plenty. Lastly, care must be taken that all these component parts do not make up a total of expense to be paid by the consumers of domestic agricultural produce, that would cramp or discourage the growth of domestic commerce and manufactures, by increasing their necessary cost so as to encourage a competition from the commerce and manufactures of foreign countries. For, after all, the demand created by the increase of a commercial and manufacturing population can alone, for the reasons stated in a former chapter, open a market for the sale of raw produce grown upon soils of a staple continually diminishing in value. These points will be treated in following chapters.
We have now to consider, in the remainder of this chapter, the effect which the capacity of a country to raise within itself. produce enough for its own consumption should have upon the nature of the encouragement necessary for the prosperity of domestic agriculture. When a territory is of small extent, and fully peopled with a commercial and manufacturing population collected into large towns, (such as the small European republics exhibited during their vigour and prosperity,) it is evident that it
cannot feed itself, and that it must permanently depend upon imported corn.
The whole system of its laws will be framed with this view; and as states of this description seldom excite a general jealousy, especially among the agricultural nations, and their demand for foreign corn does not extend to any great positive quantity, they may with prudent precautions go on prospering for ages under such a system. In truth, many advantages with respect to regularity of supply and uniformity of price will in such a case result from it. In the first place, whenever such a country depends mainly upon importation for its regular supply of food, a stated encouragement to the exporting countries will always produce a stated supply, which will be grown by them for the specific purpose of feeding the importing country. It will therefore be generally sure of a sufficient and regular supply, one main ingredient producing uniformity of price. In the next place it will be affected in a very slight degree by the variableness of seasons, and by any eventual deficiency of the crops in the corn-growing countries; for as their surplus produce considered in the bulk is at all times more than sufficient for the limited supply of the small commercial states, and the deficiencies of one country will probably be compensated by the redundancy of another, their prices are regulated more by the wants of the importing nation than by the average growth of their own. This has been fully established by incontestable evidence.* Here then is another ingredient, securing almost to a certainty a regular uniformity of supply and of price in
* See Evidence before the Lords’ Committee, 1814.
the corn market of an importing country, not capable of feeding its own population, but permanently depending upon a supply of foreign produce.
The practical conclusions however are exceed. ingly altered when we come to apply them to an extensive and highly manufacturing country, which in average years is nevertheless capable of supplying the whole of its inhabitants with food the growth of its own soil. For in this case any considerable demand for imported corn must of course depend upon the state of the preceding harvest at home. There will be no permanent demand for foreign corn as in the former case ; and of course the exporting countries will not regularly grow corn for its supply. They must be tempted by a previous knowledge of an ex. traordinary demand, indicated by an extraordinary increase of price in consequence of a deficient harvest. But such a supply from the regularly exporting countries is in the nature of things distant and uncertain; and after all it may perhaps be brought into the country at a loss to the importer, in consequence of a plentiful year succeeding one of deficient crops, or of a glut caused by excessive importation into a market of the precise extent of whose wants. no previous knowledge could be obtained. This last result will inevitably occur, if the neighbouring countries not usually exporting corn should have been blessed with a plentiful crop, and able to forestall those usually exporting in the deficient market; as was the case of France with respect to England, in the
All these circumstances must render the supply from the corn-growing countries to one nearly feeding its own population in average years very uncertain