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requisitions from abroad never exceeded from a week's to a month's consumption, according to the state of the harvest. But this has of course brought so much inferior land into cultivation, and has so much enhanced the general and average expense of raising produce, that, as I have before fully explained, it is utterly absurd to suppose that it can ever be made to compete in the foreign market with corn the growth of the purely agricultural states. I trust that these arguments are sufficient to convince the advocates for making England a country permanently exporting corn, that the period for success in such a scheme has long elapsed, and that they are neither entitled from precedent or fair reasoning to entertain any such expectations, while she retains her commercial and manufacturing greatness. But it may be asked, how comes it then that a a surplus produce, (Jan. 1816.) actually exists beyond the wants of the community, which it would be certainly advantageous to the grower to export if he could find the means? Whence, in short, is derived this extraordinary glut in the corn market to which we have so many years been strangers? The solution of this question may perhaps be thought to lead to considerations of too temporary a nature to be admitted into a work of this description. But I venture to hope that a perusal of the following arguments will correct this opinion. The circumstances under which we are now labouring must be of frequent recurrence in all free and extensive countries, far advanced in society, liable to be engaged in hostilities with their neighbours, and wisely exerting themselves to establish an independent supply of food for the people from their native soil. They will doubtless recur, perhaps with aggravated force, in future periods of our own history. An investigation of them is therefore surely not superfluous in a work professing to treat fundamentally of the principles connected with the comfortable subsistenee of the people in the advanced stages of society.
On the Causes of the present Depression, and of the Fluctuations which have lately taken place, in the Price of Agricultural Produce.
1 CONCEIVE that no man accustomed to consider the principles upon which the demand and the supply of the corn-market are regulated, and who recollects the history of the last two eventful years, can hesitate in pointing out, with a considerable degree of confidence, both the proximate causes of the present state of things, and the origin from which they sprung. It is demonstrable, as a general principle, that when markets are for any considerable period overstocked with an article, the importation of which is prohibited, the glut must necessarily be produced by the existence of a surplus produce of domestic growth. A temporary effect of this nature may certainly be produced by distress among the growers, from want of accommodation arising out of a suspension of credit, or from a panic concerning the progressive detericration of prices. Either of these causes would induce them to pour their produce into the market in greater quantities than the demand would absorb, would reduce its price, promote a wasteful consumption ; and, when the temporary effects had ceased, the natural result of such a process would be a subsequent and rather sudden elevation of price : for the country would be gradually exhausted of its produce, while the increased demand remained in full vigour. The wasteful habits introduced by previous plenty would not be immediately corrected, and, when the stock to supply them began to fall short, a considerable rise of price would of course ensue. That these causes have in some degree operated to produce the present glut in the market, and that those effects are reasonably to be expected, especially if the ensuing harvest be not very plentiful, is, I think, undeniable. The general want of that accommodation which the farmers have for years past experienced from the country Bankers, whose resources of credit have now failed, have rendered it necessary for tenants to force their corn into the market with a simultaneous effort, in order to procure money for the payment of their rent, their taxes, and other out-goings: while the consequent reduction of price renders it necessary to sell so large a quantity of produce, in order to realize the sums actually due from the cultivator to his creditors, that infinitely more than the fair proportion of the growth of the country has been prematurely forced into the market. At the same time, the general stagnation of credit, and want of money for speculation, have prevented the purchase of any large quantities of corn for the purpose of storing, with a view to resale at a profit. The alarm of the farmers, lest a still further depression should ensue, operating upon their conviction that, at all events, their produce must ere long be carried to market, must have hastened their efforts to anticipate this further depression by a speedy sale, and, by adding to the mass in an already overstocked market, must have tended, like most other effects of panic, to aggravate the danger it was the object to avoid. Under these circumstances it is not true, as I have lately seen it asserted, that the consumption of corn does not increase in some proportion at least to the depression of its price. When cheap, it is converted to many purposes for which substitutes are used when it is dear. I have no doubt that grain has been used for many months past where potatoes are the usual food in ordinary times. The supply and the consumption having therefore both exceeded their usual proportion, it follows, as a strictly logical conclusion, that unless the future growth shall be equally in excess, the ultimate consequence must be a comparative scarcity and rise in price. And as there is no reason to conclude that the growth will be sufficiently in excess to counteract the effects of one unfavourable or even average harvest upon the diminished breadth of corn, to which the low price has induced the cultivator to contract his efforts for the ensuing crop, I have little doubt that a gradual rise in the corn-market will, ere long, be established, unless the next harvest should be uncommonly abundant. In the mean time however it may be asked, how is the agricultural interest to be relieved from the distress consequent upon the depression in the price of produce, which has been proceeding in a constant state of aggravation for the last two seasons? To this it may be answered, that in so far as they were entitled to, or could receive relief from, the unfair competition of the foreign grower, it was granted, though somewhat late, during the last session of parliament. In so far as their distress, notwithstanding that relief, is now to be attributed to an excess of the supply actually grown above the diminished demand in the market, the relief can only proceed from the