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ther production recurs at intervals successively more distant.
We may too, I think, always be reminded, in reference to the effects upon commerce and manufactures, of the high price at which these last supplies from the worst soils can be procured, that the principal object of commerce and manufactures for export being to realize capital for investment at home, and to assist in carrying on a people in a healthy career of industry and cultivation; it follows that, in proportion as a country advances to a fulness of
population and production, external commerce and the export of manufactures become comparatively of less importance to them. In proportion as England shall be peopled and cultivated towards the utmost point, its commercial intercourse with other countries may perhaps be profitably confined to the mere exchange of commodities for mutual comfort and convenience, without any view to the realization of fresh capital. The main springs of her wealth would then be found to be almost exclusively in her internal trade.
But to return from this digression. I have stated that the protection of domestic agriculture, by an importation price just high enough to remunerate the cultivator of soils of the staple of those last broken up, seems to be the most effectual method of preventing great fluctuations in the price of produce under the ordinary course of things, in a commercial and manufacturing country; indeed of confining all fluctuation within the limits necessarily set by Providence in its regulation of the seasons.
I think that this will appear to be true, when we consider that the price can scarcely ever rise materially higher; because it will be so very far above
that which corn bears in the exporting countries, or any of the other countries with which they have dealings, that the instant the ports of the highly commercial country are open, corn must almost necessarily flow into them, as to the most profitable market to which it can be carried : of course this is predicated of ordinary times, and the chances of war and other similar impediments are excepted in the argument. Neither will the price ever sink very far below the importation price, except in very plentiful harvests at home, when the excess in quantity will remunerate the grower at the reduced price. For under the ordinary circumstances of the country, inferior lands will not be broken up without a demand for the produce raised upon them. And upon the first indication given by sinking prices, that such demand is supplied, the progress of breaking up such soils will of course be checked. In plain terms, men will not cultivate without such a price for the produce as will pay the cost of production ;--at which price foreign corn comes into competition and checks a further rise. By these means, therefore, all material fluctuation is prevented, and it is reduced to an alternation between such low and moderate prices, on the one hand, as result from plentiful and average crops; and on the other such a moderately increased price as a scanty crop, notwithstanding the depression caused by imported corn, may be supposed to cause. In this last case, indeed, the grower will not be entirely remunerated, but must take his share with the rest of his countrymen in the infliction of Providence. But, upon the whole, the progress of agriculture will be maintained; the system least liable to fatal interruptions will be
pursued; and fluctuations in price as far prevented, as can be supposed possible during the advanced stages of society in a production of so precarious a nature as the growth of corn.
Recapitulation of the last Five Chapters, and the
Conclusion deducible therefrom.
AT the close of the sixth chapter, I observed that the question concerning the encouragement to be given to agriculture is a question of degree; that it must obviously not be carried to an extent that would either permanently injure commerce, and especially manufactures, by materially affecting the exportation of them to foreign countries, in consequence of an exorbitant rise in the price of labour at home; or that would check the sale of goods in the domestic market.
I further observed that, to ascertain whether due encouragement can be given to agriculture without any of these pernicious consequences, it is expedient in the first place to inquire into the necessary expenses that must be defrayed by the cultivator, before he begins to calculate upon those profits which are to determine the propriety of his continuing or relinquishing the objects of his pursuit. For these expenses must evidently be exceeded by the price paid for the produce by the general consumer, in order to give the cultivator any profit at all. This inquiry has been carried on in the four chapters preceding the last; and the result seems to be, that in a country far advanced into the commercial and manufacturing state of society, enjoying a free constitution, and that wishes to preserve and improve those blessings ;-Ist, a rent sufficient
to return fair interest for the capital invested in the land ;-2dly, wages high enough to afford to the labourers and their families a fair participation in the improving condition of the whole society ;-3dly, money sufficient to keep the stock and implements upon the farms in a thriving and serviceable state ; 4thly, the power of keeping the land in heart, and sowing the most profitable crops ;--5thly, the support of the moral and religious institutions of the country ;-6thly, the fair return of the farmer's capital ;-7thly, the necessary taxes to government ; and lastly, increasing clear profits upon the farmer's capital-constitute the encouragement necessary to the successful progress of agriculture. Be it observed, that they are not stated as essentially necessary to the prosperity of agriculture in all countries ; but to its co-existence with the peculiar condition and advantages of a free and commercial country. The question then arises, can it co-exist with those peculiar advantages ? Can the general consumer in a commercial and manufacturing country afford to defray all these necessary expenses without destroying commerce and manufactures, the very sources of agricultural prosperity in such a country? In short, can the infant be supported without destroying its nurse while it still requires her milk? I am disposed to think it can.
In the first place let it be considered that there are no consumers of manufactures, and objects of commerce, so certain and so constant as the domestic cultivators. Let us refer again to the schedule at the beginning of the last chapter but one, and we shall find that at least two thirds of the sums there specified are expended by the farmer, or by those