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speaking) by the circumstance of such power being vested in their hands. No contract can be entered into—no engagement between man and man—without being so affected.

Consider how wages are governed by the price of corn. On the 1st of June, a man makes a bargain with a servant to serve him till the 1st of January at so much per diem, with reference to the price of corn. On the Ist of July, the government, without any indication of progressive price, preparing the agriculturist for the change, deem it to be necessary either to pass a sudden law, or to take upon themselves, exclusively, the responsibility of introducing five hundred thousand or a million quarters of corn (the quantity more or less does not affect the argument). Is this contract to be valid ? If so, it is at the expense of the master; if not so, at the expense of the servant. The true wisdom of general laws is, to allow individual intelligence to regulate private transactions. No one can pretend to say for one moment, that natural causes may not dislocate the most prudent calculations; but then no calculation is made without a knowledge that such natural causes may supervene; and we all know under what species of endurance men are proverbially most passive.

But let us ask a very plain question: What would be the effect, if the present system of corn-laws were rigidly adhered to, without these palliating modifications on the part of the executive government ? Let it be supposed, (for the proposition is a perfectly admissible one,) that the wheat harvest had been a bad one, bad in quality and badly housed. We know too well what would then have been the state of tens of thousands of the population, unable to find employment, and mainly dependant upon charity for existence :-as the local poor-rates must have been insufficient to meet the demands upon them. Let us imagine the price of corn rising from hour to hour-even apprehensions of famine entertained—65, 70, 75, 80, 85, 90, 95, 100—and the quarter day, or the six weeks' day, when the law permits importation, not yet arrived. Is any rational agriculturist prepared on his honour to declaro, that such a crisis in itself possible, and until lately almost probable) could be felt, in all its intensity of suffering, on the part of the pauper manufacturing population, without producing a revulsion and re-action, which would lead to the destruction of those proportions which ought to be the true object of oth parties, in framing a permanent law upon this subject ? It must be remarked, that the ultra-agriculturist's proposal is that this law should in no degree be mitigated. He may, it is true, say, that, long before such a crisis could be reached, the government would, as a matter of course, act upon the extremity of the

VOL. XXXV, NO. Lix.

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case,

case, and take upon itself the mitigation; but if he does make such an answer, he pronounces with his own lips the most conclusive of all possible censures on his boasted law. In point of fact, future historians may doubt whether the most astute policy, on the part of those who are anxious for a change in the cornlaws, would not have been, to have patiently awaited the period when such a crisis should arrive, and limited their endeavours to the mere object of preventing the government from any sort of interference that could have the effect of mitigating prospectively the severity of these laws. At all events nothing could have been more easy than this course. The agriculturists, whose voice is loudest, appear to be prepared to stand by the present law. If therefore the manufacturers had said to the government—- Either maintain the present laws, and pledge yourselves never, under any circumstances, to mitigate their operation ; or give us entire freedom, without any sort of protection to the agriculturist,—we will be satisfied with either alternative,'—the government would have been placed in a state of embarrassment, because the agriculturists, such of them, we mean, as seem to be totally blinded to their own permanent interest, would have said, Accept the proposal, and abide by the laws as they now stand. The result might have been, that for a year or two, or perhaps more, the apparent triumph would have been with them; but a day must have arrived, when the evils above described must have pressed, in their accumulated character, upon the country, and in that crisis the agricultural interest, as a separate interest, must have been destroyed, -as far, at least, as the fortunes of the present possessors of landed property are concerned. And what is most extraordinary in the present times, is the fact of the enmity of our ultra-agriculturists being specifically directed against those very persons who, seeing and appreciating the contingent ruin inevitably awaiting the agricultural class, have attempted to stave it off, in the first instance, by relaxations of that law under which the ultra-agriculturists insanely wish the country perpetually to abide ;--and then laboriously prepared themselves to suggest an improved state of law—a state of law under which those proportions may be preserved, upon which the interests of all classes, but more especially of the agricultural class, essentially hinge and determine.

But although we have felt it to be our duty to express ourselves thus strongly upon the general subject, let it not be supposed that we are prepared to admit, that the effect of lowering the price of corn by the importation of foreign corn (if such should be the consequence, on which point there is much to be said) would

necessarily

necessarily work an immediate relief to the distresses of our unemployed, or partially employed, population. This part of the subject is one of unavoidable intricacy: and yet it only requires to pass the mind on, from point to point, to arrive at a conclusion carrying with it much of the force of demonstration.

It is contended, that the cause of the distress in the manufacturing districts is, the impossibility of our master manufacturers affording to sell their goods at a rate sufficiently cheap to com. mand that number of domestic or foreign purchasers, whose demands would be sufficient to absorb the average production of our manufacturing industry. The consequence is stated to be, that a great number of artisans are thrown out of employment; and from that very circumstance, which involves the necessity of working at the

very
lowest minimum of wages, the wages

of the whole class are lowered, and misery necessarily ensues.

Supposing, for a moment, that such a state of things did actually exist, the first observation would probably be, that there must be a tendency in the crisis to cure itself; in a word, that the manufactures would be forced into consumption, from the economy of production which the present low wages of labour enabled the master manufacturer to carry into effect. But that proposition mainly rests on an assumption, which is anything but practically true ; namely, that cheapness of production will perpetually command an extended market. That it has a tendency to do so, no man of common sense and information will doubt; but there is a limitation of production, beyond which it cannot be forced without a glut: and it is this point which, it would seem, neither theoretical reasoners nor practical men can determine with accuracy. –To take familiar instance : suppose

individual at home, an economist in his own private concerns ;

a hatter brings a number of hats to him, telīs him that the circumstances of the times have made hats remarkably cheap, and urges him to avail himself of the lucky moment. He answers, that he is not in the habit of wearing more than two hats per annum, and that he does not know what he shall do with eight. The hatter rejoins, that it will answer for him to keep them in depôt, as the present lowness of price will more than compensate the interest of money so laid out; and that, consequently, on the whole, he will be a gainer for abandoning his old method of making annual purchases exactly proportionate to his wants. Let it be supposed that he purchases the hats in question, and that others do the same : what is the consequence ? The glut in hats is absorbed for the moment; but the essence of the transaction is, that these parties will not be hat-purchasers in the course of the next three years. If, in conse

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an

quence

quence 'of this absorption of the glut, manufacturers are retained sufficient to produce that supply which existed previously to the glut, and if they are retained under a supposition that, the glut being momentarily removed, the consumption will go on as before, the fallacy of such a calculation must be evident to any person who can deal with the most familiar proposition. Now, where is the difference, in principle, between this illustration and one upon a great scale, with reference to some of the new countries in South America ? Those countries raised loans in England; their revenues, or property in them, were pledged for the interest of those loans. The loans being to be raised, money, or money's worth, was to be remitted ; and how was it remitted ? In bullion or in bills ?—No. The thing was impossible : it was remitted in manufactures, the production of which, at the moment, had the character of increasing national prosperity ; but the real demand for those manufactures was as nothing, in proportion to the supply. Manufactures were taken in payment at a reduced rate ; but how is that manufacturing population to be maintained in permanent employment, which has been brought into action by circumstances of a purely temporary nature ?

Can

any man doubt as to the cause of manufacturing distress, who has had an opportunity of knowing the history of these transactions, and of observing the way in which the machinery of commercial intercourse practically worked, during that crisis of spurious excitement of production ? In point of fact, there is a plain analogy between this sort of expenditure and the expenditure of a war, mainly maintained by loans, the depressive effects of which are found in their re-action upon a state of peace. The whole of that national debt, which now spreads its surface over every interest in this country, tended to stimulate production during the period of its creation ; but what sort of production was so stimulated ? It was a sort of production that carried with it no principle of re-production. This observation in no degree affects the policy of incurring that expense. Franklin, who appears to have had much intuitive prescience with respect to those opinions of political economy which, since the time of Adam Smith, have formed at least the basis of a science, illustrates, in an ingenious and plausible manner, this distinction between simple production, and production attended with re-production. Speaking as a settler in the United States, in the infancy of an agricultural settlement, he reasons to the following effect: If I hire a servant to plough and sow for me, and clothe and feed him during a year, it is perfectly true that I incur an expense in so doing ; but at the end of the year, the production which is the result of his plough

ing and sowing repays back to me the expense I incurred in his maintenance: and it not only repays it, but repays it with an excess; and I am enabled in the next year to employ more servants, in consequence of the production of that individual servant. But if I feed and clothe a man to fiddle to me, it is very true that I have the advantage and pleasure of his fiddling during the year, but at the end of it nothing remains but the recollection of the tunes ; and though I may have indulged in the luxury, I am not the richer for my expenditure.' Now, although this illustration bears closely on the point of productive and unproductive labour, as argued by Adam Smith, it in no degree weakens the more sound and conclusive arguments of later economists, who have successfully contended that moral enjoyments and intellectual employments, and anything that is necessary for the support of the civil institutions of a country, or for its defence against its enemies, ought not to be set down, without very distinct qualifications, to the score of unproductive labour, or rather, it should be said, of unproductive expenditure:--but still the naked fact of production and non-production does substantively remain the same, and strictly so in its effects, as a stimulus to labour.

If an individual with a capital of 20,000l. spends that capital at the rate of 5,0001. per annum-improves his land -extends and decorates his house,-he necessarily puts into action an increased quantity of labour, and gives a

character of prosperity to the little local district where he lives; but, by the terms of the proposition, at the end of the fourth year, all this stimulus to labour ceases, and the effect which that cessation produces on the labourers and artisans who have been employed, and for whose services it may be supposed no other local demand now exists, can be easily conceived. All the labourers who are looking to constant employment under this Amphytrion, and who may have married on the supposition of finding it, are distressed to an extensive degree ; and let the consequence be pursued-the increase in the supply of labour in the general market, from their being thrown out of employment, produces a deterioration in the general wages of labour in such branches as they are capable of executing. This is more or less typical of the consequences of a war expenditure. If such an expenditure be necessary to national safety, it must be incurred with all its consequences ; but let it be distinctly understood that, however necessary, it cannot be incurred without such consequences as we have been contemplating. A system of unnatural excitement to either agricultural or manufacturing industry, in a state of peace,

produces

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