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other produce of our labor in manufactures, in tin, or any commodities whatsoever. 48. It behoves us, however, indubitably, to have an eye towards having a sufficiency of grain for food in this country, as we have laid down, section 26; and, were the legislature to enact, that the justices of the peace, at the Christmas quarter-session, should have power to summon all growers of grain or dealers therein, and upon oath to examine them as to the quantity then remaining, returns of which quantities should be made to the lords of the treasury, to be laid before Parliament; the legislature would, upon such returns, be able to judge, whether it would be necessary to enable his Majesty, with the advice of his council, to put a stop to any farther exportation at such times as might be thought proper. 49. Or it is submitted, whether the legislature would not act more consistent with the principle of granting bounties, by repealing the act allowing the present bounty on the several sorts of grain at the now fixed prices, and reduce these prices as follow; On wheat, from forty-eight to thirty-six or thirty-two shillings. On barley, from twenty-four to eighteen or sixteen a quarter; and so in proportion for any other grain. In short, diminish the present standard prices, under which the bounty is granted, one quarter or one third. 50. In our humble opinion, this last method would be by much the most simple and eligible, as consistent with our grand principle of freedom in trade, which would be cramped, if dependent annually on parliamentary deliberation. 51. The advocates for not lowering the present stipulated prices, that command the bounties from the public purse, may allege, that our ancestors deemed them necessary, on the principle of granting any bounty at all, which we have above hinted, section 43. We do not controvert the wisdom of the principle for granting a bounty; for it must have been, and ever will be, an encouragement to cultivation ; and consequently it would be highly improper wholly to discontinue it. Nevertheless, if it has answered one great end proposed, which was cultivation and improvement, and that it is incontrovertible the cultivator has, by the improvements made by the encouragement of the bounty, a living profit at the reduced prices of thirty-two or thirty-six shillings, sixteen or eighteen, &c., as above, which probably, when our ancestors enacted the law for granting the bounty, they understood the cultivators could not have; it seems clear, that there ought to be the proposed change and reduction of the bounty prices, as above mentioned.*
52. The French, intent on trade, have a few years since rectified a very gross mistake they labored under in regard to their commerce in grain. One county or province in France should abound, and the neighbouring one, though almost starving, should not be permitted to get grain from the plentiful province, without particular license from court, which cost no small trouble and expense. In sea-port towns, wheat should be imported; and soon after, without leave of the magistrates, the owner should only have liberty to export one quarter or one third of it. They are now wiser ; and through all the kingdom the corn trade is quite
* Our authors were much more favorably inclined to bounties than Adam Smith, and disagreed with him on the subject of the bounty on the exportation of corn, though they were still in favor of restricting it within narrower limits by reducing the rate of the market price at which it might be demanded. The reasoning, however, in the subsequent section is wholly in favor of Adam Smith's doctrine, that this bounty is inexpedient. - W. PHILLIPS.
free; and what is more, all sorts of grain may be exported upon French bottoms only, for their encouragement, copying, we presume, our law, whenever the market prices for three following days shall not exceed about forty-five shillings sterling a quarter for wheat. Our reason for mentioning this is only to show, that other nations are changing their destructive measures, and that it behoves us to be careful that we pay the greatest attention to our essential interests. In inland high countries, remote from the sea, and whose rivers are small, running from the country, not to it, as is the case of Switzerland, great distress may arise from a course of bad harvests, if public granaries are not provided and kept well stored. Anciently, too, before navigation was so general, ships so plenty, and commercial connexions so well established, even maritime countries might be occasionally distressed by bad crops. But such is now the facility of communication between those countries, that an unrestrained commerce can scarce ever fail of procuring a sufficiency for any of them. If, indeed, any government is so imprudent, as to lay its hands on imported corn, forbid its exportation, or compel its sale at limited prices, there the people may suffer some famine from merchants avoiding their ports. But wherever commerce is known to be always free, and the merchant absolute master of his commodity, as in Holland, there will always be a reasonable supply. When an exportation of corn takes place, occasioned by a higher price in some foreign country, it is common to raise a clamor, on the supposition that we shall thereby produce a domestic famine. Then follows a prohibition, founded on the imaginary distress of the poor. The poor, to be sure, if in distress, should be relieved; but if the farmer could have a high price for his corn from the foreign demand, must he, by a prohibition of exportation, be compelled to take a low price, not of the poor only, but of every one that eats bread, even the richest? The duty of relieving the poor is incumbent on the rich; but, by this operation, the whole burden of it is laid on the farmer, who is to relieve the rich at the same time. Of the poor, too, those who are maintained by the parishes have no right to claim this sacrifice of the farmer; as, while they have their allowance, it makes no difference to them whether bread be cheap or dear. Those working poor, who now mind business five or four days in the week, if bread should be so dear as to oblige them to work the whole six, required by the commandment, do not seem to be aggrieved so as to have a right to public redress. There will then remain comparatively only a few families in every district, who from sickness or a great number of children, will be so distressed by a high price of corn as to need relief; and these should be taken care of, by particular benefactions, without restraining the farmer's profit. Those who fear, that exportation may so far drain the country of corn as to starve ourselves, fear what never did, nor ever can happen. They may as well, when they view the tide ebbing towards the sea, fear that all the water will leave the river. The price of corn, like water, will find its own level. The more we export, the dearer it becomes at home. The more is received abroad, the cheaper it becomes there ; and as soon as these prices are equal, the exportation stops of course. As the seasons vary in different countries, the calamity of a bad harvest is never universal. If, then, all ports were always open, and all commerce free, every maritime country would generally eat bread at the medium price, or average of all the different
harvests, which would probably be more equal than we can make it by our artificial regulations, and therefore a more steady encouragement to agriculture. The nations would all have bread at this middle price; and that nation, which at any time inhumanly refuses to relieve the distresses of another nation, deserves no compassion when in distress itself.
We shall here end these reflections, with our most ardent wishes for the prosperity of our country; and our hopes, that the doctrine we have endeavoured to inculcate, as to the necessity of protection and freedom, in order to insure success in trade, will be ever attended to by the legislature in forming their resolutions relating to the commerce of these kingdoms.
REFLECTIONS ON COIN IN GENERAL, BEING AN
APPENDIX TO THE ABOVE ESSAY.
“The clamor made of the great inconveniences, suffered by the community in regard to the coin of this kingdom, prompted me in the beginning of his Majesty's reign to give the public some reflections on coin in general, on gold and silver as merchandise, and I added my thoughts on paper passing as money.
“As I trust the principles then laid down are founded in truth, and will serve now as well as then, though made fourteen years ago, to change any calculation would be of little use.
“Some sections in the foregoing essay of Principles
* This Preface was written entirely by Mr. Whatley. - W. T. F. VOL. II.