網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

Preface to the Appendix to the first Edition of the Statis

tical Illustrations of the Territorial Extent and Population, Rental, Taxation, Commerce, Finances, Insolvency, Pauperism, Crime, &c. &c. of the British Empire. breat Buter

1. If the fulfilment of a prediction of calamitous consequences can justify gratulation, the Association formed in London for the purpose of inquiring into the causes which led to the privation. and misery alternately endured, by the productive classes of society in Great Britain, since the termination of the war in 1815, may proudly appeal and refer, not only to the Preface which accompanied the volume of Statistics published in 1825; but to the Summary of the Report of their Proceedings, published in

1823-24.

2. The Association are desirous to direct the attention of the earnest inquirer after truth, and of every friend to social weal, to the eventful period of the commencement of 1826, as a partial fulfilment of the prediction contained in the concluding paragraph of P. xvii. of the Preface to the Statistics above referred to. They say partial fulfilment only; for although the derangement, occasioned by the event at the commencement of the year 1826, exceeded all previous derangements in its rapidity and extent, unless some measures are adopted, of which at present there is not the slightest indication, the past will assuredly prove only the event, of which all the sad consequences are to follow.

3. The correctness of this declaration will appear more manifest by the observations which it is intended to offer in the following pages. The CORN LAWS and CURRENCY, however, engage so much of the attention of the public at the present moment, that the Association deem them first in order of place, as demanding a priority of notice.

4. On the question of an external trade in Corn, it is intended here to offer a few observations under the following heads: viz.-Historical, Commercial, and Political.

5. History, in its legitimate sense, being synonymous with a Pam. NO. LII.

VOL. XXVI.

record of facts, the statements herewith relating to Corn, pages 23 to 35, with the notes thereto, will preclude the necessity of much enlargement in this place on the historical part of the question, in so far as it may be considered as having relation to the prevailing feeling of the time. It might otherwise be interesting to show the extent to which the Egyptians during the Ptolemaic era, and the Romans during the zenith of their career, were wont to store Corn, as a reserve to meet the exigencies, arising either from political circumstances, or occasional unfavorable seasons; and also to show the extent to which the government of China at the present time, makes a reserve of Grain and Rice, to maintain an equilibrium of value, and to supply the deficiency which so frequently occurs in one part or the other, of that extensive empire.

6. In addition to the unfavorableness of the seasons during the seven years 1692-1699, (see note to statement page 24,) a depreciated or variable currency, arising from clipping of the coin, appears to have contributed towards the relatively high money prices of Grain during that period; and the same cause has been supposed to have operated in producing the same effect, at antecedent periods both before, and after the influx of gold and silver from America, in about half a century subsequent to the discovery of that part of the world by Columbus in 1492-93. The most remarkable effect produced by unfavorable seasons in England, since the period of the Norman Conquest, both with regard to an extreme price and extreme privation, appears to have been during the reign of Hen. III., which commenced in 1216, and ended in 1272. It was about the year 1265, after much turbulence had prevailed, that the people were subdued to their fate, and confirmed their submission in dying by thousands on the highways: from 1150 to 1250, the money price will be seen to have quadrupled; but the more settled state of the country after the ascendancy of the baronial influence in the preceding reign of John, by the stimulus which it afforded both to external commerce and internal excitement to industry, may be considered as having tended in some degree to enhance the money value of all commodities; and which the extensive ́armaments and marked successes of Edward III., about the middle of the 14th century, tended still further to enhance.'

7. The political events of the troubled reign of the 1st Charles, and the protectorate of Cromwell, during the 3d and 4th decenaries of the 17th century, seem also to have had some effect in

·

In 1857, John, king of France, who had been taken prisoner by the English at the battle of Poictiers, was ransomed for 3,000,000 crowns of gold, equal to about 1,500,000l., a vast sum in those days.

enhancing the money price of Grain, which, after the Restoration of Charles II., in 1660, appears gradually to have receded in price down to about 2s. 9d. a bushel, which led to the encouragement of exportation in 1688, as stated in the note at page 23. The large exportation in 1706 appears to have been occasioned entirely from the abundance of the harvest, the season having been remarkably favorable; and from the low money price the exportation would appear to have been forced, rather than to have resulted from demand: three years afterwards, however, the reverse was the case; an exceedingly cold and humid season not only in England, but more especially in France, gave rise to such an extensive demand for export to that country, as to more than treble the money price, and which led, in 1710, to the exportation from England being prohibited one year.

8. No such extreme in money price again took place until 1796, when 25,000,000l. of Exchequer, Navy, and Victualling bills, being nearly treble the amount in circulation on an average of years previous to the declaration of war in 1793, first laid the foundation of that artificial and fluctuating course of money prices which has tended to demoralise and pauperise three-fourths of the British people, and which now portends the speedy annihilation of all social order, throughout the British dominions.

9. A somewhat high and irregular order of prices, as well as irregular extent of export, followed for 8 or 10 years subsequent to 1710, and for 5 or 6 more years the prices somewhat declined, until 172526, when the demand for export, or some other cause which has not been satisfactorily explained, led to some advance; and in 1728-29, for the first time after the passing of the Act of 1688, the quantity of Grain imported exceeded the quantity exported. In 1728 an act was passed to regulate the price of imported Corn; and in the following year another act was passed to amend the preceding.

10. During the ten years 1730-9, although the extent of export was irregular, the prices will be seen to have been moderate and equable; a very severe winter in 1739-40, followed by an unfavorable harvest, occasioned a considerable rise in price in that and the following year. The seasons of the ten years 1742-1751 appear to have been exceedingly favorable, and the export during the three last years of that period, unusually great. Notwithstanding which, the average price of the 10 years, in the London market, did not exceed 22s. to 26s. per quarter, the minimum having been 18s. to 20s. only in 1745. A considerable advance in price took place in 1752, and the export, although much less than in either of the three preceding years, was very considerable. In the four following years, 1753-56, although the price gradually receded to the level of the ten years 1742-51, the complaints of the people were loud and

general against what they then called a high price of provisions; and at Christmas, 1756, the exportation was again prohibited, and in the two following years a partial supply of wheat was imported; yet the price gradually rose in the London market from 22s. to 26s. per quarter, in June 1756; to 67s., to 72s. in June 1757; from which price it gradually receded to about 24s. in 1761, when the export again became very considerable; and which continued during the three following years, with an advance in price of from 10s. to 15s. per quarter, when both the export and the price became again a subject of general complaint.

11. With the year 1765 there commenced a succession of precarious harvests, and from which date a new era in the trade in Corn may be considered as having commenced, and a permanently higher range of prices established. From 1765 down to 1796, the importation and exportation, by the statement at page 24, will be seen to have been very irregular; notwithstanding which, no very marked variation in price seems to have taken place. In 1773 the bounty on the exportation of Grain was discontinued, and some regulations for the importation thereof enacted; under which, in the five years 1774-78, the importation was considerable, and the next four years there was again an excess exported. An unfavorable harvest, in 1782, led to a great importation in the following year; and although in the nine following years the import and export of wheat was very irregular, the importation of oats continued progressively to increase; and in addition to the quantities imported, as exhibited in the statement at page 24, there was occasionally considerable quantities of rye imported; viz. in the two years 1767-68, 123,600 quarters; in the two years 1774-75, 75,000 quarters; in the three years 1783-85, 134,800 quarters; and in the seven years 1789-95, an average of 31,000 quarters per annum; and in 1796, 163,650 quarters.

12. In the view here exhibited of the variation in the money price of Grain through a period of nearly eight centuries, there are three leading causes adverted to, as having tended to produce that variation: viz. 1st, an influx, and consequent depreciation, of money; 2d, extremely favorable, or unfavorable seaso and, 3d, internal commotion, or external war. That all these circumstances have each in themselves a tendency to produce a variation in the money price of all commodities of great and general consumption, and more particularly so of Grain to a certain extent, cannot be questioned; but, on a close investigation of the more detailed exhibition of the external trade in Corn, from the period of 1688 downwards, whether considered in relation to the London prices adverted to in the preceding pages, the Eton prices of wheat and malt, and the London price of the quartern loaf, as ex

« 上一頁繼續 »