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derive from an external trade in Corn, must of necessity be derived at the expense of some internal interest; and, by the derangement which the transfer of interest occasions, constitute an aggregate evil, rather than an aggregate good. But, on the other hand, if Corn of external growth should lead to a corresponding increase of consumption, whatever special interests may be injured thereby either in reality or imagination, an aggregate benefit is certain in a physical, moral, and social sense.
23. Some further observations might be offered, in reference to the degree or relative effect of an external trade in Corn, on the three first classes here previously enumerated, but which to every practical and intelligent mind, will readily suggest themselves; and, as the prescribed limits of this preface preclude much amplification, the Association will pass on to an elucidation of the way and degree, in whic the landed proprietor is liable to be affected by the measure of an importation of Corn.
24. To offer the most ample elucidation of this part of the question, of which it is susceptible, it would be necessary to take into consideration, not only the extent of the present internal supply, but also the natural capabilities of the soil, and the physical and scientific means of the people to increase that supply; and further, to determine whether the landed proprietor has any, and what claim, to special consideration and protection.
25. Much has been said and written about the exhaustion of the English soil; and it has been assumed, that it is incapable of producing subsistence in proportion to the increase of its consumers; that the power of increase of the one is only arithmetical, whilst the power of the other is geometrical. And it has been assumed, and the assumption obtained great popularity, that the high money price of Corn in England has resulted entirely from all the best soils in the country having become so far exhausted as to be incapable of yielding the necessary supply; so, as to progressively force the more inferior soils requiring progressively more and more labor at a proportionate increase of cost to render them capable of yielding any supply at all. The erroneousness of the latter position, and the petty conceit, under which it was first arithmetically exhibited, are equally pitiful; and that they should have gained any popularity, even in this speculative age, is a libel alike on its practical experience and intelligence. The obvious cause of the high money prices is sufficiently plain in the historical part of this preface, to need any further observation here, on that head, whilst the position of the exhaustion and incapability of the English soil to sustain its population, and the conceit of the arithmetical limits of the one, and geometrical power of the other, will appear equally pitiful, when the philosophy of
the law of nature is considered; which law admits of no exhaustion; but that the reproductive power of both the animal and vegetable part of creation are always in exact proportion to their extent; and thus, to use the language of a genuine philosopher, as far as the influence and power of nature is concerned, " every generation of both immutably provides subsistence for those that follow ;" and, that this delightful conclusion is not eternally manifest to human minds, is entirely and exclusively the result of a perversion of the social compact.
26. Although the question, whether or not the landed proprietor has any, and what claim to special consideration and protection, may be considered as belonging to the political, rather than to the commercial part of this elucidation; as it has been adverted to in conjunction with the question of the capability of the soil, it shall be dismissed in this place, as far as the Association intend to enlarge upon it on this occasion.
27. One of the first principles of perversion of the social compact will, on a purely philosophical investigation of what constitutes the just relations of society, be traced to the apportionment of the soil to a distinct class of individuals. Was the soil held, in common or collectively by the government of a community for the interest and benefit of the whole, the rent-tax now subject to the caprice and avarice of thousands of individuals, and which now presses so inordinately upon the weight of an unparalleled burthen of state taxes, might, under the circumstance just adverted to, be made to constitute the only source of taxation, subject only to one general and equitable principle of assessment.
28. The possession of the soil also by a class of individuals to the exclusion of others, has a tendency to create and cherish those distinctions in society: not merely incompatible with its public weal, but subversive of moral, as well as social order: and, as far as the possession is rendered hereditary, it has a tendency to place influence, authority and power in the hands of the very worst specimens of human nature, to the exclusion and trampling upon of every generous and every noble passion. Subject to this view of the question, the Association do not hesitate to declare that the present class of land-holders in England have no claim to any special consideration or protection; and although the Association are well aware, that by making the declaration, they expose themselves to the impugnment of treason or madness :-let it pass; philosophy, and truth, and social good, demand that it should be made.
29. It is not intended, however, on this occasion, to view the question of an importation of Corn through this medium, but to look at the class of British landed proprietors in the relation in which they at present stand with the rest of the community; and,
in thus viewing the subject, the way in which the landed proprietors are liable to be affected by an importation of Corn, will be a probable variation in its money price; whilst the degree in which they will be affected will depend on the extent of the importation.
30. When it is considered, that a comparatively very trifling supply beyond demand produces a very disproportionate effect upon the value of the aggregate quantity, it is certainly a duty incumbent on legislation to pause ere, for the sake of experiment, they expose the several interests of the country to so extensive a change, as a comparatively trifling additional supply of Corn is liable to occasion; that is, assuming 40 as the quantity, and 240 as the value of the supply adequate to the demand, an increase of 1 has a tendency, not merely to affect the value of the aggregate supply in its proportionate ratio of 6 but of 12, an increase of 2 to the extent of 30, and of 3 to the probable extent of 80 or 100. Consider therefore, the produce of 40 millions of acres of land, (the quantity or thereabouts in a productive state in Great Britain,) sufficient to yield an adequate supply, and 240 millions per annum its aggregate value, the importation of the produce of 1, 2, or 3 millions of acres of a Foreign soil must inevitably lead to one or the other of the two following results; viz. either the supplanting of the cultivation of a corresponding extent of soil at home, or a derangement in the value in the proportion just previously exhibited. And then, as the money value of the produce of the soil has a necessary tendency to govern the money value of all other productions, (vide statement page 30 in the vol. of Statistics,) the depreciation extends through all the productive classes; whilst all those who subsist on the state taxes to the extent of £52,000,000, on a rent-tax to the extent of £40,000,000, and on mortgages, and other fixed money incomes, to the extent of 10 to £15,000,000 per annum more, are all benefited in a ratio proportionate to the depreciation sustained by all the productive classes. The progress therefore of the effect of an importation of Corn beyond the demand for immediate consumption, is, first, to depreciate the money value at the expense of the occupier of the land, the extent of the depreciation depending mainly on the extent of the importation: the effect of the depreciation upon the occupiers of the land immediately manifests itself to the laborer, and all that class of handicrafts and tradesmen, more immediately dependant on the occupiers and laborers of the soil; and it is not till exhaustion and degradation pervade the whole of this portion of the community, that the rent-tax, or in other words, the landed proprietor, will be materially affected by the measure of importation.
31. Having thus cursorily exhibited the effect likely to be produced by an importation of foreign Corn on the four classes, Nos.
4 to 7, previously enumerated, the Association will pass on to show the effect the importation will have on the manufacturing class of the community, and the multifarious classes employed in manufactures; and in an abstract point of view, a benefit to this class is as obvious as it is to the merchant, the ship-owner, and all those more immediately dependant on external commerce; that is, looking at the manufacturing class, as far as the exportation of £50,000,000 value per annum of their products are concerned; against such an amount, whatever amount in value to which foreign Corn may be imported, has undoubtedly a tendency either to enhance the value of the manufactures exported, or to increase the demand to a corresponding extent, to the value of the Corn imported. This is a certain result, and as certain a benefit. But then, to use the pedantic language of the pseudo race of political philosophers, the benefit on an external interest is only arithmetical, whilst the derangement which it is liable to occasion (as previously shown) on the internal interests of the country is geometrical. But, say the advocates for importation and FREE TRADE, let the intercourse be free, and the thing will find its own level, and regulate itself. No doubt-let famine and its concomitant pestilence be free, and it will find its own level and regulate itself. Had this doctrine been adhered to in Ireland, in 1822, Ireland might probably have found its own level, and regulated itself, ere this. But further, say the advocates for importation and free trade, the advantages to be derived from an external trade in Corn would produce such an internal excitement by the increased remuneration for manufacturing labor, as to prevent that sort of depreciation and derangement here previously laid down; and was the power of supply of natural, and of manufactured (or artificial) productions equal, the position would deserve investigation; but whilst the supply of one, in a comparative sense, may be considered limited, and the other infinite, the only tendency of an unrestrained intercourse is to increase the supply of the artificial productions, until they lead to such an exhaustion of the physical, and degradation of the moral character of society, as to threaten the entire annihilation of all social order.
32. The effect of an external trade in Corn upon the numerous class of interchangers or shopkeepers, now only remains to be considered. As far as the products which pass through the hands of interchangers are either foreign or domestic, the advantages may be considered equal: it is derangement only that affects them, and the consequences are the same, whether produced by internal or external causes. How far this extensive, useful, and important class are likely to be affected by either one or the other of those causes, will more fully appear under the political elucidation of the subject.
33. Assuming the "great end of all good government to be, the happiness and well-being of the people," in the legitimate and most comprehensive sense of the term, it is obviously and equally imperative on the legislature and the executive, to guard against excess and its consequences, as well as against deficiency or destitution and their consequences: in short, "to maintain an equilibrium" may be considered the sum and substance of the art of government. Hence it is, in other words, not unrestraint and freedom, but restraint and regulation, which constitute the means by which the great end of all good government is to be attained; yet freedom at the same time is perfectly compatible with the judicious exercise of regulation. It is not tolerance or licence, but certainty and impartiality: not the looseness or laxity of regulations, but their precision, intelligibility, and the equal and impartial application to all classes of the community, which constitutes a state of freedom; like the grand and immutable law of nature, which causes all progressive phenomena to succeed with such unvarying regularity, that the manifestation of its power, and the liberty of action throughout all animated creation are perfectly compatible. Social regulations so ordained would excite such degrees of industry and exertion as would produce private happiness, public prosperity, and national glory, social perfections, akin to the perfections of Contrasted with this, how petty in pretension, ever-varying in action, and fiend-like in its effects, does modern legislation present itself; and especially so in England, the half of whose population under the influence and pretension of freedom, in return for unceasing toil, and an extent of labor far surpassing that of the Hebrews under Egyptian bondage, or that of the slaves of the Western world, are degraded to the rank of paupers; and millions forced to the verge of starvation, whilst Corn and other articles of subsistence are absolutely prohibited from being received in exchange for the products of their labor, and that too from countries which have no other equivalent to give.
34. Unsocial, unjust, irrational, and impolitic as restraints like these obviously are, such is the artificial and perverse state into which a long career of speculative experiments and misrule have placed British society, that every proposition which has hitherto been made for modifying those restraints, as obviously portend still more calamitous consequences; at the same time it must be admitted, that if the prohibition of foreign Corn is impolitic and unjust, the admission cannot be impolitic and unjust also. It would seem therefore, that the difficulty consists in devising that just principle of regulation, that shall produce a social and general good, without any of that derangement so obviously likely to result from an importation, under any of the regulations hitherto proposed; and it will doubtless prove, on a developement of that just