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margin. This much, however, we know for a fact, that an eminent cornmerchant in Leith has, in former years, purchased fine wheat, free on board, at Dantzic for 188., with the offer of a constant supply, and that no circumstances have since then emerged to enhance the cost of production. Besides this, as Mr Sandars well remarks in one of his published letters, we have had plain and evident experience of foreign production under the working of the corn law of 1842. We had a fixed duty of 20s. per quarter in actual operation for four years; and in 1844 and 1845, such duty was paid, week after week, and in the latter year for six months consecutively, at a time when our general averages were only 46s. to 47s. a quarter. Was the foreigner at that time selling at a loss? His price, then, adapting itself to ours, was 26s. and 27s., deducting the duty, and at that time, be it remembered, he was unprepared for competition. So that, from experience not five years old, we may gather what kind of future competition awaits us, and also what we are annually sacrificing in revenue, by madly abandoning protection. Does any one believe that, in 1845, had there been no duty on foreign corn, wheat would have fallen to 26s., or the foreigner have sold his crop at that price? The remitted duty goes into the pocket of the foreigner, who is selling in the dearest market, and underselling our farmers, as he will be able to do for he has tested that ability already -down to a point which must extinguish British agriculture. We know also from Mr Meek's report, quoted by Sir Robert Peel in 1842, that "the prices of corn in Denmark have, during the last twenty-five years, averaged, for wheat, 28s. 10d., rye, 19s. 9d., barley, 148., and oats, 10s. 6d. per quarter," and it is obviously ridiculous to suppose that the cost of production in Poland is nearly so high as in Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein. Last year Denmark sent us upwards of a million quarters of grain. These are facts which have distinctly emerged, and they are all-important at the present time, when the tenantry are urged to expend further capital on the chance of future rise of prices. It is now perfectly clear that the returns,

which were assumed as the basis for the great experiment, are worthy of no confidence. On the other hand, we do not wish that our opinions, which point to a totally different result, should influence any one in his future line of conduct; but, beyond our opinions, there are certain facts, which we have just stated, and the import of which cannot be misunderstood, and these may serve as warnings for the future. Of the capability of the foreigner to supply us with any given amount of grain, we think no reasonable man can doubt. There is a breadth of soil open sufficient to supply more than twenty times the most exorbitant demand. It is his power to undersell us, and the extent of that power, which have been questioned; and on the solution of that question depends the utility of high farming, in this country, on a grand and comprehensive scale. We shall show that, at present prices, high farming is so far from remunerative, that those who practise it are actually incurring an immense loss; and that, unless rents come down to zero, or at least to a point which would utterly ruin the landlords, high farming cannot be proceeded with. We have shown that, within the last five years, we have been supplied, and that regularly, from abroad, when wheat was at 46s. per quarter, and a duty of 20s. existed; and, at such rates, it is quite evident that all attempt at competition would be hopeless. Wheat could not be grown remuneratively at 26s. or 27s. in England before a single shilling of the national debt was incurred; and no man is mad enough to insist upon its possibility now. When, therefore, the Free-traders tell us that the present is a mere temporary depreciation, we ask them and we demand a distinct reply-for an explanation of the imports in 1845. How was it that, for a long period, foreign corn came in plentifully, paying the duty of 20s., when our home averages were at 46s. and 478.? Can they assign any special reason for it? If not, the conclusion is plain, that the foreign growers can and will undersell us down to that point, if we possibly could compete with them so far, and all the while add to their profit,

while they also abstract from our


Our belief, as we have said already, is, that the foreigner could afford to go much lower, and that he could furnish us with wheat at little more than 18s. We have stated above an instance of this kind, and, if necessary, we could furnish more. Nor will the statement appear exaggerated to those who will take the trouble of comparing English prices and English burdens, as they existed before the Revolution of 1688, with the prices and rates of the great corngrowing countries of central Europe at the present moment, making due allowance for climate and the difference of social institutions. At the same time, let it be understood that we do not aver, that all the foreign grain which may find its way here can be grown at such low prices. Pomeranian and Bohemian wheat is more expensive in culture than that of Poland; and we know that there is some difference between Hamburg and Dantzie prices. Still our conviction is most decided, that henceforward the foreigner has the game entirely in his hands; that he may prescribe what price he pleases to this country; and that every year, in spite of all efforts, all home harvests, all variety of seasons, prices must inevitably decline. If it were possible that, by high farming, or any other means, we could produce wheat remuneratively at 30s., or 25s., the foreigner would be ready to sell in competition at 25s. or 18s., even supposing he received hardly any profit. His business is to get hold of the British market, and that once accomplished, he may elevate or depress prices as he pleases. The declension will be gradual, but it will be perfectly steady. This year wheat has been brought down to 40s., not in consequence of an exuberant harvest, as in 1835, but through competition. A million of quarters per month have been poured in to sink prices, and we are now debating at home whether British agriculture can go on under such circumstances. Tenants are mourning over their losses; labourers are feeling the pinch of lowered wages; some landlords, in apprehension of diminished rents, are exhorting to further outlay of capital;

statesmen are consulting with chemists; and agitators, who have made all the ruin, are shouting for financial reductions. In the mean time, the winter is crawling on apace. The price of grain in Britain has been beat down by competition with a poor foreign crop, for such unquestionably was the yield of 1848. That of 1849 was a splendid one, and, the moment the ports are opened in spring, its influence will be felt. The question will not then be of 40s, but of a price still lower; and we apprehend that, in that event, the argument will be nearly closed. We do not, however, anticipate that the reduction will be rapid. The dealers at the different foreign ports will best consult their own interest by keeping, as nearly as possible, just below the quotations current in the British market. In this way large profits will be secured during the whole maintenance of the struggle, which must end by the British farmer, overloaded with rent, taxes, and public burdens, giving way to his competitors, who, with no such impediments, and with a better climate and richer soil, will monopolise his proper function. We shall then experience in corn, what our West Indian colonists, under the same kind of legislation, have experienced in sugar. The greater part of the soil of Britain will be diverted from cereal growth; and, as the earth does not yield her produce without long wooing, we shall be at the mercy of the foreigner for our supplies of food, at any rates which he may choose to impose.

As to the matter of freights, about which so much was at one time said and written, we need not complicate the question by entering into minute details. From information upon which we can rely, we learn that, at this moment, steamers are constructing for the sole purpose of effecting rapid and continual transit between foreign and British ports, for the conveyance of grain-a circumstance which speaks volumes as to the anticipations of the Continental traders. We may also observe that ordinary freights form no bar to importation, since they are now hardly greater from the Baltic to this country than from Ross-shire to Leith, or from many parts of England to London. One fact, communicated

by a correspondent connected with the shipping trade, has peculiarly impressed us. We give it in his own words: "I enclose you a price-current, which will give you the prices of all grain. Grain from America has lately come home, both in American and British ships, at 4d. per bushel freight, and flour at 6d. per barrel — but much more frequently shipped on the condition that, if it leaves a profit, the one half goes to the shipper, and the other half to the owner of the ship for freight." He adds, "The freights from Quebec and Montreal are higher say 2s. 6d. or 3s. for flour; but as British shipping ceases being protected after 1st January, they will be equally low there." So much for pulling down one interest by way of compensation

to another!

The reader- or rather the critical economist may treat the foregoing remarks as speculative or not, according to the colour of his opinions. All the discussion upon free-trade has been speculative, and so was the legislation also. We take credit for having anticipated what we now see realised; but beyond that, and beyond the facts which the experience of former years has given us, and which we have just laid before our readers, we are, as a matter of course, open to objection, and also liable to error. We have not been arguing, however, without sound data-such as, we suspect, never were brought fully under the eye of our statesmen-and they all tend manifestly and clearly to the same conclusion. That conclusion is, that, without the reimposition of a protective duty, prices cannot rise above the present level. Our argument goes further; for we hold it to be clear that, without some extraordinary combination of circumstances which we cannot conceive, prices must decline, and decline greatly. We look for nothing else; but having had our say as to the future, and pointed out the prospect before us, we shall now confine ourselves to present circumstances, and endeavour to ascertain whether, with a continuance of present prices, and under existing burdens, agriculture can be carried on in Britain at a reasonable profit to the farmer.

Mr Caird's pamphlet, though it has attracted a good deal of attention,

contains no hints or information which are new to the practical farmer. Its high-sounding title would lead us to suppose that he had discovered some improved system of agriculture, which might be applicable throughout the kingdom. We read the pamphlet; and we find that it contains nothing beyond the description of a very lowrented and peculiarly-situated farm, the occupant of which appears to have realised considerable profits from an extensive cultivation of the potato. It is not necessary that we should do more than allude to the general tone of the pamphlet, which seems to us rather more arrogant than the occasion demanded. Mr Caird, we doubt not, is a good practical farmer; but we should very much have preferred a distinct and detailed statement of his own experiences at Baldoon, to an incomplete and unattested account of his neighbour's doings at Auchness. A man is fairly entitled to lecture to his class when he can show that, in his own person, he is a thorough master of his subject. A farmer who has devised improvements, tested them, and found them to answer his expectations, and to repay him, has a right to take high ground, and to twit his brother tenants with their want of skill or energy. But Mr Caird is not in this position. He is occupier of a farm of considerable extent, but he does not venture to give us the results of his own experience. It is possible that he may himself pursue the system which he advocates, but he does not tell us so; he points to Mr M'Culloch as the model. This is at best but secondary evidence; how beit we shall take it as it comes; and as this is strictly a farmer's question, it may be best to allow one practical agriculturist to reply to the views of another. We might, indeed, have abstained altogether from doing so, for Mr Monro of Allan, in a very able pamphlet, entitled Landlords' Rents and Tenants' Profits, has distinctly and unanswerably exposed the fallacies of Mr Caird. Still, lest it should be said that we are disposed to reject, too lightly, any evidence which has been adduced on the opposite side, we have requested Mr Stephens, author of The Book of the Farm, to favour us with his views as to Auch

ness cultivation. We subjoin them, for the benefit of all concerned.

"On perusing Mr Caird's pamphlet, every practical man must be struck with astonishment at the inordinate quantity of potatoes cultivated at Auchness.

"The entire thirty acres of dried moss, (p. 7,) and twenty-five acres of lea, (p. 15,) were in potatoes in 1848; and the county Down farmer, whose statement is reprinted at the close of

Lord Kinnaird's pamphlet, reports that the number of acres occupied by potatoes in 1849 was ninety. This is more than one-third of the whole area of the land. I have considered attentively the calculation made by the farmer; and I think that, in order to meet present prices, it should be modified as below. You will also observe that, in my opinion, the outlay on the farm has been too highly estimated.*

"90 acres potatoes, at 74 tons each, £2 per ton,

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60 acres wheat, at 36 bushels each, £2 per quarter, 540 0 0

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"This balance sheet shows a profit of £931; but as the potatoes are worth £1350, which is no less than £419 more than all the profit, it is evident that it is the potato alone that affords any profit under this instance of high farming. Indeed Mr Caird admits as much when he says, 'The great value of a sound potato crop induces the tenant to adopt such means as will not interfere with the continued cultivation of this root.' The admission is, that the profit rests entirely on the precarious potato. The potato has hitherto been safe in the moss of Auchness, and it is safe there in no other class of soil. In Ireland, even the moss does not save it. There is no high farming in the matter, in so far as manures are concerned, for as much and richer manure is used in the neighbourhood of large towns; and as on the moss at Auchness too much manure may be applied, at least after a certain time, so there may be on

1874 0 0

£931 0 0

other soils; and thus high farming, in reference to soils, just means heavy manuring. Mr Caird says,

The potato has been grown on the moss land successively, year after year; but the entire reclaimed portions, from being so frequently manured, are becoming too rich, and the crop beginning to show signs of disease, and a tendency to grow to tops rather than roots, which makes it necessary to adopt some plan of reducing its fertility.' It is known to every farmer, that it is quite possible to overmanure any crop, and the effects of overmanuring are, the breaking down of the straw of the grain crops, and the hollowing of the core of the tubers and bulbs of the green crops. The inference then is, that a profit which depends entirely on potatoes is uncertain in any year; and the particular case of Auchness, in which that profit is derived from moss, is not generally applicable to the coun

It will be seen, by referring to the statement in question, that Mr Stephens' calculation is more favourable to the tenant than the other. According to him, the excess of produce over expenditure would be £931. The county Down farmer estimates it at £888.

try, and cannot, therefore, be held up as an example to farmers.

"The farm of Auchness contains nothing remarkable: for although the peculiar culture of the potato in moss is generally inapplicable, there are many farms in Scotland which have moss attached to them. The sea-ware may also be got on most farms on the coast, and where this is the case, it is commonly used. The soil is not good, and is certainly below the average quality; but I cannot understand what is meant by Mr Caird, when he asserts, on p. 7, that the 125 acres of light sandy soil is better adapted for wheat than for barley or oats when in a high state of cultivation,' for, in other parts of the country, such a soil would be eminently suited for barley. The steading is large for the size of the farm, but every steading ought to be made conformable to the farm by the landlord. The system of farming followed by Mr M'Culloch, of having 'no fixed rotation of crops,' is highly objectionable, and Mr Caird, with great propriety, does not commend it; since the farmer who manages so, has no dependence on the amount of crop he may receive any year, and must work according to circumstances, and not on principle, as the unhappy Irish hitherto have done. In this respect, also, Auchness is no example for the country; and, were a regular rotation followed on it, so many potatoes could not be grown, and the profits would be proportionally reduced.

"On the whole, then, I would say that Auchness farming is not generally applicable; and therefore it is useless to proclaim it as an antidote to free competition. For although it is probably true, as Mr Caird says, that green crops are likely henceforth to be the main stay of the agriculturists of this country, yet he must be conscious that he is wrong in recommending, as an example, and as a substitute for protection, the enlarged cultivation of potatoes as a green crop, seeing that their growth has, of late years, been attended with great uncertainty. Is it not a mockery, then, to tell us that our main stay against foreign competition should depend upon a pecuHarly uncertain crop? Will his pointing to a moss of 30 acres in Wigtonshire, convince the farmers of this

great kingdom, that their future safety, as a class, must entirely depend upon their cultivating such a root on such a soil, in preference to wheat on the fertile loams of glorious old England? I apprehend that such a result is beyond the power of argument."

The non-agricultural reader must pardon us for the insertion of these details. They are necessary for our case, because, if high farming can be made an efficient substitute for protection, we are bound to adopt it, and we should owe a deep debt of gratitude to any one who could point out the way. We are fully alive to the necessity of agricultural enterprise; and, if we thought that our farmers were standing beside their mired waggon, clamorously invoking the assistance of Jupiter, when they should be clapping their own shoulders to the wheel, we would be the first to remonstrate on the heinous folly of their conduct. It is because no amount of personal exertion has been spared, that we seek to enforce their claim according to the utmost of our ability; and, in doing so, we are bound to prove, that no ordinary means which have been suggested for their extrication can be of the smallest avail. Mr Caird has come forward in the character of adviser, and we have stated the opinion of practical men as to the feasibility of his scheme. We have yet more to state, for nature has already denounced his plan far more effectually than opinion. When the county Down farmer visited Auchness in July last, he found more than one-third of the whole farm under potato culture. Upon that crop depended not only the whole profits, but a great deal more. Without the potatoes, there would have been a loss, at a more favourable calculation than his, of £419, on a farm paying only £262 of rent. Since then, we are informed on the best authority, that disease has attached the potatoes. The highly-manured moss could not preserve from decay, if it did not accelerate it, the uncertain and precarious root. Mr Caird must not quarrel with the penalty he has incurred for having totally misunderstood the nature of the question which is now agitating the public mind. Whilst all others were directing their atten

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