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    Book IV: Chapter 5

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    Bounties upon exportation are, in Great Britain, frequently
    petitioned for, and sometimes granted, to the produce of
    particular branches of domestic industry. By means of them, our
    merchants and manufacturers, it is pretended, will be enabled to
    sell their goods as cheap or cheaper than their rivals in the
    foreign market. A greater quantity, it is said, will thus be
    exported, and the balance of trade consequently turned more in
    favour of our own country. We cannot give our workmen a monopoly
    in the foreign, as we have done in the home market. We cannot
    force foreigners to buy their goods, as we have done our own
    countrymen. The next best expedient, it has been thought,
    therefore, is to pay them for buying. It is in this manner that
    the mercantile system proposes to enrich the whole country, and
    to put money into all our pockets, by means of the balance of

    Bounties, it is allowed, ought to be given to those branches of
    trade only which cannot be carried on without them. But every
    branch of trade in which the merchant can sell his goods for a
    price which replaces to him, with the ordinary profits of stock,
    the whole capital employed in preparing and sending them to
    market, can be carried on without a bounty. Every such branch is
    evidently upon a level with all the other branches of trade which
    are carried on without bounties, and cannot, therefore, require
    one more than they. Those trades only require bounties, in which
    the merchant is obliged to sell his goods for a price which does
    not replace to him his capital, together with the ordinary
    profit, or in which he is obliged to sell them for less than it
    really cost him to send them to market. The bounty is given in
    order to make up this loss, and to encourage him to continue, or,
    perhaps, to begin a trade, of which the expense is supposed to be
    greater than the returns, of which every operation eats up a part
    of the capital employed in it, and which is of such a nature,
    that if all other trades resembled it, there would soon be no
    capital left in the country.

    The trades, it is to be observed, which are carried on by means
    of bounties, are the only ones which can be carried on between
    two nations for any considerable time together, in such a manner
    as that one of them shall alway's and regularly lose, or sell its
    goods for less than it really cost to send them to market. But if
    the bounty did not repay to the merchant what he would otherwise
    lose upon the price of his goods, his own interest would soon
    oblige him to employ his stock in another way, or to find out a
    trade in which the price of the goods would replace to him, with
    the ordinary profit, the capital employed in sending them to
    market. The effect of bounties, like that of all the other
    expedients of the mercantile system, can only be to force the
    trade of a country into a channel much less advantageous than
    that in which it would naturally run of its own accord.

    The ingenious and well-informed author of the Tracts upon the
    Corn Trade has shown very clearly, that since the bounty upon the
    exportation of corn was first established, the price of the corn
    exported, valued moderately enough, has exceeded that of the corn
    imported, valued very high, by a much greater sum than the amount
    of the whole bounties which have been paid during that period.
    This, he imagines, upon the true principles of the mercantile
    system, is a clear proof that this forced corn trade is
    beneficial to the nation, the value of the exportation exceeding
    that of the importation by a much greater sum than the whole
    extraordinary expense which the public has been at in order to
    get it exported. He does not consider that this extraordinary
    expense, or the bounty, is the smallest part of the expense which
    the exportation of corn really costs the society. The capital
    which the farmer employed in raising it must likewise be taken
    into the account. Unless the price of the corn, when sold in the
    foreign markets, replaces not only the bounty, but this capital,
    together with the ordinary profits of stock, the society is a
    loser by the difference, or the national stock is so much
    diminished. But the very reason for which it has been thought
    necessary to grant a bounty, is the supposed insufficiency of the
    price to do this.

    The average price of corn, it has been said, has fallen
    considerably since the establishment of the bounty. That the
    average price of corn began to fall somewhat towards the end of
    the last century, and has continued to do so during the course of
    the sixty-four first years of the present, I have already
    endeavoured to show. But this event, supposing it to be real, as
    I believe it to be, must have happened in spite of the bounty,
    and cannot possibly have happened in consequence of it. It has
    happened in France, as well as in England, though in France there
    was not only no bounty, but, till 1764, the exportation of corn
    was subjected to a general prohibition. This gradual fall in the
    average price of grain, it is probable, therefore, is ultimately
    owing neither to the one regulation nor to the other, but to that
    gradual and insensible rise in the real value of silver, which,
    in the first book of this discourse, I have endeavoured to show,
    has taken place in the general market of Europe during the course
    of the present century. It seems to be altogether impossible that
    the bounty could ever contribute to lower the price of grain.

    In years of plenty, it has already been observed, the bounty, by
    occasioning an extraordinary exportation, necessarily keeps up
    the price of corn in the home market above what it would
    naturally fall to. To do so was the avowed purpose of the
    institution. In years of scarcity, though the bounty is
    frequently suspended, yet the great exportation which it
    occasions in years of plenty, must frequently hinder, more or
    less, the plenty of one year from relieving the scarcity of
    another. Both in years of plenty and in years of scarcity,
    therefore, the bounty necessarily tends to raise the money price
    of corn somewhat higher than it otherwise would be in the home

    That in the actual state of tillage the bounty must necessarily
    have this tendency, will not, I apprehend, be disputed by any
    reasonable person. But it has been thought by many people, that
    it tends to encourage tillage, and that in two different ways ;
    first, by opening a more extensive foreign market to the corn of
    the farmer, it tends, they imagine, to increase the demand for,
    and consequently the production of, that commodity; and, secondly
    by securing to him a better price than he could otherwise expect
    in the actual state of tillage, it tends, they suppose, to
    encourage tillage. This double encouragement must they imagine,
    in a long period of years, occasion such an increase in the
    production of corn, as may lower its price in the home market,
    much more than the bounty can raise it in the actual state which
    tillage may, at the end of that period, happen to be in.

    I answer, that whatever extension of the foreign market can be
    occasioned by the bounty must, in every particular year, be
    altogether at the expense of the home market ; as every bushel of
    corn, which is exported by means of the bounty, and which would
    not have been exported without the bounty, would have remained in
    the home market to increase the consumption, and to lower the
    price of that commodity. The corn bounty, it is to be observed,
    as well as every other bounty upon exportation, imposes two
    different taxes upon the people; first, the tax which they are
    obliged to contribute, in order to pay the bounty ; and,
    secondly, the tax which arises from the advanced price of the
    commodity in the home market, and which, as the whole body of the
    people are purchasers of corn, must, in this particular
    commodity, be paid by the whole body of the people. In this
    particular commodity, therefore, this second tax is by much the
    heaviest of the two. Let us suppose that, taking one year with
    another, the bounty of 5s. upon the exportation of the quarter of
    wheat raises the price of that commodity in the home market only
    6d. the bushel, or 4s. the quarter higher than it otherwise would
    have been in the actual state of the crop. Even upon this very
    moderate supposition, the great body of the people, over and
    above contributing the tax which pays the bounty of 5s. upon
    every quarter of wheat exported, must pay another of 4s. upon
    every quarter which they themselves consume. But according to the
    very well informed author of the Tracts upon the Corn Trade, the
    average proportion of the corn exported to that consumed at home,
    is not more than that of one to thirty-one. For every 5s.
    therefore, which they contribute to the payment of the first tax,
    they must contribute £6:4s. to the payment of the second. So very
    heavy a tax upon the first necessary of life-must either reduce
    the subsistence of the labouring poor, or it must occasion some
    augmentation in their pecuniary wages, proportionable to that in
    the pecuniary price of their subsistence. So far as it operates
    in the one way, it must reduce the ability of the labouring poor
    to educate and bring up their children, and must, so far, tend to
    restrain the population of the country. So far as it operate's in
    the other, it must reduce the ability of the employers of the
    poor, to employ so great a number as they otherwise might do, and
    must so far tend to restrain the industry of the country. The
    extraordinary exportation of corn, therefore occasioned by the
    bounty, not only in every particular year diminishes the home,
    just as much as it extends the foreign market and consumption,
    but, by restraining the population and industry of the country,
    its final tendency is to stint and restrain the gradual extension
    of the home market ; and thereby, in the long-run, rather to
    diminish than to augment the whole market and consumption of

    This enhancement of the money price of corn, however, it has been
    thought, by rendering that commodity more profitable to the
    farmer, must necessarily encourage its production.

    I answer, that this might be the case, if the effect of the
    bounty was to raise the real price of corn, or to enable the
    farmer, with an equal quantity of it, to maintain a greater
    number of labourers in the same manner, whether liberal,
    moderate, or scanty, than other labourers are commonly maintained
    in his neighbourhood. But neither the bounty, it is evident, nor
    any other human institution, can have any such effect. It is not
    the real, but the nominal price of corn, which can in any
    considerable degree be affected by the bounty. And though the
    tax, which that institution imposes upon the whole body of the
    people, may be very burdensome to those who pay it, it is of very
    little advantage to those who receive it.

    The real effect of the bounty is not so much to raise the real
    value of corn, as to degrade the real value of silver ; or to
    make an equal quantity of it exchange for a smaller quantity, not
    only of corn, but of all other home made commodities; for the
    money price of corn regulates that of all other home made

    It regulates the money price of labour, which must always be such
    as to enable the labourer to purchase a quantity of corn
    sufficient to maintain him and his family, either in the liberal,
    moderate, or scanty manner, in which the advancing, stationary,
    or declining, circumstances of the society, oblige his employers
    to maintain him.

    It regulates the money price of all the other parts of the rude
    produce of land, which, in every period of improvement, must bear
    a certain proportion to that of corn, though this proportion is
    different in different periods. It regulates, for example, the
    money price of grass and hay, of butcher's meat, of horses, and
    the maintenance of horses, of land carriage consequently, or of
    the greater part of the inland commerce of the country.

    By regulating the money price of all the other parts of the rude
    produce of land, it regulates that of the materials of almost all
    manufactures; by regulating the money price of labour, it
    regulates that of manufacturing art and industry ; and by
    regulating both, it regulates that of the complete manufacture.
    The money price of labour, and of every thing that is the
    produce, either of land or labour, must necessarily either rise
    or fall in proportion to the money price of corn.

    Though in consequence of the bounty, therefore, the farmer should
    be enabled to sell his corn for 4s. the bushel, instead of 3s:6d.
    and to pay his landlord a money rent proportionable to this rise
    in the money price of his produce; yet if, in consequence of this
    rise in the price of corn, 4s. will purchase no more home made
    goods of any other kind than 3s. 6d. would have done before,
    neither the circumstances of the farmer, nor those of the
    landlord, will be much mended by this change. The farmer will not
    be able to cultivate much better ; the landlord will not be able
    to live much better. In the purchase of foreign commodities, this
    enhancement in the price of corn may give them some little
    advantage. In that of home made commodities, it can give them
    none at all. And almost the whole expense of the farmer, and the
    far greater part even of that of the landlord, is in home made

    That degradation in the value of silver, which is the effect of
    the fertility of the mines, and which operates equally, or very
    nearly equally, through the greater part of the commercial world,
    is a matter of very little consequence to any particular country.
    The consequent rise of all money prices, though it does not make
    those who receive them really richer, does not make them really
    poorer. A service of plate becomes really cheaper, and every
    thing else remains precisely of the same real value as before.

    But that degradation in the value of silver, which, being the
    effect either of the peculiar situation or of the political
    institutions of a particular country, takes place only in that
    country, is a matter of very great consequence, which, far from
    tending to make anybody really richer, tends to make every body
    really poorer. The rise in the money price of all commodities,
    which is in this case peculiar to that country, tends to
    discourage more or less every sort of industry which is carried
    on within it, and to enable foreign nations, by furnishing almost
    all sorts of goods for a smaller quantity of silver than its own
    workmen can afford to do, to undersell them, not only in the
    foreign, but even in the home market.

    It is the peculiar situation of Spain and Portugal, as
    proprietors of the mines. to be the distributers of gold and
    silver to all the other countries of Europe. Those metals ought
    naturally, therefore, to be somewhat cheaper in Spain and
    Portugal than in any other part of Europe. The difference, how.
    ever, should be no more than the amount of the freight and
    insurance ; and, on account of the great value and small bulk of
    those metals, their freight is no great matter, and their
    insurance is the same as that of any other goods of equal value.
    Spain and Portugal, therefore, could suffer very little from
    their peculiar situation, if they did not aggravate its
    disadvantages by their political institutions.

    Spain by taxing, and Portugal by prohibiting, the exportation of
    gold and silver, load that exportation with the expense of
    smuggling, and raise the value of those metals in other countries
    so much more above what it is in their own, by the whole amount
    of this expense. When you dam up a stream of water, as soon as
    the dam is full, as much water must run over the dam-head as if
    there was no dam at all. The prohibition of exportation cannot
    detain a greater quantity of gold and silver in Spain and
    Portugal, than what they can afford to employ, than what the
    annual produce of their land and labour will allow them to
    employ, in coin, plate, gilding, and other ornaments of gold and
    silver. When they have got this quantity, the dam is full, and
    the whole stream which flows in afterwards must run over. The
    annual exportation of gold and silver from Spain and Portugal,
    accordingly, is, by all accounts, notwithstanding these
    restraints, very near equal to the whole annual importation. As
    the water, however, must always be deeper behind the dam-head
    than before it, so the quantity of gold and silver which these
    restraints detain in Spain and Portugal, must, in proportion to
    the annual produce of their land and labour, be greater than what
    is to be found in other countries. The higher and stronger the
    dam-head, the greater must be the difference in the depth of
    water behind and before it. The higher the tax, the higher the
    penalties with which the prohibition is guarded, the more
    vigilant and severe the police which looks after the execution of
    the law, the greater must be the difference in the proportion of
    gold and silver to the annual produce of the land and labour of
    Spain and Portugal, and to that of other countries. It is said,
    accordingly, to be very considerable, and that you frequently
    find there a profusion of plate in houses, where there is nothing
    else which would in other countries be thought suitable or
    correspondent to this sort of magnificence. The cheapness of gold
    and silver, or, what is the same thing, the dearness of all
    commodities, which is the necessary effect of this redundancy of
    the precious metals, discourages both the agriculture and
    manufactures of Spain and Portugal, and enables foreign nations
    to supply them with many sorts of rude, and with almost all sorts
    of manufactured produce, for a smaller quantity of gold and
    silver than what they themselves can either raise or make them
    for at home. The tax and prohibition operate in two different
    ways. They not only lower very much the value of the precious
    metals in Spain and Portugal, but by detaining there a certain
    quantity of those metals which would otherwise flow over other
    countries, they keep up their value in those other countries
    somewhat above what it otherwise would be, and thereby give those
    countries a double advantage in their commerce with Spain and
    Portugal. Open the flood-gates, and there will presently be less
    water above, and more below the dam-head, and it will soon come
    to a level in both places. Remove the tax and the prohibition,
    and as the quantity of gold and silver will diminish considerably
    in Spain and Portugal, so it will increase somewhat in other
    countries ; and the value of those metals, their proportion to
    the annual produce of land and labour, will soon come to a level,
    or very near to a level, in all. The loss which Spain and
    Portugal could sustain by this exportation of their gold and
    silver, would be altogether nominal and imaginary. The nominal
    value of their goods, and of the annual produce of their land and
    labour, would fall, and would be expressed or represented by a
    smaller quantity of silver than before; but their real value
    would be the same as before, and would be sufficient to maintain,
    command, and employ the same quantity of labour. As the nominaly
    value of their goods would fall, the real value of what remained
    of their gold and silver would rise, and a smaller quantity of
    those metals would answer all the same purposes of commerce and
    circulation which had employed a greater quantity before. The
    gold and silver which would go abroad would not go abroad for
    nothing, but would bring back an equal value of goods of some
    kind or other. Those goods, too, would not be all matters of mere
    luxury and expense, to be consumed by idle people, who produce
    nothing in return for their consumption. As the real wealth and
    revenue of idle people would not be augmented by this
    extraordinary exportation of gold and silver, so neither would
    their consumption be much augmented by it. Those goods would
    probably, the greater part of them, and certainly some part of
    them, consist in materials, tools, and provisions, for the
    employment and maintenance of industrious people, who would
    reproduce, with a profit, the full value of their consumption.
    A part of the dead stock of the society would thus be turned into
    active stock, and would put into motion a greater quantity of
    industry than had been employed before. The annual produce of
    their land and labour would immediately be augmented a little,
    and in a few years would probably be augmented a great deal;
    their industry being thus relieved from one of the most
    oppressive burdens which it at present labours under.

    The bounty upon the exportation of corn necessarily operates
    exactly in the same way as this absurd policy of Spain and
    Portugal. Whatever be the actual state of tillage, it renders our
    corn somewhat dearer in the home market than it otherwise would
    be in that state, and somewhat cheaper in the foreign; and as the
    average money price of corn regulates, more or less, that of all
    other commodities, it lowers the value of silver considerably in
    the one, and tends to raise it a little in the other. It enables
    foreigners, the Dutch in particular, not only to eat our corn
    cheaper than they otherwise could do, but sometimes to eat it
    cheaper than even our own people can do upon the same occasions;
    as we are assured by an excellent authority, that of Sir Matthew
    Decker. It hinders our own workmen from furnishing their goods
    for so small a quantity of silver as they otherwise might do, and
    enables the Dutch to furnish theirs for a smaller. It tends to
    render our manufactures somewhat dearer in every market, and
    theirs somewhat cheaper, than they otherwise would be, and
    consequently to give their industry a double advantage over our

    The bounty, as it raises in the home market, not so much the
    real, as the nominal price of our corn; as it augments, not the
    quantity of labour which a certain quantity of corn can maintain
    and employ, but only the quantity of silver which it will
    exchange for ; it discourages our manufactures, without rendering
    any considerable service, either to our farmers or country
    gentlemen. It puts, indeed, a little more money into the pockets
    of both, and it will perhaps be somewhat difficult to persuade
    the greater part of them that this is not rendering them a very
    considerable service. But if this money sinks in its value, in
    the quantity of labour, provisions, and home-made commodities of
    all different kinds which it is capable of purchasing, as much as
    it rises in its quantity, the service will be little more than
    nominal and imaginary.

    There is, perhaps, but one set of men in the whole commonwealth
    to whom the bounty either was or could be essentially
    serviceable. These were the corn merchants, the exporters and
    importers of corn. In years of plenty, the bounty necessarily
    occasioned a greater exportation than would otherwise have taken
    place ; and by hindering the plenty of the one year from
    relieving the scarcity of another, it occasioned in years of
    scarcity a greater importation than would otherwise have been
    necessary. It increased the business of the corn merchant in
    both; and in the years of scarcity, it not only enabled him to
    import a greater quantity, but to sell it for a better price, and
    consequently with a greater profit, than he could otherwise have
    made, if the plenty of one year had not been more or less
    hindered from relieving the scarcity of another. It is in this
    set of men, accordingly, that I have observed the greatest zeal
    for the continuance or renewal of the bounty.

    Our country gentlemen, when they imposed the high duties upon the
    exportation of foreign corn, which in times of moderate plenty
    amount to a prohibition, and when they established the bounty,
    seem to have imitated the conduct of our manufacturers. By the
    one institution, they secured to themselves the monopoly of the
    home market, and by the other they endeavoured to prevent that
    market from ever being overstocked with their commodity. By both
    they endeavoured to raise its real value, in the same manner as
    our manufacturers had, by the like institutions, raised the real
    value of many different sorts of manufactured goods. They did
    not, perhaps, attend to the great and essential difference which
    nature has established between corn and almost every other sort
    of goods. When, either by the monopoly of the home market, or by
    a bounty upon exportation, you enable our woollen or linen
    manufacturers to sell their goods for somewhat a better price
    than they otherwise could get for them, you raise, not only the
    nominal, but the real price of those goods; you render them
    equivalent to a greater quantity of labour and subsistence; you
    increase not only the nominal, but the real profit, the real
    wealth and revenue of those manufacturers ; and you enable them,
    either to live better themselves, or to employ a greater quantity
    of labour in those particular manufactures. You really encourage
    those manufactures, and direct towards them a greater quantity of
    the industry of the country than what would properly go to them
    of its own accord. But when, by the like institutions, you raise
    the nominal or money price of corn, you do not raise its real
    value ; you do not increase the real wealth, the real revenue,
    either of our farmers or country gentlemen ; you do not encourage
    the growth of corn, because you do not enable them to maintain
    and employ more labourers in raising it. The nature of things has
    stamped upon corn a real value, which cannot be altered by merely
    altering its money price. No bounty upon exportation, no monopoly
    of the home market, can raise that value. The freest competition
    cannot lower it, Through the world in general, that value is
    equal to the quantity of labour which it can maintain, and in
    every particular place it is equal to the quantity of labour
    which it can maintain in the way, whether liberal, moderate, or
    scanty, in which labour is commonly maintained in that place.
    Woollen or linen cloth are not the regulating commodities by
    which the real value of all other commodities must be finally
    measured and determined ; corn is. The real value of every other
    commodity is finally measured and detemnined by the proportion
    which its average money price bears to the average money price of
    corn. The real value of corn does not vary with those variations
    in its average money price, which sometimes occur from one
    century to another ; it is the real value of silver which varies
    with them.

    Bounties upon the exportation of any homemade commodity are
    liable, first, to that general objection which may be made to all
    the different expedients of the mercantile system ; the objection
    of forcing some part of the industry of the country into a
    channel less advantageous than that in which it would run of its
    own accord ; and, secondly, to the particular objection of
    forcing it not only into a channel that is less advantageous, but
    into one that is actually disadvantageous ; the trade which
    cannot be carried on but by means of a bounty being necessarily a
    losing trade. The bounty upon the exportation of corn is liable
    to this further objection, that it can in no respect promote the
    raising of that particular commodity of which it was meant to
    encourage the production. When our country gentlemen, therefore,
    demanded the establishment of the bounty, though they acted in
    imitation of our merchants and manufacturers, they did not act
    with that complete comprehension of their own interest, which
    commonly directs the conduct of those two other orders of people.
    They loaded the public revenue with a very considerable expense:
    they imposed a very heavy tax upon the whole body of the people ;
    but they did not, in any sensible degree, increase the real value
    of their own commodity; and by lowering somewhat the real value
    of silver, they discouraged, in some degree, the general industry
    of the country, and, instead of advancing, retarded more or less
    the improvement of their own lands, which necessarily depend upon
    the general industry of the country.

    To encourage the production of any commodity, a bounty upon
    production, one should imagine, would have a more direct
    operation than one upon exportation. It would, besides, impose
    only one tax upon the people, that which they must contribute in
    order to pay the bounty. Instead of raising, it would tend to
    lower the price of the commodity in the home market ; and
    thereby, instead of imposing a second tax upon the people, it
    might, at least in part, repay them for what they had contributed
    to the first. Bounties upon production, however, have been very
    rarely granted. The prejudices established by the commercial
    system have taught us to believe, that national wealth arises
    more immediately from exportation than from production. It has
    been more favoured, accordingly, as the more immediate means of
    bringing money into the country. Bounties upon production, it has
    been said too, have been found by experience more liable to
    frauds than those upon exportation. How far this is true, I know
    not. That bounties upon exportation have been abused, to many
    fraudulent purposes, is very well known. But it is not the
    interest of merchants and manufacturers, the great inventors of
    all these expedients, that the home market should be overstocked
    with their goods; an event which a bounty upon production might
    sometimes occasion. A bounty upon exportation, by enabling them
    to send abroad their surplus part, and to keep up the price of
    what remains in the home market, effectually prevents this. Of
    all the expedients of the mercantile system, accordingly, it is
    the one of which they are the fondest. I have known the different
    undertakers of some particular works agree privately among
    themselves to give a bounty out of their own pockets upon the
    exportation of a certain proportion of the goods which they dealt
    in. This expedient succeeded so well, that it more than doubled
    the price of their goods in the home market, notwithstanding a
    very considerable increase in the produce. The operation of the
    bounty upon corn must have been wonderfully different, if it has
    lowered the money price of that commodity.

    Something like a bounty upon production, however, has been
    granted upon some particular occasions. The tonnage bounties
    given to the white herring and whale fisheries may, perhaps, be
    considered as somewhat of this nature. They tend directly, it may
    be supposed, to render the goods cheaper in the home market than
    they otherwise would be. In other respects, their effects, it
    must be acknowledged, are the same as those of bounties upon
    exportation. By means of them, a part of the capital of the
    country is employed in bringing goods to market, of which the
    price does not repay the cost, together with the ordinary profits
    of stock.

    But though the tonnage bounties to those fisheries do not
    contribute to the opulence of the nation, it may, perhaps, be
    thought that they contribute to its defence, by augmenting the
    number of its sailors and shipping. This, it may be alleged, may
    sometimes be done by means of such bounties, at a much smaller
    expense than by keeping up a great standing navy, if I may use
    such an expression, in the same way as a standing army.

    Notwithstanding these favourable allegations, however, the
    following considerations dispose me to believe, that in granting
    at least one of these bounties, the legislature has been very
    grossly imposed upon:

    First, The herring-buss bounty seems too large.

    From the commencement of the winter fishing 1771, to the end of
    the winter fishing 1781, the tonnage bounty upon the herring-buss
    fishery has been at thirty shillings the ton. During these eleven
    years, the whole number of barrels caught by the herring-buss
    fishery of Scotland amounted to 378,347. The herrings caught and
    cured at sea are called sea-sticks. In order to render them what
    are called merchantable herrings, it is necessary to repack them
    with an additional quantity of salt ; and in this case, it is
    reckoned, that three barrels of sea-sticks are usually repacked
    into two barrels of merchantable herrings. The number of barrels
    of merchantable herrings, therefore, caught during these eleven
    years, will amount only, according to this account, to 252,231¼.
    During these eleven years, the tonnage bounties paid amounted to
    £155,463:11s. or 8s:2¼d. upon every barrel of sea-sticks, and to
    12s:3¾d. upon every barrel of merchantable herrings.

    The salt with which these herrings are cured is sometimes Scotch,
    and sometimes foreign salt ; both which are delivered, free of
    all excise duty, to the fish-curers. The excise duty upon Scotch
    salt is at present 1s:6d., that upon foreign salt 10s. the
    bushel. A barrel of herrings is supposed to require about one
    bushel and one-fourth of a bushel foreign salt. Two bushels are
    the supposed average of Scotch salt. If the herrings are entered
    for exportation, no part of this duty is paid up; if entered for
    home consumption, whether the herrings were cured with foreign or
    with Scotch salt, only one shilling the barrel is paid up. It was
    the old Scotch duty upon a bushel of salt, the quantity which, at
    a low estimation, had been supposed necessary for curing a barrel
    of herrings. In Scotland, foreign salt is very little used for
    any other purpose but the curing of fish. But from the 5th April
    1771 to the 5th April 1782, the quantity of foreign salt imported
    amounted to 936,974 bushels, at eighty-four pounds the bushel ;
    the quantity of Scotch salt delivered from the works to the
    fish-curers, to no more than 168,226, at fifty-six pounds the
    bushel only. It would appear, therefore, that it is principally
    foreign salt that is used in the fisheries. Upon every barrel of
    herrings exported, there is, besides, a bounty of 2s:8d. and more
    than two-thirds of the buss-caught herrings are exported. Put all
    these things together, and you will find that, during these
    eleven years, every barrel of buss-caught herrings, cured with
    Scotch salt, when exported, has cost government 17s:11¾d.; and,
    when entered for home consumption, 14s:3¾d.; and that every
    barrel cured with foreign salt, when exported, has cost
    government £1:7:5¾d. ; and, when entered for home consumption,
    £1:3:9¾d. The price of a barrel of good merchantable herrings
    runs from seventeen and eighteen to four and five-and-twenty
    shillings ; about a guinea at an average. {See the accounts at
    the end of this Book.}
    Secondly, The bounty to the white-herring fishery is a
    tonnage bounty, and is proportioned to the burden of the ship,
    not to her diliglence or success in the fishery ; and it has, I
    am afraid, been too common for the vessels to fit out for the
    sole purpose of catching, not the fish but the bounty. In the
    year 1759, when the bounty was at fifty shillings the ton, the
    whole buss fishery of Scotland brought in only four barrels of
    sea-sticks. In that year, each barrel of sea-sticks cost
    government, in bounties alone, £113:15s.; each barrel of
    merchantable herrings £159:7:6.

    Thirdly, The mode of fishing, for which this tonnage bounty
    in the white herring fishery has been given (by busses or decked
    vessels from twenry to eighty tons burden ), seems not so well
    adapted to the situation of Scotland, as to that of Holland, from
    the practice of which country it appears to have been borrowed.
    Holland lies at a great distance from the seas to which herrings
    are known principally to resort, and can, therefore, carry on
    that fishery only in decked vessels, which can carry water and
    provisions sufficient for a voyage to a distant sea ; but the
    Hebrides, or Western Isdands, the islands of Shetland, and the
    northern and north-western coasts of Scotland, the countries in
    whose neighbourhood the herring fishery is principally carried
    on. are everywhere intersected by arms of the sea, which run up a
    considerable way into the land, and which, in the language of the
    country, are called sea-lochs. It is to these sea-lochs that the
    herrings principally resort during the seasons in which they
    visit these seas; for the visits of this, and, I am assured, of
    many other sorts of fish, are not quite regular and constant. A
    boat-fishery, therefore, seems to be the mode of fishing best
    adapted to the peculiar situation of Scotland, the fishers
    carrying the herrings on shore as fast as they are taken, to he
    either cured or consumed fresh. But the great encouragement which
    a bounty of 30s. the ton gives to the buss-fishery, is
    necessarily a discouragement to the boat-fishery, which, having
    no such bounty, cannot bring its cured fish to market upon the
    same terms as the buss-fishery. The boat-fishery; accordingly,
    which, before the establishment of the buss-bounty, was very
    considerable, and is said to have employed a number of seamen,
    not inferior to what the buss-fishery employs at present, is now
    gone almost entirely to decay. Of the former extent, however, of
    this now ruined and abandoned fishery, I must acknowledge that I
    cannot pretend to speak with much precision. As no bounty
    was-paid upon the outfit of the boat-fishery, no account was
    taken of it by the officers of the customs or salt duties.

    Fourthly, In many parts of Scotland, during certain seasons
    of the year, herrings make no inconsiderable part of the food of
    the common people. A bounty which tended to lower their price in
    the home market, might countribute a good deal to the relief of a
    great number of our fellow-subjects, whose circumstances are by
    no means affuent. But the herring-bus bounty contributes to no
    such good purpose. It has ruined the boat fishery, which is by
    far the best adapted for the supply of the home market; and the
    additional bounty of 2s:8d. the barrel upon exportation, carries
    the greater part, more than two-thirds, of the produce of the
    buss-fishery abroad. Between thirty and forty years ago, before
    the establishment of the buss-bounty, 16s. the barrel, I have
    been assured, was the common price of white herrings. Between ten
    and fifteen years ago, before the boat-fishery was entirely
    ruined, the price was said to have run from seventeen to twenty
    shillings the barrel. For these last five years, it has, at an
    average, been at twenty-five shillings the barrel. This high
    price, however, may have been owing to the real scarcity of the
    herrings upon the coast of Scotland. I must observe, too, that
    the cask or barrel, which is usually sold with the herrings, and
    of which the price is included in all the foregoing prices, has,
    since the commencement of the American war, risen to about double
    its former price, or from about 3s. to about 6s. I must likewise
    observe, that the accounts I have received of the prices of
    former times, have been by no means quite uniform and consistent,
    and an old man of great accuracy and experience has assured me,
    that, more than fifty years ago, a guinea was the usual price of
    a barrel of good merchantable herrings; and this, I imagine, may
    still be looked upon as the average price. All accounts, however,
    I think, agree that the price has not been lowered in the home
    market in consequence of the buss-bounty.

    When the undertakers of fisheries, after such liberal bounties
    have been bestowed upon them, continue to sell their commodity at
    the same, or even at a higher price than they were accustomed to
    do before, it might be expected that their profits should be very
    great ; and it is not improbable that those of some individuals
    may have been so. In general, however, I have every reason to
    believe they have been quite otherwise. The usual effect of such
    bounties is, to encourage rash undertakers to adventure in a
    business which they do not understand; and what they lose by
    their own negligence and ignorance, more than compensates all
    that they can gain by the utmost liberality of government. In
    1750, by the same act which first gave the bounty of 30s. the ton
    for the encouragement of the white herring fishery (the 23d Geo.
    II. chap. 24), a joint stock company was erected, with a capital
    of £500,000, to which the subscribers (over and above all other
    encouragements, the tonnage bounty just now mentioned, the
    exportation bounty of 2s:8d. the barrel, the delivery of both
    British and foreign salt duty free) were, during the space of
    fourteen years, for every hundred pounds which they subscribed
    and paid into the stock of the society, entitled to three pounds
    a-year, to be paid by the receiver-general of the customs in
    equal half-yearly payments. Besides this great company, the
    residence of whose governor and directors was to be in London, it
    was declared lawful to erect different fishing chambers in all
    the different out-ports of the kingdom, provided a sum not less
    than £10,000 was subscribed into the capital of each, to be
    managed at its own risk, and for its own profit and loss. The
    same annuity, and the same encouragements of all kinds, were
    given to the trade of those inferior chambers as to that of the
    great company. The subscription of the great company was soon
    filled up, and several different fishing chambers were erected in
    the different out-ports of the kingdom. In spite of all these
    encouragements, almost all those different companies, both great
    and small, lost either the whole or the greater part of their
    capitals; scarce a vestige now remains of any of them, and the
    white-herring fishery is now entirely, or almost entirely,
    carried on by private adventurers.

    If any particular manufacture was necessary, indeed, for the
    defence of the society, it might not always be prudent to depend
    upon our neighbours for the supply; and if such manufacture could
    not otherwise be supported at home, it might not be unreasonable
    that all the other branches of industry should be taxed in order
    to support it. The bounties upon the exportation of British made
    sail-cloth, and British made gunpowder, may, perhaps, both be
    vindicated upon this principle.

    But though it can very seldom be reasonable to tax the industry
    of the great body of the people, in order to support that of some
    particular class of manufacturers ; yet, in the wantonness of
    great prosperity, when the public enjoys a greater revenue than
    it knows well what to do with, to give such bounties to favourite
    manufactures, may, perhaps, be as natural as to incur any other
    idle expense. In public, as well as in private expenses, great
    wealth, may, perhaps, frequently be admitted as an apology for
    great folly. But there must surely be something more than
    ordinary absurdity in continuing such profusion in times of
    general difficulty and distress.

    What is called a bounty, is sometimes no more than a drawback,
    and, consequently, is not liable to the same objections as what
    is properly a bounty. The bounty, for example, upon refined sugar
    exported, may be considered as a drawback of the duties upon the
    brown and Muscovado sugars, from which it is made; the bounty
    upon wrought silk exported, a drawback of the duties upon raw and
    thrown silk imported; the bounty upon gunpowder exported, a
    drawback of the duties upon brimstone and saltpetre imported. In
    the language of the customs, those allowances only are called
    drawbacks which are given upon goods exported in the same form in
    which they are imported. When that form has been so altered by
    manufacture of any kind as to come under a new denomination, they
    are called bounties.

    Premiums given by the public to artists and manufacturers, who
    excel in their particular occupations, are not liable to the same
    objections as bounties. By encouraging extraordinary dexterity
    and ingenuity, they serve to keep up the emulation of the workmen
    actually employed in those respective occupations, and are not
    considerable enough to turn towards any one of them a greater
    share of the capital of the country than what would go to it of
    its own accord. Their tendency is not to overturn the natural
    balance of employments, but to render the work which is done in
    each as perfect and complete as possible. The expense of
    premiums, besides, is very trifling, that of bounties very great.
    The bounty upon corn alone has sometimes cost the public, in one
    year, more than £300,000.

    Bounties are sometimes called premiums, as drawbacks are
    sometimes called bounties. But we must, in all cases, attend to
    the nature of the thing, without paying any regard to the word.

    Digression concerning the Corn Trade and Corn Laws.

    I cannot conclude this chapter concerning bounties, without
    observing, that the praises which have been bestowed upon the law
    which establishes the bounty upon the exportation of corn, and
    upon that system of regulations which is connected with it, are
    altogether unmerited. A particular examination of the nature of
    the corn trade, and of the principal British laws which relate to
    it, will sufficiently demonstrate the truth of this assertion.
    The great importance of this subject must justify the length of
    the digression.

    The trade of the corn merchant is composed of four different
    branches, which, though they may sometimes be all carried on by
    the same person, are, in their own nature, four separate and
    distinct trades. These are, first, the trade of the inland
    dealer; secondly, that of the merchant-importer for home
    consumption ; thirdly, that of the merchant-exporter of home
    produce for foreign consumption ; and, fourthly, that of the
    merchant-carrier, or of the importer of corn, in order to export
    it again.

    I. The interest of the inland dealer, and that of the great body
    of the people, how opposite soever they may at first appear, are,
    even in years of the greatest scarcity, exactly the same. It is
    his interest to raise the price of his corn as high as the real
    scarcity of the season requires, and it can never be his interest
    to raise it higher. By raising the price, he discourages the
    consumption, and puts every body more or less, but particularly
    the inferior ranks of people, upon thrift and good management If,
    by raising it too high, he discourages the consumption so much
    that the supply of the season is likely to go beyond the
    consumption of the season, and to last for some time after the
    next crop begins to come in, he runs the hazard, not only of
    losing a considerable part of his corn by natural causes, but of
    being obliged to sell what remains of it for much less than what
    he might have had for it several months before. If, by not
    raising the price high enough, he discourages the consumption so
    little, that the supply of the season is likely to fall short of
    the consumption of the season, he not only loses a part of the
    profit which he might otherwise have made, but he exposes the
    people to suffer before the end of the season, instead of the
    hardships of a dearth, the dreadful horrors of a famine. It is
    the interest of the people that their daily, weekly, and monthly
    consumption should be proportioned as exactly as possible to the
    supply of the season. The interest of the inland corn dealer is
    the same. By supplying them, as nearly as he can judge, in this
    proportion, he is likely to sell all his corn for the highest
    price, and with the greatest profit ; and his knowledge of the
    state of the crop, and of his daily, weekly, and monthly sales,
    enables him to judge, with more or less accuracy, how far they
    really are supplied in this manner. Without intending the
    interest of the people, he is necessarily led, by a regard to his
    own interest, to treat them, even in years of scarcity, pretty
    much in the same manner as the prudent master of a vessel is
    sometimes obliged to treat his crew. When he foresees that
    provisions are likaly to run short, he puts them upon short
    allowance. Though from excess of caution he should sometimes do
    this without any real necessity, yet all the inconveniencies
    which his crew can thereby suffer are inconsiderable, in
    comparison of the danger, misery, and ruin, to which they might
    sometimes be exposed by a less provident conduct. Though, from
    excess of avarice, in the same manner, the inland corn merchant
    should sometimes raise the price of his corn somewhat higher than
    the scarcity of the season requires, yet all the inconveniencies
    which the people can suffer from this conduct, which effectually
    secures them from a famine in the end of the season, are
    inconsiderable, in comparison of what they might have been
    exposed to by a more liberal way of dealing in the beginning of
    it the corn merchant himself is likely to suffer the most by this
    excess of avarice; not only from the indignation which it
    generally excites against him, but, though he should escape the
    effects of this indignation, from the quantity of corn which it
    necessarily leaves upon his hands in the end of the season, and
    which, if the next season happens to prove favourable, he must
    always sell for a much lower price than he might otherwise have

    Were it possible, indeed, for one great company of merchants to
    possess themselves of the whole crop of an extensive country, it
    might perhaps be their interest to deal with it, as the Dutch are
    said to do with the spiceries of the Moluccas, to destroy or
    throw away a considerable part of it, in order to keep up the
    price of the rest. But it is scarce possible, even by the
    violence of law, to establish such an extensive monopoly with
    regard to corn ; and wherever the law leaves the trade free, it
    is of all commodities the least liable to be engrossed or
    monopolized by the forced a few large capitals, which buy up the
    greater part of it. Not only its value far exceeds what the
    capitals of a few private men are capable of purchasing; but,
    supposing they were capable of purchasing it, the manner in which
    it is produced renders this purchase altogether impracticable.
    As, in every civilized country, it is the commodity of which the
    annual consumption is the greatest ; so a greater quantity of
    industry is annually employed in pruducing corn than in producing
    any other commodity. When it first comes from the ground, too, it
    is necessarily divided among a greater number of owners than any
    other commodity ; and these owners can never be collected into
    one place, like a number of independent manufacturers, but are
    necessarily scattered through all the different corners of the
    country. These first owners either immediately supply the
    consumers in their own neighbourhood, or they supply other inland
    dealers, who supply those consumers. The inland dealers in corn,
    therefore, including both the farmer and the baker, are
    necessarily more numerous than the dealers in any other commodity
    ; and their dispersed situation renders it altogether impossible
    for them to enter into any general combination. If, in a year of
    scarcity, therefore, any of them should find that he had a good
    deal more corn upon hand than, at the current price, he could
    hope to dispose of before the end of the season, he would never
    think of keeping up this price to his own loss, and to the sole
    benefit of his rivals and competitors, but would immediately
    lower it, in order to get rid of his corn before the new crop
    began to come in. The same motives, the same interests, which
    would thus regulate the conduct of any one dealer, would regulate
    that of every other, and oblige them all in general to sell their
    corn at the price which, according to the best of their judgment,
    was most suitable to the scarcity or plenty of the season.

    Whoever examines, with attention, the history of the dearths and
    famines which have afflicted any part of Europe during either the
    course of the present or that of the two preceding centuries, of
    several of which we have pretty exact accounts, will find, I
    believe, that a dearth never has arisen from any combination
    among the inland dealers in corn, nor from any other cause but a
    real scarcity, occasioned sometimes, perhaps, and in some
    particular places, by the waste of war, but in by far the
    greatest number of cases by the fault of the seasons; and that a
    famine has never arisen from any other cause but the violence of
    government attempting, by improper means, to remedy the
    inconveniencies of a dearth.

    In an extensive corn country, between all the different parts of
    which there is a free commerce and communication, the scarcity
    occasioned by the most unfavourable seasons can never be so great
    as to produce a famine ; and the scantiest crop, if managed with
    frugality and economy, will maintain, through the year, the same
    number of people that are commonly fed in a more affluent manner
    by one of moderate plenty. The seasons most unfavourable to the
    crop are those of excessive drought or excessive rain. But as
    corn grows equally upon high and low lands, upon grounds that are
    disposed to be too wet, and upon those that are disposed to be
    too dry, either the drought or the rain, which is hurtful to one
    part of the country, is favourable to another ; and though, both
    in the wet and in the dry season, the crop is a good deal less
    than in one more properly tempered ; yet, in both, what is lost
    in one part of the country is in some measure compensated by what
    is gained in the other. In rice countries, where the crop not
    only requires a very moist soil, but where, in a certain period
    of its growing, it must be laid under water, the effects of a
    drought are much more dismal. Even in such countries, however,
    the drought is, perhaps, scarce ever so universal as necessarily
    to occasion a famine, if the government would allow a free trade.
    The drought in Bengal, a few years ago, might probably have
    occasioned a very great dearth. Some improper regulations, some
    injudicious restraints, imposed by the servants of the East India
    Company upon the rice trade, contributed, perhaps, to turn that
    dearth into a famine.

    When the government, in order to remedy the inconveniencies of a
    dearth, orders all the dealers to sell their corn at what it
    supposes a reasonable price, it either hinders them from bringing
    it to market, which may sometimes produce a famine even in the
    beginning of the season ; or, if they bring it thither, it
    enables the people, and thereby encourages them to consume it so
    fast as must necessarily produce a famine before the end of the
    season. The unlimited, unrestrained freedom of the corn trade, as
    it is the only effectual preventive of the miseries of a famine,
    so it is the best palliative of the inconveniencies of a dearth;
    for the inconveniencies of a real scarcity cannot be remedied ;
    they can only be palliated. No trade deserves more the full
    protection of the law, and no trade requires it so much ; because
    no trade is so much exposed to popular odium.

    In years of scarcity, the inferior ranks of people impute their
    distress to the avarice of the corn merchant, who becomes the
    object of their hatred and indignation. Instead of making profit
    upon such occasions, therefore, he is often in danger of being
    utterly ruined, and of having his magazines plundered and
    destroyed by their violence. It is in years of scarcity, however,
    when prices are high, that the corn merchant expects to make his
    principal profit. He is generally in contract with some farmers
    to furnish him, for a certain number of years, with a certain
    quantity of corn, at a certain price. This contract price is
    settled according to what is supposed to be the moderate and
    reasonable, that is, the ordinary or average price, which, before
    the late years of scarcity, was commonly about 28s. for the
    quarter of wheat, and for that of other grain in proportion. In
    years of scarcity, therefore, the corn merchant buys a great part
    of his corn for the ordinary price, and sells it for a much
    higher. That this extraordinary profit, however, is no more than
    sufficient to put his trade upon a fair level with other trades,
    and to compensate the many losses which he sustains upon other
    occasions, both from the perishable nature of the commodity
    itself, and from the frequent and unforeseen fluctuations of its
    price, seems evident enough, from this single circumstance, that
    great fortunes are as seldom made in this as in any other trade.
    The popular odium, however, which attends it in years of
    scarcity, the only years in which it can be very profitable,
    renders people of character and fortune averse to enter into it.
    It is abandoned to an inferior set of dealers; and millers,
    bakers, meal-men, and meal-factors, together with a number of
    wretched hucksters, are almost the only middle people that, in
    the home market, come between the grower and the consumer.

    The ancient policy of Europe, instead of discountenancing this
    popular odium against a trade so beneficial to the public, seems,
    on the contrary, to have authorised and encouraged it.

    By the 5th and 6th of Edward VI cap. 14, it was enacted, that
    whoever should buy any corn or grain, with intent to sell it
    again, should be reputed an unlawful engrosser, and should, for
    the first fault, suffer two months imprisonment, and forfeit the
    value of the corn ; for the second, suffer six months
    imprisonment, and forfeit double the value; and, for the third,
    be set in the pillory, suffer imprisonment during the king's
    pleasure, and forfeit all his goods and chattels. The ancient
    policy of most other parts of Europe was no better than that of

    Our ancestors seem to have imagined, that the people would buy
    their corn cheaper of the farmer than of the corn merchant, who,
    they were afraid, would require, over and above the price which
    he paid to the farmer, an exorbitant profit to himself. They
    endeavoured, therefore, to annihilate his trade altogether. They
    even endeavoured to hinder, as much as possible, any middle man
    of any kind from coming in between the grower and the consumer;
    and this was the meaning of the many restraints which they
    imposed upon the trade of those whom they called kidders, or
    carriers of corn ; a trade which nobody was allowed to exercise
    without a licence, ascertaining his qualifications as a man of
    probity and fair dealing. The authority of three justices of the
    peace was, by the statute of Edward VI. necessary in order to
    grant this licence. But even this restraint was afterwards
    thought insufficient, and, by a statute of Elizabeth, the
    privilege of granting it was confined to the quarter-sessions.

    The ancient policy of Europe endeavoured, in this manner, to
    regulate agriculture, the great trade of the country, by maxims
    quite different from those which it established with regard to
    manufactures, the great trade of the towns. By leaving a farmer
    no other customers but either the consumers or their immediate
    factors, the kidders and carriers of corn, it endeavoured to
    force him to exercise the trade, not only of a farmer, but of a
    corn merchant, or corn retailer. On the contrary, it, in many
    cases, prohibited the manufacturer from exercising the trade of a
    shopkeeper, or from selling his own goods by retail. It meant, by
    the one law, to promote the general interest of the country, or
    to render corn cheap, without, perhaps, its being well understood
    how this was to be done. By the other, it meant to promote that
    of a particular order of men, the shopkeepers, who would be so
    much undersold by the manufacturer, it was supposed, that their
    trade would be ruined, if he was allowed to retail at all.

    The manufacturer, however, though he had been allowed to keep a
    shop, and to sell his own goods by retail, could not have
    undersold the common shopkeeper. Whatever part of his capital he
    might have placed in his shop, he must have withdrawn it from his
    manufacture. In order to carry on his business on a level with
    that of other people, as he must have had the profit of a
    manufacturer on the one part, so he must have had that of a
    shopkeper upon the other. Let us suppose, for example, that in
    the particular town where he lived, ten per cent. was the
    ordinary profit both of manufacturing and shopkeeping stock ; he
    must in this case have charged upon every piece of his own goods,
    which he sold in his shop, a profit of twenty per cent. When he
    carried them from his workhouse to his shop, he must have valued
    them at the price for which he could have sold them to a dealer
    or shopkeeper, who would have bought them by wholesale. If he
    valued them lower, he lost a part of the profit of his
    manufacturing capital. When, again, he sold them from his shop,
    unless he got the same price at which a shopkeeper would have
    sold them, he lost a part of the profit of his shop- keeping
    capital. Though he might appear, therefore, to make a double
    profit upon the same piece of goods, yet, as these goods made
    successively a part of two distinct capitals, he made but a
    single profit upon the whole capital employed about them ; and if
    he made less than his profit, he was a loser, and did not employ
    his whole capital with the same advantage as the greater part of
    his neighbours.

    What the manufacturer was prohibited to do, the farmer was in
    some measure enjoined to do ; to divide his capital between two
    different employments; to keep one part of it in his granaries
    and stack-yard, for supplying the occasional demands of the
    market, and to employ the other in the cultivation of his land.
    But as he could not afford to employ the latter for less than the
    ordinary profits of farming stock, so he could as little afford
    to employ the former for less than the ordinary profits of
    mercantile stock. Whether the stock which really carried on the
    business of a corn merchant belonged to the person who was called
    a farmer, or to the person who was called a corn merchant, an
    equal profit was in both cases requisite, in order to indemnify
    its owner for employing it in this manner, in order to put his
    business on a level with other trades, and in order to hinder him
    from having an interest to change it as soon as possible for some
    other. The farmer, therefore, who was thus forced to exercise the
    trade of a corn merchant, could not afford to sell his corn
    cheaper than any other corn merchant would have been obliged to
    do in the case of a free competition.

    The dealer who can employ his whole stock in one single branch of
    business, has an advantage of the same kind with the workman who
    can employ his whole labour in one single operation. As the
    latter acquires a dexterity which enables him, with the same two
    hands, to perform a much greater quantity of work, so the former
    acquires so easy and ready a method of transacting his business,
    of buying and disposing of his goods, that with the same capital
    he can transact a much greater quantity of business. As the one
    can commonly afford his work a good deal cheaper, so the other
    can commonly afford his goods somewhat cheaper, than if his stock
    and attention were both employed about a greater variety of
    objects. The greater part of manufacturers could not afford to
    retail their own goods so cheap as a vigilant and active
    shopkeeper, whose sole business it was to buy them by wholesale
    and to retail them again. The greater part of farmers could still
    less afford to retail their own corn, to supply the inhabitants
    of a town, at perhaps four or five miles distance from the
    greater part of them, so cheap as a vigilant and active corn
    merchant, whose sole business it was to purchase corn by
    wholesale, to collect it into a great magazine, and to retail it

    The law which prohibited the manufacturer from exercising the
    trade of a shopkeeper, endeavoured to force this division in the
    employment of stock to go on faster than it might otherwise have
    done. The law which obliged the farmer to exercise the trade of a
    corn merchant, endeavoured to hinder it from going on so fast.
    Both laws were evident violations of natural liberty, and
    therefore unjust; and they were both, too, as impolitic as they
    were unjust. It is the interest of every society, that things of
    this kind should never either he forced or obstructed. The man
    who employs either his labour or his stock in a greater variety
    of ways than his situation renders necessary, can never hurt his
    neighbour by underselling him. He may hurt himself, and he
    generally does so. Jack-of-all-trades will never be rich, says
    the proverb. But the law ought always to trust people with the
    care of their own interest, as in their local situations they
    must generally he able to judge better of it than the legislature
    can do. The law, however, which obliged the farmer to exercise
    the trade of a corn merchant was by far the most pernicious of
    the two.

    It obstructed not only that division in the employment of stock
    which is so advantageous to every society, but it obstructed
    likewise the improvement and cultivation of the land. By obliging
    the farmer to carry on two trades instead of one, it forced him
    to divide his capital into two parts, of which one only could be
    employed in cultivation. But if he had been at liberty to sell
    his whole crop to a corn mercliant as fast as he could thresh it
    out, his whole capital might have returned immediately to the
    land, and have been employed in buying more cattle, and hiring
    more servants, in order to improve and cultivate it better. But
    by being obliged to sell his corn by retail, he was obliged to
    keep a great part of his capital in his granaries and stack-yard
    through the year, and could not therefore cultivate so well as
    with the same capital he might otherwise have done. This law,
    therefore, necessarily obstructed the improvement of the land,
    and, instead of tending to render corn cheaper, must have tended
    to render it scarcer, and therefore dearer, than it would
    otherwise have been.

    After the business of the farmer, that of the corn merchant is in
    reality the trade which, if properly protected and encouraged,
    would contribute the most to the raising of corn. It would
    support the trade of the farmer, in the same manner as the trade
    of the wholesale dealer supports that of the manufacturer.

    The wholesale dealer, by affording a ready market to the
    manufacturer, by taking his goods off his hand as fast as he can
    make them, and by sometimes even advancing their price to him
    before he has made them, enables him to keep his whole capital,
    and sometimes even more than his whole capital, constantly
    employed in manufacturing, and consequently to manufacture a much
    greater quantity of goods than if he was obliged to dispose of
    them himself to the immediate consumers, or even to the
    retailers. As the capital of the wholesale merchant, too, is
    generally sufficient to replace that of many manufacturers, this
    intercourse between him and them interests the owner of a large
    capital to support the owners of a great number of small ones,
    and to assist them in those losses and misfortunes which might
    otherwise prove ruinous to them.

    An intercourse of the same kind universally established between
    the farmers and the corn merchants, would be attended with
    effects equally beneficial to the farmers. They would be enabled
    to keep their whole capitals, and even more than their whole
    capitals constantly employed in cultivation. In case of any of
    those accidents to which no trade is more liable than theirs,
    they would find in their ordinary customer, the wealthy corn
    merchant, a person who had both an interest to support them, and
    the ability to do it ; and they would not, as at present, be
    entirely dependent upon the forbearance of their landlord, or the
    mercy of his steward. Were it possible, as perhaps it is not, to
    establish this intercourse universally, and all at once ; were it
    possible to turn all at once the whole farming stock of the
    kingdom to its proper business, the cultivation of land,
    withdrawing it from every other employment into which any part of
    it may be at present diverted; and were it possible, in order to
    support and assist, upon occasion, the operations of this great
    stock, to provide all at once another stock almost equally great;
    it is not, perhaps, very easy to imagine how great, how
    extensive, and how sudden, would be the improvement which this
    change of circumstances would alone produce upon the whole face
    of the country.

    The statute of Edward VI. therefore, by prohibiting as much as
    possible any middle man from coming in between the grower and the
    consumer, endeavoured to annihilate a trade, of which the free
    exercise is not only the best palliative of the inconveniencics
    of a dearth, but the best preventive of that calamity ; after the
    trade of the farmer, no trade contributing so much to the growing
    of corn as that of the corn merchant.

    The rigour of this law was afterwards softened by several
    subsequent statutes, which successvely permitted the engrossing
    of corn when the price of wheat should not exceed 20s. and 24s.
    32s. and 40s. the quarter. At last, by the 15th of Charles II.
    c.7, the engrossing or buying of corn, in order to sell it again,
    as long as the price of wheat did not exceed 48s. the quarter,
    and that of other grain in proportion, was declared lawful to all
    persons not being forestallers, that is, not selling again in the
    same market within three months. All the freedom which the trade
    of the inland corn dealer has ever yet enjoyed was bestowed upon
    it by this statute. The statute of the twelfth of the present
    king, which repeals almost all the other ancient laws against
    engrossers and forestallers, does not repeal the restrictions of
    this particular statute, which therefore still continue in force.

    This statute, however, authorises in some measure two very absurd
    popular prejudices.

    First, It supposes, that when the price of wheat has risen so
    high as 48s. the quarter, and that of other grain in proportion,
    corn is likely to be so engrossed as to hurt the people. But,
    from what has been already said, it seems evident enough, that
    corn can at no price be so engrossed by the inland dealers as to
    hurt the people; and 48s. the quarter, besides, though it may be
    considered as a very high price, yet, in years of scarcity, it is
    a price which frequently takes place immediately after harvest,
    when scarce any part of the new crop can be sold off, and when it
    is impossible even for ignorance to suppose that any part of it
    can be so engrossed as to hurt the people.

    Secondly, It supposes that there is a certain price at which
    corn is likely to be forestalled, that is, bought up in order to
    be sold again soon after in the same market, so as to hurt the
    people. But if a merchant ever buys up corn, either going to a
    particular market, or in a particular market, in order to sell it
    again soon after in the same market, it must be because he judges
    that the market cannot be so liberally supplied through the whole
    season as upon that particular occasion, and that the price,
    therefore, must soon rise. If he judges wrong in this, and if the
    price does not rise, he not only loses the whole profit of the
    stock which he employs in this manner, but a part of the stock
    itself, by the expense and loss which necessarily attend the
    storing and keeping of corn. He hurts himself, therefore, much
    more essentially than he can hurt even the particular people whom
    he may hinder from supplying themselves upon that particular
    market day, because they may afterwards supply themselves just as
    cheap upon any other market day. If he judges right, instead of
    hurting the great body of the people, he renders them a most
    important service. By making them feel the inconveniencies of a
    dearth somewhat earlier than they otherwise might do, he prevents
    their feeling them afterwads so severely as they certainly would
    do, if the cheapness of price encouraged them to consume faster
    than suited the real scarcity of the season. When the scarcity is
    real, the best thing that can be done for the people is, to
    divide the inconvenience of it as equally as possible, through
    all the different months and weeks and days of the year. The
    interest of the corn merchant makes him study to do this as
    exactly as he can; and as no other person can have either the
    same interest, or the same knowledge, or the same abilities, to
    do it so exactly as he, this most important operation of commerce
    ought to be trusted entirely to him; or, in other words, the corn
    trade, so far at least as concerns the supply of the home market,
    ought to be left perfectly free.

    The popular fear of engrossing and forestalling may be compared
    to the popular terrors and suspicions of witchcraft. The
    unfortunate wretches accused of this latter crime were not more
    innocent of the misfortunes imputed to them, than those who have
    been accused of the former. The law which put an end to all
    prosecutions against witchcraft, which put it out of any man's
    power to gratify his own malice by accusing his neighbour of that
    imaginary crime, seems effectually to have put an end to those
    fears and suspicions, by taking away the great cause which
    encouraged and supported them. The law which would restore entire
    freedom to the inland trade of corn, would probably prove as
    effectual to put an end to the popular fears of engrossing and

    The 15th of Charles II. c. 7, however, with all its
    imperfections, has, perhaps, contributed more, both to the
    plentiful supply of the home market, and to the increase of
    tillage, than any other law in the statute book. It is from this
    law that the inland corn trade has derived all the liberty and
    protection which it has ever yet enjoyed ; and both the supply of
    the home market and the interest of tillage are much more
    effectually promoted by the inland, than either by the
    importation or exportation trade.

    The proportion of the average quantity of all sorts of grain
    imported into Great Britain to that of all sorts of grain
    consumed, it has been computed by the author of the Tracts upon
    the Corn Trade, does not exceed that of one to five hundred and
    seventy. For supplying the home market, therefore, the importance
    of the inland trade must be to that of the importation trade as
    five hundred and seventy to one.

    The average quantity of all sorts of grain exported from Great
    Britain does not, according to the same author, exceed the
    one-and-thirtieth part of the annual produce. For the
    encouragement of tillage, therefore, by providing a market for
    the home produce, the importance of the inland trade must be to
    that of the exportation trade as thirty to one.

    I have no great faith in political arithmetic, and I mean not to
    warrant the exactness of either of these computations. I mention
    them only in order to show of how much less consequence, in the
    opinion of the most judicious and experienced persons, the
    foreign trade of corn is than the home trade. The great cheapness
    of corn in the years immediately preceding the establishment of
    the bounty may, perhaps with reason, be ascribed in some measure
    to the operation of this statute of Charles II. which had been
    enacted about five-and-twenty years before, and which had,
    therefore, full time to produce its effect.

    A very few words will sufficiently explain all that I have to say
    concerning the other three branches of the corn trade.

    II. The trade of the merchant-importer of foreign corn for home
    consumption, evidently contributes to the immediate supply of the
    home market, and must so far be immediately beneficial to the
    great body of the people. It tends, indeed, to lower somewhat the
    average money price of corn, but not to diminish its real value,
    or the quantity of labour which it is capable of maintaining. If
    importation was at all times free, our farmers and country
    gentlemen would probably, one year with another, get less money
    for their corn than they do at present, when importation is at
    most times in effect prohibited ; but the money which they got
    would be of more value, would buy more goods of all other kinds,
    and would employ more labour. Their real wealth, their real
    revenue, therefore, would be the same as at present, though it
    might be expressed by a smaller quantity of silver, and they
    would neither be disabled nor discouraged from cultivating corn
    as much as they do at present. On the contrary, as the rise in
    the real value of silver, in consequence of lowering the money
    price of corn, lowers somewhat the money price of all other
    commodities, it gives the industry of the country where it takes
    place some advantage in all foreign markets and thereby tends to
    encourage and increase that industry. But the extent of the home
    market for corn must be in proportion to the general industry of
    the country where it grows, or to the number of those who produce
    something else, and therefore, have something else, or, what
    comes to the same thing, the price of something else, to give in
    exchange for corn. But in every country, the home market, as it
    is the nearest and most convenient, so is it likewise the
    greatest and most important market for corn. That rise in the
    real value of silver, therefore, which is the effect of lowering
    the average money price of corn, tends to enlarge the greatest
    and most important market for corn, and thereby to encourage,
    instead of discouraging its growth.

    By the 22d of Charles II. c. 13, the importation of wheat,
    whenever the price in the home market did not exceed 53s:4d. the
    quarter, was subjected to a duty of 16s. the quarter; and to a
    duty of 8s. whenever the price did not exceed £4. The former of
    these two prices has, for more than a century past, taken place
    only in times of very great scarcity ; and the latter has, so far
    as I know, not taken place at all. Yet, till wheat has risen
    above this latter price, it was, by this statute, subjected to a
    very high duty; and, till it had risen above the former, to a
    duty which amounted to a prohibition. The importation of other
    sorts of grain was restrained at rates and by duties, in
    proportion to the value of the grain, almost equally high. Before
    the 13th of the present king, the following were the duties
    payable upon the importation of the different sorts of grain :

    Grain. Duties. Duties Duties.
    Beans to 28s. per qr. 19s:10d. after till 40s. 16s:8d. then 12d.
    Barley to 28s. - 19s:10d. - 32s. 16s. - 12d.
    Malt is prohibited by the annual malt-tax bill.
    Oats to 16s. - 5s:10d after - 9½d.
    Pease to 40s. - 16s: 0d.after - 9¾d.
    Rye to 36s. - 19s:10d. till 40s. 16s:8d - 12d.
    Wheat to 44s. - 21s: 9d. till 53s:4d. 17s. - 8s.
    till £4, and after that about 1s:4d.
    Buck-wheat to 32s. per qr. to pay 16s.

    These different duties were imposed, partly by the 22d of Charles
    II. in place of the old subsidy, partly by the new subsidy, by
    the one-third and two-thirds subsidy, and by the subsidy 1747.
    Subsequent laws still further increased those duties.

    The distress which, in years of scarcity, the strict execution of
    those laws might have brought upon the people, would probably
    have been very great ; but, upon such occasions, its execution
    was generally suspended by temporary statutes, which permitted,
    for a limited time, the importation of foreign corn. The
    necessity of these temporary statutes sufficiently demonstrates
    the impropriety of this general one.

    These restraints upon importation, though prior to the
    establishment of the bounty, were dictated by the same spirit, by
    the same principles, which afterwards enacted that regulation.
    How hurtful soever in themselves, these, or some other restraints
    upon importation, became necessary in consequence of that
    regulation. If, when wheat was either below 48s. the quarter, or
    not much above it, foreign corn could have been imported, either
    duty free, or upon paying only a small duty, it might have been
    exported again, with the benefit of the bounty, to the great loss
    of the public revenue, and to the entire perversion of the
    institution, of which the object was to extend the market for the
    home growth, not that for the growth of foreign countries.

    III. The trade of the merchant-exporter of corn for foreign
    consumption, certainly does not contribute directly to the
    plentiful supply of the home market. It does so, however,
    indirectly. From whatever source this supply maybe usually drawn,
    whether from home growth, or from foreign importation, unless
    more corn is either usually grown, or usually imported into the
    country, than what is usually consumed in it. the supply of the
    home market can never be very plentiful. But unless the surplus
    can, in all ordinary cases, be exported, the growers will be
    careful never to grow more, and the importers never to import
    more, than what the bare consumption of the home market requires.
    That market will very seldom be overstocked; but it will
    generally be understocked ; the people, whose business it is to
    supply it, being generally afraid lest their goods should be left
    upon their hands. The prohibition of exportation limits the
    improvement and cultivation of the country to what the supply of
    its own inhabitants require. The freedom of exportation enables
    it to extend cultivation for the supply of foreign nations.

    By the 12th of Charles II. c.4, the exportation of corn was
    permitted whenever the price of wheat did not exceed 40s. the
    quarter, and that of other grain in proportion. By the 15th of
    the same prince, this liberty was extended till the price of
    wheat exceeded 48s. the quarter; and by the 22d, to all higher
    prices. A poundage, indeed, was to be paid to the king upon such
    exportation; but all grain was rated so low in the book of rates,
    that this poundage amounted only, upon wheat to 1s., upon oats to
    4d., and upon all other grain to 6d. the quarter. By the 1st of
    William and Mary, the act which established this bounty, this
    small duty was virtually taken off whenever the price of wheat
    did not exceed 48s. the quarter; and by the 11th and 12th of
    William III. c. 20, it was expressly taken off at all higher

    The trade of the merchant-exporter was, in this manner, not only
    encouraged by a bounty, but rendered much more free than that of
    the inland dealer. By the last of these statutes, corn could be
    engrossed at any price for exportation ; but it could not be
    engrossed for inland sale, except when the price did not exceed
    48s. the quarter. The interest of the inland dealer, however, it
    has already been shown, can never be opposite to that of the
    great body of the people. That of the merchant-exporter may, and
    in fact sometimes is. If, while his own country labours under a
    dearth, a neighbouring country should be afflicted with a famine,
    it might be his interest to carry corn to the latter country, in
    such quantities as might very much aggravate the calamities of
    the dearth. The plentiful supply of the home market was not the
    direct object of those statutes; but, under the pretence of
    encouraging agriculture, to raise the money price of corn as high
    as possible, and thereby to occasion, as much as possible, a
    constant dearth in the home market. By the discouragement of
    importation, the supply of that market; even in times of great
    scarcity, was confined to the home growth ; and by the
    encouragement of exportation, when the price was so high as 48s.
    the quarter, that market was not, even in times of considerable
    scarcity, allowed to enjoy the whole of that growth. The
    temporary laws, prohibiting, for a limited time, the exportation
    of corn, and taking off, for a limited time, the duties upon its
    importation, expedients to which Great Britain has been obliged
    so frequently to have recourse, sufficiently demonstrate the
    impropriety of her general system. Had that system been good, she
    would not so frequently have been reduced to the necessity of
    departing from it.

    Were all nations to follow the liberal system of free exportation
    and free importation, the different states into which a great
    continent was divided, would so far resemble the different
    provinces of a great empire. As among the different provinces of
    a great empire, the freedmn of the inland trade appears, both
    from reason and experience, not only the best palliative of a
    dearth, but the most effectual preventive of a famine; so would
    the freedom of the exportation and importation trade be among the
    different states into which a great continent was divided. The
    larger the continent, the easier the communication through all
    the different parts of it, both by land and by water, the less
    would any one particular part of it ever be exposed to either of
    these calamities, the scarcity of any one country being more
    likely to be relieved by the plenty of some other. But very few
    countries have entirely adopted this liberal system. The freedom
    of the corn trade is almost everywhere more or less restrained,
    and in many countries is confined by such absurd regulations, as
    frequently aggravate the unavoidable misfortune of a dearth into
    the dreadful calamity of a famine. The demand of such countries
    for corn may frequently become so great and so urgent, that a
    small state in their neighbourhood, which happened at the same
    time to be labouring under some degree of dearth, could not
    venture to supply them without exposing itself to the like
    dreadful calamity. The very bad policy of one country may thus
    render it, in some measure, dangerous and imprudent to establish
    what would otherwise be the best policy in another. The unlimited
    freedom of exportation, however, would be much less dangerous in
    great states, in which the growth being much greater, the supply
    could seldom be much affected by any quantity or corn that was
    likely to he exported. In a Swiss canton, or in some of the
    little states in Italy, it may, perhaps, sometimes be necessary
    to restrain the exportation of corn. In such great countries as
    France or England, it scarce ever can. To hinder, besides, the
    farmer from sending his goods at all times to the best market, is
    evidently to sacrifice the ordinary laws of justice to an idea of
    public utility, to a sort of reasons of state ; an act or
    legislative authority which ought to be exercised only, which can
    be pardoned only, in cases of the most urgent necessity. The
    price at which exportation of corn is prohibited, if it is ever
    to be prohibited, ought always to be a very high price.

    The laws concerning corn may everywhere be compared to the laws
    concerning religion. The people feel themselves so much
    interested in what relates either to their subsistence in this
    life, or to their happiness in a life to come, that government
    must yield to their prejudices, and, in order to preserve the
    public tranquillity, establish that system which they approve of.
    It is upon this account, perhaps. that we so seldom find a
    reasonable system established with regard to either of those two
    capital objects.

    IV. The trade of the merchant-carrier, or of the importer of
    foreign corn, in order to export it again, contributes to the
    plentiful supply of the home market. It is not, indeed, the
    direct purpose of his trade to sell his corn there ; but he will
    generally be willing to do so, and even for a good deal less
    money than he might expect in a foreign market; because he saves
    in this manner the expense of loading and unloading, of freight
    and insurance. The inhabitants of the country which, by means of
    the carrying trade, becomes the magazine and storehouse for the
    supply of other countries, can very seldom be in want themselves.
    Though the carrying trade must thus contribute to reduce the
    average money price of corn in the home market, it would not
    thereby lower its real value; it would only raise somewhat the
    real value of silver.

    The carrying trade was in effect prohibited in Great Britain,
    upon all ordinary occasions, by the high duties upon the
    importation of foreign corn, of the greater part of which there
    was no drawback; and upon extraordinary occasions, when a
    scarcity made it necessary to suspend those duties by temporary
    statutes, exportation was always prohibited. By this system of
    laws, therefore, the carrying trade was in effect prohibited.

    That system of laws, therefore, which is connected with the
    establishment of the bounty, seems to deserve no part of the
    praise which has been bestowed upon it. The improvement and
    prosperity of Great Britain, which has been so often ascribed to
    those laws, may very easily be accounted for by other causes.
    That security which the laws in Great Britain give to every man,
    that he shall enjoy the fruits of his own labour, is alone
    sufficient to make any country flourish, notwithstanding these
    and twenty other absurd regulations of commerce ; and this
    security was perfected by the Revolution, much about the same
    time that the bounty was established. The natural effort of every
    individual to better his own condition, when suffered to exert
    itself with freedom and security, is so powerful a principle,
    that it is alone, and without any assistance, not only capable of
    carrying on the society to wealth and prosperity, but of
    surmounting a hundred impertinent obstructions, with which the
    folly of human laws too often encumbers its operations: though
    the effect of those obstructions is always, more or less, either
    to encroach upon its freedom, or to diminish its security. In
    Great Britain industry is perfectly secure; and though it is far
    from being perfectly free, it is as free or freer than in any
    other part of Europe.

    Though the period of the greatest prosperity and improvement of
    Great Britain has been posterior to that system of laws which is
    connected with the bounty, we must not upon that account, impute
    it to those laws. It has been posterior likewise to the national
    debt ; but the national debt has most assuredly not been the
    cause of it.

    Though the system of laws which is connected with the bounty, has
    exactly the same tendency with the practice of Spain and
    Portugal, to lower somewhat the value of the precious metals in
    the country where it takes place; yet Great Britain is certainly
    one of the richest countries in Europe, while Spain and Portugal
    are perhaps amongst the most beggarly. This difference of
    situation, however, may easily be accounted for from two
    different causes. First, the tax in Spain, the prohibition in
    Portugal of exporting gold and silver, and the vigilant police
    which watches over the execution of those laws, must, in two very
    poor countries, which between them import annually upwards of six
    millions sterling, operate not only more directly, but much more
    forcibly, in reducing the value of those metals there, than the
    corn laws can do in Great Britain. And, secondly, this bad policy
    is not in those countries counterbalanced by the general liberty
    and security of the people. Industry is there neither free nor
    secure; and the civil and ecclesiastical governments of both
    Spain and Portugal are such as would alone be sufficient to
    perpetuate their present state of poverty, even though their
    regulations of commerce were as wise as the greatest part of them
    are absurd and foolish.

    The 13th of the present king, c. 43, seems to have established a
    new system with regard to the corn laws, in many respects better
    than the ancient one, but in one or two respects perhaps not
    quite so good.

    By this statute, the high duties upon importation for home
    consumption are taken off, so soon as the price of middling wheat
    rises to 48s. the quarter; that of middling rye, pease, or beans,
    to 32s.; that of barley to 24s. ; and that of oats to 16s. ; and
    instead of them, a small duty is imposed of only 6d upon the
    quarter of wheat, and upon that or other grain in proportion.
    With regard to all those different sorts of grain, but
    particularly with regard to wheat, the home market is thus opened
    to foreign supplies, at prices considerably lower than before.

    By the same statute, the old bounty of 5s. upon the exportation
    of wheat, ceases so soon as the price rises to 44s. the quarter,
    instead of 48s. the price at which it ceased before; that of
    2s:6d. upon the exportation of barley, ceases so soon as the
    price rises to 22s. instead of 24s. the price at which it ceased
    before ; that of 2s:6d. upon the exportation of oatmeal, ceases
    so soon as the price rises to 14s. instead of 15s. the price at
    which it ceased before. The bounty upon rye is reduced from
    3s:6d. to 3s. and it ceases so soon as the price rises to 28s.
    instead of 32s. the price at which it ceased before. If bounties
    are as improper as I have endeavoured to prove them to be, the
    sooner they cease, and the lower they are, so much the better.

    The same statute permits, at the lowest prices, the importation
    of corn in order to be exported again, duty free, provided it is
    in the mean time lodged in a warehouse under the joint locks of
    the king and the importer. This liberty, indeed, extends to no
    more than twenty-five of the different ports of Great Britain.
    They are, however, the principal ones; and there may not,
    perhaps, be warehouses proper for this purpose in the greater
    part of the others.

    So far this law seems evidently an improvement upon the ancient

    But by the same law, a bounty of 2s. the quarter is given for the
    exportation of oats, whenever the price does not exceed fourteen
    shillings. No bounty had ever been given before for the
    exportation of this grain, no more than for that of pease or

    By the same law, too, the exportation of wheat is prohibited so
    soon as the price rises to forty-four shillings the quarter; that
    of rye so soon as it rises to twenty-eight shillings; that of
    barley so soon as it rises to twenty-two shillings ; and that of
    oats so soon as they rise to fourteen shillings. Those several
    prices seem all of them a good deal too low; and there seems to
    be an impropriety, besides, in prohibiting exportation altogether
    at those precise prices at which that bounty, which was given in
    order to force it, is withdrawn. The bounty ought certainly
    either to have been withdrawn at a much lower price, or
    exportation ought to have been allowed at a much higher.

    So far, therefore, this law seems to be inferior to the ancient
    system. With all its imperfections, however, we may perhaps say
    of it what was said of the laws of Solon, that though not the
    best in itself, it is the best which the interest, prejudices,
    and temper of the times, would admit of. It may perhaps in due
    time prepare the way for a better.
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