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Considerations On The Corn Laws
by [?]

That the bounty upon corn has produced plenty, is apparent:

Because, ever since the grant of the bounty, agriculture has increased; scarce a sessions has passed without a law for enclosing commons and waste grounds:

Much land has been subjected to tillage, which lay uncultivated with little profit:

Yet, though the quantity of land has been thus increased, the rent, which is the price of land, has generally increased at the same time.

That more land is appropriated to tillage, is a proof that more corn is raised; and that the rents have not fallen, proves that no more is raised than can readily be sold.

But it is urged, that exportation, though it increases our produce, diminishes our plenty; that the merchant has more encouragement for exportation than the farmer for agriculture.

This is a paradox which all the principles of commerce and all the experience of policy concur to confute. Whatever is done for gain, will be done more, as more gain is to be obtained.

Let the effects of the bounty be minutely considered.

The state of every country, with respect to corn, is varied by the chances of the year.

Those to whom we sell our corn, must have every year either more corn than they want, or less than they want. We, likewise, are naturally subject to the same varieties.

When they have corn equal to their wants, or more, the bounty has no effect; for they will not buy what they do not want, unless our exuberance be such as tempts them to store it for another year. This case must suppose that our produce is redundant and useless to ourselves; and, therefore, the profit of exportation produces no inconvenience.

When they want corn, they must buy of us, and buy at a higher price: in this case, if we have corn more than enough for ourselves, we are again benefited by supplying them.

But they may want when we have no superfluity. When our markets rise, the bounty ceases; and, therefore, produces no evil. They cannot buy our corn but at a higher rate than it is sold at home. If their necessities, as now has happened, force them to give a higher price, that event is no longer to be charged upon the bounty. We may then stop our corn in our ports, and pour it back upon our own markets.

It is, in all cases, to be considered, what events are physical and certain, and what are political and arbitrary.

The first effect of the bounty is the increase of agriculture, and, by consequence, the promotion of plenty. This is an effect physically good, and morally certain. While men are desirous to be rich, where there is profit there will be diligence. If much corn can be sold, much will be raised.

The second effect of the bounty is the diminution by exportation of that product which it occasioned. But this effect is political and arbitrary; we have it wholly in our own hands; we can prescribe its limits, and regulate its quantity. Whenever we feel want, or fear it, we retain our corn, and feed ourselves upon that which was sown and raised to feed other nations.

It is, perhaps, impossible for human wisdom to go further, than to contrive a law of which the good is certain and uniform, and the evil, though possible in itself, yet always subject to certain and effectual restraints.

This is the true state of the bounty upon corn: it certainly and necessarily increases our crops, and can never lessen them but by our own permission.

That, notwithstanding the bounty, there have been, from time to time, years of scarcity, cannot be denied. But who can regulate the seasons? In the dearest years we owe to the bounty that they have not been dearer. We must always suppose part of our ground sown for our own consumption, and part in hope of a foreign sale. The time sometimes comes, when the product of all this land is scarcely sufficient: but if the whole be too little, how great would have been the deficiency, if we had sown only that part which was designed for ourselves!