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borses, &c.) this would go a great way to proper to make a great and timely resubstitute plenty for scarcity. The annual duction in the consumption of wheat consumption of oats was computed at ten within their respective families. It millions of quarters. One ample source would be seen in the report of the Comof supply was our fisheries. Vast quanti- mons, that persons conversant in the sub- ties of herrings were caught. There was ject, estimate the last year's produce at also the mackarel fishery on the coasts of little more than half a crop. The same Cornwall, which might be carried to a persons estimate that the stock in hand prodigious extent; and if proper encou- at the period of the last harvest might be ragement were given for the catching, equal, at the utmost, to two months concuring, and bringing to market, these sumption. It would also be found in the various sorts of fish, the greatest advan- evidence, that barley and oats, from which tages would result to the community. great aid had been derived in the emerHe understood also from Mr. Arthúr gency of 1796, were at present searce Young that early potatoes and beans and high priced. The only resources might be brought into use in the month against such a deficiency were an in-' of June; and a few thousands granted in creased importation, and a decreased premiums for the growth of them would consumption. From every account that bring to market a vast quantity:
he had seen from foreign countries, we Leave was given to bring in the bill. must not expect to obtain between the The blank for specifying the number of period of the last and next harvest a hours was filled up with “ twenty-four." larger quantity than 660,000 quarters; The bill went through all its stages on being about one-twelfth part of our anthe following day.
nual average consumption. The remaining
deficiency could only be supplied by a Proceedings in the Lords relative to the diminution in our consumption. Such a Deficiency of the last Crop of Grain.] diminution would be forced to a certain Feb. 14. Lord Auckland said, it was in degree by the natural effect of high prices, the recollection of all, that a long succes and also by the partial or occasional want sion of wet weather had prevailed through of grain in some districts to supply the the whole of the last suminer. It was also usual demand. It could not, however, be well known that the actual prices of every doubted, that in private families better kind of grain were high, and increasing. The circumstanced than the labouring classes, House of Commons had thought proper to and possessing various kinds of nourish. enter into an investigation, both as to the ment, a reduction in the use of bread nature of the evil, and the best mode of might be made to the extent of a fourth, alleviating it. Their committee had just or perhaps of a third, and with little inmade a report, accompanied by an inte convenience. There were in the kingdom resting statement of evidence. It was his above 700,000 houses which paid assessed object, in the first place, to put their lord. taxes. If a considerable proportion of ships in possession of that report. With these houses could be induced to adopt the this view he intended to move the appoint- measure of reduction, the effect would be ment of a committee, and then to send a great, and might avert a calamity, to the message to the Commons, requesting a mere possibility of which every provident copy of the report in question. The com- mind must look forward with 'uneasiness. mittee thus opened, would be ready for -His lordship then moved, “ That all any investigation that circumstances might the Lords who have been present this sesmake expedient. Generally speaking, he sion be appointed a Committee to consider had little hope of public advantage from the most effectual means of remedying parliamentary interference with the pro- any inconvenience which may arise from duce and distribution of the necessaries of the Deficiency of the last Crop of Grain, life. On the other band, he was not so and report to the House." attached to bookish systems, and to the
he an The motion was agreed to, and a Mes. cold principles of political economy, as sage was sent to the Commons to request a to presume that it could be practicable, copy of their Report. or indeed desirable, to keep a subject of national anxiety from the cognizance of Feb. 20. The Archbishop of Canterbury the guardians of the nation. Certainly, addressed the House at some length on the much benefit might result from their scarcity of corn. The venerable prelate Jordships example, if they should think took a general view of the subject, and
lamented in feeling terms the inconve- he was persuaded that all legislative interniences and distresses which the lower ference upon such subjects was more orders of society must unavoidably suffer. likely to do harm than good. He had not He dwelt upon the great effect which the been in the House a few days ago, when examples of those in higher stations must a noble lord (Auckland) had sounded the have on persons of the above descriptions ; trumpet of alarm upon the apprehended and it was strongly incumbent upon them, scarcity of wheat, and wheat four. That and more especially on the legislators of noble lord had made the report of the the country, to strain every nerve to meet committee of the House of Commons rethe evil, and make it bear as lightly as specting bread, corn, &c. the ground of possible upon the shoulders of the poor. his argument, and had thence very incauHe did not recommend a direct legislative tiously declared, that the crops of the last interference on the present occasion, but | harvest had failed to an extent, far exspoke highly in approbation of the good ceeding what would be found to be the effects of solemn engagements made, and case. With regard to the report, it rested strictly adhered to, by different bodies of entirely on the testimony of two of the men, with a view to diminish the consump- persons examined before the committee, tion of flour, and promote the use of ap- one of them, Mr. Arthur Young, the other, proved substitutes for that article in their Mr. Claude Scott, an eminent corn-factor. respective families. So strongly was he Now, he could not help thinking, from impressed with this conviction, that he what had come within his own personal would then propose a set of resolutions, knowledge, that Mr. Young was extremely forming an Agreement to be signed by mistaken, not only in stating the defisuch of their lordships as approved the ciency of the last crop to amount to more idea, to carry certain measures into effect, than one-third, and in some cases to half tending to diminish the use of flour, &c. of the average produce, but also in his in their respective families.--He then asserting that something between twentymoved,
two and twenty-four bushels, was an " That; in consequence of the high accurate computation of an average crop. price and deficient supply of wheat and Surely, before the whole country was Other grain, it is expedient to adopt such to be told that the scarcity was so measures as may be practicable for di- great, that there was every reason to minishing the consumption thereof during dread a famine, the fact should not dethe continuance of the present pressure, pend solely on the testimony of two witand for introducing the use of such articles nesses, and one of them himself a cornas may conveniently be substituted in the factor, and consequently not to be supplace thereof:
posed free from prejudices. In the county “ That the Agreement hereunto sub- of Kent, he did not believe the crops had joined be engrossed, and laid upon the fallen short in any thing like the proportable of this House, in order to be sub- tion stated. With regard to the proposcribed by any lord of this House who sition of the right reverend prelate, they shall think fit to subscribe the same him- appeared to him to be inefficient to do self, or in his name by any other lord : any good; on the contrary, they would
" In consequence of the high price of tend to occasion an artificial scarcity, and grain, and the evils arising therefrom, we raise the price, which was always the case ihe undersigned, agree, that until the when parliament interfered in such matters. tenth day of October next we will not What had been done in the winter of consume, nor permit to be consumed in 1793, when a similar agreement as that any week within our respective families. now proposed had been entered into, inmore wheaten bread than in the propor- stead of having any good consequences, tion of one quarten loaf for each of the had produced a very unfavourable operaindividuals of whom our said families tion. If the House now came into the may be composed; and, also, that, during agreement, the probable effect would be, the same period, we will discontinue, and that it would influence the farmer, in excause to be discontinued within our said pectation of higher prices, to withhold his families, all pastry."
wheat from the market, and bread would The Earl of Darnley said, he could not be still dearer than it was at present. If consider the proposition of the right re- parliament interfered at all, they ought verend prelate, however well intended, as io do something still more effectual; but likely to be of the least efficiency; indeed, the first ground of it should be evidence given at the bar of the House, and in that often occasioned by such suspicions. But, case he had little doubt but it would be above all things, it would promote that found that the real scarcity was nothing disposition to economy which the resolunear so great as it was represented to be tions proposed by his venerable relation in the report. He therefore moved the were meant to make efficient. It was a order of the day.
short-sighted objection to those resoluThe Earl of Liverpool agreed, that any tions, that their impression on the public legislative act, made by way of inter- mind might tend to increase the high ference in an exigency of this nature, prices of grain, the scarcity of which some might be attended with mischievous con. individuals were pleased to consider as in sequences; but he could not conceive a great degree artificial. Why they should that the report of the House of Commons, so consider it in opposition to their own on the evidence of two gentlemen whose recollection of a Summer and Autumn wet characters stood so high in the world, could and unfavourable almost beyond example, be attended with any such consequences. he would not discuss. He would only He thought the right reverend prelate de- remark, that when the incredulity of noble served the thanks of the country for his lords, under the circumstances just deearly interference. The prices of wheat scribed, was made the motion for rejecthad risen rapidly. The calamity unfor- ing all precautions against a calamity tunately existed, and ought to be met by at least very possible, it reminded him of every means in our power as speedily as an anecdote which he believed might be possible. At the same time he was free found in the Spectator. “ How much to confess, that the danger seemed to be wiser am I than you?" says a thoughtless exaggerated.
profligate to a good bishop : “ I enjoy all Lord Auckland said, that the noble the gratifications and pleasures of my prebaron accused him of having, on a former sent existence without limit and without day, sounded the trumpet of alarm upon restraint; because I do not believe that the momentous question of the deficiency there is a future state." Young man," of grain. He would answer to the accu- replies the bishop, “ I pursue the conduct sation, that if he had sounded the trumpet which my firm persuasion of a future day of truth, he had discharged a sacred duty of judgment enforces on me. If my creed to his countrymen; and certainly he would should be ill-founded, I shall, at the worst, not be discouraged by the admonitions of have made no sacrifices that are not amply those who were persuading themselves, compensated by conscious rectitude, and and were endeavouring to persuade others, by the self-satisfaction attendant on virtue to go forwards towards a precipice with a and on religion. But if you should be thoughtless step, and with closed eyes. mistaken in your pretended incredulity, Parliamentary reasons and silence were, the consequence will be most terrible lo in some cases, neither desirable nor pos- you.”—Lord Auckland next adverted to sible under such a constitution as ours. some remarks which had been made by It was, however, an entire mistake to sup- lord Liverpool, not as objections to the pose, that when he first mentioned this proposed resolutions, but with a wish to subject to the House a few days before, ascertain their practicability. It was he had expressed any opinion as to the meant, he said, by recommendation and specific failure of the last crops. He had example to induce the high and middle merely adverted to the evidence stated in classes to diminish the use of bread in the report of the Commons, according to their families, not in a vague and fallacious which the deficiency had been from one- proportion below the ordinary consumpthird to one-half below an average crop. tion, but a limited and specified quantity. It might be true, that an alarm respecting on a full inquiry there was reason to the supposed insufficiency of crops might believe, that in times of plenty the ordicreate an increase of price, and it was nary consumption, exclusive of pastry, also true that high prices were in them- and of waste in many ways, was about a selves an evil. But if it should appear in quartern loaf and a half quartern loaf per the result, that the high prices were week for each individual, or nearly fifteen founded in real scarcity, how infinitely ounces per day. It was now proposed fortunate, would it be, that a timely alarm that, till the next barvest, the families of had been given? Such an alarm might the classes above-mentioned should conprevent the suspicion of artificial scarcity, sume only one quartern loaf (sixty-nine and all the popular excesses which were ounces) per week for each individual, being at the rate of about ten ounces per of proposing compulsory measures in such day. In all families above the labouring cases as the present. The propositions classes, this reduction would be practi alluded to might be attended with good cable. To this it was proposed to add effects; and he believed, that but one senthe discontinuance of all pastry. In many timent pervaded the House, which was, families these reductions would be more by every proper and effectual means to than a half of the ordinary consumption; avert the threatened calamity; at the same he would, however, suppose it to be only time he thought that frequent and public a third.—Considerable aid might be ex- agitations of the subject would rather tend pected from other countries : not, how to increase than to lessen the evil ; as by ever, to the extent which some persons promoting the discussion, they would not supposed. Least of all, could much be remain in the situation from which they attainable from France, even if the inter- set out, but be drawn into a worse; it course were open. It was well known that must, by creating an unnecessary degree in times of peace and of good harvests, of alarm, increase the existing distress. France never had produced sufficient for The plan in question was in principle little her own consumption. M. Necker had different from that suggested three or four explained this circumstance with much years ago. There was one point, howdetail and accuracy. His countrymen ever, that transpired in the course of the would find their best and surest supply debate, which he could not pass over, in their own resources, and most particu- namely, that it was necessary by such prolarly by reducing their consumption con- ceedings as these, to evince to the lower, formably to the resolutions proposed. that the higher orders of society felt for,
The Earl of Suffolk said, that the mag- and were determined to alleviate their nitude of the evil might be estimated by distresses. Happily this was not necesthe enormous price of wheat. It was their sary, as there existed in this country a duty to promote every means of abridg- union of interest, an intimacy of connecing the consumption. He wondered that tion, between all orders of society, that among the various substitutes proposed, had convinced all that their interests and that of rice was not pre-eminently held happiness were founded on the same fourth. One-third of the inhabitants of basis, and were to be promoted by the one quarter of the world subsisted on that same means. Such a calamity as the prevegetable alone. Rice, when mixed with sent was felt more or less by every memflour, afforded a good and palatable bread. ber of the community. Proper substitutes should be one of the The Earl of Romney thought the scarobjects of inquiry. Indeed, if ample pre- city was not so great as was imagined. miums were held out for the suggestion In Kent the harvest had not failed, though of substitutes, it might be beneficial, as the crops might not have turned out as the evil was not only a present, but a large as those of 1798. He believed that growing one. There were great and ex- the scarcity was artificial, and that at this tensive tracts of land in various parts of moment there were many granaries and the kingdom, lying unproductive, the cul- large warehouses full of wheat on the tivation of which would be attended with banks of the Thames, the owners of which the happiest effects.
held them back from the market, in hopes The Bishop of Durham spoke highly in of the price rising still higher. He commendation of the plan suggested by thought the report superficial and inthe venerable prelate. He thought it must adequate, and that the committee ought be attended with the best effects, as the to have carried their enquiries much Jower orders of the people naturally looked farther. up to the example of the higher; and were The Earl of Darnley said, that although such a model adopted by the latter, it he continued of the same opinion, he would prove that they were determined should withdraw his motion for the order not to indulge in the luxuries of life, to of the day. - the injury of the poor. The retrenchment The Lord Chancellor said, that he apshould not be confined to the article of proved of the measure brought forward, bread. There were a variety of luxuries, if some of the terms were so altered as to which at such times ought to be laid aside make it appear the proposition and agreeby the wealthy, for the accommodation ment of those noble lords who signed it. and comfort of the poor.
He then took notice of the report of the Lord Grenville agreed in the impolicy Commons, and was by no means satisfied with its being founded on the opinions of affrighted people of this country, that the two gentlemen only. That was not the stock of corn at present on hand is not best evidence which might have been sufficient to support them till the next obtained. In the course of the last twenty- harvest, without at the same time being five years he had had many opportunities able to point out to them any effectual of investigating the average price of corn means of obviating the evil, surely it and other provisions, and he had found, as would have been more consistent with well from those as from the opinion of humanity, to have remained silent, at one of the greatest men this country had least till such a remedy could be found. produced (Mr. Burke), that the average But instead of remedying, I contend, produce of corn, take the whole country that what you have done must inevitably throughout, was not more than twenty increase the evil, inasmuch as it must bushels an acre.
tempt all persons, who have corn in their The Resolution and Agreement were possession, to withhold it from market, in then carried; and a message was ordered hopes of a better price, which you have be sent to the Commons to acquaint them told them they have so much reason to therewith.
expect. But if, as I trust I have proved,
the alarm is not founded on fact, I find it Feb. 27. The Earl of Darnley rose to difficult to express, in terms sufficiently confirm and illustrate the position laid strong, my opinion of those who lightly, down by him, on the 20th, that the scar- and without sufficient proof, bring forward city of grain was greatly exaggerated, to public view the hideous spectre of and that the alarm that had been sounded famine, which they fancy is approaching, on that subject was not only unfounded, and by sounding their boasted trumpet of but likely to prove highly detrimental to alarm, proclaim to the people of England, the public. After producing a variety that much as they may now suffer by the of authorities, from gentlemen farmers, high price of bread, they must soon exstewards, and surveyors of estates, and pect to suffer much more, and probably others, his lordship concluded thus:--And have none to eat. They remind me of now, having, as I trust, proved that my those magnificent lines of Virgil, wherein former statement was neither made lightly, he describes the fury of Discord raising nor without foundation, I should betray her tremendous voice, and terrifying all my duty to my country, if I did not the surrounding nations, of Italy by the strongly express my disapprobation of dreadful sound: the exaggerated statements of distress and approaching famine, which have been “At sæva è speculis tempus dea nacta noconveyed to the public by the report of Tartaream intendit vocem; quâ protinus omne
cendi, the committee of the House of Commons, Contremuit nemus, et silvæ intonuere proand by speeches in this House founded on
fundæ. that report, which, though calculated, in Audiit et Triviæ longè lacus, audiit amnis my opinion, to do infinite mischief, rest Sulfureâ Nar albus aquâ, fontesque Velini." upon no better foundation than the evidence of Mr. Claude Scott and Mr. The trumpet of approaching famine Arthur Young. Some noble lords appear (sounded, as I contend, without reason) forward to take credit to themselves for has been heard from the Orkneys to the having sounded this alarm, and especially Land's End. The inhabitants of the whole one (lord Auckland), who, on a former island have been terrified with it; and occasion, when I ventured to give my mothers who, at the present price of the opinion in opposition to his, appeared to necessaries of life, find it difficult to mainassume much 'merit for those strong state- tain their children, tremble at the apments of impending famine, with which proach of much greater distress, which he introduced this subject to the House, you have taught them to expect. But because, as he alleged, they were founded those who have done this say it is with the in truth. Now to admit, for the sake of best intentions, and with a view of remethe argument, that these dismal forebod dying the evil. They think they have ings were really founded in fact, does that discharged their duty, by publicly making noble lord think, that, in holding up this such statements; and for this I am ready frightful spectacle to public view, he acts to give them full credit. On the other with policy, with wisdom, or even with hand, however, I think I have discharged humanity ? Instead of proclaiming to the mine, by endeavouring to confute them;