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versities are not immediately shelved; but lent through the University, to one after another. This no doubt encourages the reading of many works; but as the reading so obtained cannot increase the sale, what chance of remuneration is left to the author ? If it were supposed that persons would, by seeing such works, become purchasers, then the Act should rather oblige the Libraries to buy, or at any rate, only have the books lent them for a certain time; which might thus induce the Libraries to purchase in order to keep them, after having discovered their value.
I have the honor to be,
and humble servant,
THE CORN QUESTION,
[Continued from No. XXXIV. p. 549.)
The ports having remained shut for the last three years, up to the present time, (viz. March, 1821) with the exception of the short interval in the last year, during which they were (fraudulently) thrown open for the importation of oats ; a question naturally arises-to what cause is the present increased depression of the prices of agricultural produce attributable ?
To those who have given credence to the reasoning, and assented to the conclusions propounded in the preceding Considerations, the present state of things will afford no matter of surprise, or subject of enquiry, because it is in exact accordance with the result with which those Considerations close.
Among those who extend their views no further than the immediate causes of the passing events, two opinions appear to bave arisen, and to engross their present attention; each of which accounts for the present depression on very different grounds: the one ascribing it to the abundance of the last harvest--the other, to a diminished consumption. It is possible, that both opinions may in part be well founded, but not independently of another, and that the most operating cause, and the cause which must be removed, to avert the ruin of the agriculture of the empire. Neither of the two conclusions, however, appears to alter, or even to affect the question of the expediency of the measure proposed for further protection; although both parties appear most strangely to take it for granted, that either supposition renders the meddling with the Corn Act (a meddling which both seem to dread) unnecessary. It is true, that apparently the present price of grain does seem to reinove the immediate necessity, which a nearer prospect of the opening of the ports, might imperiously call for; because while the present depression, however caused, shall continue, the operation of the proposed duty on import would probably be nearly, if not exactly, the same as the present operation of the Corn Act, viz, the exclusion of foreign corn from the market. Nay, if there should be any difference, it would, on a first view, appear to be against, rather than in favor of, the farmer; for low as the market, and high as the duty might be, yet it is very possible that some foreign corn might still (from its low prime cost, and being a drug, or by smuggling) find its way into the market; but this could not happen to any injurious extent, or so far as to enable the importer materially to undersell the English grower, and at any rate the country would be gainer by the duty. The measure, therefore, so long as this state of things may coutinue, would at the worst be innocent, if not advantageous on the whole. But although it should be admitted, that the existing cause of complaint in its present extent, is not immediately and exclusively to be ascribed to the want of protection under the Corn Act; it is far from clear, that its past operation and influence may not have laid the foundation of, and still form a material part of the source of the present distress. Certain it is, that the fall in the price of all sorts of grain in the last autumn, and its present further reduction, were occasioned by the sudden influx of low priced oats upon the market, from the Continent, in consequence of the opening of the posts to that species of grain; it being invariably observed, that a great fall in the price of any one sort of grain will soon sensibly affect the price of all : and the observation is equally invariable, that the fall of grain in general, is uniformly followed by a fall in the price of live stock, and consequently butcher's meat and wool. It may be asked if the proposed measure will not give immediate relief to the present distress, what will be its utility, or can it be worth attempting at the hazard of the clamor or disturbance it may create ? The answer is—although it would be absurd to expect any sudden material alleviation from it, yet it will not be unproductive of a present beneficial effect; and that there is some reason for expecting that it will gradually work the cure of the evil, so far as it is curable. It is far from improbable, that the present depression of price may, to a greater degree than is commonly imagined, proceed from that of the spirits and hopes of the farmers. Every thing, as to them, has been long looking, and is still looking, fearfully and iovariably downwards ; every market disappoints their hopes; they wait, and
wait in vain, for its favorable turn; till the landlord, the tax-gatherer, the collector of the tithe, the poor and other rates, the weekly demands for labor and wages; the butcher, the baker, and the host of tradesmen, knock at their doors, and force them to part with their corn and cattle at whatever they will fetch. This cause, and the forced sales of the stocks of broken tenants, under distresses and executions, are perpetually increasing the double evil; which, like the motion of falling, is accelerated in the ratio of its progress, till it arrives at the ne plus, ultra of declension.
Under such circumstances, the mere revival of the hopes of the farmer, of an ameliorated prospect, would singly go a considerable way towards producing it. He would struggle with a better spirit, (as a sick patient does, who puts faith in the medicine administered to him) and from that cause alone, viz. the strengthened hope of a better market, (aided by that of the improvement or revival of his credit, by the improvement of the value of his property) the market itself would almost instantaneously take a favorable turn, so dependent are its fluctuations on opinion. In fact, opinion alone, while there is a constantly sufficient supply and stock in hand, must be the regulator of price, which is ever vibrating' as hopes or fears
" It is not difficult to account for an over-stocked market, whether the crop of last year was above or below the average medium. If above, the fact speaks for itself; if below, the consequence is not so obvious, without the intervention of some countervailing cause.
Either of two causes would produce the effect :- The one is a decrease of consumption—the other is a stock on hand, in addition to the produce of the year, whether arising from a surplus of antecedent crops, or from importation. To understand the effect of the influence of such a surplus on price, it is necessary to observe the operations in the corn markets throughout the kingdom.
Owing to the rapidity of the communication of intelligence by the mail and diurnal publications, the prices of every day in the London markets are circulated through the kingdom with such celerity, as to be known in most of the other markets on their next succeeding market day; and it becomes, in a greater or less degree, the regulator of the prices in each country market.
Another consideration is to be adverted to, viz. the immediate influence which even a small over-supply has upon the market of the day on which it happens.
To illustrate this, we need go no further than to the printed reports of two or three market days on the Corn Exchange, within the last month.
March 2d. The arrivals in this week are moderate : fine wheat meets a * free sale on rather better terms. Barley also sells readily. Beans remain as on Monday. Oats are without variation.
March 5th. The supplies of English grain last week were small, but there was a good quantity in addition from Ireland. The arrival of flour was considerable. This morning there were not many arrivals of any description of corn.
The trade has been brisk for good wheat, and the prices are advanced