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Ministers, however, did not the discussion, but were taken reckon it prudent to introduce the from the merits and details of the subject during the session, although whole question. Mr. Whitmore they frankly avowed that it was allowed that the time at which he one which must be grappled with. submitted his motion was not altoThe great object of terror in the gether unattended with inconveeyes of the agriculturists was, nience, and the possibility of loss; the comparatively cheap rate at but, not only the expediency, but which y foreign grain could be the absolute necessity of an immebrought into the home market- diate alteration appeared to him a rate so low, they said, that com- to be imperative. It was mispetition with it, on their part, chievous, he said, to delay the dewould be impossible. Many vague cision of the question a single moand uncertain statements were ment, after government had applied current regarding these prices; the principles of free trade to other and accurate information was the branches of industry; for these first thing to be desired. In the principles could never be applied preceding year, government had with due effect, nor have practical sent abroad Mr. Jacob, a gentle, justice done to them, so long as man well acquainted with the corn the present Corn-laws formed part trade, to ascertain from surer data of our commercial policy. The than were yet known, the state British manufacturer could never and productiveness of the corn- enter unprotected into a competigrowing countries round the Bal- tion with his continental rival, tic, and the average prices at which while the chief means of his suba grain might be expected to be ex- sistence were kept up at an artiported from the Baltic ports. He ficial rate, far above their cost in returned with a report, which was any other country of Europe. If printed for the use of parliament, reciprocity of trade was to be esfull of most detailed information. tablished at all, it was evident The advocates of a repeal, anxious that we ought to select those artiin general to hurry on the discus-cles for its operation in which sion, seized many opportunities, on foreign countries had the greatest the occasion of presenting petitions, interests. Now, to all the counof charging government with tries from which grain could be keeping back unnecessarily the obtained, nothing was of nearly so settlement of a question, which, much importance as the exportathey alleged, was agitating all tion of corn ; and yet our system of classes, and which must be met at Corn-laws had actually been diminsome time or another. But it was ishing in those countries, the pronot till the 18th of April, that the 'duction of that in which alone subject was formally brought for« almost they could deal with us, ward by Mr. Whitmore, who and repay us for our manufactures. moved “that the House do now In consequence of our prohibitory resolve itself into a committee to system, the price, in some parts of consider the propriety of a re- Germany, was only 14s., and in vision of the Corn-laws." The others, so low as 10s. per quarter ; grounds on which he supported and if the profits of foreign growers the motion had no relation to the were not such as to afford a fair propriety of the period chosen for remunerating price, they would
naturally be driven, in their own whole population was occupied in defence, to grow flax, or such agricultural pursuits, yet such was other articles as would repay them their skill, their knowledge, and for their labour and the use of experience, that they raised suffitheir capital. The fact was proved cient produce to keep the country by the report of Mr. Jacob. That generally in its state of wealth and gentleman mentioned one case, in opulence. Assuredly, there was which a nobleman, who had for- no other country in the world, merly employed 26,000 acres in which had ever, with one third growing little else than grain, had only of its strength employed in now, in consequence of our pro- agricultural pursuits, sustained in hibitory system, turned his land such a condition, the rest of the and his attention to the production people, including both the proof fine wool, and fed 15,000 Me- ductive and unproductive elasses. rino sheep. The exportation from It was this very small proportion Dantzig and Elbing, which, from of hands, raising such an enormous 1801 to 1805, had been 549,365 amount of produce, that was the quarters, amounted, in the years real secret of our wealth and from 1821 to 1825, after our power. In France, out of a popuCorn-law of 1815 had been lation of 30,000,000, about four passed, to only 83,523. A simi- fifths, or 24,000,000, were lar falling-off had every where gaged in agriculture. taken place. If home grain was Unquestionably, the reason why at from 55s. to 60s. per quar- we had many wealthy manufac ter, we might never expect a turers in our own country was, greater annual importation of for because the agricultural populareign grain than 400,000 quarters; tion, though in numbers so small, with such an average price, the raised so large a supply of produce, English agriculturists ought not which the manufacturers obtained, only to be satisfied, but ought to in effect, in exchange for their regard themselves as the most en- manufactures. It was this exviable class of the community. change of manufactures against
Sir Francis Burdett supported agricultural produce, upon which the motion, but for very different all our domestic opulence was botreasons from those of the mover. tomed. It was ridiculous, thereHe did not think that the motion fore, to talk about one of these would produce any one of the classes being poor, and the other effects which the mover expected rich, at one and the same time. from it ; but yet he would support The manufacturer could not be
: it, for he wished to get into the rich unless there was plenty of discussion, that it might be shewn, agricultural produce to be brought as he was certain it would be, that into the market for his abundance the land-owners, in supporting of manufactures ; nor could the their own class and station, were agriculturist be rich, unless there advocating that which was es- was that abundance of manufacsential to the general interests of tures to be obtained for his excess the country. The opulence and of produce. The question now
. prospertiy of the country was come before the House did, in fact, reprised in the fact, that, although gard the trade which had been not more than one third of our always carried on in this country,
in the exchange of these commo- scientific classes useless, who were, dities, and manufactures. in truth, the ornament and the Some persons were disposed to pride of society) were remuneresolve all into the single cry of rated elsewhere; how much bet“ Give us cheap bread.” But ter, after all, they were paid in “cheap bread” was, indeed, but a England than in any other part of convertible term. To say that the world. The price of bread corn was dear, was to say that was of little
for manufactures were cheap. As though the master manufacturer long as the exchange of these arti- might like cheap bread, he also cles went on as it should do (and liked to have remunerating prices in that consisted the true interest for his manufactures, which, while of the country), one of them, ma- bread continued very cheap, he nufactures, or corn, must be dear, was not likely to obtain. In the and the other cheap. They could petitions presented to parliament not be at once both cheap and both from such places as Glasgow and dear, for there could be no such Paisley, the manufacturers comexchange, but what arose out of plained of low prices. It was diffithe excessive production of one cult to guess with what reason over the production of the other. they came before parliament comAs long as the manufacturer could plaining of the agricultural interafford to make cheap returns to est, and the price of bread; in the agricultural grower,
or the which latter particular they were agricultural grower to the manu- guilty of a very great and gross facturer, the productions of one of and vulgar error. For it was of them must be dear; but both must no consequence to the labouring be enriched by the exchange thus people, at what price the bread carried on between them. So, they consumed happened to be. too, of the merchant, in his rela- That must depend mainly on a tions with the manufacturer: his very different consideration, namereturns must be dependent on the ly, on the state of the currency. excess of manufacturing produce. Money prices must be regulated It was, therefore, a mistake to by the condition of the currency; suppose that the agriculturist, the but the real reward of labour, the manufacturer, or the merchant, proportionate reward, upon the could be flourishing, if they were produce of agriculture. A petinot all flourishing together. The tion from Blackburn, lately prefoundation of their joint prosperity sented, came from a very distressed was the agricultural interest of the class of the community. country; for, without agriculture, also complained of the high price there could be neither manufac- of corn, for, except among turers nor merchants; nor, could fortunate landed interest, a comthe men of science, and the disciples plaint of the price of corn seemed of art, be paid. If it were doubted to be the order of the day with all that this was the case, let us cast classes. In this instance, however, our eyes abroad, and observe how it was only the expressed gravamen they, the unproductive classes, of the complaint; while the real (and he applied this distinctive evil deprecated by the petitioners epithet not invidiously, for he was was the introduction of the "power far from calling those studious and looms.” The more food you pro
duced in a rich, well-peopled, ma- were perfectly prepared to go nufacturing country, the more through with it, and had ample wealth you created. The more time and opportunity for its delifood furnished to the country, the berate and complete discussion. greater would be the consump- There had been a common undertion, and the greater the ex- standing that various questions of change of agricultural produce great difficulty and importance for manufactures; for the in- of which this was one ought to be crease of the one certainly pro- allowed to remain in abeyance, duced the increase of the other. both in justice to themselves and In proportion as the manufacturers to the public interest, until they could be supplied with food, whe- could obtain a more thorough inther grown, imported, or dropped vestigation in a new session of a from heaven, the agricultural in- new parliament. He pledged himterest must be benefitted ; and self to take the first favourable therefore he said.--"Let corn come opportunity of calling the atteninto the country from abroad.” tion of the House to the whole By this means other produce and system of the Corn-laws, and he wealth would accumulate in the had no reason to believe that he country.
should be unable to redeem his Mr. Huskisson, without enter- pledge in the next session ; but he ing into the merits of the question, would not submit to be taunted, deprecated its discussion at pre- either in that or any other session, sent. Ministers had announced in with a breach of faith, because he the House, on the first day of the did not feel himself bound to per meeting of parliament, that the severe in an intention, whatever subject would not be brought for circumstances might occur to inward this session ; and certainly duce him to change it. nothing had since happened, to On a division, the motion was induce them to give way to this lost by a majority of 215 to 81. ill-timed motion. No man could The discussion was rather an ima doubt, for a moment, the im- patient one ; for the House seemed portance of the question, the to feel that it was now impossible difficulties which surrounded it, to do justice to a question so broad and the misconceptions which so in itself, and involving so many generally prevailed concerning it; details. It was necessary, or at but all these were reasons why it least convenient, that parliament should be entered on with greater should rise early, on account of caution, and proceeded in with the approaching general election, greater deliberation, than could be and any appearance of haste in looked for so near the close of the determining such a question, would last session of a parliament. Any have pleased neither party. discussion in such circumstances But, although the general and could terminate only in great in- final arrangement of the Corn-laws convenience and embarrassment. thus remained unsettled, it was The state and system of the Corn- found necessary, before the end of laws was more unfit than any the session, to introduce two bills other to be entertained in the to modify in certain respects their House, and thereby set afloat in strict operation. There was still the country, unless the House little diminution of the prevailing
distress; and its continued pressure which, under the existing regulahad led, in the month of April, to tions, could not come into the a series of disgraceful riots in Lan- market. The admission of this cashire, which led to the de- quantityinto the market could have struction of machinery, more par- no material effect upon the agriculticularly of steam looms, to a large ture of the country, whilst it was extent.* It may be observed, that thought it would be sufficient to the delusion of the Lancashire ar- diminish that suffering which was tizans, that machinery deprived actually felt, and which, it was to them of employment, was scarcely be feared, was more acutely felt to be wondered at; when, at à in consequence of the approximameeting of the noblemen and free- tion of so much food in the neighholders of the county of Lanark, bourhood, and the contrast thus men of high rank and liberal edu- presented ; for the very fact of the cation, apparently smarting under co-existence of two such states of the necessity of making a public things, want and plenty, tended to subscription for the relief of the exasperate the evil
. It was thereunemployed manufacturers of Glas- fore proposed to allow bonded corn gow, were found to express and to to come into the market. As again, maintain the same doctrine. The it was impossible to foretel what riots were speedily repressed by the the result of the coming harvest military, although not without some might be (and from the then aspect sacrifice of life. They arose fromlig- of the crops, fears were entertained norance; but that ignorance had that the harvest might be far been stimulated by a state of suffer- from productive), it was proposed, ing-of almost absolute starvation as a measure of precaution against -which the feelingsofno man could the continuance or the recurrence overlook, and which it was impos- of the existing distress, to vest gosible to meet by merely local sub-vernment, during the recess, with scriptions. Ministers were adverse a discretionary power of permitto making any grant of public ting, generally or partially, as the money for the relief of local dis- necessity of the case might require, tress, on the same principle on the importation of foreign corn, on which they had refused to issue payment of a fixed duty. Exchequer bills for the relief of Accordingly Mr. Canning, on the merchants; but there were the 2nd of May, moved that the other means both of giving imme- House should go into a committee diate assistance, and of providing on the 3, Geo 4th, c. 6o. But even against its increase during the the Speaker's leaving the chair was long interval which must elapse opposed, and pressed to a division. between the dissolution of the pre- The motion, it was argued, was in sent, and the sitting of the new para downright contradiction to the vote liament. In the immediate neigh- of the House upon the motion of bourhood of the scene of distress, in Mr. Whitmore. On that occasion Hull, Liverpool, and other ports, there existed the same reasons for there were in bond between 250,000 entering upon the consideration of and 300,000 quarters of wheat,
the Corn-laws which existed now;
but the loudly-expressed opinion of * The detail of these outrages will the House had been that this was be found in the Chronicle, p. 63, a most inconyenient crisis for such VOL. LXVIII.