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it is by labour, and by labour alone, that the food is purchased in both cases. And where freedom exists, it will be raised at home, or imported from abroad, just as the same quantity of labour will produce a greater quantity of food, by cultivating the ground, or preparing mamufactures to pay for imported corn. It is the quantity of labour necessary to provide a quantity of corn at hoine, that constitutes the price of corn raised at home. And it is the quantity of labour necessary to pay by goods for an equal quantity of corn imported, that constitutes the price of imported corn. But it is manifest, that it is only when the price abroad is less than the price at home, that corn will be imported. A law, therefore, to prevent the importation of corn, can have only one effect,
-to make a greater portion of the labour of the community necessary for the production of its food. And whatever may be the value of that additional quantity of labour, that is to say, whatever be the quantity of goods, if applied to the manufacture of them, which that portion of labour would have produced, a law to prevent the importation of corn, is exactly the same as a law annually to burn or to throw into the sea an equal quantity of the matter of wealth, as the annual produce of the community; and thus burning or throwing away, to take the greatest part by far of the goods so destroyed from the mouths of the poorest of the people, none from the landlords and farmers, whose circumstances, on the other hand, are improved by a tax laid upon the rest of the community.
Having thus seen, by evidence which is quite irresistible, what are the necessary effects of a law to prevent the importation of corn, it is necessary to examine the pretexts by which the advocates for diminished food have endeavoured to withdraw our attention from these effects, and to fix it upon certain imaginary results of their own fabrication.
The strongest ground which they have taken, is the pretence of making a provision against uncertainty of supply. They have represented, that a nation which derives a portion of its subsistence from another nation, becomes dependent upon that nation for that subsistence; and if the nation upon which you have thus become dependent, should choose to forbid the exportation of its corn, or to forbid the exporting of it to you, in this case you become deprived of a portion of your supply, and reduced, at the will of other nations, to all the disadvantages of scarcity. Upon this point of the subject, we observe, that much use is made of the words dependence upon other nations,' and independence upon other nations ;' and the reason is plain, --they are words to which popularity and unpopularity are strongly attached. Dependence and dependence for our food this is a state of things from which our imaginations are expected to revolt. But before we permit our minds to be finally
carried away by the sound, let us consider for a little, the sense: What, in this case, they mean, is, that the portion of its supply which a nation derives from foreign countries, is more precarious and uncertain than that which it raises at home ; is more apt to be deficient at one time, and plentiful at another, than the home supply; and that if a nation wholly provides its own corn by its own growth, it is more secure of an equable provision and steadiness of price, than when it receives any portion from abroad.
The very reverse is, in reality, the truth. If a wise nation were to proceed to make laws for producing the greatest possible regularity in the supply of food, and the greatest possible steadiness in the price of corn, so far from using extraordinary endeavours to make it draw the whole of its supply from any one country, it would rather endeavour, where no special reason dissuaded, to make it draw its supply from several countries ; from as great a number as the balance of other advantages and disadvantages would permit. It would consider it as useful, at least, in a fully-peopled country, to prevent the whole of its food from being provided at home; and would desire that a very considerable proportion of it should be imported from abroad. The reason is obvious. The crop one country is, to a vast extent, dependent upon the seasons : fluctuating from the medium standard to nearly one half above, or one half below. This variation in point of plenty and want, in point of dearness and cheapness, is prodigious; and must be productive of great inconveniences. To prevent these inconveviences, (always excepting peculiar cases, such as that of a nation with a vast supply of new land in proportion to its population,) the only effectual expedient is to derive a considerable proportion of the regular annual supply from foreign countries, when the quantity imported, being always a voluntary quantity, will always accommodate itself with great exactness to the demand.
The facts, about which no one thinks of raising any dispute, are these. Though from the variety of the seasons, the crop of one nation is perpetually uncertain, perpetually varying to the extent of one fourth, one third, or one half of the whole, the produce of several nations taken altogether, varies little or nothing from year to year; because the fluctuations of one country counterbalance those of another ;, when the one has a defective, another enjoys a plentiful crop ; and the total amount is almost always very nearly the same. In order, therefore, to enjoy any thing like an equable supply of grain, it is necessary for a nation to draw from an equable source; necessary at least for highly peopled countries to draw a proportion of their supply from abroad, and such a proportion as may be sufficient to counterbalance the fluctuations of the home growth by the more steady growth of a number of nations all taken together.
But if the nations, we are told, from whom you derive your supply, should think fit to withhold it, you may be exposed at once to the calamities of famine. We reply, that in order to carry false measures, it is commonly necessary to excite the passions ; and the passion of fear is the most powerful of all the instruments of delusion. Contrive to give existence to alarm, and there is hardly any thing so remote from reason, of which you may not ensure the adoption. We perceive that much use has been lately made of the supposition, that an importing nation is liable to be deprived of food by the ill-will of the exporting nations. Never was any imagination of evil more completely gratuitous. Never was any ground of action more completely chimerical. If one nation refuse you, go to another; the world is wide, and the places from which supplies of grain may be ohtained, are numerous in every quarter of the globe. Were there but one country in the world from which food, in any of its kinds, could be procured, it might be possible to foresee a chance of evil from their refusing to export. But if there is hardly a nation, either civilized or barbarous, in Europe, Asia, Africa, or America, excepting some rude tribes still unacquainted with the cultivation of the ground, from which grain might not be procured, how absurd must it be to anticipate any serious danger from a refusal to supply us with a portion of grain, if it were likely to happen, and it is perfectly the reverse, on the part of any one or more of them ?
If people who are incapable of reasoning, or whose interests or prejudices will not permit them to reason, would but sometimes consult facts of their own or of other men's experience, they would be saved from many ridiculous conclusions. The mercantile republics of Holland and Venice, having a territory very inadequate to the maintenance of their population, depended almost entirely for food upon corn imported. According to the doctrine which we are taught with so much zeal, by the wise men who inform us gravely, that in order to have corn cheap, we must have it dear, these two countries ought to have been exposed to great danger from their dependence upon other. nations for food. No dependence, in this respect, could easily parallel, not to speak of surpassing, theirs. Could their supplies of foreign grain have been out off, they might, at any time, have been absolutely starved. The experiment, therefore, is decisive. Not only they were not starved, (and few states have had more extensive combinations of hostile nations seeking to destroy them, but hardly ever did they sustain any inconvenience. We may venture, without any hesitation, to affirm,' hat none ever enjoyed so steady a regularity of prices in the