Copyright
Joseph Lowe.

The present state of England in regard to agriculture, trade and finance; with a comparison of the prospects of England and France online

. (page 11 of 40)
Online LibraryJoseph LoweThe present state of England in regard to agriculture, trade and finance; with a comparison of the prospects of England and France → online text (page 11 of 40)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


raise prices, or by directing an extra share of ca-
pital to tillage, would have, in some degree, lower-
ed them, we had no opportunity of ascertaining, so
soon was it followed by the war of 1793.

The late Wars. — The wars of the present age,
attended by an unparalleled drain of both labourers
and capital, could not fail to raise the price of corn.
For some time, however, the rise was gradual, the
average price of our wheat, during the first seven
years of the war, not exceeding iSSs. ; but two bad
harvests in succession, (1799 and 1800) altered
entirely the state of the market, and carried prices
to a rate (6/. and upwards) till then unprecedented
in our history. The seasons of ISOI, 180^2, and
1803, were favourable, and produced a fall to
nearly 3/., a fall which, in concurrence with the
demands of the Treasury on the land-holders for
our renewed contest with France, led to the corn
law of 1804-, by which the import of foreign wheat
was in a manner prohibited, until our own should
be at or above 63.s., and taxed till our own readied
665. These prices, high as they then seemed, were
soon surpassed by the currency of our market, in
consequence, partly of an unfavourable season
(1804), partly of the continued drain of hands and



Historical Sketch of our Com Trade. 125

capital for the war. These causes operated in a
greater or less degree over the rest of Europe, and
greatly lessened the relief which importation would
otherwise have afforded us.

The non-convertibility of our paper currency
had existed since 1797. and passed, in vulgar es-
timate, for the principal cause of this progressive
rise ; but the degree of enhancement proceeding
from it was slight (not exceeding 3 or 4 per cent.)
until 1809. Ill that year it was suddenly accele-
rated by an unfortunate concurrence of circum-
stances ; expenditure in Spain, the stoppage of
neutral traffic, and, above all, a deficient harvest.
From this time forward, our purchases of foreign
corn were made at a sacrifice of 18, 20, or 25 per
cent, a loss incurred on the whole of the very large
sum of 7,000,000/. expended on the purchase of
corn in 1810. The currency of our market was
now between 51. and 6/., and though, for one year,
a rise was prevented by the abundant harvest of

1810, the case became very difl'erent after that of

1811, although only partially deficient. A supply
from abroad was now, in a manner, out of the
question, partly from the anti-cominercial edicts
of the time, more from our want of specie and
the fall of our bank paper. Accordingly, during
1812 and 1813, our prices averaged above 6/.,
a rate ill calculated to prepare our farmers for
the great and general fall to be expected from
the approaching change in the state of Europe.

The Peace of 1814. — Never were the effects of
peace more promptly or generally felt, than in
1814. Import co-operated with favourable seasons ;
tlie price of corn fell rapidly, and it was in vain
that parliament passed, early in 1815, a new act.



l^f) Fhi



Online LibraryJoseph LoweThe present state of England in regard to agriculture, trade and finance; with a comparison of the prospects of England and France → online text (page 11 of 40)