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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

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Duty on Foreign Corn. 181

gains of our merchants were of little consequence
to agriculture. In tlie ])resent age a more ample
experience, a community of suffering on the part
of these great portions of the community, have
taught them a more liberal doctrine. It is no
where more emphatically urged than in the passage
(p. ^0.) of the Agricultural Report of 18^21, where
the intimate connexion, the strict dependence of
agriculture and trade on each other, are proved by
the evidence of the last hundred years of our history.
Assuming, therefore, that such will be the ultimate
basis of our legislative measures, we are naturally
led to take a view of our productive industry some-
what more comprehensive than in the preceding
paragraphs, and to inquire on what particular advan*
tages our national prosperity has been and is likely
to be established.

Advantages ofyarticular Countries. — Every conn -
try possesses its physical characteristics, its peculiar
and distinctive aptitudes. If, adverting to the
early history of civilization, we cast our eyes over
a map of Greece, and observe how much interi-
course was there facilitated by maritime inlets,
and by insular positions in a sea of easy navigation,
we shall find it easy to account for the early im-
provement of that country, without ascribing any
great share of influence to fortunate accidents, to
the exploits of warriors, or the coimsels of legis-
lators. If we take a wider range, and inquire by
what features the physical structure of Europe is
discriminated from that of Asia or Africa, we shall
find its advantages consist partly in a climate
exempt from extremes, but more ijii the ample
means of navigation afforded by the Mediterranean
and the Baltic. Lastly, if^ drawing nearer home,

N .3



182 Old- AfrrkuUiuc.

we endeavour to ascertain how it happened thai
Flanders was flourisliini; amidst the barbarism of*
tlie thirteentli and fourteenth centuries, we shall
trace it principally to two causes ; fertility of soil
and ease of water communication. The latter,
joined to the advantage of a free government,
explains the still more remarkable growth of the
Dutch provinces in the seventeenth century.

Of England. — By what peculiar advantages has
England been distinguished, and enabled to take
the lead of France and Germany, countries equally
favoured in soil and climate ? In a religious and
political sense, our superiority has consisted in the
enjoyment of the reformed faith and a represen-
tative government ; in a physical sense, in our
extent of coast, and in the productiveness of our
coal mines. Natural superiority of another kind
we can hardly boast : our pasture is, indeed, richer
than that of continental countries, and we conse-
quently take the lead in horses, cattle, and, in some
degree, in the woollen manufacture ; but whatever
comes under the description of agricultural advan-
tages, ought, we believe, to be left out of the
question, and to be considered as balanced by the
less variable temperature, the greater warmth of
the continent. Our farming is, indeed, much more
advanced ; but is not that the result of indirect
causes, of the reaction of our trade and manu-
factures, of the application of capital to tillage
and pasturage, and of our tenantry being thus en-
abled to occupy farms of suitable size, instead of
the insignificant tenures still so common among
tmr neighbours ?

In what manner, it may be asked, is this reason-
ing applicable to the present discussion, the question
of a protecting duty on corn ? Our answer is, that



Duty on Foreign Corn. 183

we should greatly mistake our uatioual prospects
were we to suppose that we liave as yet received
all the benefit attainable from our superiority in the
grand points of fuel and navigation ; — on the con-
trary, it may safely be asserted, that we are not yet
in the midst of oiu' career, not half-advanced in
the task of turning these advantages to account.
Continental countries are making a very slow pro-
gress, either in navigating the ocean, in forming
canals, or in working coal mines : in each of these
our superiority still offers an ample basis for the
superstructure of national wealth. It woidd pro-
bably be such as to enable our manufacturers,
though taxed in regard to provisions, to maintain
a competition with their continental rivals ; but it
is perfectly clear that they never will be able to do
JuU justice to our national advantages until placed
on a footing of equality in that very essential point.
A reference to our custom-house returns would
soon show how small our export of articles, such as
hardware, glass, and even woollens, is, in compari-
son with what it might be, were equahty in the price
of provisions added to our otiier advantages.

A free Import of Corn. — This opens to our view
all the advantage that woukl arise from a free
trade in corn, or from the reduction of the protect-
ing duty to a lower scale than has as yet been con-
tem])iated, eitlier by ministers or by the most tem-
perate of their opponents. * In another place (see
Appendix) we have appropriated a few paragra})hs
to this topic ; and these, under present circum-
stances, arc, perhaps, all that it is advisable to urge
in regard to it. The landed interest are as yet but
imperfectly apprised of the'extenl of its ultimate

* Ricardo on Agriculture, pp. ^2, 83.
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184 Our Ai



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 15 of 40)