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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of corn always higher there than in the northern districts
of France. Again, the lower wages of labour, in a backward
province like lirittany, make a very slight difference ulti-
mately, when we take into account the inferiority of the
labourers. Similar remarks are applicable to Germany,
Italy, Switzerland : in none of these countries are the
amount of taxation, the interest of money, the state of hus-
bandry, or any of the main constituents of price so mate-
rially different as to cause any great difference in tlie expence
of living. Accordingly, after all the assertions and exag-
gerations of travellers, the distinctioris on the Continent are
little more than

1. That provincial towns are considerably less expensive
than capitals.

2. That by living in a petty town, or in the country, a

farther reduction of expence may be accomplished, but with

a jrreater sacrifice of comfort, a «ireater removal from busi-
es ..,.." . 1 .
ness and society, than is implied by a country residence in


3. That in consequence of the want of water communi-
cation, the price of bulky commodities, such as corn or
wood, varies more in the provinces of the Continent llian
in the counties of England; still the difference is less great
than is often asserted, (Etlinburgh Keview, \'ol. LXIV.
p. 362.) land carriage on the Continent being moderate
in consecjuence of the insignificanc' of i.«!l^ mm,! tnmDlKi-

i. That taking France as the rijnt m ;r.;i;i\r m ,ii> v ..ii-
tinent at large in point of expence, the difference with

[92] Fluctuation in the Value of Maueij. [App.

Kn^lanil, great during tlie war, (particularly from 1809 to
1811), is at present not more than 20 per cent. ; any dis-
burse beyond that proportion being attributable, not to
dillercnce of prices, but to additional comfort or luxury on
our side.

To what degree did a difference of prices exist between
France and England prior to the French Revolution ?
Our materials for such a comparison are far from complete:
the tables collected by the late Arthur Young in 1789 in-
dicate a considerable inferiority of price, but the articles
quoted are chiefly agricultural ; and had manufactures
been included, the general result would have been less un-
favourable to England. If we revert to a prior date, such
as the middle of the last century, we shall find reason to
consider the two countries nearly on a par. At that time
England was not much more heavily taxed than France,
nor were our manufactures or corn dearer, for both were
articles of export. The result accordingly is, that prior to
1760 the only material distinction between the two coun-
tries consisted in the style of living; the proportion of
English population in towns being even then considerably
greater, and the inhabitants consequently requiring com-
forts little known or thought of in the provincial part of

Mr. M'Culloch, in his " Essay on reducing the Interest
on our National Debt," published in 1816, maintains, in
contradiction to common opinion, that the rise in the price
of corn on the Continent during the last half century has,
on the whole, been inconsiderable. He goes into the ques-
tion at great length, treating in succession of France, Spain,
Italy, and the countries on the Baltic, and adducing several
cogent arguments in opposition to those who maintain,
that there took place on the Continent a rise of prices
nearly correspondent to the rise in this country. His con-
clusions are, that in France there was no rise in the price
of corn : that in Italy the rise was a consequence of the ex-
tension given to the freedom of trade ; and that the partial
advance which he admits to have taken place in Russia
and Poland was a necessary result of the degree of im-
provement introduced in the present age into these very
backward countries. To this statement we have merely
to offer the qualifications naturally arising from a state of
war. In the long period from 1793 to 18 14 every state on
the Continent was either engaged in hostilities, or obliged
to increase its taxes and military establishment. In all these


App.] Fluctuation in the Value of Money. [95]

was felt a portion of tlie activity or excitement so conspi-
cuous in England during the war, followed in all by a sUig-
nation similar, though not ecjual in degree, to that which
we have experienced since the peace. The consequence
was, that prices rose during one period and fell in the other ;
but to ascertain the extent of change is a matter of great
difficulty, there being few official returns in any j)art d? the
Continent, and the question being somewhat jierplexed by
the circulation of government pajier so general duriu" the
war. On the whole, however, there took place, in family
expenditure, calculated on a comprehensive plan, and in-
cluding along with corn and butcher meat, wages, hou.^e-
rent, fuel, &c. a rise of from 25 to 30 per cent, on the
prices of 1792 ; a rise which has, in a great measure, ills-
appeared in the continued reduction since the peace.

In forming conclusions on the jirice of corn, allowance
ought evidently to be made for particular causes operating
in particular countries: — thus, in France, the abolition of
tithe, and the sale of the church lands, promoted tillage to
a degree which nearly counteracted the rise of labour at-
tendant on the war.

Annjial Expence of the familij (f an jh^ricultural Labourer.,
supposed to C07isist of S\ persons ,- beini:^ an avrra per
cent.: thus, —

Expended hy




the public



on each

Produce of the xoU covipult'il on the




same quantities ; but with an ad-

dition of 10 per cent, to the






Barley - - -




Oats - ...




Butcher meat and aniinal food

enhanced in the same propor-

tion ...


Manufactures ; here we suppose

a decrease of '> per cent. : thus,


1 9,000,000


1 1,4(H'»,000

Linen - . . -


Silk . . - -


Leather - ...


Hardware ...


Foreign arliclct.

Sugar the same ...


Tea the same - -


In the other component parts of

the table the fluctuations are

supposed to change the amount

of 170,000,000/. to

Total -

\^ 1 ,1 1«',< >*)0


The final change supjiosed in this statement is that XO'd.
are required to effect the jnnch:isi's lor which 100/. siifliced
in the preceding year. We proceed next to the


Plan for i!,hn7in a slcudij Valur lo


Apportionment of the respective Articles iii the former Table.

Articles consumed.

on eacli

Proportion of
the expendituii-
on each article

to the total

expenditure of

tlic public,

calculated in

parts of 100.

Wheat ....
Barley ...
Oats ....
Butcher meat and all animal food . -
Woollens - - . .
Linen - - - .
Leather - - - -
Cottons - - -
Silk - ...
Hardware - - - -
Sugar - ...
Tea . . -
All otherheads of national consumption

Total -







1 5,000,000

1 5,000,000






1 70,000,000






To those who apprehend complexity in such calculations,
we would observe, that the details would rest with persons
employed for the purpose; and that the public would re-
quire to know only the result, which, as in the present
returns of the averages of sugar and corn, might be com«
municated in a few sentences.

Ought a Table of National Coiisumption to comprise the
smaller Heads of Expenditure ? — To calculate the smaller
items of expenditure would be a task of great difficulty, and,
as far as we can judge, of little utility, since it is easy to
make an allowance for the proportion omitted. Besides,
we ought to introduce into the table no sum of which the
accuracy is not ascertained with considerable confidence
from official documents, and of which the importance is
not such as to reward the labour of enquiry and comparison.
Were the articles enumerated to form only 50 per cent, of
the total national consumption, the result, supposing them
to be articles of general use, would afford a very fair scale
for comparing the prices of different years. A tiible com-
plete in all its parts would, doubtless, be preferable ; but
as the heads of our public offices, like our individual en-
quirers, are as yet in only an early stage of statistical

App.] MuiK'u Cuntrach. [y7]

researcli, a consiJerahle time must elapse ere their irmte-
rials acquire a finished Ibrm.

In the case of the lower orders, a knowledge of the cost
of a few great lieads of expenditure, such as corn, course
clothiqg, beer, fuel, would be found suflicient. There ought
evidently to be a material diireruiice in the plan of a table
for them and of one lor their superiors, a consideration
which leads us to another (juery in this interesting but
somewhat intricate tliscussion.

Hem far are i)articidm- Tables required for partieuhir
Classes P — A scale formed on the table in the text is
adapted to very many persons in the middle and up|>er
classes, — to the receivers of annuities, wlnther fi(Mn the
public funds or mortgages, — the hmdlord who depends on
his rent, — the clerk who depends on his s;ilary. Hut in
regard to several of the classes currently termed productive,
the question is different, as will apjHsar from a reference to
a specific case, such as that of

Farmers on Lease. — The situation of the farmer on lease,
though materially affected by the value of money in pur-
chases generally, depends still more on the})iice oitlie j)ro-
duce he raises; — of corn, if his occupancy be chiefly uiicicr
the plough; of butcher meat, butter, cheese, if it be'chiefly
grass land. Leases oufdit thus to be drawn with a reference
to the market price of produce, comi)uletl on the average
of a scries of years. (3r, if a regulator of a more com-
prehensive character be desired, the price of the produce
might be combined with a table of the price of couimo-

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 39 of 40)