Page images
PDF
EPUB

and perspicuous language. Then, indeed, “ due proportion to the real capital of the your remarks might have been considered as

possessors of the article, would never be a whole, of which the component parts would so gre:t as to amount loan evil. If the have amply harmonised; but, when you

have withholding here spoken of be allowed to recourse io quotations, which j'ou are forced “ be practicable, &c. But, I do not allow to clog with qualifications, not only are your it to be practicable; I deny that the cornown opinions entangled with those of others, merchanis can withhold corn from the cornbut instead of a consistent whole, we find market, so as to raise the price; that all ile " several contradictory principles reluctant corn pot destined for immediate consump“ ly and irreconcileably brought and beld tion, must be withheld from the market till

together.... to claw and bite each other to it be required, seems to be almost a self

their mutual destruction."--Your opi evident proposition; as the consumption is nions as they are now explained by you, are gradual, a very great stock must constantly limited by distinct qualifications; but, as I be kept on band; but, it does by no means think the principle on which they are found follow that the necessary supplies of the corn ed, in whatever manner it may be qualified, market can ever be kept back so as to raise is coinpletely untenable, I shall shorily con the price. When the price rises, there must sider the arguments which you have ad always exist another cause unconnected with vanced in its defence and least you should capital or paper currency, and perfectly adethink me unreasonably scrupulons as to the quale to produce the whole of she effect proof which I would require, I must inform which you partly trace in a different source, you, that as the proposirion is not intuitive, A shori consideration of the general princiit ought to be either demonstrated from ele ples by which the corn trade is regulated, mentary, principles, or established by a re will confirın the truth of these observations. ference to facis. If the proof on which you

-I intended at tiist to point out at length have grounded it be examined, it will be the different operations, which the various found to be radically defective, inasmuch as branches of the capital employed in the cora the position which ought to be proved is ta. trade, are by the necessary constitution of ken for granted. The substance of your ar things appointed to perform. But, as a full gument seems to be, that as corn, even where exposition of this part of the subject is not there is neither discounting por paper cur essentially necessary to the present question, rency, can be kept back from the consumer I shall only observe, that the business of the by means of capital, on the prospect of a corn meichant seems to be in convey supplies. scarcity, it follows that discounting, by ad to the market as they are needed, and to reding to the active capital of the corn-mer. place with the produce of his sales the capichants, increases their power of withholding tal of the farmer. For this purpose, it does corn from the market. It is thus cxpressed not appear to be necessary that any great prce in your own words: “ If then, all active ca portion of the supply of the year should “pital does, in proportion to its amount, in ever be in the corn-merchants bands; on the “ duce and enable ibe possessor to keep back contrary, the quantity engrossed by them, • corn from the market in times of scarcity will naturally be diminished as low as they “ or approaching scarcity; and, if the dis find consi-tent with the regular supply of the “ counting of bills, unchecked by a due re. market; in this way, the sinallest possible “ ference to capital accumulated, greatly and quautity of capital will be required, and in « instantaneously adds to the active capital ; every trade it is evident that the quantity of • if these two positions are granted, and, I capital will soon adjust itself with the great" think they will not be denied; it follow's tst nicely to the functions which it is desis of course, that, by means of discounting tined to perform. If too great a quantity of " bills, corn-dealers are induced and enabled capital were attracted to the corn trade one

to keep corn back from the market, in year, it would be thrown out at the end oi s pose seasons when cord becomes an object the season, and never would return. Tie " of speculation.” The first position on

author of ihe Wealth of Nations very juftly which ihe whole of your reasoning is ground. observes, that it is the interest both of the ed, I do not adinit, nor have you atitmpted corn-merchants and of the consumers, that to prove it. You have ano:lier passage to the the daily, we kly, and monthly consumpron following.etfuit. " Wee ih re no discount of corn, should be proportion : 1 as exacily a3. " ing at all, and no paper-money: a prospect possible to the supply of the season. di is

or even rumoor of scarciiy of any article, evident, therefore, that thit price which 66 would cause such article to be, in some would regulate the consum ring of a day, si drgrre kept back from the consumer; weck, or month, in exact properion io that “ but then, that degree, which must bear a of a whole year, must be countered as he

datural price, as that point to which the price tress of an unforeseen calansity. This evil, constantly tends, to which amid all its fluc however, never can happen from any want tuations it gravitates as to a “ centre of con of capital; a particular coru- inerchant, may, “ tinuance and repose." Whien it falls be indeed, be forced to sell bis stock for want low this, its natural point of rent, it is again of capital, but a variety of purchasers will brought back io it by an increase of demand immediately appear, by whose competit:on occasioned by a tvo rapid consumption; whatever is disposed of will sell for its full when it rises above it, consumption is check value. There never can exist in any trade ed, ihe demand decreases, and the price na either a permanent superfluity or deficiency furally falls.--It will be found on consider. of capital ; both these evils necessarily tend ing the subject, that all the variations of price to their own cure. In the one case, profits which can possibly occur, are referable to are sunk below their ordinary level, and the the same general principles; and that, as superfiucos capital seeks more profitable emcorn never can sink below its natural level ployment; in the other, they are raised abore for want of money, so no command of capi it, and capital is soon attracted from other tal can ever have the slightest influence in branches of industry, which quickly reduces effecting a higher rise of price ibao would profits. It is curious to observe with what otherwise happen through the operations of exacıness the various relations of society are obvious causes. Ti is evident that an alarm adapted to each other; what perfect barof scarcity, whether well or ill founded niust mony subsists in that apparent complexity of raise the price, and that the rise of price parts which the machine exhibits to a super. which thus takes place, is beneficial, as it ficial observer. This arises out of the da: checks consumption, and thus mitigates the ture of thiogs. For if the system of civilised severity of expected scarcity, by distributing society, did not possess, by the very fundaits pressure over a wider exient. The faci mental laws of iis constitution, a power to is, indeed, generally acknowledged, but a rectify temporary derangement, and, indeed, difference of opinion prevails as to the de an internal energy sufficient to preserve a gree in which the price is affected, and as just equilibrium between its parts, it would to the causes which operate in producing want the means of its own conservation.that effect. ---The increase of price occa If corn can never be degraded below its just sioned by an apprehension of scarcity, must value for want of capital, upon the same evidently be proportioned to the degree of principles it is densonstrable, that no comalarm which prevails. It it is generally be mand of active capital can ever in any cir• lieved that there will be a scanty crop, and cumstances effect she slightest variation in its that the value of corn will be increased 20 value. As the idea of any combination is too per cent in three months, a very great de absurd to deserve serious refusation, the coro mand will instantly take place, and will con dealers must act from circumstances which tinue till the expectation of higb profits from are totally beyond their control. There the probability of an advanced price, be must be some general cause to give the sanie cornierbalanced by the rise which actually direction to ibeir operations. Scarcity of takes place. The egnilibrium between the the apprehension of scarcity is fully adequate demand and the supply cannot be restored, to produce this effect. In the case which ! until the increase of price leaves to the corn have supposed, it is generally believed, that merchants no more than a fair compensation the value of corn will be increased 20 per for the disadvantages, whatever they may be, cent. in three months. From the increased of keeping their stock on hand for ihree demand which the apprehensions of this rise months longer. If the price was so low as will produce, the value of coro must contileft them more than an adequate compensa nue to increase, till the actual price be gene, tion, there would be more buyers than sel rally decmed, on-3 full consideration of the lers; the former proportions would not be circumstances of the case to be a fair equi. restored between the demand and the sup valept for the expected advance. If it be ply, and the price would continue to rise, thought more than a fair equivalent, those till it attained that point, at which, as long who have that view of things will eagerly as circumstances remuined the same, it would avail themselves of this opportunity to sell; continue stationary. It is for the advan and if this be the general opinion, there will tage of the consumers ihat corn should at be a general inclination to sell rather than to tain this its just value; for, if the fears of buy; the price must therefore fall, wha:ever scorcity be well founded, and if a correspond be the quantity of capital in the hands of the ing rise of price do not take place, the peo corn-merchanis; it the actual price be ple will suiter, instead of a comparatively Thought less than a fair equivalent for the slight inconvenience, all the onnitigated dis expected advance, in the same manner there

will be a general inclination to buy rather suppose for one moment, that by withthan to sell, and the price must rise. When holding his own stock from the market, he it is generally thought that the actual price is can raise the price. He must look to the neither more nor less than a fair equivalent operation of a more general cause. But for the expected advance, the natural equili- alter he thinks that this canse has already brium will be established between the sup- completed its effect, what further inducé. ply and the demand; they will be exactly ment can he have to keep up his stock; unsuited to each other, and here the price, less he either thought that his own solitary while circminstances remain the same, will efforts could raise the price, or that other continue stationary ; to this point, it is evi corn merchants would follow his example. dent, it must constantly gravitate by the ope As the dealerz in grain are not combined, ration of fixed laws. It does not appear that each must pursue that plan which he thinks capital has the slightest influence in occa most condacive to his own particular intesioning these fuctuations. The price is tests. After he thinks that corn has risen fixed by the general opinion, and capital is to its just value, whatever be his command necessary to give practical effect to that opi- of capital, it never can be his interest not to pion. There must, by the very constitution sell. By not selling he keeps his capital of society, be always a sufficient quantity of idle, without any apparent means of remucapital to raise corn to that price at which it neration. What is true of one corn meris estimated by those best qualified to ap chant is true of the whole body. When preciate its just value, and it never can be corn has attained what they consider its just raised higher? It is not easy to understand value, it never can be their interest to keep upon what principle this sort of influence is it, unless they were to act in combination. ascribed to capital. If when an alarm of After they think that the alarm of scarcity scareity prevails, the value of corn must io. has completed its operation, their profit must crease, till the actual price is generally be be made by selling not by keeping; and lieved to be equivalent to the chance of high the most extensive command of active caprofits from the expected advance, how can pital could never induce them to keep up the influence of capital raise it higher. The corn longer from the expectation of extra. generality of corn-merchants thinking that ordinary profits. Indeed there is no printhe actoal price of corn is as high as to offer ciple in political economy more firmly esa fair compensation for the chance of high tablished than this, that if too great a quanprofits from the expected rise, although they tity of capital be attracted to any employe had the most extensive command of capital, ment, profits will quickly be reduced ; if could have no farther inducement to wiih there were too great a quantity of capital hold corn from the market. Whatever in the hands of the corn mercliants, the quantity they may have had on hand during market would be supplied too liberally, the rise, will yield them a great profit; but and the price would consequently be rethe profit on all future transactions must be duced below its natural level. As an according to the ordinary rate. Those who unfounded alarm of scarcity must raise the refuse to sell most certainly be impressed price, an unfounded beliet' of plenty mast with the belief that the price will speedily be lower it. Accordingly, before the harvest higher. If this be the general belief, al of 1800, on the prospect of plenty, the though it may ultimately prove groundless, price of wheat fell as low as 585., and very it must be founded on a consideration of the fine wheat, which had been as high as 1gos. circumstances of the case by those best qua fell to 855., which was afterwards found to lified to form a correct judgment. Capital be too low a price. There appeared to be never can be wanting to raise corn to the va a very general mistake as to the produce of luation at which it is rated by the general opi the crop, for after the harvest was got iin, nion of the dealers, and were it possible to sup. and the demand fairly brought to bear upon pose ibat it could rise higher by the influence it, the mistake was quickly corrected, and of partial causes, it would be instantly brought superfine wheat rose as high in January as down by the great supply which would pour from 140 to 158s.

from 140 to 158s. Were I pretending to into the market from all quarters. In exhibit a compleie view of the subject, { the case which I have supposed it is thought would take notice of the fluctuations which that corn will increase one-tifth; now if it generally happen in a year of scarcity para be the general opinion, that the actual in- icularly, previous to the harvest; butait crease of price offers a fair compensation is not absolutely recessary for ny prescut for the expected advance, there never can purpose, I shall only observe, that ali dese be a general disposition to employ capital variations of price' are plainly deducible in with-holding. No corn merchant can from the operation of ubrious cause, a:d

do not seem to be in the slightest degree bounty solely, which raises the price, and connected with paper currency.--Having not the influence of active capital. You say thus stated to you the grounds of my dissent that the present rise of price is not to be acfrom the fundamental position on which counted for upon my principles, and you your theory rests, little more remains for ask what cause has produced such a sodden ine to do. You think that the prospect of augmentation of the demand above the supe scarcity would cause corn to be kept back ply? The cause obviously is a general befrom the market; even though there were lief that the price will be higher, which neither discounting nor paper currency; must occasion a continually increasing debut that the degree which would' bear a mand, till that demaod is checked by a proproportion to the real capital of the posses portional rise of price. It is not a paper cure sors of the article, would never be so great rency which affords the means of acting as to amount to an evil. I have already en. upon the mind; there must always exist a deavoured to shew that there must always sufficient quantity of capital to give practibe a sufficient quantity of capital to raise cal effect to the general belief, and no sacorn to that value at which it is rated by perfluous capital can be employed. As to a those best qualified to form a correct judg. depreciation of money, I am 1otally at a loss ment, and ihal no addition of capital can to understand how that circumstance can raise it higher. The capital employed in raise the real value of provisions; it appears any sort of irade must always adapi itself to to me, ibat it may with equal propriety be the functions which it is destined to per asserted, that physical magnitude may be form. The determination of a superfluous enlarged or diminished by a variation of tbe quantity 10 any employment, is the very measurement in which its dimensions are mode prescribed by the nature of things tor ascertained. The price of labour must de. reducing profits, and of benefiting instead pend upon the average value of corn for a of distressing consumers. The undue re number of years ; it never can be adjusted duction of price which took place before to all the transitory fluctuations in the price the harvest of 1800, will noi, I suppose, of provisious. A depreciation of the cur. be attributed by you to the operations rency must affect equally both the nominal of our paper system, Yet the var on in value of corp and labour. In whatever de. the price at that time was far greater than gree the present rise of provisions is owing to those variations of price which you partly a depreciation of money, in the same deattribute to paper currency, and it was un gree the price of labour must rise. If it doubtedly occasioned solely by the unfound has not risen, and if the demand has contied beliet of approaching plenty; for when nued the same, an unanswerable argument that opinion was correcteil, the price im arises out of tbis fact against any deprecia. mcdiately rose higher than even it had done tion. But allowing that the currency is debefore, notwithstanding a continual supply preciated, how can the real value of corn be from importation. Now I cannot help affected by that circumstance? As money thinking, that if an unfounded belief of is the only practical measure of value, corn is plenty occasions a very great fall of price, more frequently compared with it than with an unfound ed belief of scarcity may occa any other commodity. But the real value sion a very great rise wi:hout the inierven.

of corn has surely nothing to do with the tion of any other cause. If a law were variations of the measure by which that vapassed granting a premium of a guinea for lue is ascertained. I have now submitted

each bnshel of corn exported after next to you the grounds on which my opinions Christmas, you ask me if I will deny that are founded, and if they are erroneous, you such a law would induce all the corn dealers will have an opportunity of refuting thers. to raise the corn in hand from one and the In the mean time I cannot belp thukiog, the same motive? An answer will be found that the influence of paper currency on the to this quere in the case of an expected rise price of provisions, which never can act but with which I have endeavoured io illustrate in conjunction with another very powerred my view of the subject. If such a law were cause, is an illusion very similar to those lepassed, there could be no want of capital to gendary tales concerning forestallers, regraTaise coro to its full value, and no capital ters, and engrossers, which were propagated could raise it higher. But here I must ob and believed during the monkish age of serve, that corn dealers all act as uncoonect political economy.--Montrose, 21st irov, ed individuals; it is the expectation of the 1804.-D. B.

Printed by Cox and Baylis, No. 73, Great Gueen Street, and published by R. Bagshaw, Buw Street, Coreizt

Garden, where former Numbers may be had ; sold also b; 3. Budd, Cruwo and Mitre Pall-Mall.

VOL. VI. No. 24.]

LONDON, SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15, 1801.

[Price 101.

[ocr errors]

s. It is impossible not to see, in these feeble and sickly imaginations, tbat fatal temper of mind, whick leads men to look for belp and comfort from any source ratber tban from tbeir own " exertions." -Mr. WINDHAM's Speech on the Preliminaries of Peace. 929)

[930 LETTER VI.

very unnatoral, but one not altogether with

out a precedent in the history of Europe. TO THE RT. HON, WILLIAM PITT,

The views of Russia, as they have been beON THE CAUSES OF THE DECLINE OF fore described, appear to have been very GREAT BRITAIN.

steady; and her grand ob a' prowe, in cvery recent reign, has be brificed to Russia..

her influence towards the Summe been DIGRESSION, 2.

ject was, as the Russian politicians seem to Sketch of the present prospect of the

have thought, considerably advanced by the War.

part which that power took in the ever-meSr&,

-At a time, when every post morable German Indemnities. Prussia from the continent is bringing fresh proots found her account in that distribution of of the triumphant progress of our enemy; territory and power; but Austria was at a time when the man, (a prayer for cruelly injured and humiliated. Napoleon protection against whom makes part of the (1 use his name lo suit the

purposes

of

per liturgy of our church,) is putting on the spicuity, always meaning, of course, to in crown, having already taken possession of clude the whole government of France); the dominions, of Charlemagne, while, by Napoleon took good care, however, that way of episode in the grand drama, he is the kussian influence should not, by means keeping us plunged in all the expenses, the of the German Indemnities, find its way embarrassments, the uncertainties and anx permanently to the Southward; and, when ictie; of war; at such a time, it is natural ther by the showing of great partiality to that men should inquire, when and how, the princes connected by the lies of blood this stale of things is lo terminate. This with the }mperia! Russian family, or by the question is, in fact, frequently asked; and, tone which the Russian plenipotentiaries it is truly melancholy to observe, that the were encouraged to take, the only effect ansver is seldom, or never, found espres. which the new-modelling of the German sive of confidence in our internal resrurce, Empire produced with regard to Russia, our ability, or our resolution. We rarely was, an addition to that jealousy, not to say hear any thing beyond a vague unde envy; and hatred, which was already enter. fined hope, that all will turn out weli at tained towards her by Austria; while, on last, that we are not yet to be conguered, the other side, the jealousy and the fears of and that something or other will happen to Prussia could not have been diminished. frustrate the designs of the enemy. Those That the ill-will of these two great German who are called

upon

for some foundation of Powers should not have been greaily intheir hope, refer us, 1. to the powers of the creased by seeing a Russian Plenipotentiary Continent; and, 2. to the discontents of the dis'ributing the dominions of the Empire, perple of France, sometimes appearing to new-moulding and new-modelling its con. think, that it is not the interest of Buona stitution, would, indeed, have been some. parté himself to conquer this country, nor thing for an age to wonder at. But, long to subvert its government.

before the affair of the German IndemniIt must be evident, that a fallacious hope ties, Napoleon had provided himself with can be productive of no good to the coun. the means of setting Russia at defiance try, and that it may be productive of great upon any future occasion. Those means we mischief; therefore, it is well worth our now find amply treasured up in a secret while to consider, what degree of solidity convention, concluded between the two there is in either of the foundations above powers on the 11th of October, 1801, 'ten mentioned.

days after the date of the preliminaries of As far as we can speak from official do peace between England and France. On çumenti, Russia appeared, at the close of the 8th of the same month a treaty of peace her diplomatic, intercourse with Napoleon, was concluded between France and Russia; to be resolved, not on war, but, on a sort but, in this treaty, war is merely piil an of hostile neutrality, a state, without doubt, end 10, and the ancient relationships of peace

« PreviousContinue »