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hence he infers that it must have been in a miserable state with regard to the means of subsistence. But there are very historical facts which bear directly upon the question. Of this, however, the author has not been sufficiently aware; for he seems to have imagined that he had already obtained evidence to establish the favourite proposition of the book;-that the plentiful supply of subsistence, in any country, is not dependent upon the state of industry, in regard to land solely, but upon the state of industry, in general, including arts and manufactures, as the first object, rather than the second. Thus he tells us,

In glancing the eye over the long period of four centuries, from the conquest to the reign of Henry VII. we are astonished at the small progress of the country in knowledge, industry, and population. Though some circumstances which were extraneous and incidental, had a limited effect in retarding this advancement, yet the great, leading, and permanent obstacles to the improvement of the country, and the amelioration of the condition of the people, arose from the agricultural state of society. The degradation and vassalage of the people which accompanied this state, may be traced to that appropriation of land which preceded the cultivation of the soil. The universality of this state of depression in every country during the prevalence of the agricultural system, seems to characterize it as the necessary and inevitable consequence of that confined direction of the industry of a nation.

‹ The re-action of the causes and effects which arise in such a state of society, upon each other, have the most powerful influence in perpetuating its continuance; and it is so far from containing in itself the seeds of a natural and necessary tendency to amelioration, that the emergence of a nation from such a state of barbarism, even when surrounded with civilized nations in an enlightened age, is so gradual as scarcely to be perceptible.

Whatever, therefore, the importance of that species of industry which is applied to the cultivation of the soil, may be in a physical and absolute sense, we are compelled to deny its efficacy as a source of riches or a cause of civilization. Regarded even as a means of subsistence, it is not always a certain resource; and, unaided by arts and the industry dependent on them, an unfruitful source of population. Independent of the limited produce of labour arising from this confined exertion of the human powers, the tendency of such a state of society to generate constant wars, is itself a powerful means of repressing population. But it would be equally repugnant to facts and to reason, to attribute such a recurrence of war to a want of subsistence, either permanent or casual. The limit to population in such a state of society, arises from the reaction of moral causes, and not from a physical incapacity of the country to afford the means of subsistence.

The opinions of those, therefore, who conceive the population of a country to be limited merely by a want of the means of subsistence, appear equally repugnant to experience, with those who represent agriculture as an inexhaustible source of population as well as riches. The errors of both appear to arise from overlooking that constant existence of

large proprietaries, which is the inseparable attendant of a state purely agricultural, and the jealousy with which the growth of the middle order is regarded. Whenever lands become divided, and their transference facilitated in any country, it soon resigns the character of agricultural, and, by exhibiting an increased produce of the soil amidst arts and manufac tures, demonstrates that the importance of this species of industry is not absolute and exclusive, but collateral and relative to the other great causes of the wealth, prosperity, and power of a nation.' PP. 82-84.

There is one or two expressions in this passage, the absurdity of which deserves a more particular notice. Whatever the importance of that species of industry, which is applied to the cultivation of the soil, may be in a physical and absolute sense, we are compelled to deny its efficacy as a source of riches, or a cause of civilization.' It is not very easy, here, as on many other occasions, to discover accurately what is the author's meaning. That the species of industry, applied to the cultivation of the soil, should be efficacious in a physical and absolute sense, and yet not efficacious as a source of riches, appears to us a contradiction in terms; for we cannot suppose the author's head was still bewildered with the old theory about money, and that, in speaking of riches, he regarded it as nothing but gold and silver. But even in this view, we do not understand how manufacturing industry is more productive of riches than agriculture; as the weaver no more produces gold, than the husbandman. If we must hold to this sense, therefore, we must regard no industry as productive of riches but that which is employed in gold and silver mines. This is certainly not what Mr. Comber meant. But thus it fares with the man who undertakes to write on a very difficult subject, while his ideas are yet far from clear, and his power of detecting unmeaning phraseology is still extremely imperfect."Regarded even as a means of subsistence, it (that species of industry which is applied to the cultivation of the soil) is not always a certain resource; and unaided by arts and the industry dependent on them, an unfruitful source of popula tion.' This is one of the most remarkable specimens which we have met with, of a man aiming to express a sense which he has not fully comprehended; setting down words when the thought is not yet ready; and imposing upon himself by phrases which have no meaning. Mr. C. has observed that agriculture has no where greatly flourished, where other species of industry have not, at the same time, been carried to great perfection. The various species of industry, including agricul ture among the rest, owe their prosperity to the same causes, and rise and fall together. But it does not hence follow, that agriculture is not a certain source of population; for it unquestionably is. Wherever corn is produced by human beings,

there will human beings be found to consume it, unless when some unnatural cause prevents the natural consequence. When he says that agriculture, unaided by arts and the industry dependent on them, is an unfruitful source of population, it seems impossible to understand what he means. At those rude periods of our history, which he characterizes as the periods devoid of arts, does he mean to say that agriculture did not support population? That is impossible. If he means that it supported a very scanty population; this is true. to what was it owing? Not to the state of the arts, but to the state of agriculture; and had the agriculture been good, it would have supported a greater population in proportion to the want of arts.


By the establishment of security, and the dissolution of the feudal system, a new order of things sprung up under the Tudors. The conversion of land to the growth of raw produce as an object of commerce,' is the circumstance which Mr. C. holds up to view as the principal feature of this period. Under the reigns of the Stuarts, another phenomenon took place. Grain was exported to foreign markets so regularly, as to become the system of the country. These topics form the subject of the third and fourth chapters. From the Revolution, a new scheme of management was adopted. As a boon to the landholders, a bounty was granted for the sake of forcing exportation, and for thus keeping the price of corn and the rent of land always high. The circumstances attending this system, from the revolution to the beginning of the reign of his present Majesty, are detailed in the fifth chapter. From this part of the work we can quote a passage which exhibits the author to much greater advantage, than the extract on which we last animadverted.

⚫ But almost the first act of the legislature, after the revolution, was to grant a bounty of 55. on the exportation of every quarter of wheat, when the prices should not exceed 48s. per quarter, and proportionate sums on other grain; and when it exceeded that price, allowing exportation without bounty.


No other reason is assigned for granting this bounty, than the general advantages arising from exportation. It is not even asserted, that the prices in other countries had declined, or that we had become excluded from the foreign markets, by the competition of other growing countries. It was a mere gratuitous bonus for doing that which it was otherwise sufficiently the interest of the land-owner to do. If it can be considered as any thing but a bribe to the landed interest, who alone could support the new order of things; the only apology that seems to offer itself is, that the exportation of wool was prohibited in the same session; and this bonus might be considered as a compromise for the probable decline of wool, which that regulation might occasion. In the most favourable view of the origin of the measure, we cannot but regard it as the result

of a convention between the government and the landed interest, to whịch the commercial body, though materially affected by it, were not par


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• The enacting part of this bill is completely repugnant to the preamble, for in stating, that the exportation of corn is advantageous to a country, when the price is at a low rate, it extends this encouragement to a very high price, and one in fact which had only occurred once, and that during the great dearth, in 1674, and 1675, since the restoration. The actual price at the time of passing this act, was only half that of the rate fixed in the act, and the growers' price, or that at which a farmer would contract to deliver a quantity, was, according to the calculation of Gregory King, 28s, per quarter; it was evidently intended, therefore, to operate as a permanent and constant bonus on the growth of corn. But this was not the only act made for the interest of the land owner; for in order to promote the consumption of corn, a general licence for distilling spirits and low wines from malt was also granted; and beer, ale, cyder, and mum, were allowed to be exported, paying only 1s. per tun; and beef, mutton, and pork, were exportable without duty.

If we can suppose the landed interest to have imagined that, because they consented to allow the wool to remain in the country in order to promote manufacturing industry and afford employment to commercial capital, that therefore they were entitled to an indemnity on the other produce of their lands; such a measure could be considered in no other light than as a tax on the people for the privilege of exercising their talents, and would demonstrate how tenaciously the land-owners retain the idea of their being the natural lords and masters of the country.

• However speciously this law has been coloured by attributing to its projectors profound and extended, views of policy; it is too obviously directed to promote the interests of a particular class, to allow us to attribute its origin to any better motives; more particularly as this presumption is confirmed by all the concomitant circumstances. But, notwithstanding this was most decidedly the object of the law, we shall have reason to conclude, in tracing its operation and effects, that though it proved injurious to the commerce and manufactures of the kingdom, it did not benefit the land-owner, but proved in its consequences a bonus rather to the foreign consumer than the English grower.3 pp. 132–135.

During the reign of George the Third, the historical inquiry is more complicated, and several chapters are assigned to it. The first portion extends from the commencement of the reign to the consolidation of the corn laws in 1791. In this period the exportation of corn declined, while, as the author shews us, an increase took place in the produce of agriculture, as well as of manufactures and trade. In the period which intervened between, the consolidation act, and the year 1803, the reader is called upon to contemplate the circumstances attending the occasional bounties, and the progressive rise in the price of provisions. The next subject of consideration is the imposition of the new restrictions by the act of 1804; the grounds of which, or the pretexts on which it was founded, are,

examined, its inefficiency in excluding the foreign grower is proved, and a method is pointed out by which Mr. Comber thinks that object might be really accomplished. These topics are handled in the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth chap


The historical inquiry being thus finished, it is followed by a description of the present state of the country, and a glimpse into futurity. We are now, according to Mr. Comber, in more favourable circumstances than ever. This conclusion seems to be adopted, chiefly, because it is in unison with the author's doctrine, that when a country advances in arts and manufactures, she advances, pari passu, in a liberal supply of the necessaries of life. Now Great Britain is at present farther advanced than ever in arts and manufactures, therefore is she better supplied with provisions. Quod erat demonstrandum.

The legislative regulations of the country, however, which Mr. Comber's good sense, and his more than ordinary information, enable him to see through pretty clearly, lead him to apprehend considerable inconveniences for the future, while our laws prevent the formation of those stocks and supplies which the natural course of things would otherwise provide as a security against deficient crops. The situation of Europe, portentous as it seems, in his account forebodes no peculiar scenes of evil to this country, with regard to the necessaries of life.

The legislature has sometimes had recourse to the suspension of distilling from grain during seasons of scarcity. The author, in the conclusion of his work, examines this resource, and justly describes it as a very inefficient expedient.

On the whole, though we have been somewhat severe upon this work, we do not regard it as devoid of utility. It is of some importance to contemplate, in one view, the historical facts connected with the means of subsistence in our country, from the earliest to the latest period of our history; and though the author is not a master of his subject, those must be very well acquainted with it indeed, who will find nothing in his book to instruct them.

Art. VII. The Geography and Antiquities of Ithaca, dedicated by Permission to the King. By William Gell, Esq. M.A. F. R. S. F. Š. A. and Member of the Society of Dilettanti. royal 4to. pp. 119. Price 21. 12s. 6d. Longman and Co.


'HE desire to discover what is secret and obscure, is, like other inherent propensities of our nature, sometimes indulged to excess, or directed to improper objects. The mental power and activity which may be successfully employed in

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