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than ever was known before; twelve stated that the quantity was much the same, and five of them asserted there was rather more than usual. · No one can be more aware than myself of the errors to which an implicit confidence in the preceding table would lead. I have not formed it to obtain that confidence in it as a whole, which it is impossible I can myself feel. It may, however, deserve a considerable degree of attention, as a clue to the development of some important views. In the estimated increase of our population, in the period of the last twelve years, there can be no mistatement, or at least none, except to a very insignificant extent. The relative productiveness of the several years, being framed from as great a variety of facts as could be collected, is not likely to be very far from an accurate view. The statements relating to absolute quantities are certainly only unauthoritative conjectures. There are no satisfactory notices in this country of the number of acres destined to grow bread corn, nor even of the number under arable cultivation. There are no means of forming any judgment of what the average acreable produce of wheat is, or what rate of increase of the seed is gained. I have seen returns of farms, where, in some seasons, the seed has yielded sixteen grains for one, and others, where they have not exceeded five and a half for one.
In the table, the increase of wheat is assumed to be at the rate of nine times the quantity of seed. It is a mere conjecture, and impossible to be either proved or disproved, without much more knowledge than we at present enjoy.
It is equally difficult to determine what is the annual consumption of wheat. It has been usual to estimate it at one quarter per year for each person, calculated on the number of quartern loaves allowed by the magistrates weekly to paupers in some local districts. In the table it is estimated lower, or at somewhat more than six bushels and a half for each person. It would be equally as difficult to defend either of these rates of consumption, as to fix determinately what the rate really is.
Although some facts are incapable of strict proof, yet those in the table that are ascertained, such as the number of consumers, and of those that are highly probable, such as the comparative productiveness of the different years, lead to considerations of an important nature.
The comparative productiveness of the year 1820 to the year 1816, was as sixteen to nine, or, according to the rate here assumed, a difference of 7,000,000 quarters of wheat. The greatest quantity of wheat ever imported in one year from all parts of the world, including Ireland, was 1,738,000 quarters. The whole import during the last twelve years under consideration amounted to 6,780,000, or, on an average of the years, to about 565,000 annually.
The fluctuation in the character of different years is seen in the produce of wheat to be about equal to the average annual quantity
that has been imported; the whole quantity in the twelve years is not equal to the difference in produce between two years out of the twelve. From these data may be inferred, how little the influence of importation from Ireland and foreign countries, on the price of wheat, can have been when compared with the influence exercised by the greater or less production of our own soil. The alteration made in the currency, by the removal of the Bank restriction, seems to have had an undue degree of influence attributed to it in affecting the prices of corn. The exchangeable difference of value between our paper currency and the metallic money, as almost demonstrably proved by Mr. Tooke, did not in the first twelve years of the restriction exceed 4 per cent, nor on the average of the five succeeding years more than 20 per cent, and the difference of produce in corn between two of the years of the series we have reviewed was 80 per cent. Whatever may have been the effect of the Bank restriction to raise prices on the whole period of seventeen years during which it was continued, it must have been very inconsiderable, when placed in contrast with the effect caused by the variations in the productiveness of seasons, during the twelve years since the restriction has been removed.
The increase of inhabitants to be subsisted, as shown in the table, is not a matter of estimate, but of simple numeration, in which no error of importance can be made. If this increase should continue at the same rate, which there seems no reason to doubt, and if the consumption of wheat keeps an equal pace with it, which there is every reason to expect, we must very speedily reach a point where the supply will fall short of the demand, without taking into consideration those years which must be expected to oceur, in which our harvests may prove more or less deficient. The cultivation of potatoes is looked to as a useful remedy, to protract the consumption of scanty harvests of corn; but that kind of sustenance when adopted, not as a remedy against an occasional evil, but as the principal instrument for the subsistence of a country, seems to be calculated rather to increase the number of its consumers, than to increase the supply of a better kind of food.
In the countries of Europe, where the greatest proportions of those who have no property but the daily labor of their hands on which to subsist are to be found, we find also the most rapid increase in the number of the inhabitants. In Prussia, in Denmark, in Russia, and the other parts of the continent, which are obviously the poorest, as well as in Ireland, the increase of inhabitants, living chiefly on polar toes, has been so much greater than the increase of capital to afford them employment, that when an unfavorable season for their chief sustenance occurs, the extent of want and suffering is enlarged in a most alarming degree in a degree felt with a most oppressive weight during the period between the uselessness of the old and ripening of the new crop.
The Hanoverian government keeps accounts, as well of the annual produce of the harvests, as of the kind of crops cultivated. It
appears, that in a number of bailiwicks of that kingdom, the returns from which I have been enabled to procure, the increase of inhabitants, in the years from 1817 to 1826, has been 12,006 individuals; that, in the same period, the increase in the number of acres cultivated with potatoes has been 945, or that the increase in consumer3 has been between 9 and 10 per cent, whilst that of the acres destined for potatoes has been between 5 and 6 per cent. No great stress can be laid on this statement, though it shows that the growth of the root in question has not been proceeding with that extraordinary pace which many have supposed. I think the potatoe-culture has been as much extended in Hanover as in any part of the continent I have visited. They are used very generally for making ardent spirit, as well as for food both for man and cattle.
In very poor countries, the culture of potatoes, though not perhaps a remedy for the evil under which they labor, and even possibly one among others of the cause of that evil, can in their present circumstances not be dispensed with, or in any degree be diminished.
It is not to such a state that we are called on to look in Great Britain ; our laborers are not compelled to subsist on the lowest kind of food. Even the most indigent, those who are supported by the local poor-rates in their own dwellings, such as are placed in poorhouses, workhouses, hospitals, and other receptacles for indigence, are not, like those in similar circumstances in poorer countries, compelled to live exclusively on potatoes. All of them are fed with corn of some description, and in the south of the island almost wholly with wheat. Those, a little above absolute want of, or whose feelings forbid them to apply for, parochial aid, may sometimes suffer more than those who receive it; but this class comprises a very small proportion of the whole inhabitants of Great Britain, and it is among them that the greater use of potatoes has been chiefly extended
In the absence of the knowlege of many facts relating to the extended culture of potatoes, in most countries it is difficult to conceive that, whilst, from 1816 to 1828, our population has been augmented by upwards of two millions of consumers, the additional food supplied by potatoes can have fed one quarter of that number. If the whole quantity of potatoes were an absolute increase, it might be deserving of more notice; but in proportion as the manure of a farm is applied to the crop of potatoes, it must be lessened in its application to the part appropriated to corn.
Whatever may be the effect of the extended culture of potatoes, the easy circumstances in which the greater portion of the inhabitants of Great Britain are placed must make the increase of their numbers to be at a higher rate than that of the class who are fed chiefly on potatoes ; besides, the lowest classes are rising a step in the scale of subsistence, with a degree of gradual regularity, much more than those above them are descending. The middle classes are receiving
recruits from the lower in much greater numbers than the latter do from the former. This state of things is clearly proved by the vast number of neat houses of the smaller class arising in every part of England, in exchange for the crowded and filthy dwellings formerly inhabited by the artisans, which are as rapidly, in every county, disappearing. This view is also further strengthened by referring to the great increase in the consumption of all those articles which form the comforts of those a few steps above the indigent class. Thus, within the last twelve years, the increased use of soap, candles, leather, sugar, and other articles, is evidence to show that the augmentation of our inhabitants has been chiefly in that class of society who are not compelled to subsist on the lowest description of food.
It may further be added, that the increase in the amount of the capitals accumulated in the several savings' banks, in a few years, from two to fourteen millions sterling, affords other ground for taking a favorable view of the condition of those one or two steps removed above the condition of mere day-laborers, and who live on better food than potatoes.
The year which followed the banking crisis of 1825, may, and probably did impede the progress of national prosperity, and such a rapid increase in the consumption of wheat as would without it have been attained. The effeci of that crisis is' now nearly passed away; and as we hope to return to the pace of advance, at which that event impeded our course, we must look henceforth to a constantly increasing demand for wheat.
It will be presently shown, that if a great portion of our necessary supply should be wanted from foreign countries, there is no probability that it could be furnished without such an advance of price as would be enormously heavy. We must look to our own supply, if not quite exclusively, at least chiefly. It is on the assiduity and skill
, and economy in cultivation, of our own agricultural fellow-subjects that we must depend; for all other dependence would fail.us in the day of necessity, whenever that day shall arrive.
It can only be by due and real protection that the British farmer can be enabled to supply the wants of the community; and if, for want of such protection, he should fail considerably in his annual produce, the void cannot be filled up except at a cost very far beyond what such protection, expended on the domestic cultivators, would amount to. · In order to show how difficult it would be to draw from the continent of Europe a supply of corn to such an extent as would make up the deficiency created by another harvest like that of 1816, it becomes desirable to show what has been the actual surplus of wheat of those countries after feeding their own inhabitants.
The greatest exporting country is Prussia. As the wheat of her Rhenish provinces finds its only outlet through the ports of the Netherlands, and the whole is consumed there, it is not necessary that it should be taken any notice of in the review of general exports.
I believe none from Munster find its way to the Weser or to the Ems, though to the latter river there is a canal; but the navigation of it is so expensive as to be a bar to the conveyance of grain. Much wheat comes from Magdeburg, and the adjacent provinces near the Elbe. The quantity, whatever it may be, is shipped at Hamburgh, and forms a part of the excess of export beyond import of that city. We have then only the provinces of Pomerania and of East and West Prussia to notice in this general view.
In the nine years, from 1819 to 1827, both inclusive, the whole export amounted to 1,971,577 quarters, at the average rate of 219,064 annually. This amount comprehends the whole of that which descends by the several rivers from Poland. As the Prussian wheat is not of the best quality, and forms about one-third of the whole quantity, that from Poland must be annually about 140 or 150,000 quarters; some of this is, however, inferior to the average wheat of this kingdom. There may perhaps be 100,000 quarters produced yearly of a quality superior to that of our own growth, and which, after a moist harvest in this kingdom, will sell at 10s. per quarter above our average.
The export from the duchies of Mecklenburg in the twelve years, from 1816 to 1827, both inclusive, amounted to 447,062 quarters, or an average export of 66,456 quarters.
The exports of Denmark, including Holstein and Sleswick, in the seven years, from 1820 to 1827, both inclusive, amounted to 730,571 quarters, or annually to 104,768 quarters.
Hamburgh is to be viewed chiefly as a depôt, though it is the channel by which the wheat grown near the Elbe is transported to other countries. In the ten years, from 1818 to 1827, the whole amount of the export was 675,774, of which had been imported 434,192 quarters; thus showing, that the surplus of the district of which it is the natural outlet has been in ten years at the rate of 43,419 quarters yearly.
The exports from Bremen, according to the only accurate accounts I could procure, amounted annually to 1850 quarters. The whole annual rate of exportation of wheat from those countries may be thus brought together
435,357 The exports of this small annual quantity, added to the rapidly increasing internal consumption, has reduced the stocks of wheat through the north of Europe to the very low state which has been already exhibited in this report. The amount of that stock, with the