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ing liberally. This, no doubt, is right and meritorious but it is certainly not in every man's power; comparatively speaking, it is indeed, in the power of very few. But doing good is of a much more general nature; and is in a greater or less degree practicable by all. For, whenever we make one human creature happier, or better than he would have been without our help, then we do good. And when we do this from a proper motive, that is with a sense and a desire of pleasing God by doing it, then we do good in the true sense of the text, and of God's gracious promise. Now let every one, in particular, reflect, whether, in this sense, he has not some good in his power: some within his own doors, to his family, his children, his kindred; by his labour, his authority, his example, by bringing them up, and keeping them in the way of passing their lives honestly, and quietly, and usefully. What good more important, more practicable than this is? Again, something may be done beyond our own household: by acts of tenderness and kindness, of help and compassion to our neighbours. Not a particle of this will be lost. It is all set down in the book of life; and happy are they, who have much there! And again, if any of us be really sorry, that we have not so much in our power, as we would desire, let us remember this short rule, that since we can do little good, to take care that we do no harm. Let us shew our sincerity by our innocence: that, at least, is always in our power.
Finally, let us reflect, that in the habitations of life are many mansions; rewards of various orders and degrees, proportioned to our various degrees of virtue and exertion here. He that soweth plenteously, shall reap plenteously." We can never do too much; never be too earnest in doing good; because every good action here will, we are certain, be an addition of happiness hereafter; will advance us to a better condition in the life to come, whatever be our lot or success in this. God will not fail of his pro nise. He hath commissioned his beloved Son to tell us, that they that have done good shall enter into the resurrection of life. Let us humbly and thankfully accept his gracious offer. We have but one business in this world. It is to strive to make us worthy of a better. What ever this trial may cost us: how long, how earnestly, how patiently soever, through whatever difficulties, by whatever toils we endeavour to obey and please our Maker, we are supported in them by this solid and never ceasing consolation, "that our labour is not in vain in the Lord."
We have not distinctly specified every discourse: but we have transcribed enough from this volume to shew that the respectable and lamented preacher aimed not at fame but usefulness, and thought not of pleasing but of improving his fellow
ART. VIII: An Inquiry into the State of National Subsistence, as con nected with the Progress of Wealth and Population. By W. T. Comber. 8vo. PP. 382. 98. Boards. Cadell and Davies.
THIS HIS book may be divided into two parts, one containing the history of our corn-laws, and an account of those regulations which are at present in force, while the other communicates the author's ideas on the theory of subsistence. We shall bestow our principal attention on the former part, because it is by much the better of the two; Mr. Comber, although not unacquainted with the doctrines of political economy, having by no means attained that intimate knowlege of them, nor that facility and promptitude in their application, which are indispensable preliminaries to the accuracy of new propositions.
After an introduction, more calculated to shew the writer's erudition than to give a clear outline of his work, we are presented, in the first chapter, with an account of the state of agriculture in the time of the Britons and Anglo-Saxons. In this part also, as indeed throughout the whole volume, Mr. Comber's solicitude to display the extent of his reading may be remarked but our objections to this disposition, while it is confined to narrative and description, are less serious than when it is permitted to darken and entangle the path of science by complex and visionary theories. Among the Saxons, Mr. C. informs us, four distinct tenures of land subsisted allodial, which implied the property of an odalsman, or independent nobleman; thane-land, meaning land granted by the King to his immediate dependants; folkland, by which we are to understand a provision for such of the people as were dependent neither on the King nor on the nobility; and bockland, or bookland, denoting a tenure by deed or instrument in writing, which in those rude ages was extremely rare. The contempt for laborious occupations which was entertained by the Saxons, in common with other uncivilized nations joined to the natural fickleness of the climate, occasioned the frequent recurrence of famines, and produced the greatest miseries; which were aggravated by the intestine wars of the Heptarchy, and by the subsequent struggles with the Danes. The influence of the Christian religion was favourable indeed to industry, but it was accompanied by heavy demands on the national produce, for the erection of churches and monasteries; and at the close of the reign of Edward the Confessor, it was computed that one third of the lands of the kingdom were granted to the endowment of religious
foundations. It may be safely laid down, as a general remark, that the state of England, in the time of the Saxons, was tather pastoral than arable.
The occupation of England by the Normans produced, in regard to land, all the consequences of absolute conquest. A great part of the estates of the Saxon nobility was confiscated and divided among William's followers, while the native proprietors of inferior rank were glad to secure their possessions by holding them as fiefs of a Norman lord. The allodial thus gave way to the feudal system, and even the church-lands were no longer exempt from the obligation of military service. It is important to remark that, in the distribution of the estates of the feudal lords, the proportion of land held by the vassals on their own account was small; the greater part of the lordship being retained by the owner, and cultivated by his servants or dependants for his own use. No system could be less favourable to agricultural improvement than the occupancy of such ignorant and restless masters; and accordingly the occurrence of famine was a calamity as frequent after the Conquest as before. Money also was very scarce, and the rate of interest consequently very high; the principal causes of which were the exactions of the Court of Rome, the rage for crusading, and a general taste among the nobles for foreign luxuries, the cloths of Flanders, the wines of France, and the ornamental fabrics of the East.
In this unsettled state of society, the prices of corn, as might naturally be expected, were very fluctuating. One year, we are told, wheat bore a price equivalent to nine shillings of our present money per quarter; and a year or two afterward, five times as much. Before we draw conclusions, however, from these statements, we should attend to two things; first, that these reports are generally local, and by no means descriptive of the currency of prices throughout the country; and secondly, that wheat was consumed by the great only, the mass of the people being supported on a coarser diet. The price of wheat, therefore, was in those days by no means so accurate an index of the general state of provisions as it is in the present. Mr. Comber also very justly attributes a great part of the fluctuations in the price of what to the absurd laws against forestaning, regrating, and engrossing, which precluded the existence of corn-merchants, and prevented the abundance of one year from being made subservient to the alleviation of the scarcity of the next.
It was in 1394, in the reign of Ric rd II., tha the exportation of grain to all parts was first permitted by Act
of Parliament; subject, however, to certain duties, and liable to restraint by the King in Council, whenever high prices at home might render that measure necessary. Soon after this time, Leadenhall was built as a public granary for London.In 1437, exportation was allowed whenever the quarter of wheat did not exceed a price corresponding to 13s. 4d. of our present money; and in 1463 we meet with an indication of the vigilant attention of the landholders to their own interest; when, having made complaints of the losses sustained by the importation of foreign grain, they obtained an act prohibiting such importation whenever wheat was below 11s. of our present money. This appears to have been the first restriction on import. The exportation of wool to the Continent, particularly to the manufacturing country of Flanders, had been considerable since the 13th century; and towards the end of the 15th, the English government became apprehensive that the frequent conversion of corn-land into sheep-walks might injure the prosperity of the kingdom. Acts for the maintenance of tillage, and the restriction of pasturage, were accordingly passed in 1488, 1515, 1534, 1552, 1562, and 1597; regulations which did not, probably, originate with the landed interest, but resulted from the general impression that the produce of pasture compared with tillage was unsubstantial and precarious. The influence of the landed interest, however, was visible in the acts passed in the reign of Elizabeth, the general scope of which was to permit the exportation of grain whenever prices were reasonable at home. Although nothing can be more equitable than such a permission, yet if we advert to the anxiety of the lower orders to prevent, at all times, the egress of provisions, we shall be satisfied that to obtain that permission required no small degree of exertion on the part of the proprietors of land; clogged even as it was with the payment of a considerable duty to the crown. In the beginning of Elizabeth's reign, the export of wheat was allowed only when the average home-price was at or below 6s. Ed. per quarter: but, as prices rose, the landed interest obtained an extension of the permission, whenever wheat should be at or below 10s. the quarter; and finally, in the end of her reign, whenever it should be at or below 20s. This rapid advance of prices, during the time of Elizabeth, is equalled in no period of our history except the present; and the enhancement continued during a part of the next century since, in the reign of James Ist, we find exportation permitted whenever our own prices should not exceed an average, first of 26s. 8d. per quarter, and subsequently of 32S. In the period, therefore, of sixty years, the prices of wheat
wheat appear to have quadrupled; and this extraordinary rise of prices, or, in other words, this depreciation of money, is ascribed by Dr. Smith to the influx of the precious metals from America. During the period mentioned, the exportation seems to have been considerable, and must have been productive of a large revenue, since a duty of 25. per quarter was payable on wheat, and 16d. on all other grain. It was at this epoch that the city of London built granaries for corn and coals in Bridewell.
In the history of our corn-laws, it is important to keep in mind that the most powerful body in our Parliament have always been land-holders, or persons interested in raising the prices of corn. The acts passed with this view have not originated with the Crown, which has no motive for enhanc ing prices; and still less with the people, who, being the consumers, have every motive for lowering them. They have proceeded, therefore, exclusively from Parliament; and accordingly, during those intervals of the 17th century in which the power of Parliament was suspended, no new regulations of the corn-market took place. This remark applies to three several periods, the reign of Charles I., the Protec torate, and the reign of James II.: but no sooner did Parliament résume its authority at the Restoration, as well as at the Revolution, than each epoch was marked by a statute in favour of the land-holders. The act passed at the Restoration lowered the export-duty on wheat from 28. to Is. per quarter; and this reduction was perfectly fair: but a different sentence must be passed on another part of the Act, namely, that which discouraged the importation of foreign grain; a discouragement which was aggravated by subsequent Acts of Parliament under Charles II. though it was not till the Revolution that the landed interest made an arbitrary use of their parliamentary preponderance. Till that time, they had gone no farther than to secure to themselves the whole supply of the home-market: but the Act of 1688 gave them, in addition, a large bounty for supplying foreigners. It provided that, whenever wheat was at or under 48s., a bounty of 5s. per quarter should be paid on export; a correspondent bounty was allowed on the export of other British grain; and the restrictions on the import of foreign corn were so heavy as to amount to a prohibition.
Such was the law of the land during the greater part of a century, namely from 1688 to 1773. Our exportations, as we may naturally conclude, were large; and the sums paid for bounty were so great as to form a heavy addition to the public burdens: an addition not expended for any purpose of national benefit, but accompanied by the strange result of