Obrázky na stránke

tations had increased, the balance had been turned against the nation, and in the last 13 years had amounted to 30 millions."

It is quite inconceivable that a committee of the House of Commons, under a grave examination into the causes of an apparent derangement in one of the most important branches of the domestic economy of the state, should adopt the language of a few superficial declaimers. It is always better to assign no reasons than such as are untenable. This is a very partial and uncandid statement of the account. In estimating the gain of the nation from the export of corn, they take credit for the whole proceeds of the corn sold, without any deductions whatever for rent of land, interest of money, or wages of labour, and without deducting, as they certainly ought, the sums paid by government for bounty to the grower; and in estimating the loss from importation, they debit the nation with the whole. cost of the grain, without making any allowance for the circumstances by which the price was so greatly raised beyond the usual rate, and the total amount so considerably augmented, and without taking credit for the rent of land, interest of money, or wages of labour, which would have been required for raising it at home. But the fact was, that we could not produce it at home, and therefore the importation became more a matter of necessity than choice, and certainly did not arise from the regulations being unfavourable to the grower; but as far it was at all occasioned by those regulations, arose from the injudicious attempts to promote his interest.

After the nation had so recently experienced the inconveniencies of scarcity, which in the estimation of every impartial man, can only be attributed to the unfavourableness of the seasons, combined with the want of encouragements to forming stores either of English or foreign wheat; we cannot but be surprized at the impatience of the nation under the first effects of the re-action of these causes. The cry of the agriculture of the country being endangered, is one of those stale tricks by which the interested impose upon the ignorant, or by which the powerful choose to colour their aggressions. An increase of tillage in consequence of high prices, was a natural effect of the return of the pendulum, and would have gradually corrected itself; to suppose that it should necessarily verge again to an opposite extreme implies that there exists no principle by which the production of grain will regulate itself to the demand. At all events, if the securing a certain price to the farmer was found necessary for this purpose, it would have been more candid and dignified to have stated this, than to have recurred to the exploded errors of the bounty sys tem, or to the false statement of an ideal balance.

If the securing a higher price had become necessary, from any change in the circumstances of the society, either to afford the farmer a fair living profit, or even to enable the land-owner to maintain his rank in the society, the liberality of the nation would not have withheld its sanction to the measures for that purpose. It might, however, probably not have recurred to such as had already been found inconsistent with that regularity of supply and security against want, which the interests of every clase in the society imperiously call for.'

No part of Mr. Comber's book is less satisfactory than that in which he offers suggestions for amending our system relative to the import of foreign corn. These remarks occur in pages 248, 249, and 251; and they are really so little suited to the comprehensive views which ought to characterize an advocate for reform, that we decline to quote them. Our own opinion points to complete liberty, as well in the import as the export of all grain; and we recognize no reason for difference of regulation in regard to British and foreign grain. This opinion is not founded on the assumption that, because the land-holders are wealthy, they ought to be excluded from an indemnity for the taxes which they pay, but on a deliberate conviction that this state of perfect freedom is equally conducive to the prosperity of the landed interest and to that of the public at large. The fundamental ground of this conviction is the fact that the price of food regulates the price of other things. An increase in the money-rent of land is speedily followed by a correspondent in crease in the price of other commodities; so that the addition to the land-holder is merely nominal, it being requisite that the amount of his expenditure should be proportionally augmented. An increase in the real value of his rent is to be found only in the general prosperity of the country, and the consequent multiplication of those articles which he purchases with his rent: but the ratio of this prosperity is greatly lessened by any measure which enhances food, and consequently the price of labour. Our power of competition with foreign countries is thus greatly diminished; a severe national loss is sustained; and of this loss, the land-holders, who possess so large a share of the public property, are certain of suffering their full proportion. The value of their incomes is lessened according as the abundance of those commodities, for which income is exchangeable, undergoes diminution; or, in other words, according as the general prosperity of the country is impaired.

In contradiction to the vulgar prejudice that the corn-dealers enter into combinations for enhancing grain, Mr. Comber very justly remarks that they are often buyers as well as sellers, and that in no class of merchants does a greater variety of opinions exist. It is estimated (page 197.) that the usual stock of English wheat in the kingdom, previously to the coming in of a new crop, is equal only to three months' consumption; and that one half of it, at least, is destined for seed. The prices of corn in the exporting countries, in Poland as well as America, are regulated, in dear seasons, by those of England; and it is a curious fact that, a century ago, in consequence of the cattle feeding on wastes and commons, instead of good pastures, the lambs, sheep, and calves weighed little more than a third, and


the oxen considerably less than half, of what they weigh at present.

We shall conclude by quoting, from Mr. Comber's Appendix, a statement of the distribution of land throughout England and Wales:

The Proportion of land cultivated for different purposes in England

and Wales.


Barley and rye

Oats and beans

Clover, rye grass, &c.

Roots and cabbage cultivated by the plough


Hop grounds

Nursery grounds

Fruit and kitchen gardens cultivated by the spade

Pleasure grounds

Land depastured by cattle
Hedge-rows, copses, and woods
Ways, water, &c.

Commons and waste lands

Total acres in England and Wales

Acres. 3,160,000 861,000




2,297,000 36,000


41,000 16,000


1,641.000 1,316,000

32,027,000 6,473,000


ART. IX. A Narrative of the Campaign of the Pritish Army in Spain, commanded by his Excellency Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore, K. B. &c. &c. Authenticated by official Papers and original Letters. By James Moore, Esq. 4to. PP. 324: 11. 11s. 6d. Boards. Johnson. 1809.


MPORTANT state-measures not only attract general notice, but should always be open to the most ample investigation; and the conduct of any individual, who has acted a prominent part in the contrivance or in the execution of them, should be equally subject to the scrutiny of the community, whose welfare they involved. Where merit has been displayed, the result of this examination ought to be, and always would be, adequate reward: if failure be proved, the sentence of the public should be retributive in proportion to the extent of the incapacity, the negligence, or the treachery which has been manifested. These observations are common-place; and it seems as if such a system would naturally and constantly prevail: but experience shews that sometimes the world is kept so far in ignorance of the secret springs and finer movements of the political_ma

F 3


chine, that neither the praise nor the blame which has been deserved has been judiciously apportioned; and we still more frequently perceive that it is difficult, if not impossible, to fix and to instruct the public mind respecting national affairs, sufficiently to form a correct judgment, to derive wisdom from past experience, to punish the minister who has erred, and to deter him or his successor from future trifling with the welfare of empires. From the want of this requisite watchfulness and dictation, the rulers of a country often persist in a mistaken line of conduct, after costly experiments have shewn its fallacy; and that country is made unjust to the merits or prodigal in the gratification of their agents,, at the instigations of interest, of partiality, or of dislike.

On all accounts, therefore, we are glad when the operation of any of these causes puts the public in possession of authentic and more complete documents, in relation to great political events, than would otherwise perhaps have reached them. In the case which at present excites our attention, the hard lot of a very gallant soldier has produced a development of this kind; and we are told by his brother, from whom the volume before us proceeds, that

Although the King and the British Nation have proclaimed their admiration of Sir John Moore as loudly as of any of the most distinguished military characters that preceded him yet, like the Great and Good of every age, he has not escaped the insinuations of Envy, even after terminating an illustrious career by a most glorious death. The effects of Calumny against so noble a character can be of no long duration; but during that period the Relatives and Friends suffer, and the uninformed part of the Public remain, in some degree, in suspence. It is, therefore, incumbent on a Brother by unfolding the truth to prove to all, that the pretended facts upon which the malignant representations were founded, are utterly false

We had not the honour of knowing, nor of being in any way connected with, Sir John Moore: but in common with the world we know that he had been engaged in a variety of actions, in which his frequent wounds and the constant praises of his superiors attested his gallantry, his enterprize, and his judgment; and in the General Orders of His Royal Highness the late Commander in Chief, after the fall of this lamented officer, we have a tribute to his high merits, the just sentiments and glowing terms of which will ever be as honourable to the giver as to the object of them. Towards the close of these orders, it is remarked:

"The life of Sir John Moore was spent among the troops.

"During the season of repose, his time was devoted to the care and instruction of the Officer and Soldier; in war, he courted service

in every quarter of the globe. Regardless of personal considerations, he esteemed that to which his Country called him the post of honour, and by his undaunted spirit, and unconquerable perseverance, he pointed the way to victory..

"His Country, the object of his latest solicitude, will rear a Monument to his lamented memory; and the Commander in Chief feels he is paying the best tribute to his fame by thus holding him forth as an example to the Army.'

These feelings, however, have not been altogether ratified and participated by the Government and the nation: but by both have occasional intimations been given, that Sir John Moore's decision of abandoning the Spanish cause was unwelcome at home, and that his retreat of the British Army was inglorious abroad. Another attempt has been made to effect that object which the deceased commander relinquished as hopeless; and the panegyrics of His Majesty, personally *, together with the distinctions which spring from him as the fountain, but which testify also the participation of his ministers, are showered on the officer whose efforts have now been brilliantly but vainly directed to this end: an officer gallant and able (we are willing to grant) like Sir John Moore, but whose present career in the same arena gives bleeding testimony to the correctness of that General's sentiments, while it meets with such different ac knowlegement.

This case, then, is interesting, and deserving of investigation. as far as the reputation of Sir John Moore is concerned : but it is highly important as involving the question of the propriety of the operations of a British Army in Spain: a system in which the administration of this country has persevered since the failure of the campaign of 1808, and which, it is but too evident, will be marked by similar diappointment in the events. of 1809. Under all these impressions, we may be allowed to dwell at some length on the documents provided in the volume before us; which is composed from a Journal of proceedings constantly kept by Sir John Moore, authenticated by original papers, official records, and the reports of Staff Officers. contains the whole correspondence with Mr. Frere, except two useless letters from him which were never received by the General; and all Sir J. M.'s dispatches to the Secretary of State, with very few omissions, and such as are quite immaterial to the public;' together with his correspondence with Spanish Officers, civil and military, Lieutenant-Generals Sir David Baird and Hope, Major-Generals Lord Wm. Bentinck and Leith, &c. &c.


The orders concerning Sir John Moore are from the Commander in Chief in his name only: but those which relate to Sir Arthur Wellesley are from the Commander in Chief in the King's name

« PredošláPokračovať »