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manufacture may be compensated by the advancement of another; a defeat may be repaired by victory; a rupture with one nation may be balanced by an alliance with another. These are partial and slight misfortunes, which leave us still in the possession of our chief comforts. They may lop some of our superfluous pleasures, and repress some of our exorbitant hopes; but we may still retain the essential part of civil and of private happiness, the security of law, and the tranquillity of content. They are small obstructions of the stream, which raise a foam and noise where they happen to be found, but at a little distance are neither seen nor felt, and suffer the main current to pass forward in its natural course.
That more land is appropriated to tillage, is a proof that more corn is raised; and that the
But scarcity is an evil that extends at once to the whole community; that neither leaves quiet to the poor, nor safety to the rich: that in its ap-rents have not fallen, proves that no more is proaches distresses all the subordinate ranks of raised than can readily be sold. mankind, and in its extremity must subvert government, drive the populace upon their rulers, and end in bloodshed and massacre. Those who want the supports of life will seize them wherever they can be found. If in any place there are more than can be fed, some must be expelled, or some must be destroyed.
But it is urged, that exportation, though it increases our produce, diminishes our plenty: that the merchant has more encouragement for exportation than the farmer for agriculture.
This is a paradox which all the principles of commerce, and all the experience of policy, concur to confute. Whatever is done for gain will be done more, as more gain is to be obtained.
Let the effects of the bounty be minutely considered.
Of this dreadful scene there is no immediate danger; but there is already evil sufficient to deserve and require all our diligence, and all our wisdom. The miseries of the poor are such as cannot easily be borne: such as have already incited them in many parts of the kingdom to an open defiance of government, and produced one of the greatest of political evils-the necessity of ruling by immediate force.
The state of every country with respect to corn is varied by the chances of the year.
Those to whom we sell our corn, must have every year either more corn than they want, or less than they want. We likewise are naturally subject to the same varieties.
Cæsar declared after the battle of Munda, that he had often fought for victory, but that he had that day fought for life. We have often deliberated how we should prosper; we are now to inquire how we shall subsist.
When they have corn equal to their wants, or more, the bounty has no effect; for they will not buy what they do not want, unless our exuberance be such as tempts them to store it for another year. This case must suppose that our produce is redundant and useless to ourselves; and therefore the profit of exportation produces no inconvenience.
The present scarcity is imputed by some to the bounty for exporting corn, which is considered as having a necessary and perpetual tendency to pour the grain of this country into other nations.
reason to rejoice in our own exemption from the extremity of this wide-extended calamity; and if it be necessary to inquire why we suffer scarcity, it may be fit to consider likewise, why we suffer yet less scarcity than our neighbours.
That the bounty upon corn has produced plenty, is apparent,
Because ever since the grant of the bounty, agriculture has increased: scarce a session has passed without a law for enclosing commons and waste grounds:
Much land has been subjected to tillage, which lay uncultivated with little profit:
Yet, though the quantity of land has been thus increased, the rent, which is the price of land, has generally increased at the same time.
When they want corn, they must buy of us, and buy at a higher price; in this case, if we have corn more than enough for ourselves, we are again benefited by supplying them.
This position involves two questions: whether the present scarcity has been caused by the bounty, and whether the bounty is likely to produce scarcity in future times.
It is an uncontroverted principle, that sublatâ causâ tollitur effectus: if therefore the effect continues when the supposed cause has ceased, that effect must be imputed to some other agency.
But they may want when we have no superfluity. When our markets rise, the bounty ceases; and therefore produces no evil. They cannot buy our corn but at a higher rate than it is sold at home. If their necessities, as now has happened, force them to give a higher price, that event is no longer to be charged upon the bounty. We may then stop our corn in our
The bounty has ceased, and the exportation would still continue, if exportation were per-ports, and pour it back upon our own markets. mitted. The true reason of the scarcity is the It is in all cases to be considered, what events failure of the harvest; and the cause of expor-are physical and certain, and what are political tation is the like failure in other countries, and arbitrary. where they grow less, and where they are therefore always nearer to the danger of want.
This want is such, that in countries where money is at a much higher value than with us, the inhabitants are yet desirous to buy our corn at a price to which our own markets have not risen.
If we consider the state of those countries, which being accustomed to buy our corn cheaper than ourselves, when it was cheap, are now reduced to the necessity of buying it dearer than ourselves, when it is dear, we shall yet have
The first effect of the bounty is the increase of agriculture, and by consequence the promotion of plenty. This is an effect physically good, and morally certain. While men are desirous to be rich, where there is profit there will be diligence. If much corn can be sold, much will be raised.
The second effect of the bounty is the diminution by exportation of that product which it occasioned. But this effect is political and arbitrary; we have it wholly in our own hands: we can prescribe its limits, and regulate its quantity. Whenever we feel want, or fear it, we
retain our corn, and feed ourselves upon that the good of the bounty is certain, and evil avoidawhich was sown and raised to feed other nations.ble; that by the hope of exportation corn will be It is perhaps impossible for human wisdom to increased, and that this increase may be kept at go further, than to contrive a law of which the home. good is certain and uniform, and the evil, though possible in itself, yet always subject to certain and effectual restraints.
This is the true state of the bounty upon corn: it certainly and necessarily increases our crops, and can never lessen them but by our own permission.
That, notwithstanding the bounty, there have been from time to time years of scarcity, cannot be denied. But who can regulate the seasons? In the dearest years we owe to the bounty that they have not been dearer. We must always suppose part of our ground sown for our own consumption, and part in hope of a foreign sale. The time sometimes comes, when the product of all this land is scarcely sufficient; but if the whole be too little, how great would have been the deficiency, if we had sown only that part which was designed for ourselves?
"But perhaps, if exportation were less encouraged, the superfluous stores of plentiful years might be laid up by the farmer against years of scarcity."
Plenty can only be produced by encouraging agriculture; and agriculture can be encouraged only by making it gainful. No influence can dispose the farmer to sow what he cannot sell; and if he is not to have the chance of scarcity in his favour, he will take care that there never shall be plenty.
The truth of these principles our ancestors discovered by reason, and the French have now found it by experience. In this regulation we have the honour of being masters to those who, in commercial policy, have been long accounted the masters of the world. Their prejudices, their emulation, and their vanity, have at last submitted to learn of us how to ensure the bounties of nature; and it forms a strange vicissitude of opinions, that should incline us to repeal the law which our rivals are adopting.
It may be speciously enough proposed, that the bounty should be discontinued sooner. this every man will have his own opinion; which, as no general principles can reach it, will always seem to him more reasonable than that of another. This is a question of which the state is always changing with time and place, and which it is therefore very difficult to state or to discuss.
This may be justly answered by affirming, that, if exportation were discouraged, we should have no years of plenty. Cheapness is produced by the possibility of dearness. Our farmers at present plough and sow with the hope that some country will always be in want, and that they shall grow rich by supplying. Indefinite hopes are always carried by the frailty of human nature beyond reason. While therefore exportation is encouraged, as much corn will be raised as the farmer can hope to sell, and therefore generally more than can be sold at the price of which he dreamed, when he ploughed and sowed.
That, since the bounty was so fixed, the price of money has been much diminished: so that the bounty does not operate so far as when it was first fixed, but the price at which it ceases, though nominally the same, has, in effect and in reality, gradually diminished.
If the exportation of corn were totally prohibited, the quantity possible to be consumed among us would be quickly known, and being known would rarely be exceeded; for why should corn be gathered which cannot be sold? we should therefore have little superfluity in the most favourable seasons; for the farmer, like the rest of mankind, acts in hope of success, and the harvest seldom outgoes the expectation of the spring. But for droughts or blights, we should never be provided; any intemperature of seasons would reduce us to distress, which we now only read of in our histories; what is now scarcity, would then be famine.
The greatest part of our corn is well known to be raised by those who pay rent for the ground which they employ, and of whom few can bear to delay the sale of one year's produce to another. It is therefore vain to hope that large stocks of It is difficult to discover any reason why that grain will ever remain in private hands; he that bounty, which has produced so much good, and has not sold the corn of last year, will with diffi- has hitherto produced no harm, should be withdence and reluctance till his field again: the drawn or abated. It is possible, that, if it were accumulation of a few years would end in a vaca-reduced lower, it would still be the motive of tion of agriculture, and the husbandman would agriculture, and the cause of plenty; but why apply himself to some more profitable calling. we should desert experience for conjecture, and exchange a known for a possible good, will not easily be discovered. If by a balance of probabilities, in which a grain of dust may turn the scale-or by a curious scheme of calculation, in which, if one postulate in a thousand be crroneous, the deduction which promises plenty may end in famine ;-if, by a specious mode of uncer tain ratiocination, the critical point at which the bounty should stop, might seem to be discovered; I shall still continue to believe that it is more safe to trust what we have already tried; and cannot but think bread a product of too much importance to be made the sport of subtilty and the topic of hypothetical disputation.
What would be caused by prohibiting expor The advantage of the bounty is evident and tation, will be caused in a less degree by ob-irrefragable. Since the bounty was given, mulstructing it, and in some degree by every deduc- titudes eat wheat who did not eat it before, and tion of encouragement; as we lessen hope, we yet the price of wheat has abated. What more shall lessen labour; as we lessen labour, we is to be hoped from any change of practice? An shall lessen plenty. alteration cannot make our condition better, and is therefore very likely to make it worse.
It must always be steadily remembered, that
It may however be considered, that the change of old establishments is always an evil; and that therefore, where the good of the change is not certain and constant, it is better to preserve that reverence and that confidence which is produced by consistency of conduct and permanency of laws.
LICENSERS OF THE STAGE,
FROM THE MALICIOUS AND SCANDALOUS ASPERSIONS OF MR. BROOKE, AUTHOR OF GUSTAVUS VASA, WITH A PROPOSAL FOR MAKING THE OFFICE OF LICENSER MORE EXTENSIVE AND EFFECTUAL. BY AN IMPARTIAL HAND.
Ir is generally agreed by the writers of all parties, that few crimes are equal, in their degree of guilt, to that of calumniating a good and gentle, or defending a wicked and oppressive adminis
It is therefore with the utmost satisfaction of mind, that I reflect how often I have employed my pen in vindication of the present ministry, and their dependents and adherents, how often I have detected the specious fallacies of the advocates for independence, how often 1 have softened the obstinacy of patriotism, and how often triumphed over the clamour of opposition.
I have, indeed, observed but one set of men, upon whom all my arguments have been thrown away; which neither flattery can draw to compliance, nor threats reduce to submission; and who have, notwithstanding all expedients that either invention or experience could suggest, continued to exert their abilities in a vigorous and constant opposition of all our measures.
The unaccountable behaviour of these men, the enthusiastic resolution with which, after a hundred successive defeats, they still renewed their attacks: the spirit with which they continued to repeat their arguments in the senate, though they found a majority determined to condemn them; and the inflexibility with which they rejected all offers of places and preferments, at last excited my curiosity so far, that I applied myself to inquire with great diligence into the real motives of their conduct, and to discover what principle it was that had force to inspire such unextinguishable zeal, and to animate such unwearied efforts.
they make no scruple of avowing in the most public manner, notwithstanding the contempt and ridicule to which it every day exposes them, and the loss of those honours and profits from
which it excludes them.
This wild passion, or principle, is a kind of fanaticism by which they distinguish those of their own party, and which they look upon as a certain indication of a great mind. We have no name for it at court; but among themselves they term it by a kind of cant-phrase, a regard for posterity.
This passion seems to predominate in all their conduct, to regulate every action of their lives, and sentiment of their minds; I have heard L and P, when they have made a vigorous opposition, or blasted the blossom of some ministerial scheme, cry out, in the height of their exultations, This will deserve the thanks of posterity! And when their adversaries, as it much more frequently falls out, have out-numbered and overthrown them, they will say with an air of revenge, and a kind of gloomy triumph, Posterity will curse you for this.
It is common among men under the influence of any kind of frenzy, to believe that all the world has the same odd notions that disorder their own imaginations. Did these unhappy men, these deluded patriots, know how little we are concerned about posterity, they would never attempt to fright us with their curses, or tempt us to a neglect of our own interest by a prospect of their gratitude.
But so strong is their infatuation, that they seem to have forgotten even the primary law of self-preservation; for they sacrifice without scruple every flattering hope, every darling en
For this reason I attempted to cultivate a nearer acquaintance with some of the chiefs of that party, and imagined that it would be neces-joyment, and every satisfaction of life, to this sary for some time to dissemble my sentiments, ruling passion, and appear in every step to conthat I might learn theirs. sult not so much their own advantage, as that of posterity.
Dissimulation to a true politician is not difficult, and therefore I readily assumed the character of a proselyte; but found, that their principle of action was no other, than that which
Strange delusion! that can confine all their thoughts to a race of men whom they neither know, nor can know; from whom nothing is to
be feared, nor any thing expected; who cannot even bribe a special jury, nor have so much as a single riband to bestow.
This fondness for posterity is a kind of madness which at Rome was once almost epidemical, and infected even the women and the children. It reigned there till the entire destruction of Carthage; after which it began to be less general, and in a few years afterwards a remedy was discovered, by which it was almost entirely extinguished.
In England it never prevailed in any such degree; some few of the ancient Barons seem indeed to have been disordered by it; but the contagion has been for the most part timely checked, and our ladies have been generally free. But there has been in every age a set of men much admired and reverenced, who have affected to be always talking of posterity, and have laid out their lives upon the composition of poems, for the sake of being applauded by this imaginary generation.
The present poets I reckon among the most inexorable enemies of our most excellent ministry, and much doubt whether any method will effect the cure of a distemper, which in this class of men may be termed not an accidental disease, but a defect in their original frame and constitution.
I shall, however, to silence him entirely, or at least to show those of our party that he ought to be silent, consider singly every instance of hardship and oppression which he has dared to publish in the papers, and to publish in such a manner, that I hope no man will condemn me for want of candour in becoming an advocate for the ministry, if I can consider his advertisements as nothing less than an appeal to his country.
Let me be forgiven if I cannot speak with temper of such insolence as this; is a man without title, pension, or place, to suspect the impartiality or the judgment of those who are intrusted with the administration of public affairs? Is he, when the law is not strictly observed in regard to him, to think himself aggrieved, to te!! his sentiments in print, assert his claim to better usage, and fly for redress to another tribunal?
If such practices be permitted, I will not venture to foretell the effects of them; the ministry may soon be convinced, that such sufferers will find compassion, and that it is safer not to bear hard upon them, than to allow them to complain.
The power of licensing in general being firmly established by an Act of Parliament, our poet has not attempted to call in question, but contents himself with censuring the manner in which it has been executed; so that I am not now engaged to assert the licenser's authority, but to defend his conduct.
The poet seems to think himself aggrieved, because the licenser kept his tragedy in his hands one and twenty days, whereas the law allows him to detain it only fourteen.
Where will the insolence of the malecontents end? Or how are such unreasonable expectations possibly to be satisfied? Was it ever known that a man exalted into a high station, dismissed a suppliant in the time limited by law?
This temper, which I have been describing, is almost complicated with ideas of the high pre-Ought not Mr. Brooke to think himself happy rogatives of human nature, of a sacred unalien- that his play was not detained longer? If he able birthright, which no man has conferred had been kept a year in suspense, what redress upon us, and which neither kings can take, nor could he have obtained? Let the poets rememsenates give away; which we may justly assert ber, when they appear before the licenser, or his whenever and by whomsoever it is attacked, and deputy, that they stand at the tribunal from which, if ever it should happen to be lost, we which there is no appeal permitted, and where may take the first opportunity to recover it. nothing will so well become them as reverence and submission.
The natural consequence of these chimeras is contempt of authority, and an irreverence for any superiority but what is founded upon merit; and their notions of merit are very peculiar, for it is among them no great proof of merit to be wealthy and powerful, to wear a garter or a star, to command a regiment or a senate, to have the ear of the minister or of the king, or to possess any of those virtues and excellences, which among us entitle a man to little less than worship and prostration.
Mr. Brooke, a name I mention with all the detestation suitable to my character, could not forbear discovering this depravity of his mind in his very prologue, which is filled with sentiments so wild, and so much unheard of among those who frequent levees and courts, that I much doubt, whether the zealous licenser proceeded any further in his examination of his performance.
He might easily perceive that a man,
Who bade his moral beam through every age, was too much a bigot to exploded notions, to compose a play which he could license without manifest hazard of his office, a hazard which no man would incur untainted with the love of posterity.
We may therefore easily conceive that Mr. Brooke thought himself entitled to be importunate for a license, because, in his own opinion, he deserved one, and to complain thus loudly at the repulse he met with.
His complaints will have, I hope, but little weight with the public; since the opinions of the sect in which he is enlisted are exposed, and shown to be evidently and demonstrably opposite to that system of subordination and dependence, to which we are indebted for the present tranquillity of the nation, and that cheerfulness and readiness with which the two houses concur in all our designs.
We cannot therefore wonder that an author, wholly possessed by this passion, should vent his resentment for the licenser's just refusal, in virulent advertisements, insolent complaints, and scurrilous assertions of his rights and privileges, and proceed in defiance of authority to solicit a subscription.
Mr. Brooke mentions in his preface his knowledge of the laws of his own country: had he extended his inquiries to the civil law, he could have found a full justification of the licenses's conduct, Boni judicis est ampliare suam auctoritatem.
If then it be the business of a good judge to enlarge his authority, was it not in the licenser the utmost clemency and forbearance, to extend fourteen days only to twenty-one.
I suppose this great man's inclination to perform at least this duty of a good judge, is not questioned by any, either of his friends or enemies. I may therefore venture to hope, that he will extend his power by proper degrees, and that I shall live to see a malecontent writer earnestly soliciting for the copy of a play, which he had delivered to the licenser twenty years before.
"I waited," says he, "often on the licenser, and with the utmost importunity entreated an answer." Let Mr. Brooke consider, whether that importunity was not a sufficient reason for the disappointment. Let him reflect how much more decent it had been to have waited the leisure of a great man, than to have pressed upon him with repeated petitions, and to have intruded upon those precious moments which he has dedicated to the service of his country.
Mr. Brooke was doubtless led into this improper manner of acting, by an erroneous notion that the grant of a license was not an act of favour, but of justice; a mistake into which he could not have fallen, but from a supine inattention to the design of the statute, which was only to bring poets into subjection and dependence, not to encourage good writers, but to discourage all.
There lies no obligation upon the licenser to grant his sanction to a play, however excellent; nor can Mr. Brooke demand any reparation, whatever applause his performance may meet with.
Another grievance is, that the licenser assigned no reason for his refusal. This is a higher strain of insolence than any of the former. Is it for a poet to demand a licenser's reason for his proceedings? Is he not rather to acquiesce in the decision of authority, and conclude that there are reasons which he cannot comprehend?
Unhappy would it be for men in power, were they always obliged to publish the motives of their conduct. What is power but the liberty of acting without being accountable? The advocates for the Licensing Act have alleged, that the Lord Chamberlain has always had authority to prohibit the representation of a play for just reasons. Why then did we call in all our force to procure an act of parliament? Was it to enable him to do what he has always done? to confirm an authority which no man attempted to impair, or pretended to dispute? No certainly: our intention was to invest him with new privileges, and to empower him to do that without reason, which with reason he could do before.
tion, we told them the next year that it was necessary, because all the nations round us were at peace.
This reason finding no better reception than the other, we had recourse to our apprehensions of an invasion from the Pretender, of an insurrection in favour of gin, and of a general disaffection among the people.
But as they continue still impenetrable, and oblige us still to assign our annual reasons, we shall spare no endeavour to procure such as may be more satisfactory than any of the former.
The reason we once gave for building barracks was for fear of the plague, and we intend next year to propose the augmentation of our troops for fear of a famine.
The committee, by which the act for licensing the stage was drawn up, had too long known the inconvenience of giving reasons, and were too well acquainted with the characters of great men, to lay the Lord Chamberlain, or his deputy, under any such tormenting obligation.
Yet lest Mr. Brooke should imagine that a license was refused him without just reasons, I shall condescend to treat him with more regard than he can reasonably expect, and point out such sentiments as not only justly exposed him to that refusal, but would have provoked any ministry less merciful than the present to have inflicted some heavier penalties upon him.
His prologue is filled with such insinuations as no friend of our excellent government can read without indignation and abhorrence, and cannot but be owned to be a proper introduction to such scenes, as seem designed to kindle in the audience a flame of opposition, patriotism, public spirit, and independency; that spirit which we have so long endeavoured to suppress, and which cannot be revived without the entire subversion of all our schemes.
The seditious poet, not content with making an open attack upon us, by declaring in plain terms, that he looks upon freedom as the only source of public happiness and national security, has endeavoured with subtlety, equal to his malice, to make us suspicious of our firmest friends, to infect our consultations with distrust, and to ruin us by disuniting us.
This indeed will not be easily effected; a union founded upon interest and cemented by dependence is naturally lasting; but confederacies which owe their rise to virtue or mere conformity of sentiments, are quickly dissolved, since no individual has any thing either to hope or fear for himself, and public spirit is generally too weak to combat with private passions.
We have found by long experience, that to lie under a necessity of assigning reasons, is very troublesome, and that many an excellent design has miscarried by the loss of time spent unnecessarily in examining reasons.
The poet has, however, attempted to weaken our combination by an artful and sly assertion, which, if suffered to remain unconfuted, may operate by degrees upon our minds in the days of leisure and retirement which are now ap
Always to call for reasons, and always to reject them, shows a strange degree of perverse-proaching, and perhaps fill us with such surmises ness; yet such is the daily behaviour of our adversaries, who have never yet been satisfied with any reasons that have been offered by us.
as may at least very much embarrass our affairs. The law by which the Swedes justified their opposition to the encroachments of the King of Denmark, he not only calls
They have made it their practice to demand once a year the reasons for which we maintain a standing army.
Great Nature's law, the law within the breast,
but proceeds to tell us that it is
One year we told them that it was necessary, because all the nations round us were involved -Stamp'd by Heaven upon the unletter'd mind. in war; this had no effect upon them, and there- By which he evidently intends to insinuate a fore resolving to do our utmost for their satisfac-maxim which is, I hope, as false as it is perni