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could have forced any considerable amount of it into the Continental market; and we may be satisfied, that sufficient allowance is made for the increased demand of that market, if we state its augmentation as proportional to the increase of our own home consumption. This would give the natural and permanent demand of the foreign market, at fair, average prices, as somewhat less than 25,000 hogsheads; and when we recollect, that during four years ending 1790, it averaged only 12,400,—that the blank occasioned by the destruction of St Domingo has been much more than filled up by the culture of the Spanish settlements, as well as of those which our capital has manured,-and that the restrictions imposed by the war are likely to alter the habits of the people on the Continent,—while the loss of capital, occasioned by the same cause, will certainly dimninish their means of enjoyment,—we must be convinced, that an estimate which allows their consumption of a mere luxury to double in twenty years, cannot err by undervaluing the consumption.
We should apprehend, then, that the whole quantity of sugar required, both by our home consumption and our exportation, permanently, naturally, and independently both of the war and the present extremely low prices, cannot be much more than 175,000 hogsheads; call it even 180,000. This deducted from 307,000, the average yearly import of three years ending 1807, leaves 127,000 hogsheads to be accounted for. From this we kave to subtract the produce of the conquered colonies, which will probably be restored at a peace. In 1807, it amounted to about 41,000 hogsheads, including the import into Ireland, as calculated upon the proportion of the total Irish import of sugar to the total British import ; so that no less than 86,000 hogsheads remain, the produce of our own settlements, over and above the quantity for which the market, both home and foreign, affords any effectual demand. This quantity, at present, is forced into consumption by prices so low as not to repay the expenses of its production and carriage. Were the prices raised so as to afford him a fair profit upon his stock, this quantity would remain a drug on his hands. Of course, while it remains in existence, and while the sugar trade continues unmonopolized, the prices never can rise; and the seller, if such he can be called, must be ruined.
We are now to consider the measures proposed for the relief of the planters. Of these, some have for their object the discovery of new vents for the surplus which we have been describing; others propose the diminution of the planters' expenses; and others pretend to embrace both these objects together. To the first class, belong the projects for opening the distillery to sugars, and for encouraging its consumption in agriculture : to the seCcs
of importation : but, by regulating the price,-by fixing the point beyond which the price shall not rise, -- we shall most assuredly interfere with the just profits either of the grower or the importer : and the prohibition of grain in the distilleries proceeds exactly upon the supposition that such a maximum ought to be established. Its advocates pretend to know the point beyond which the price of grain should not rise. The corn distillery, say they, is stopt ; yet barley has not fallen. But had the stoppage not taken place barley would have been dearer : its price would have risen, until the grower and importer found, that, by raising it a little higher, they must lose the distillers' custom. At this point, the rise would have stopt, -unless, indeed, the scarcity had been so great as to raise it still higher, and exclude it from the distillery, Its exclusion, effected in this manner, would, however, have still kept the price lower than it could have been, had no grain been grown for the distilleries; and thus, the interest of the distiller and consumer would not have been sacrificed, although those of the grower and importer were consulted.
The effect of the prohibition has been, therefore, to take some. thing out of the farmer's pocket,--to increase the losses which the war was at any rate throwing upon the importer of corn,—to diminish the gains of the distiller,-to make the people pay more, for a spirit which they dislike, than they would have done for one which they like, -and to make them less economical in the use of grain than the state of the supply renders prudent. But this temporary measure has been infinitely less detrimental to the country than one of a permanent nature would have been ; for it has not yet checked the cultivation of grain, nor interfered with the corn trade, further than by the general uncertainty and alarm which such experiments create. The strenuous opposition which the measure experienced, and the known power and prejudices of the landed interest, have probably induced a belief that the experiment will not be repeated or extended ; and the farmers have most likely made no material changes in consequence of this one attempt upon them. The effects of a permanent exclusion of grain from the distilleries, would be much more serious. Above 470,000 quarters have hitherto been consumed annually in the manufacture of spirits in Great Britain. What would be the consequence of destroying the regular demand for this quantity ? We need not enter ininutely into the mass of evidence which the committee has collected, with very praiseworthy industry, in order to answer this question. Neither need we inquire into the means by which the farmer would attempt to compensate himself for the loss of such a market. One thing is quite obvious, that the whole grain produced by the country would speedily be diСс 1.
larger for a less supply,—we have given up the chance of balancing our own bad seafon by the good season of our neighbours. Suppose that we stop the corn distillery permanently, and, by fome similar measure of violence, stop the importation of 500,000 quarters of grain, so as to force the sugar into distillation, and the corn of home growth into consumption :-A bad harvest comes ; and we look for the 500,000 quarters which used formerly to be imported; but they are no longer to be found :-our former correspondents have ceased to raise what was no longer wanted. We have, indeed, that proportion of 500,000 quarters grown at home, which the whole crop bears to an ordinary crop, perhaps only 450,000; but had we continued distilling and importing, we should have had not only this amount of grain to relieve us, but most probably the full 500,000 from abroad as 1(ual ; because the featon abroad may very well have been good, although it was bad with us. In both cases, our chance is equal, of relieving our wants by the general surplus of the foreign markets,-by bribing the foreign consumer, with high prices, to reduce his allowance below that of ordinary years, when our crop, as well as his own, is abundant.
The plan of substituting rum for corn spirits in the home market, is liable to all the objections which we have urged against the worst form of the exclusion of grain from the distilleries. Rum can at present be brought to market for 4s. 3d. per gallon, exclusive of duties; corn spirits for 78. 3d. The duties of custors and excise upon the former, amount to us. 3 d. per gallon ; the duty on the latter is only 75. 2 d.; fo that rum costs altogether 15s. 6 d., and corn spirit only 14s. 53d. This difference, notwithstanding the superior merits which the West Indians az scribe to their spirit, is found perfectly sufficient to protect the corn spirit; but there can be no doubt, that a diminution of the rum duty, or an increase of that on corn spirits, would put an end at once to all lawful distillation in this country. The confequence of this would be, of course, a loss to the farmer of his market for near 500,coo quarters of grain, and eventually a diminution to this amount of the whole supply of t).e country. An immediate loss would likewise accrue of the whole distillery buGiness. To indemnify the farmer for his loss, or the public for its risk of famine, is obviously impoffible: but the Weit Iudians propose to indemnify the distiller out of the revenue which may arile from the new duties. Let us see, however, if even this is practicable. If the duties are equalized by raising the excise on corn spirit, a tax is levied on the people of this country, in order to indemnify the West Indian planters against the effects of their own overtrading; and they are forced to drink rum in