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Art. 1.-Essai, Historique et Critique, sur la Législation des Grains, jusqu'à ce jour. Par M. le Chevalier CHAILLOU DES BARRES, Ancien préfet, Membre de la Société Philotechnique, &c. 8vo. pp. 180. A Paris, Didot, 1820.
The subjects of corn grain, and the corn trade, have occasioned much public excitement, political discussion, and legislative enact ment. The fluctuations in price peculiar to this article, occur in the course of nature-as it is of annual produce, and the quantity and quality depend upon the seasons, whether hot or cold, wet or dry. Entering as it does so materially into the comforts, or rather necessities of man, the sensibility of a crowded population is always alive to every circumstance that can affect the harvest: The deprivations of the poor are, however, by no means the only consequences attending a deficiency of grain ; almost every production of a country is more or less affected by it, and the relative situation of the afflicted nation considerably changed. These effects are mainly indicated by the enhancement of human labour and of the articles it furnishes, and the alteration of the course of exchange, which are also consequences of what is termed a scarcity.
After the repeated proofs which the developments of science have furnished of the wisdom of the laws of nature, we are bound to believe that the decree which ordained the produce of the harvest to vary, now filling us with abundance, and now pinching us with scarcity, was intended to subserve some wise and beneficent purpose, the exposition of which has not as yet engaged the
attention of writers upon political economy or the laws of nature.
It is not our intention at this time to inquire into the purpose of Providence, when it was decreed that the annual produce of the soil should vary-whether it was to equalize the nations of the earth, or to connect them closer in the bonds of friendship and good offices; or to teach mankind the necessity of frugality and industry, caution and forethought; or to impress us with the infirmity of our condition, and our dependence upon a superintending and controlling power; or to what other physical or moral intention it may be traced: for our present purpose, it will suffice to bring the attention of our readers to the fact, that the same wisdom which formed the complicated structure of our bodies, has determined that the food which nourishes them shall be precarious, and we request them to concur with us for the present, in the firm conviction that the end to be answered is uniform, just, and beneficent.
It has been for some time past our intention to present this subject to the public attention—a fit opportunity for which now offers—not because we wish to invite the wisdom of our legislatures to anticipated scarcity, to call upon their prescience to predict, and their omnipotence to prevent, such an evil;—for our happy country has, in this respect, in its luxuriant soil and genial climate, possessions of more inestimable value than the manufactures of England, the wines and oils of France, the silks and cottons of India, the gold of Ophir, or the silver of Potosi;—but as grain constitutes the chief article of interchange between foreigners and the eastern section of our country, we are deeply interested in every circumstance which influences its admission into the ports of Europe, and are prompted to inquire into the wisdom of those laws which at pleasure restrict or extend our commercial intercourse with the nations of the world. If such are founded in error and prejudice, and exist as a remnant of ancient superstition, (the folly of which ought long ago to have been eradicated by the free and liberal principles that now obtain; or if these were not sufficient, then by the wide and extended intercourse between the nations of the earth, and the increased and increasing ability to supply each others necessities,) we may hope at some future day, to resume our intercourse with other nations upon an equal and equitable basis: but if, on the contrary, those laws are not likely to be abandoned, we are free to confess, the sooner we place restraints upon the admission into our ports of the manufactured goods of England and France, the better. It is, therefore, we conceive, not merely a subject of speculation to exercise the ingenuity of the sceptics and cavillers of the age, but a question that has an intimate connection with our national“ being's end and aim :” and we venture the opinion, that if the natural tendency of the restrictions to which the European nations have re