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to the present practice of the trade, which cannot be altered, 750 would be paid for, the loss would of course be greater than is stated. But I will put it on a different footing:-If I print 250 or 500, I expect to sell them at the whole price, or I should not print them; and, if I were robbed of 12 copies, the law would allow me the sum at which I should have sold them. This will probably be considered as a satisfactory
I am not, however, my Lord, one of those, who calculate so much on the sum to be lost, as on the discouragement of Literature, which, I am persuaded, is the consequence of this Act. And who is absurd enough to say, that this check to the fair and honorable remuneration of the labor of authors is an encouragement of Literature? I well know that the active opposers of the present Bill, for repealing the Act, are actuated solely by the consideration that they must support the privileges of their constituents, who are the interested parties; for I have never yet heard one conclusive argument in its favor. It is an anomaly in political economy, and no individual of any government would himself attempt to prove that such a tax did not discourage Literature. It is imposed by an assembly, and therefore no individual is responsible. With respect to the Bill itself, so few members in the House are interested in its repeal, that they will not take the trouble to consider its bearings, and thus the opposers always succeed. Last year, indeed, the repeal was lost by the majority of one only, which gives me reason to hope a favorable result next session. If it were considered of general importance, the Act would be speedily repealed. It was the intention of a Publisher to have printed three copies of an extensive work on Vellum, for 300 guineas each, for which he could have procured purchasers; but, as one copy on the best paper must have been given to the British Museum, it could not of course be afforded; and, as no person would have paid so much for a book, which could be seen by every body on any day, he was obliged to abandon the intention. This is a severe check to industry, and more particularly to the fine arts-for we are very deficient in printing on Vellum in this country, and this clause is a total prohibition to its improvement. Your Lordship will perceive how particularly oppressive the Act is, on large works, where only a few can be printed;-where there are 3 or 4000 copies printed, and sure of sale, it is of much less consequence.
"It is notorious, that the minor productions sent to the Uni
versities are not immediately shelved; but lent through the University, to one after another. This no doubt encourages the reading of many works; but as the reading so obtained cannot increase the sale, what chance of remuneration is left to the author? If it were supposed that persons would, by seeing such works, become purchasers, then the Act should rather oblige the Libraries to buy, or at any rate, only have the books lent them for a certain time; which might thusinduce the Libraries to purchase in order to keep them, after having discovered their value.
I have the honor to be,
Your Lordship's very obedient
and humble servant,
THE ports having remained shut for the last three years, up to the present time, (viz. March, 1821) with the exception of the short interval in the last year, during which they were (fraudulently) thrown open for the importation of oats; a question naturally arises-to what cause is the present increased depression of the prices of agricultural produce attributable ?
To those who have given credence to the reasoning, and assentthe conclusions propounded in the preceding Considerations, the present state of things will afford no matter of surprise, or subject of enquiry, because it is in exact accordance with the result with which those Considerations close.
Among those who extend their views no further than the immediate causes of the passing events, two opinions appear to have arisen, and to engross their present attention; each of which accounts for the present depression on very different grounds: the one ascribing it to the abundance of the last harvest-the other, to a diminished consumption. It is possible, that both opinions may in part be well founded, but not independently of another, and that the most operating cause, and the cause which must be removed, to avert the ruin of the agriculture of the empire. Neither of the two conclusions, however, appears to alter, or even to affect the question of the expediency of the measure proposed for further protection; although both parties appear most strangely to take it
for granted, that either supposition renders the meddling with the Corn Act (a meddling which both seem to dread) unnecessary. is true, that apparently the present price of grain does seem to remove the immediate necessity, which a nearer prospect of the opening of the ports, might imperiously call for; because while the present depression, however caused, shall continue, the operation of the proposed duty on import would probably be nearly, if not exactly, the same as the present operation of the Corn Act, viz. the exclusion of foreign corn from the market. Nay, if there should be any difference, it would, on a first view, appear to be against, rather than in favor of, the farmer; for low as the market, and high as the duty might be, yet it is very possible that some foreign corn might still (from its low prime cost, and being a drug, or by smuggling) find its way into the market; but this could not happen to any injurious extent, or so far as to enable the importer materially to undersell the English grower, and at any rate the country would be gainer by the duty. The measure, therefore, so long as this state of things may continue, would at the worst be innocent, if not advantageous on the whole. But although it should be admitted, that the existing cause of complaint in its present extent, is not immediately and exclusively to be ascribed to the waut of protection under the Corn Act; it is far from clear, that its past operation and influence may not have laid the foundation of, and still form a material part of the source of the present distress. Certain it is, that the fall in the price of all sorts of grain in the Jast autumn, and its present further reduction, were occasioned by the sudden influx of low priced oats upon the market, from the Continent, in consequence of the opening of the ports to that species of grain; it being invariably observed, that a great fall in the price of any one sort of grain will soon sensibly affect the price of all and the observation is equally invariable, that the fall of grain in general, is uniformly followed by a fall in the price of live stock, and consequently butcher's meat and wool. It may be asked-if the proposed measure will not give immediate relief to the present distress, what will be its utility, or can it be worth attempting at the hazard of the clamor or disturbance it may create? The answer is-although it would be absurd to expect any sudden material alleviation from it, yet it will not be unproductive of a present beneficial effect; and that there is some reason for expecting that it will gradually work the cure of the evil, so far as it is curable. It is far from improbable, that the present depression of price may, to a greater degree than is commonly imagined, proceed from that of the spirits and hopes of the farmers. Every thing, as to them, has been long looking, and is still looking, fearfully and invariably downwards; every market disappoints their hopes; they wait, and