Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]


fuper-abundance of wine. But had this fuper- CHAP. abundance been real, it would, without any order of council, have effectually prevented the plantation of new vineyards, by reducing the profits of this fpecies of cultivation below their natural proportion to those of corn and pasture. With regard to the fuppofed fcarcity of corn occafioned by the multiplication of vineyards, corn is nowhere in France more carefully cultivated than in the wine provinces, where the land is fit for producing it; as in Burgundy, Guienne, and the Upper Languedoc. The numerous hands employed in the one fpecies of cultivation neceffarily encourage the other, by affording a ready market for its produce. To diminish the number of those who are capable of paying for it, is furely a most unpromifing expedient for encou raging the cultivation of corn. It is like the policy which would promote agriculture by dif couraging manufactures.

The rent and profit of thofe productions, therefore, which require either a greater original expence of improvement in order to fit the land for them, or a greater annual expence of cultivation, though often much fuperior to those of corn and pasture, yet when they do no more than compenfate fuch extraordinary expence, are in reality regulated by the rent and profit of thofe common crops.

It fometimes happens, indeed, that the quantity of land which can be fitted for fome particular produce, is too fmall to fupply the effectual demand. The whole produce can be difpofed




BOOK of to thofe who are willing to give fomewhat


more than what is fufficient to pay the whole rent, wages and profit neceffary for raifing and bringing it to market, according to their natural rates, or according to the rates at which they are paid in the greater part of other cultivated land. The furplus part of the price which remains after defraying the whole expence of improvement and cultivation may commonly, in this case, and in this cafe only, bear no regular proportion to the like furplus in corn or pafture, but may exceed it in almoft any degree; and the greater part of this excefs naturally goes to the rent of the landlord.

The ufual and natural proportion, for example, between the rent and profit of wine and those of corn and pasture, must be understood to take place only with regard to thofe vineyards which produce nothing but good common wine, fuch as can be raised almost any-where, upon any light, gravelly, or fandy foil, and which has nothing to recommend it but its strength and wholesomeness. It is with fuch vineyards only that the common land of the country can be brought into competition; for with those of a peculiar quality it is evident that it cannot.

The vine is more affected by the difference of foils than any other fruit tree. From fome it derives a flavour which no culture or manage'ment can equal, it is fuppofed, upon any other. This flavour, real or imaginary, is fometimes peculiar to the produce of a few vineyards; fometimes it extends through the greater part of a fmall


a small district, and fometimes through a con- CHA P. fiderable part of a large province. The whole quantity of fuch wines that is brought to market falls fhort of the effectual demand, or the demand of thofe who would be willing to pay the whole rent, profit and wages neceffary for preparing and bringing them thither, according to the ordinary rate, or according to the rate at which they are paid in common vineyards. The whole quantity, therefore, can be difpofed of to those who are willing to pay more, which neceffarily raises the price above that of common wine. The difference is greater or lefs, according as the fashionablenefs and fcarcity of the wine render the competition of the buyers more or lefs eager. Whatever it be, the greater part of it goes to the rent of the landlord. For though fuch vineyards are in general more carefully cultivated than most others, the high price of the wine feems to be, not fo much the effect, as the cause of this careful cultivation. In fo valuable a produce the lofs occafioned by negligence is fo great as to force even the most careless to attention. A fmall part of this high price, therefore, is fufficient to pay the wages of the extraor dinary labour bestowed upon their cultivation, and the profits of the extraordinary stock which puts that labour into motion.

The fugar colonies poffeffed by the European nations in the Weft Indies, may be compared to thofe precious vineyards. Their whole produce falls fhort of the effectual demand of Europe, and can be disposed of to those who are willing to

[blocks in formation]


BOOK give more than what is fufficient to pay the whole rent, profit and wages neceffary for preparing and bringing it to market, according to the rate at which they are commonly paid by any other produce. In Cochin-china the fineft white fugar commonly fells for three piaftres the quintal, about thirteen fhillings and fixpence of our money, as we are told by Mr. Poivre, a very careful obferver of the agriculture of that country. What is there called the quintal weighs from a hundred and fifty to two hundred Paris pounds, or a hundred and feventy-five Paris pounds at a medium, which reduces the price of the hundred weight English to about eight fhillings fterling, not a fourth part of what is commonly paid for the brown or muskavada fugars imported from our colonies, and not a fixth part of what is paid for the finest white fugar. The greater part of the cultivated lands in Cochinchina are employed in producing corn and rice, the food of the great body of the people. The respective prices of corn, rice, and fugar, are there probably in the natural proportion, or in that which naturally takes place in the different crops of the greater part of cultivated land, and and which recompences the landlord and farmer, as nearly as can be computed, according to what is ufually the original expence of improvement and the annual expence of cultivation. But in our fugar colonies the price of fugar bears no fuch proportion to that of the produce of a rice or corn field either in Europe or in America. It

* Voyages d'un Philofophe.


is commonly faid, that a fugar planter expects CHA P. that the rum and the molaffes fhould defray the whole expence of his cultivation, and that his fugar fhould be all clear profit. If this be true, for I pretend not to affirm it, it is as if a corn farmer expected to defray the expence of his cultivation with the chaff and the ftraw, and that the grain should be all clear profit. We fee fre'quently focieties of merchants in London and other trading towns, purchase wafte lands in our fugar colonies, which they expect to improve and cultivate with profit by means of factors and agents; notwithstanding the great distance and the uncertain returns, from the defective adminiftration of juftice in thofe countries. Nobody will attempt to improve and cultivate in the same manner the moft fertile lands of Scotland, Ireland, or the corn provinces of North America, though from the more exact administration of juftice in thefe countries, more regular returns might be expected.

In Virginia and Maryland the cultivation of tobacco is preferred, as more profitable, to that of corn. Tobacco might be cultivated with advantage through the greater part of Europe; but in almost every part of Europe it has become a principal fubject of taxation, and to collect a tax from every different farm in the country where this plant might happen to be cultivated, would be more difficult, it has been fuppofed, than to levy one upon its importation at the cuftom-house. The cultivation of tobacco has upon this account been most abfurdly prohibited

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »