Imágenes de páginas

BOOK than fufficient, not only to maintain all the la I. bour neceffary for tending them, and to pay the

ordinary profit to the farmer or owner of the herd or flock; but to afford fome fmall rent to the landlord. The rent increases in proportion to the goodness of the pasture. The fame extent of ground not only maintains a greater number of cattle, but as they are brought within a fmaller compass, lefs labour becomes requifite to tend them, and to collect their produce. The landlord gains both ways; by the increase of the produce, and by the diminution of the labour which must be maintained out of it.

The rent of land not only varies with its fertility, whatever be its produce, but with its fituation, whatever be its fertility. Land in the neighbourhood of a town gives a greater rent than land equally fertile in a distant part of the country. Though it may coft no more labour to cultivate the one than the other, it must always coft more to bring the produce of the diftant land to market. A greater quantity of labour, therefore, must be maintained out of it; and the furplus, from which are drawn both the profit of the farmer and the rent of the landlord, must be diminished. But in remote parts of the country the rate of profits, as has already been shown, is generally higher than in the neighbourhood of a large town. A finaller proportion of this diminished furplus, therefore, muft belong to the landlord.

Good roads, canals, and navigable rivers, by diminishing the expence of carriage, put the



remote parts of the country more nearly upon a C HA P. level with those in the neighbourhood of the town. They are upon that account the greatest of all improvements. They encourage the cultivation of the remote, which must always be the moft extenfive circle of the country. They are advantageous to the town, by breaking down the monopoly of the country in its neighbourhood. They are advantageous even to that part of the country. Though they introduce fome rival commodities into the old market, they open many new markets to its produce. Monopoly, befides, is a great enemy to good management, which can never be univerfally established but in confequence of that free and universal competition which forces every body to have recourse to it for the fake of felf-defence. It is not more than fifty years ago, that fome of the counties in the neighbourhood of London petitioned the parliament against the extension of the turnpike roads into the remoter counties. Those remoter counties, they pretended, from the cheapnefs of labour, would be able to fell their grafs and corn cheaper in the London market than themselves, and would thereby reduce their rents, and ruin their cultivation. Their rents, however, have rifen, and their cultivation has been improved fince that time.

A corn field of moderate fertility produces a much greater quantity of food for man, than the beft pafture of equal extent. Though its cultivation requires much more labour, yet the furplus which remains after replacing the feed and maintaining

Q 3


BOOK maintaining all that labour, is likewife much greater. If a pound of butcher's-meat, therefore, was never fuppofed to be worth more than a pound of bread, this greater furplus would every-where be of greater value, and constitute a greater fund both for the profit of the farmer and the rent of the landlord. It feems to have done fo univerfally in the rude beginnings of agriculture.

But the relative values of thofe two different fpecies of food, bread, and butcher's-meat, are very different in the different periods of agriculture. In its rude beginnings, the unimproved wilds, which then occupy the far greater part of the country, are all abandoned to cattle. There is more butcher's-meat than bread, and bread, therefore, is the food for which there is the greatest competition, and which confequently brings the greatest price. At Buenos Ayres, we are told by Ulloa, four reals, one-and-twenty pence halfpenny fterling, was, forty or fifty years ago, the ordinary price of an ox, chofen from a herd of two or three hundred. He fays nothing of the price of bread, probably because he found nothing remarkable about it. An ox there, he fays, cofts little more than the labour of catching him. But corn can no-where be raised without a great deal of labour, and in a country which lies upon the river Plate, at that time the direct road from Europe to the filver mines of Potofi, the money price of labour could not be very cheap. It is otherwife when cultivation is extended over the greater part of the country.



There is then more bread than butcher's-meat. C HA P. The competition changes its direction, and the price of butcher's-meat becomes greater than the price of bread.

By the extenfion befides of cultivation, the unimproved wilds become infufficient to supply the demand for butcher's-meat. A great part of the cultivated lands must be employed in rearing and fattening cattle, of which the price, therefore, must be fufficient to pay, not only the labour neceffary for tending them, but the rent which the landlord and the profit which the farmer could have drawn from fuch land employed in tillage. The cattle bred upon the most uncultivated moors, when brought to the fame market, are, in proportion to their weight or goodness, fold at the fame price as those which are reared upon the most improved land. The proprietors of thofe moors profit by it, and raife the rent of their land in proportion to the price of their cattle. It is not more than a century ago that in many parts of the Highlands of Scotland, butcher's-meat was as cheap or cheaper than even bread made of oat-meal. The union opened the market of England to the Highland cattle. Their ordinary price is at prefent about three times greater than at the beginning of the century, and the rents of many Highland eftates have been tripled and quadrupled in the fame time. In almost every part of Great Britain a pound of the best butcher's-meat, is in the prefent times, generally worth more than two pounds of the best white bread; and in

[blocks in formation]

BOOK plentiful years it is fometimes worth three or four pounds.


It is thus that in the progrefs of improvement the rent and profit of unimproved pasture come to be regulated in fome measure by the rent and profit of what is improved, and these again by the rent and profit of corn. Corn is an annual crop. Butcher's-meat, a crop which requires four or five years to grow. As an acre of land, therefore, will produce a much smaller quantity of the one fpecies of food than of the other, the inferiority of the quantity must be compensated by the fuperiority of the price. If it was more than compenfated, more corn land would be turned into pasture; and if it was not compenfated, part of what was in pasture would be brought back into corn.

This equality, however, between the rent and profit of grafs and thofe of corn; of the land of which the immediate produce is food for cattle, and of that of which the immediate produce is food for men; must be understood to take place only through the greater part of the improved lands of a great country. In fome particular local fituations it is quite otherwise, and the rent and profit of grafs are much fuperior to what can be made by corn.

Thus in the neighbourhood of a great town, the demand for milk and for forage to horfes, frequently contribute, together with the high price of butcher's meat, to raise the value of grafs above what may be called its natural proportion to that of corn, This local advantage,

« AnteriorContinuar »