management. If, by raising it too high, he 
discourages the consumption so much that the 
supply of the season is likely to go beyond the 
consumption of the season, and to last for some 
time after the next crop begins to come in, he 
runs the hazard, not only of losing a considerable 
part of his corn by natural causes, but 
of being obliged to sell what remains of it 
for much less than what he might have had 
for it several months before. If, by not raising 
the price high enough, he discourages 
the consumption so little, that the supply of 
the season is likely to fall short of the consumption 
of the season, he not only loses
part of the profit which he might otherwise 
have made, but he exposes the people to suffer 
before the end of the season, instead of 
the hardships of a dearth, the dreadful horrors 
of a famine. It is the interest of the people 
that their daily, weekly, and monthly consumption 
should be proportioned as exactly 
as possible to the supply of the season. The 
interest of the inland corn dealer is the same. 
By supplying them, as nearly as he can judge
in this proportion, he is likely to sell all his 
corn for the highest price, and with the greatest 
profit; and his knowledge of the state of 
the crop, and of his daily, weekly, and monthly 
sales, enables him to judge, with more or less 
accuracy, how far they really are supplied in 
this manner. Without intending the interest 
of the people, he is necessarily led, by a regard 
to his own interest, to treat them, even 
in years of scarcity, pretty much in the same 
manner as the prudent master of a vessel is 
sometimes obliged to treat his crew. When 
he foresees that provisions are likely to run 
short, he puts them upon short allowance. 
Though from excess of caution he should 
sometimes do this without any real necessity
yet all the inconveniencies which his crew can 
thereby suffer are inconsiderable, in comparison 
of the danger, misery, and ruin, to which 
they might sometimes be exposed by a less 
provident conduct. Though, from excess of 
avarice, in the same manner, the inland corn 
merchant should sometimes raise the price of 
his corn somewhat higher than the scarcity of 
the season requires, yet all the inconveniencies 
which the people can suffer from this conduct
which effectually secures them from a famine 
in the end of the season, are inconsiderable
in comparison of what they might have been 
exposed to by a more liberal way of dealing 
in the beginning of it. The corn merchant 
himself is likely to suffer the most by this excess 
of avarice; not only from the indignation 
which it generally excites against him, 
but, though he should escape the effects of 
this indignation, from the quantity of corn 
which it necessarily leaves upon his hands in 
the end of the season, and which, if the next 
season happens to prove favourable, he must 
always sell for a much lower price than he 
might otherwise have had. 
Were it possible, indeed, for one great company 
of merchants to possess themselves of 
the whole crop of an extensive country, it 
might perhaps be their interest to deal with 
it, as the Dutch are said to do with the spiceries 
of the Moluccas, to destroy or throw 
away a considerable part of it, in order to 
keep up the price of the rest. But it is scarce 
possible, even by the violence of law, to establish 
such an extensive monopoly with regard 
to corn; and wherever the law leaves the trade 
free, it is of all commodities the least liable to 
be engrossed or monopolized by the force of 
a few large capitals, which buy up the greater 
part of it. Not only its value far exceeds what 
the capitals of a few private men are capable 
of purchasing; but, supposing they were capable 
of purchasing it, the manner in which 
it is produced renders this purchase altogether 
impracticable. As, in every civilized 
country, it is the commodity of which the annual 
consumption is the greatest; so a greater 
quantity of industry is annually employed in 
producing corn than in producing any other 
commodity. When it first comes from the 
ground, too, it is necessarily divided among a 
greater number of owners than any other commodity
and these owners can never be collected 
into one place, like a number of independent 
manufacturers, but are necessarily 
scattered through all the different corners of 
the country. These first owners either immediately 
supply the consumers in their own 
neighbourhood, or they supply other inland 
dealers, who supply those consumers. The 
inland dealers in corn, therefore, including 
both the farmer and the baker, are necessarily 
more numerous than the dealers in any other 
commodity; and their dispersed situation renders 
it altogether impossible for them to enter 
into any general combination. If, in a year 
of scarcity, therefore, any of them should find 
that he had a good deal more corn upon hand 
than, at the current price, he could hope to 
dispose of before the end of the season, he 
would never think of keeping up this price to 
his own loss, and to the sole benefit of his 
rivals and competitors, but would immediately 
lower it, in order to get rid of his corn 
before the new crop began to come in. The 
same motives, the same interests, which would 
thus regulate the conduct of any one dealer
would regulate that of every other, and oblige 
them all in general to sell their corn at 
the price which, according to the best of their 
judgment, was most suitable to the scarcity or 
plenty of the season
Whoever examines, with attention, the history 
of the dearths and famines which have 
afflicted any part of Europe during either the 
course of the present or that of the two preceding 
centuries, of several of which we have 
pretty exact accounts, will find, I believe, that 
a dearth never has arisen from any combination 
among the inland dealers in corn, nor