whose sole business it was to purchase corn by 
wholesale, to collect it into a great magazine
and to retail it again. 
The law which prohibited the manufacturer 
from exercising the trade of a shopkeeper, endeavoured 
to force this division in the employment 
of stock to go on faster than it might 
otherwise have done. The law which obliged 
the farmer to exercise the trade of a corn 
merchant, endeavoured to hinder it from going 
on so fast. Both laws were evident violations 
of natural liberty, and therefore unjust
and they were both, too, as impolitic as 
they were unjust. It is the interest of every 
society, that things of this kind should never 
either be forced or obstructed. The man who 
employs either his labour or his stock in a 
greater variety of ways than his situation renders 
necessary, can never hurt his neighbour 
by underselling him. He may hurt himself, 
and he generally does so. Jack-of-all-trades 
will never be rich, says the proverb. But the 
law ought always to trust people with the care 
of their own interest, as in their local situations 
they must generally be able to judge better 
of it than the legislature can do. The law
however, which obliged the farmer to exercise 
the trade of a corn merchant was by far the 
most pernicious of the two. 
It obstructed not only that division in the 
employment of stock which is so advantageous 
to every society, but it obstructed likewise the 
improvement and cultivation of the land. By 
obliging the farmer to carry on two trades instead 
of one, it forced him to divide his capital 
into two parts, of which one only could be 
employed in cultivation. But if he had been 
at liberty to sell his whole crop to a corn merchant 
as fast as he could thresh it out, his 
whole capital might have returned immediately 
to the land, and have been employed in 
buying more cattle, and hiring more servants, 
in order to improve and cultivate it better. 
But by being obliged to sell his corn by retail
he was obliged to keep a great part of 
his capital in his granaries and stack-yard 
through the year, and could not therefore cultivate 
so well as with the same capital he might 
otherwise have done. This law, therefore, 
necessarily obstructed the improvement of the 
land, and, instead of tending to render corn 
cheaper, must have tended to render it scarcer, 
and therefore dearer, than it would otherwise 
have been. 
After the business of the farmer, that of the 
corn merchant is in reality the trade which, if 
properly protected and encouraged, would 
contribute the most to the raising of corn. It 
would support the trade of the farmer, in the 
same manner as the trade of the wholesale 
dealer supports that of the manufacturer
The wholesale dealer, by affording a ready 
market to the manufacturer, by taking his goods 
off his hand as fast as he can make them, and 
by sometimes even advancing their price to him 
before he has made them, enables him to keep 
his whole capital, and sometimes even more 
than his whole capital, constantly employed in 
manufacturing, and consequently to manufacture 
a much greater quantity of goods than 
if he was obliged to dispose of them himself 
to the immediate consumers, or even to the 
retailers. As the capital of the wholesale 
merchant, too, is generally sufficient to replace 
that of many manufacturers, this intercourse 
between him and them interests the owner of 
a large capital to support the owners of a great 
number of small ones, and to assist them in 
those losses and misfortunes which might otherwise 
prove ruinous to them. 
An intercourse of the same kind universally 
established between the farmers and the 
corn merchants, would be attended with effects 
equally beneficial to the farmers. They would 
be enabled to keep their whole capitals, and 
even more than their whole capitals constantly 
employed in cultivation. In case of any of 
those accidents to which no trade is more liable 
than theirs, they would find in their ordinary 
customer, the wealthy corn merchant
a person who had both an interest to support 
them, and the ability to do it; and they would 
not, as at present, be entirely dependent upon 
the forbearance of their landlord, or the mercy 
of his steward. Were it possible, as perhaps 
it is not, to establish this intercourse universally
and all at once; were it possible to turn 
all at once the whole farming stock of the 
kingdom to its proper business, the cultivation 
of land, withdrawing it from every other employment 
into which any part of it may be at 
present diverted; and were it possible, in order 
to support and assist, upon occasion, the 
operations of this great stock, to provide all 
at once another stock almost equally great; it 
is not, perhaps, very easy to imagine how great, 
how extensive, and how sudden, would be the 
improvement which this change of circumstances 
would alone produce upon the whole 
face of the country
The statute of Edward VI. therefore, by 
prohibiting as much as possible any middle 
man from coming in between the grower and 
the consumer, endeavoured to annihilate a 
trade, of which the free exercise is not only 
the best palliative of the inconveniencies of a 
dearth, but the best preventive of that calamity; 
after the trade of the farmer, no trade 
contributing so much to the growing of corn 
as that of the corn merchant
The rigour of this law was afterwards softened 
by several subsequent statutes, which 
successively permitted the engrossing of corn 
when the prices of wheat should not exceed 
20s. and 24s. 32s. and 40s. the quarter. At 
last, by the 15th of Charles II. c. 7, the engrossing 
or buying of corn, in order to sell it 
again, as long as the price of wheat did not 
exceed 48s. the quarter, and that of other 
grain in proportion, was declared lawful to all