persons not being forestallers, that is, not selling 
again in the same market within three 
months. All the freedom which the trade of 
the inland corn dealer has ever yet enjoyed 
was bestowed upon it by this statute. The 
statute of the twelfth of the present king, 
which repeals almost all the other ancient 
laws against engrossers and forestallers, does 
not repeal the restrictions of this particular 
statute, which therefore still continue in force
This statute, however, authorises in some 
measure two very absurd popular prejudices
First, It supposes, that when the price of 
wheat has risen so high as 48s. the quarter
and that of other grain in proportion, corn is 
likely to be so engrossed as to hurt the people
But, from what has been already said, it seems 
evident enough, that corn can at no price be 
so engrossed by the inland dealers as to hurt 
the people; and 48s. the quarter, besides, 
though it may be considered as a very high 
price, yet, in years of scarcity, it is a price 
which frequently takes place immediately after 
harvest, when scarce any part of the new 
crop can be sold off, and when it is impossible 
even for ignorance to suppose that any part of 
it can be so engrossed as to hurt the people. 
Secondly, It supposes that there is a certain 
price at which corn is likely to be forestalled
that is, bought up in order to be sold again 
soon after in the same market, so as to hurt 
the people. But if a merchant ever buys up 
corn, either going to a particular market, or 
in a particular market, in order to sell it 
again soon after in the same market, it 
must be because he judges that the market 
cannot be so liberally supplied through the 
whole season as upon that particular occasion
and that the price, therefore, must 
rise. If he judges wrong in this, and if the 
price does not rise, he not only loses the whole 
profit of the stock which he employs in this 
manner, but a part of the stock itself, by the 
expense and loss which necessarily attend the 
storing and keeping of corn. He hurts himself, 
therefore, much more essentially than he 
can hurt even the particular people whom he 
may hinder from supplying themselves upon 
that particular market day, because they may 
afterwards supply themselves just as cheap upon 
any other market day. If he judges right, 
instead of hurting the great body of the people
he renders them a most important service
By making them feel the inconveniencies 
of a dearth somewhat earlier than they 
otherwise might do, he prevents their feeling 
them afterwards so severely as they certainly 
would do, if the cheapness of price encouraged 
them to consume faster than suited the 
real scarcity of the season. When the scarcity 
is real, the best thing that can be done for 
people is, to divide the inconvenience of it as 
equally as possible, through all the different 
months and weeks and days of the year. The 
interest of the corn merchant makes him study 
to do this as exactly as he can; and as no 
other person can have either the same interest
or the same knowledge, or the same abilities
to do it so exactly as he, this most important 
operation of commerce ought to be 
trusted entirely to him; or, in other words
the corn trade, so far at least as concerns the 
supply of the home market, ought to be left 
perfectly free
The popular fear of engrossing and forestalling 
may be compared to the popular terrors 
and suspicions of witchcraft. The unfortunate 
wretches accused of this latter crime 
were not more innocent of the misfortunes 
imputed to them, than those who have been accused 
of the former. The law which put an end 
to all prosecutions against witchcraft, which put 
it out of any man's power to gratify his own 
malice by accusing his neighbour of that imaginary 
crime, seems effectually to have put 
an end to those fears and suspicions, by taking 
away the great cause which encouraged 
and supported them. The law which would 
restore entire freedom to the inland trade of 
corn, would probably prove as effectual to put 
an end to the popular fears of engrossing and 
The 15th of Charles II. c. 7, however, with 
all its imperfections, has, perhaps, contributed 
more, both to the plentiful supply of the home 
market, and to the increase of tillage, than 
any other law in the statute book. It is from 
this law that the inland corn trade has derived 
all the liberty and protection which it 
has ever yet enjoyed; and both the supply of 
the home market and the interest of tillage 
are much more effectually promoted by the 
inland, than either by the importation or exportation 
The proportion of the average quantity of 
all sorts of grain imported into Great Britain 
to that of all sorts of grain consumed, it has 
been computed by the author of the Tracts 
upon the Corn Trade, does not exceed that of 
one to five hundred and seventy. For supplying 
the home market, therefore, the importance 
of the inland trade must be to that 
of the importation trade as five hundred and 
seventy to one. 
The average quantity of all sorts of grain 
exported from Great Britain does not, according 
to the same author, exceed the one-and-thirtieth 
part of the annual produce. For the 
encouragement of tillage, therefore, by providing 
a market for the home produce, the 
importance of the inland trade must be to that 
of the exportation trade as thirty to one. 
I have no great faith in political arithmetic, 
and I mean not to warrant the exactness of 
either of these computations. I mention them 
only in order to show of how much less consequence
in the opinion of the most judicious 
and experienced persons, the foreign trade of 
corn is than the home trade. The great cheapness 
of corn in the years immediately preceding