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GOVERNMENT MEASURES-SCARCITY. (F'rom the Morning Chronicle, Feb. 5.) Lord John RIusssell is to ask the House of Commons this evening to suspend the corn duties, and also the navigation laws, so far as they interfere with the import of corn. It will not need to make out a case in favour of those measures. Of their propriety no manl entertains a doubt. Par liament and the public are ready to vote them by acclamation. They suggest, however, and we may say compel, a consideration of our present con dition and prospects with respect to the supply of food; and this question ins ow
the most universally interesting that can engage public attention. The state of the food market will, for some time to come, exercise an immense influence upon nearly every family in the kingdom. High price of food willl directly diminish the comforts and even the necessaries of life for the working population. Indirectly it will affect their wages, by lessening the demand for the products of their industry. All classes engaged in trade will feel pressure from the same cause, and will further suffer from the monetary derangement which accompanies a season of scarcity. What are the lead-. ing facts by the light of which we may try to pierce through the gloom of the future, - and ascertain, if if it be possible, the reali ties before us ? The first and master-fact, the full conse quences of which are yet far from being ap preciated, is the destruction of the Irish potato crop. The Secretary for Ireland stated on Tuesday night that three-fourths of the crop were destroyed, and that the loss estimated in money was £11,250,000 Let us pause for an instant before this stupendous fact. Out of the produce of a single year eleven million pounds worth of the food of the population are gone ! N qw. it has been determined, at all costs?;o. supply this vast deficit. By means of pub-? lie works, depots, relief committees, the whole power of the State is being applied :; to draw, and even to carry food to Ireland, from wherever it is to be found. Let prices rise, let scarcity pinch as it may, it is de- ' creed that whatever England has she will share with her sister. The substitute for the potato must be grain. How much will be sufficient? Eleven million pounds worth, will not be sufficient? In ordinary times' the cheapest grain food is TWICE as dear as the potato. Twenty-two million pounds worth .of grain at the very least will be added in the course of the year to the amount of our usual consumption. We speak moderately, therefore,- in assuming that the loss of the potato crop will render necessary seven million quarters of grain in addition to our ordinary requirements. This does not inform us of the whole extent of our wants. The potato crop has not only failed in Ireland, but in Scotland, and to a great extent in England. The oat-crop of Ireland also, from which we usually receive more than two millions of quarters, has partially failed, the loss, ac cording to Mr. Labouchere, being not less than £4,600,000. In England this grain has become so scarce, that in many dis tricts it is scarcely to be bought for money. Barley, too, had a few days ago reached a price unknown before, and is still very dear, though it is ascertained that sugar will be used for brewing. So much for our deficiency of supply. What is to be a said of our increased consumption. Two C hundred thousand railway navigators, re t ceiving enormous wages, and spending them on food and drink far more profusely than ordinary labourers, form a new element that must be felt in the markets. On s these grounds, we must increase the esti mate of our total wants by at least two million quarters. The United Kingdom, therefore, will require, between the last harvest and the next, an importation of scarcely less than nine million quarters of grain. We almost hesitate to state this ") conclusion, but the facts are stubborn, and .s speak for themselves. Let any man con .o sider the estimate of loss laid before Par e liament by Mr. Labouchere, with every ie conceivable motive to caution, and say whether it will warrant any other conclu e sion. The next question is, how and where it are we to obtain this prodigious amount of it grain ? We want more than twice as much )f as we have ever yet imported in a single vs year. Where is it to come from? France 1- cannot help us, but is straining every nerve to obtain for herself as much as she can of in the surplus of other nations. Throughout le Belgium, Holland, Germany, the potato I- and rye crops have failed. These countries re can give no help, but, like France, will bid es against us. The Baltic ports are but at scantily supplied. The countries of south er ern Europe have more or less of surplus, b- but we fear that the amount of it obtainable ve by us would be over-estimated at a million 0. quarters. Our main dependence must be m upon America. We shall not discuss the r; state of the markets there; but the most re exaggerated expectations that can be formed es of possible supplies from America do not Ic promise to approach to an equality with to our wants. We might indeed infer so an much when we know that corn has not w, been sown to meet our demand. I he se surplus which any country possesses to th meet an unexpecled demand, must be far in short of the quantity required by us. To b- suppose otherwise is to suppose that farmers n, grow grain with no better prospect than n, that of seeing it rot on tile ground. A C- year of great scarcity and high prices is 5e therefore before us. l EXTBNSIVE CONFLAGRATION IN GLAs oow.-Private letters by tihe Lima, give accounts of an extensive fire in Queen street, Glasgow, by which that beautiful street has been nearly alldestroyed. Among se the sufferers, we are sorry to notice the firm le of Reid, Robertson, anid Co., of which our so townsman Mlr. 1. Langlands was recently of a partner, whose extensive premises are so completely destroyed, as are also the premi ir ses of S. 1I. & T. Brown, the largest sewed r- muslin nmanufactory in Scotland, which has to thrown idle 300 hands. 'I hle lStamp-ofilcne was in greatdanger, butescaped. Thle stock ty of 1.. 11. & Co. was insured to tile extent 1- of £17,000, a sum considerably under the to amount lost. The total loss is estimated w at about £70,000.-Melb. Argus, June 4.