FORESTALLING, ENGROSSING, &c. Engrossing is the offence of purchasing large quantities of any commodity, in order to sell it again at a higher price. There are numerous statutes against this offence, and it was also an offence at com mon law. The English were not singu lar in this absurd species of legislation. They had the authority of the Athenians [CORN TRADE, ANCIENT, p. 667], who were as ignorant of the true principles of public economy as the most ignorant nation of modern times.
Forestalling, also an offence at common law, is described in a statute of Edwat•d VI. to be the buying or contracting for any merchandise or victual coming the way to market ; or dissuading persons from bringing their goods or provisions there, or persuading them to enhance the price when there. There is something like authority for this in the Roman law. The Lex Julia de Annona imposed penalties on those who combined to raise prices.
" says Blackstone, " was de scribed in the same statute to be the buying of corn or other dead victual in any market and selling it again in the same market or within four miles of the place. For this also enhances the price of provi sions, as every successive seller must have a successive profit." As to engross ing, Blackstone remarks: " this must of course be injurious to the public, by put ting it in the power of one or two rich men to raise the price of provisions at their own discretion." An exact definition of Badgering is not at hand ; but the nature of this offence may be collected from the offences which it keeps company with.
Notwithstanding the reasons given by Blackstone, all these offences have been abolished by 7 & 8 Viet. e. 24, entitled An Act for abolishing the offences of forestalling, regrating, and engrossing, and for repealing certain statutes passed in restraint of trade.' The preamble of the act is as follows : —" Whereas divers statutes have been from time to time made in the parliaments of England, Scotland, Great Britain, and Ireland, respectively prohibiting certain dealings in wares, victuals, merchandise, and various commodities, by the names of badgering, forestalling, regrating, and en grossing, and subjecting to divers punish ments, penalties, and forfeitures persons so dealing : and whereas it is expedient that such statutes, as well as certain other statutes made in hinderance and in re straint of trade, be repealed : and whereas an act of the parliament of Great Britain was passed in the twelfth year of the reign of King George III., intituled ` An
Act for repealing several Laws therein mentioned against Badgers, Engrossers, Forestallers, and Regraters, and for in lemnifying Persons against Prosecutions for Offences committed against the said Acts,' whereby, after reciting that it had seen found by experience that the re straint laid by several statutes upon the dealing in corn, meal, flour, cattle, and sundry other sorts of victuals, by prevent ing a free trade in the said commodities, have a tendency to discourage the growth and to enhance the price of the same, which statutes, if put in execution, would bring great distress upon the inhabitants of many parts of this kingdom, and in particular upon those of the cities of Lon don and Westminster, sundry acts therein mentioned, and all the acts made for the better enforcement of the same, were repealed, as being detrimental to the supply of the labouring and manufactur ing poor of this kingdom : and whereas, notwithstanding the making of the first recited, act, persons are still liable to be prosecuted for badgering, engrossing, fore stalling, and regrating, as being offences at common law, and also forbidden by divers statutes made before the earliest of the statutes thereby repealed . for remedy thereof, and for the extension of the same remedy to Scotland and to Ire land, be it enacted," &c.
The second section repeals the several acts and parts of acts made in the parlia ments of England and Scotland, Great Bri tain and Ireland, thereafter mentioned, but not so as to save any act repealed by any of the acts hereby repealed.