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paid out of 35 millions ? Something, then, must take place when the Parliament meets. There must be some change, and that a pretty great change too.
Now, Men of Bristol, I hope you will do me the justice to recollect, that, for eleven years past, I have endeavoured to make the Government see, that ruin would fall upon the country, unless the squandering of money was put a stop to, and, even, in that case, I always contended, that the nation never could continue to pay the interest of the Debt in full. You will please also to recollect, that I have been accused of folly, of wickedness, and almost of robbery for this. To reduce the interest of the Debt was called a breach of national fuith, and I was stigmatized as a rogue for supposing such a thing possible, just as if I myself had owed the Debt! Well! Keep all this in mind, if you please, and, at the same time, keep your eye on the acts of the next Session of Parliament, which, as I have before observed, will, I believe, produce events more important than all the Sessions for the last hundred years.
You will observe, that the Fundholders now receive five pounds a year for every hundred pounds of their principal money. If enough money cannot be raised to pay them so much interest, they must have less; or, the estates of the land holders must be seized to be given to the fundholders! Here is a pretty dilemma! Here is a matter quite sufficient, one would think, to engage the attention of all the great men, to whom we pay such handsome salaries. This difficulty, together with the ruin of farming and manufacturing and commerce, are enough to astound the wisest of men; and when to these are added a weight of poor-rates, ap. proaching in amount to that of the whole rent of all the land and all the houses, the spectacle is sufficient to strike terror into the hearts of those who have assumed a responsibility upon the subject.
Having before our eyes, then, a great nation crumbling into a heap of ruins, have we not a right, now that things are come to this horrid pass, to pray to be admitted to choose our representatives ? It is very certain, that there must have been a want of wisdom or integrity somewhere ; for it can never be wise or just to reduce a nation to ruin and misery. For many, many years, the Reformers have been abused as foolish and wicked men. They were put down by force in 1794. They have had no power. All their petitions and all their writings have been rejected and despised. Therefore, they have had no hand in producing these dreadful calamities, They have suffered in common with all those who have not fed upon the taxes; but they have always been kept from any share in the powers of the Government.
It is very necessary to keep this in mind, because to those who have had the power and the profits ought the responsibility to belong. For, my friends, the word responsibility is not a mere empty sound any more than the words Sinecure, Pension, Salary, Grant, Allowance, Fee, Stipend, Living, &c. All these words have a meaning. They represent a parcel of money received by persons; and why is not responsibility to have a meaning ? Old George Rose, for instance, has received, in Salaries alone, more than a hundred thousand pounds. Of course, he will be ready to share in the responsibility. The king can do no wrong; but, his servants may, and it is very certain, that somebody has done wrong to this nation; or, at least, has exposed it to terrible sufferings and dangers.
Since writing the last five or six paragraphs, the actual state of the last year's taxes has reached my eye. It appears, that there have been col.
lected, last year, in Great Britain, taxes of all sorts (besides poor-rates) to the amount of 57 millions. Now, the Debt required last year, 44 millions and 29 thousand pounds; and as more money was borrowed last year, the Debt this year will require, of course, still more. Here, then, the Debt alone, which required only nine millions a year before those wars which have ended in the restoration of the Bourbons and the Inqui. sition, now demands 44 millions out of the 57 millions. There are 13 millions left, then, for Civil List, Army and Navy, Secret Services, French Emigrants, Colonial Governments, and a hundred other swallowholes of public money, and all which together will amount to little short of 30 millions, unless the army be disbanded and the pay of the Staff greatly reduced, and unless all the other heads be greatly reduced.
But, I beg you to observe, that, though 57 millions have been raised in the last twelve months, 57 millions will not be raised in the next twelve months; for mind, there are more than 13 millions which have been raised this last year in Property tar and War-mall-tar, both of which are now done awuy ; so that, even supposing the present year to be as productive in other taxes as the last, the whole collection would amount to only 44 millions, and that would not be sufficient to meet the annual charge on account of the Debt, leaving not one single farthing for army, navy, civil list, and all other expenses.
This is no very consoling prospect for the partizans of the Pitt System. But, very far worse is the real prospect before them; for, it is impossible for the taxes of 1817 to amount to any thing nearly so much as the taxes of 1816, exclusive of the War-malt-tax and the Property-tax. Exclusive of these two, we have seen, that the whole of the taxes amounted for 1816, to 44 millions; but, in order to obtain those taxes how many men of property have been broken up! Distresses, sales of stock, ruin have overspread the country. The taxes have been gotten from these people; but, the man who has been broken up, can pay no more taxes. You have read the story of the boy, who had a goose that had laid him a golden egg every day, and who, eager to become rich all at once, killed the poor goose and ripped her up, expecting to fill his bag with gold ; but, who found only one egg come nearly to maturity, and who thus lost the supply of gold for ever after. Thus it is, and thus it must be, my friends, when the tax-gatherer seizes and sells the farmer's and tradesman's goods and chattels. The demand is satisfied for this once, but no future demand can ever be made. When I was in America on a visit to a very kind friend in the country, my wife and child took a fancy to some chesnuts which were upon a very fine and very lofty tree; and I happened to express my regret, that the fruit could not be got at: “ Oh, yes,” said he, ''we will soon get at it." In less than an hour the tree was levelled with the ground. Upon my protesting against this mode of gathering fruit, my friend observed, that he had more trees of the same sort standing than he had any need of. And, if we had more able farmers and tradesmen than we have need of to pay taxes, to cut down a part of them by Distraint and Exchequer Process would be of no consequence; but, not having enough to pay taxes as it is, what must be the consequence of totally destroying a considerable part of those out of whom even ihe last year's taxes have been squeezed! Men, like oranges, when squeezed dry, can be squeezed no more.
Therefore, taxes, sufficient for the present expenditure, never can be collected in future, unless the value of the paper-money be again changed,
and, even if that were attempted, the fall of the Pitt System of Finance would not be prevented. The amount of the taxes for 1817 will not, I am convinced, exceed thirty-five millions; and even that is an enormous sum to collect in such a state of national beggary. What, then, is to be done? Are the Army, the Navy, the Civil List, to go unpaid? Or, are the Fundholders to go unpaid? These are very serious questions. Many years ago I said it must come to this ; and to this it is now come. For, as to loans to pay the interest of a Debt, I leave you to imagine how dreadfully and how speedily that course must end! It has been proposed to lower the interest of the Debt; that is to say, to take from the Fundholders, a part of what they receive, which, with some few exceptions, would be very just. But, alas! this will not do any good at all, unless the Army, Civil List, &c. be reduced from thirty tu ubout five millions a-year; and, even in this latter case, the Fundholders must have their interest reduced one-half at least.
Now, it will be right for the country to bear in mind, that the Reformers have always protested against the system, which has brought the country into this perilous state. Hundreds of thousands of families, very worthy, industrious, and most excellent people, now stand tottering on the very verge of utter ruin. Many of these persons have been long deluded into a belief, that we, who opposed this ruinous system, were their and our country's enemies. They will now see and feel, that we were their friends; and that, if they have been plunged into ruin, the fault has, in some degree, been their own. But they were deluded. A base and corrupt press deceived them. Let them now join us, then, as the only means of saving a remnant of what they wish to enjoy.
In the years 1810 and 1811, the Paper-system, which, with taxation, have beer he causes of all our miseries, was under scussion in Parlia. ment. The OUT party proposed to pass a law to compel the Bank to pay in gold at the end of two years. The IN party said that such a law was unnecessary then ; but, agreed, that gold would be paid when peace
While those discussions were going on, I wrote and published a Series of Letters, under the title of PAPER AGAINST Gold. In that work, Letter XV. (which work is now re-published) I stated, that, if an attempt was made to pay in gold, all the people in trade must be ruined; or, that the interest of the Debt must be lowered, or go unpaid altogether. Such an attempt has been made ; and the ruin has come. Amongst the whole of the Members of the two Houses, there was, upon that occasion, only Sir FRANCIS BURDett, who appeared to understand any thing of the matter. He said, that it would be utterly impossible to pay the interest of the Debt, if the paper were raised in value.
But; when all men are beginning to talk about lowering the interest of the Debt, will nobody propose to lower the Sinecures, Pensions, and Salaries ? I know, that the nation will be unable to pay the interest of the Debt in full ; but, I also know, that if the Fundholder cannot be paid, the Sinecurist and Grantee ought not to be paid. A vast deal of money has been swallowed up in this way; and surely it ought not to be overlooked, while so many are proposing to lower the interest of the Debt! No: this will not be overlooked; it must become a matter of serious discussion.
But, after all, what hope is there, that any effectual and permanent relief will take place, except through the means of a Reform in the Parliament, that measure so strongly recommended by so many eminent
men for so many years past? I do not say, that even a Reformed Parliament would be able to prevent the Fundholder from experiencing a great loss. I do not say, that it would be able, all at once, to make the nation prosperous, which has now been plunged into such a depth of misery. I do not say, that it could work this miracle; but, I have no scruple to express my decided opinion that it would, in a very short time, do complete justice to all claimants; that it would, all at once, produce great relief to the distressed of all ranks ; and that, in a very few years, it would leave scarcely a single pauper in each parish throughout the kingdom, by putting it in the power of all honest and industrious people amply to provide for themselves and their families. This is my sincere belief. in the Political Register, No. 15 of Vol. 31, I have, as I think, prored that a Reformed Parliament would be able to do this ; and, therefore, I do most anxiously hope that there will be wanted, on the part of the people in general, no effort that can, in any way, tend to promote this great and important object. Petition, peaceable petition, is the course.
No number of men,
in any situation of life, are too few to sign a petition. There have been, I believe, more than half a million of names signed to such petitions. These may become a million, and that would be two-thirds of the able male population of Great Britain, excluding those who live on the taxes. I am disposed to believe, that the Parliament, when it finds that this is really the case, will not much wish to oppose the desire of the people. At any rate it is the duty of those who wish for a Reform to be vigilant, to be active, to support, by all legal means, those who are willing to take the lead in the work, and, above all things, to be ever watchful to de. feat the purposes of those, who wish to see the nation plunged into anarchy and bloodshed, of which all the friends of Reform abbor the idea. Let it, too, never be forgotten, that those whose property is now placed in jeopardy, have not the Reformers to blame for it. They have had no hand in any of the measures, which have led to this dreadful state of things ; on the contrary, they have always disapproved of those measures ; and, as for my own part, no small portion of the last eleven years of my life, have been employed in endeavouring to make my countrymen see the gulf which was opening before them, and into which gulf they have now actually been plunged.
Wishing vou patience and fortitude to bear up against your present sufferings, and, in the hope, that better days for us all are at hand, I remain, what I have always been,
TO THE MEN OF NORWICH. On the Brunswick Knights.---Lord Sidmouth's Letter to them.-"Glorious Re. volution."- It is not true, that our Old Forefathers were ragged and starving Beggars.-- Schemes of mock-Reform.- Meeting of Deputies in London.-HattonGarden Work.
"STEWART and WALTER, make haste I implore ye,
PARODY ON PETER PINDAR.
Note BY THE EDITORS. - We are now come to what may be called the dismal date of 1817 ; dismal, both as respects the arbitrary acts of the Government, and the wretched condition of the labouring people. At tbis period, the Register contained a series of Addresses, following up that to “OLD GEORGE Ross," which we have just inserted. These Addresses were entitled as follows:- To the Men of Norwich, to the “ Weaver Boys" of Lancashire, to Lord Sidmouth, to the Lifeand-Fortune Men, to the People of Hampshire, to Earl Grosvenor, to all True-hearted Englishmen, to the Good and True Men of Hampshire, a Letter to the “ Deluded People," to the Paper-money Men, Mr. Cobbelt's Taking Leave of his Countrymen. This last, the Leave-taking Address, was written upon Mr. COBBETT's going to America, immediately after the suspension of the Habeas Corpus.We select the most material passages of these Addresses. The reader will find them replete with that kind of matter which was calculated to stir the Government up to the desperate measures which were finally adopted, at this period, for the purpose of putting down the Reformers. That the Register very much helped to drive the Government to these desperate acts, may be seen, not merely in the strong writing itself of Mr. COBBETT, and the necessity of its effect upon his readers ; but also in some declarations, made by the Government party themselves, some of which will be found embodied in the extracts we are about to insert, and quoted by Mr. COBBETT, from week, to week as they came forth.
(Pulilical Register, January, 1817.)
Men of Norwich,
London, January 16, 1817. It is now about a month since I was first informed, that, at Norwich, an Order of Knighthood had been established, the object of which was to embody the gallant sons of Corruption to fight under her banners against all Reformersgenerally, but more especially against William Cobbett's Register, which they honour with particular marks of their hatred. This is the foundation of their Order ; and amongst the means, by which their object is to be prosecuted, is, an intended publication, to be entitled : “ The “ Brunswick Weekly Political Register, in direct opposition to William “ Cobbett's Work.” On the 26th of December, the “ Installation” took place, at the Rampant Horse Inn, Norwich, when an “One” that is to say, some stupid stuff, which they would call poetry, was, it seems, pronounced, which Ode was, as they state, “ Written by one of the Knights."
There is something so very contemptibly ridiculous in all this ; it is so