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than we esteem the rest of the community; but, it is from the land that all must arise. It is notorious that those who till the land of this kingdom are in a ruined state. The average price of farm produce has fallen much more than one-half. And here, my Lord, give me leave to remind you of an expression of your colleague, Lord Castlereagh towards the close of the last session of Parliament. A great deal had been said, by Mr. Western and others, about the want of price. The farmers only wanted price. The agricultural correspondents, the agricultural societies, all over the kingdom ; the movers of resolutions in the House of Commons; the authors of numerous pamphlets, in behalf of the poor unfortunate farmers; Lord Sheffield and his wooll-people at Lewes; the wool-growing delegates and their convention: all these several individuals, and all these tribes of projectors, called aloud for high price; high price was what they wanted ; give them but high price, and they would continue to pay taxes, to get drunk at the markets, and to swear and ride over people, on their return home. “Well !” said Lord Castlereagh, in the month of-May last, “ then the distress is temporary “ only; for I perceive that wheat is rising in price. I see that in Scots “ land wheat is already got up to eighty shillings the quarter, and it is “ not likely that it should long keep below that price in any other part “ of the kingdom. And, when wheat is got up to eighty shillings a
quarter all over the kingdom ; I shall be glad know where will THEN " be the distress?”
His Lordship’s argument was very fair against Mr. Western, Mr. Coke, and the other gentlemen of high price. It was absolutely a flail (against which his countryman, Swift, says there is no argument) upon the heads of the silly farmers and their friends : but, as against me, and those who thought with me, the ingenious Lord's argument was not worth a straw; for I told him, as I had told the Corn-bill gentlemen a year before, that high price, unless it were occasioned by fresh bales of paper-money, sent forth by the Old Lady in Threadneedle-street, and her more than thousand children, who are distributed all over the country; I told them, and had been telling them for years, that, unless prices were kept up by this cause, there could be no price, be it as high as it might, which would save the farmer and the tradesman from ruin, and the journeyman and labourer from a state approaching to starvation. And now, my Lord, pray look at the result. Wheat is now, not eighty shillings a quarter, but a hundred and ten shillings a quarter ; and that too, your Lordship will please to observe, while all those ports are open, which the silly and greedy farmers were for keeping for ever closed. " Where will then be the distress," said Lord Castlereagh, “if wheat gets up to eighty shillings a quarter ?” It has got up to a hundred and ten shilling's a quarter, and the distress is greater than ever!
And thus must it go on, unless new bales of paper-money can be got out, or unless taxation be greatly reduced. The fruit of productive labour is now taken and given to unproductive labour in such a large proportion, that production and re-production, with all their wonderful effects, are daily and hourly diminishing. This is the cause and the only cause, of the miseries of the country, and of the far greater part of the crimes that now blacken the calendars of the sessions and the assizes. It is curious to observe that His Royal Highness has been advised to ascribe the national distress partly to the “unfavourable state of the “ season." Why, my Lord, it is that very season which has caused that very high price, upon the return of which the Corn-bill conjurors most seriously relied, as the infallible means of the renovation of their affairs, and of the restoration of prosperity. So that here we find ourselves in this curiously interesting dilemma, that, while his Royal Highness is advised by his Ministers to lament the existence of a season which has casually produced high prices, the whole corps of land-owners and farmers, divided into battalions and platoons throughout the counties and the bundreds, are bellowing with lungs of Stentor, and with the constancy of the pendulum of a clock, for the creation and continuation of high prices, as the only remedy for all our difficulties, and as the sole means of restoring the nation to ease and happiness.
Meeling on Portsdown. - Misery and not Reform the cause of Riots-- Funding
System the cause of misery- Dreadful state of Islington, Coventry, &c.
(Political Register, February, 1817.)
London, February 5, 1817. LIFE-AND-Fortune Men,
Being rather in haste to set offto a Meeting on Portsdown-hill, which is to be held on Monday next, you will have, I hope, the goodness to excuse me, if I am not quite so ceremonious as your correspondents generally are.
I have read, and the people have read, not with indignation, for no effort of your venom is now capable of exciting a feeling of so high an order; but we have read, with scorn and contempt, the attack on the Parliamentary Reformers contained in your Declaration, issued by a Meeting of you at the London Tavern on the 31st of last month, which meeting is stated to have consisted of bankers, merchants, traders, and others, and amongst the names of the persons signing which declaration are several of those who have the management of the affairs of the Bank of England. I shall presently speak more particularly of the terms and assertions of that Declaration ; but first, it is impossible to refrain from remarking, that most of you were amongst the addressers of 1793, who then urged the Government on to that war, of the expenses and the debts of which this nation is now tasting the bitter, the poisonous, the destructive fruit. You are, in fact, the same body of men, the chasms made by time having been filled up as they cccurred. Curious this fact is to contemplate! What! At the end of twenty-five years of war and glory against republicans and levellers, do you find it necessary to come forth
again ! Again, after more than a thousand millions have been expended in taxes and nearly another thousand millions of debt have been contracted for the purpose of preserving what you call the Constitution! Again, after the Bourbons and the Inquisition and the Pope and the Jesuits have been restored, after all the republics of Europe have been destroyed, and after a holy alliance has been solemnly concluded between all the principal sovereigns! Again, after such volumes of congratulation on the triumph of social order, after all the ox-roasting and temple-building in commemoration of that glorious triumph, and after we have been told that " the play being over we may nou sit down to supper !” After all this, do we behold you sallying forth again with your imputations against Parliamentary Reformers, and with your promises and vows to assist in keeping them down? But, before I proceed to comment on your declaration, let me first insert it, that the world may hear you as well as me.
The place of your meeting is not unworthy of notice. “ The London Tavern.” Why in a house ? why in a hired room, if you meant that your declaration should carry any weight with it as expressing any thing like a public sentiment? It was at this same London Tavern, that the famous position of “a sudden transition from war to peace” was blown to air by Lord COCHRANE, and which position is now scouted by the Members of both Houses of Parliament without the smallest degree of ceremony or reserve. The London Tavern was no place to hold a meeting of the people of London, and the place of meeting shows, that it was judicious in you not to imitate the language of the Manchester declarers, who insist, that they speak the voice of “ the great body, or great majority, of his Majesty's subjects.”
Your declaration, after the introductory verbiage, is in the following words :
“ We, the undersigned Merchants, Bankers, Traders and inhabitants of Lon“ don, deem it to be incumbent on us to come forward with a declaration of our “sentiments on the present crisis of public affairs. We are far from being insen“sible to the evils which at present affect every class of the community, more “ especially the lower orders; we are anxiously desirous that every praticable “ means may be used for alleviating their distresses ; and we entertain a san“guine hope, that the embarrassments with which we have to struggle, will, by “The exercise of a wise and enlightened policy, be overcome ; and that the “ agriculture, manufactures, and commerce of the country, will at no distant “ period revive and flourish.-We are satisfied at the same time, that nothing .“ can tend more to retard the accomplishment of our wishes and hopes, than the “ endeavours which have recently been exerted with too much success, by designing “ and evil-minded men, to persuade the people that a remedy is to be found in “ measures which, under specious pretences, would effect the overthrow of the “ Constitution. To these endeavours may be traced the criminal excesses which “ have lately disgraced the Metropolis and other parts of the Empire; and the still
more desperate and atrocious outrage which has recently been committed “ against the sacred person of the Prince Regent, on his return from opening Par. “ liament, in the exercise of the functions of our revered Monarch. We cannot “ adequately express our abhorrence of these enormities, which, if not repressed, “ must lead to scenes of anarchy and bloodshed, too appalling to contemplate; " and we feel it to be a solemn and imperious duty we owe to our country, to “ pledge ourselves individually and collectively, to support the just exercise of the “authority of Government, to maintain the Constitution as by law established, and “ to resist every attempt, whether of craft or violence, that may be directed against our civil liberty and our social peace.”
Now, you will hardly be so hypocritical and so cowardly as to pretend, that you do not mean the Parliamentary Reformers, when you speak of
“ designing and evil-minded men,” and that you wish to cause it to be believed (as if any body would or could believe you !) that the late riots in London, and other parts of the Empire, and even the attack upon the Regent are to be traced to the endeavours” of the Reformers. Great as may be the hypocrisy of which you are masters, you will hardly attempt to deny, that this is the meaning of your words. And, this being their meaning, was there ever a more audacious falsehood published to the world!
First, as to the " criminal ercesses,” committed in other parts of the "empire,” who told you, that this was an empire ?” Where did you pick up that new-fangled slang? To what half-foreign jargon-monger have you been to school? This is a kingdom, that is to say, a commonwealth, a political mixed government, having a king for its chief. We acknowledge no imperial sway, and, in spite of your jargon, you may be sure, that we never shall; for before we do that, we must burn all our laws and all our law-books, and forswear all the notions of our forefathers, which we shall not do, in order to follow the example of a set of dealers in paper-money, whose traffic, as we shall by-and-by see, has been one of the great causes of our ruin.
But, not to criticise further, where censure and condemnation are so loudly called for, what proof have you, that "criminal excesses” out of London can be traced to the Reformers ? Where have these excesses been committed ? In the Isle of Ely; in Suffolk ; in Wales ; at Dundec. That is all, I believe; and, you know well, that in neither of those places has there been any meeting for Reform. In all those places some mis. guided and suffering people have made attacks upon the threshing-machines, or have assembled to demand a rise of wages, or have seized on food in bakers' and other shops; but in no one of those cases has there been, amongst the people so assembling, any talk even about Reform. Some of the unhappy creatures have suffered death for their “ criminal excesses ;” their confessions or pretended confessions, have been published to the world; and, in those confessions not one word is to be found about the influence of Reformers on their minds.
Then as to the riot in London, which was really very criminal, you also well know, that Reform and Reformers had nothing to do with the matter.' The Watsons, though persons, until that day, of excellent character, appear to have adopted the Spencean principles, which without my troubling myself about them here, are well known as having nothing to do with Parliamentary Reform, whatever any base and malignant and profligately corrupt man may say to the contrary, Nay, so clear is this fact, that Mr. Hunt, who came up the first time to Spa-fields upon the invitation of the Spenceans, without knowing any thing of their projects, threw aside the memorial that they had prepared, and proposed a petition for Reform and relief, which was laid before the Prince by Lord Sidmouth, and which was soon after followed by a donation, or grant, of five thousand pounds by the Prince, and by that large soup-subscription in the city, which appears never to have been so much as thought of before It was then, and not till then, that a meeting took place at the Mansion House; that so piteous a picture of the state of the poor of Spitalfields was exhibited to the public: then Mr. Buxton was extremely eloquent, but, until then, he was silent upon the subject, So, that, though I call not in question the motives of any of the individuals engaged in promoting that subscription, but, on the contrary, do most sincerely commend those motives, I say, and i
shall always say, that the subscription and all the relief it has afforded, are to be ascribed to Mr. Hunt more than to any other person. The example of the Prince Regent had, doubtless, a great effect on the subscribers, and I am willing to give it its full due ; but, it was Mr. Hunt who was the cause of the deep distress of the people being MADE KNOWN to his Royal Highness, who, had it not been for the Petition from Spa-fields, would, probably, never have heard of them.
Well, but there have been persons seized, and papers seized upon those who were accused of a plot upon that occasion. And, even letters from Mr. Hunt have been seized. They have, however, never been published nor ever brought forward upon any trial. The fact is, they contained no proof of any wish to produce unlawful acts, but, I dare say, precisely the contrary. The rioters have been tried; all the evidence has been produced against them ; but not one word about Parliamentary Reform. There have, however, been words enough about distress and misery, and some of these words you shall now have from the lips of the poor unfortunate CASHMAN, when he was asked “ why sentence of death should not be passed upon him ?”—These are the memorable words :
“ MY LORD,-I hope you will excuse a poor friendless sailor for occupying your
time. Had I died fighting the battles of my country I should have gloried “ in it: but I confess that it grieves me to think of suffering like a robber, when “ I can call God to witness that I have passed days together without even a morsel “ of bread, rather than violate the laws. I have served my king for many years, " and often fought for my country. I have received nine wounds in the service, “ and never before have been charged with any offence. I have been at sea ali
my life, and my father was killed on board the Diana friyate. I came to London, my Lord, to endeavour to recover my pay and prize-money, but being unsuccessful, • I was reduced to the greatest distress, and being poor and pennyless, I have “ not been able to bring forward witnesses to prove my innocence, nor to acquaint “ my brave officers, or I am sure they would all have come forward in my behalf. “ The gentlemen who have sworn against me must have mistook me for some “ other person (there being many sailors in the mob); but I freely forgive them, " and I hope God will also forgive them, for I solemnly declare that I committed “ no acts of violence whatever."
Where, then, are the grounds upon which you so impudently prefer these charges against us? Is not the country already in a state of distraction, great enough, without your endeavours to excite such powerful feelings of resentment and eternal ill-will amongst such numerous classes of the people ?
But, though you cannot trace any of the lamentable occurrences, of which you speak, to the writings, the speeches, or the actions of the Reformers; and though you will not attempt to trace them to their true cause; I shall not, my good Life-and-Fortune-Men, be so shy upon the subject; and, therefore, I shall here treat you with my DECLARATION, which I beg you to receive, as an appropriate answer to your own.
DECLARATION. Whereas, certain Bankers, Stock-jobbers, and others, of the City of London, have recently met, at a Tavern, in the said city ; and whereas, being so met, they then and there issued a certain Declaration, in which they falsely and calumniously ascribed the divers riots which have taken place in the several parts of the kingdom to the proceedings of the Parsiamentary Reformers, whom they impudently call " designing and evilminded men;" and, whereas it is expedient that the said riots should be traced to their true causes, and as I think myself able to do this with