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great simplicity, I, William Cobbett, with a view of doing this, do hereby declare: First, That it is a notorious truth, that the riots in the County of Suf
folk, in the Isle of Ely, in the principality of Wales, at Dundee in Scotland, and in the city of London, have all been carried on, and perpetrated, by persons in great want and misery ; that the mani. fest object, in all these cases (and no riots have taken place any where else), has been to obtain food by means of violent proceedings ; for, though threshing-machines were destroyed in Suffolk ; though the people in the Isle of Ely demanded a rise of wages; though the people in Wales demanded employment; though the people of Dundee complained of the high price of oatmeal ; though the sailors in London broke open gunsmiths' shops in a very unlawful and unjustifiable manner; and though the conduct of all the parties, in all these cases, cannot by any means be defended ; still, the fact notoriously is, that all these riots and criminal excesses have had for their immediate cause a greater or less proportion of that terrible and unexampled distress, which now pervades every part of the kingdom, and which, while it astounds the mind of the wise and melts the heart of the humane, can never be miti. gated, but must be augmented, by every attempt, whether arising
from folly or knavery, to disguise itsreal and all-powerful cause. SECOND, That the more immediate cause of this distress and this misery,
are, a want of employment, and an incapacity to afford a sufficiency of relief to the unemployed part of the Labouring People, who neces
sarily have no capital or stock whereon to live. THIRD, That these evils have arisen, not from a “ sudden transition from
war to peace," but, from a deep-rooted cause of calamity, namely, a system of fictitious currency, which, by its sudden transitions from high to low, and then again from low to high, has ruined, in many instances, has broken down in more instances, and has crippled in all instances, the land-owner, the farmer, the master-tradesman, the sbip-owner, the master-manufacturer, and all those engaged in the
employment, or protection, of productive labour. Fourth, That these sudden transitions have arisen from the vast quan
tity of Paper-money issued by the Bank of England some years ago, and by her nurselings, the Country Banks; and that that immense issue of Paper-money, which at once brought down prices, and raised up taxes and salaries, was owing to the stoppage of Cash Payments at the Bank of England, in the year 1797; and which stoppage arose, as the Records of Parliament inform us, out of an APPLICATION MADE BY THE THEN GOVERNOR AND DIRECTORS OF THE BANK OF ENGLAND TO THE MI
NISTER OF THAT DAY.* Fifth, That, amongst the Governor and Directors of the Bank of Eng
land of that day, I find the names of several of the signers of the above-mentioned Declaration at the London Tavern; and that, therefore, I am clearly of opinion that I have logically “ tracęd"
the late " criminal ercesses” to those worthy gentlemen themselves. This is declaration for declaration, and I am not at all afraid to submit them, side by side, to the common sense of mankind. But, my worthy Declarers, I am not going to stop here. It is now very nearly fourteen years since I stood alone, and for thirteen years I stood alone, in
declaring it to be my fixed opinion that the total ruin of the country, that the upsetting of all property, that the miseries of confusion, must ultimately ensue at no very distant period, if a stop were not put to the increase of the Debt and the Paper-money. This period is not yet arrived indeed ; but it will require very great wisdom, and very resolute measures with regard to the Debt and the expenditure in general, to prevent its arriving.
I now hear gentlemen and noblemen enough in the two Houses of Par. liament ready enough to adopt and to utter many of my sentiments on this subject, which sentiments were, for many, many years, held in derision by some, and considered as criminal by others. I have heard my Lord Grey now say, that the taxes which were imposed in one currency, are now collected in another currency; and his Lordship might have added, and, perhaps, did add, though it is not in the report of his speech, that the same remark extended to rents, tithes by composition, leaseholds, ground rents, annuities, bonds, mortgages, marriage settlements, and all the other transactions between man and man; and, surely, if the taxes were imposed in one currency, and are now collected in another currency, all that large part of the Debt which has been bor. rowed since the year 1797, was lent in our currency, and ought not to be paid in another currency.
Every man who has only common sense, now sees that the Funding System has produced all the mischief. To it we owe all our calamities. This is now evident to the nation at large; and, in my work of Paper against Gold, I have proved, step by step, not only that the Funding System has been the cause of our calamities ; but I have also proved that, from its very nature, it must be the cause of such calamities. All our troubles would vanish in a moment, if this system were at an end. The Ministers themselves would gladly get rid of their standing army ; for, what is the use or pretended use, of this army at home in time of profound peace? Why, it is said, to preserve the tranquillity of the country. And what disturbs the country? Why, the miseries of the people. And what makes the people miserable ? Why, the great weight of taxes, and the fluctuations in the currency. And what makes the great weight of taxes and the fluctuations in the currency? Why, the Debt and the paper. money. And what makes the Debt and the paper-money? Why, the Funding System. Thus it is to this system that we owe the standing army and every evil that oppresses us; the whole of that combination of evils which now astounds even me, who have been anticipating those evils for many years.
Reformers, indeed! It is not Reformers, men, generally speaking, without riches, who can thus agitate society and shake a great State to its very foundations. It must be something far more powerful than speeches and writings to produce effects like these. Besides, Reformers have been at work for forty years, and they once had Mr. Pitt and the DUKE of RICHMOND at their head. No: it is the Debt,--the Funding System; these are the causes of all the dangers, which the ancient establishments of the country now feel. The Church complains of an intended law levelled against it. The Clergy are called upon, in the St. James's Chronicle, to meet in the Deaneries all over the kingdom; to hold adjourned meetings, and to protest against the intended law. And, meet they will, too, and not one moment too soon. What has produced this intended measure against their property ? Why, the sufferings of the
farmers; and, as was before shown, these sufferings have arisen from the Funding System.
What folly, as well as what impudence, then, is it, to cry out against Reformers! As if they could add to, or lessen, the great dangers which hang over the State. There is a green bag full of papers, it is said, laid before Parliament, proving the existence of plots against the "whole frame and laws of the Constitution.” So says the Courier, who appears to have had his nose in the bag, even before it was carried down. There may be, for anything that I know to the contrary, some wild projects on foot for altering the frame of the Government; but I am very sure, that they are all vanity and nothingness, when compared with the Funding System; and, if a clear statement relative to the Debt and the taxes, and the effects of these, had been put into the Green Bag, and had been strongly recommended to the attention of the two Houses, it would, it appears to me, have been much more likely to tend to the preservation of tranquillity than any other step that could have been taken.
Put down meetings, indeed! Alas! if such a measure, painful as it is to one's feelings as an Englishman, could possibly tend to restore the pation to happiness, or to lessen its unparalleled miseries, I would hail it as a boon; for, now the suffering is too dreadful to be thought of with. out deep mental affliction. You affect to “trace" all appearances of discontent to the Reformers. It is true that you feel no misery; but, is there none any where else ? A few plain facts will suffice; and they now lie before me in print.
“The poor-house at Bilston is so full of occupants that there is not room for " them all to sleep at the same time; but an equal number of them retire to rest " in rotation."
"At a meeting of the inhabitants of Wilton, held on Monday last, for the pur“ pose of considering of some mode of alleviating the distresses of the town, " which were occasioned by the increase of its poor-rates, it was ordered, that * the poor should be employed by sending them in rotation to the different house. " holders, in proportion to what they were rated at. This mode of employment " is called, by labourers in husbandry, 'working on the stem.'
In the City of Coventry, on a population of about 20,000, there are more than 8000 paupers.
In some parishes, the poor men are lodged and kept separately from their wives.
But as an authentic and ever-to-be-remembered statement of shocking facts, and as an incontrovertible proof of the awful consequences of a Funding System, I insert the following paper, word for word.
“ Condensed Statement of the Poor of St. Mary, Islington; as prepared by the
“Committee appointed for that purpose, Jan. 31, 1817. “ From examination of the different District Reports, it was found, that « 730 Poor Families, consisting of “ 1371 Adults, “1712 Children, comprising a total of
* 3083 individuals, had been visited, a large portion of whom required, and had “ received relief.
"It also appeared that there were totally out of employ about 300 persons, " who were not only out of employ, but almost naked, without a bed to lie upon, " and WITHOUT A PENNY TO PURCHASE BREAD.
"In addition to those totally out of employ, the cases of many, who are only “ partially employed are numerous and very distressing, some of them earning “ only a few shillings a week, with six or eight helpless children.
“There are 93 families that have from five to nine children.
“There are also 181 families that receive parochial relief, the total amounting “ to 211. 158. 6d. per week. This does not include the casual relief given by the “ parish-officers, nor what is distributed by the different benevolent funds in the “ parish.
* To assist in ascertaining the distress of the parish, inquiry was made into the “ arrount of goods pledged, and it was found to be as follows: “ Districts. Number of Families.
291 13 6 “ To ascertain exactly the amount of goods pledged has been found impossible, “ but considering that three-fourths of the 4th district remain unreported in this “ particular, and one-fourth amounts to 4001., there is no doubt of the amount “ being at least 15001. in the whole parish, comprising pledges for various sums, “ from THREE HALFPENCE to 201. The article here alluded to, was the pro“ perty of a poor but respectable widow, who travelled nearly three miles, from the “ extremity of the parish where she resided, TO PROCURE THREE HALF. “ PENCE UPON IT!!
“ The Committee intended to have given some particular cases of distress, to “ convey to the parish some idea of their nature and extent, and of the NECES“ SITY FOR FARTHER CONTRIBUTION; but they have found the cases of “ extreme poverty and privation SO NUMEROUS, that they must confine “ themselves to a general representation of facts, and in doing this, for reasons “ which will be sufficiently obvious, they will avoid the mention of any particular
“ The Committee have met with unfortunate tradesmen of irreproachable
character, sinking, and pining in secret, with numerous young children, as five " to seven, the wife ready to lie in, the husband in ill-health, rent and many “ little debts owing, without any means to pay them. Other families where the “ husband is nearly 70 years of age, the wife ill in bed, a child or two to main“ tain, and the whole earnings not exceeding 78. a week. Others, where they “ have by distress been obliged to pawn almost every necessary, to provide in “ the interim a little sustenance, who are willing to work, but can find no em“ployment; and some families have been found, where the poor people, with “ hardly anything to cover their nakedness, have not even a bed of the poorest “ kind, but lie upon straw or shavings-all their little earnings being unequal to “ the cravings of hunger.
“ Among these are many people who have seen better days, and have endea" poured by every means to avoid becoming burthensome to their parish or their “ neighbours, and who, it is to be feared, would have actually perished, but for « the investigation to which the present institution has given rise.
“ Some of these cases, with a little pecuniary aid, might be enabled again to become useful members of the coinmunity; but such is the extent of the pre“ sent distress, that the first object should be to meet those cases of distress, “ under which, without relief, the sufferers are in danger of perishing. The “ liberality of the parish will, it is hoped, effect this; and if, in addition, some “ relief of the kind hinted above could be extended afterwards to DECAYED “ AND UNFORTUNATE TRADESMEN, who by a little pecuniary aid could “ be restored to usefulness, the benefit would be incalculable." “ (By Order) R. OLDERSHAW, Jun. and N. THOMPSON, Jun.
“Secretaries." And yet (O impudence !) the Reformers are accused of exaggerating the distresses of the country, and the Courier abuses Lord Grey for dwelling on the public distress, as being the real cause of the prevailing discontents ! Alas! my good Life-and-Fortune Men, it is not your lives and fortunes that have been sacrificed. You pledged your lives and fortunes to carry on wars and make loans; but, it is not your lives and fortunes that have been in danger.
Alas! what can Green Bags, or the result of the opening of their contents; what can these do towards the restoration of happiness to the people? If all meetings, all petitioning, all writing, all printing, all speaking, all whispering, were instantly put a stop to, not one single moment would that measure retard that steady march which great causes are now keeping on towards great and inevitable consequences. This march might, in my opinion, be checked by a Radical Reform in the Commons' House of Parliament; but, without that Reform, my decided opinion is, that it cannot.
You seem to imagine, that the people are wholly ignorant of the real source of their calamity. Read, then, the following paragraph in the resolutions that preceded an excellent petition just agreed to in the City of Coventry.
« That whilst the holders of every article, purchased or manufactured “when bank-notes were depreciated, have been compelled to reduce their “price to the standard of sterling money; whilst every individual charged " with debts contracted at the same period, has been also obliged to pay “their full nominal amount in sterling money, thus sustaining a loss “ equivalent to the difference in the real value of the currency, at the “ respective periods: The distress, consequent upon this natural opera. “tion of causes over which the sufferers had no control, is considerably "increased, by their still being called upon to pay in taxes, their share " of the full interest of the debt (called national) contracted by the “Government, principally in the depreciated currency.”
Thus, you see, the matter is understood by the people at large. They can “ trace" as well, and a little better, than you can, or, at least, than you choose to do it ; and, though the members of the two Houses have not yet spoken out, you may be sure that they will do it before they separate. You seem to imagine that the leading men amongst the Reformers wish to carry their views into execution by assault. They must be great fools if they do, seeing what an evident tendency there is, in all the circumstances of the times, to assist their views more and more every day. It is right to petition for Reform ; it is right to endeavour to obtain it by all lawful means; it is right to bring forward the measure in a fair and distinct form. But, it is wholly unnecessary to be impatient, seeing that it must come at no very distant day, and that, too, with very little oppo. sition. Whatever may be your hopes, this agitation about the Reformers and the Spenceans will not last many weeks. It is not the green bag, but the budget, which will soon become the interesting object, and we shall see, before this session of Parliament is over, whether the political economy of Mr. Colquhoun, the police justice, or mine be the most sound and rational.