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working classes will be again reconciled to them, unless they shall cordially take the lead amongst those working classes. This, I am in hopes, they will do; for, every day of their lives will make their own inevitable ruin more and more manifest. But, whether they do this or not, the consequences of the present measures will, I am convinced, be the same. They will only tend to make the catastrophe more dreadful than it would otherwise have been. The Funding System will go regularly on producing misery upon the back of misery, and irritation upon the back of irritation. It is that great cause which is constantly at work. Nothing can stop its progress, short of a reduction of the interest of the Debt; and as that measure seems to be rejected with obstinacy as persevering as are the destroying effects of the system itself, nothing can reasonably be expected but a violent dissolution.
The nation will recollect how confidently the Ministers spoke last year of a speedy restoration to prosperity. Mr. Vansittart talked in a very gay and flippant style, about the raising of fourteen millions in taxes, in order to keep up the Sinking Fund, which fourteen millions, he said, would return back to the country to enliven manufactures, commerce, and agriculture. The words were hardly out of his mouth, when I told you, that, if the fourteen millions did return back to the country, it would only be for the purpose of transferring fourteen millions worth more of the property of the Landowners, the Shipowners, the Manufacturers, the Farmers, and the Traders, from them to the pockets of the Fundholders and the Sinecure Placemen and Pensioners, together with all those who lived upon the taxes. But, all the former classes are now become so reduced in point of property; all their property has so fallen in value, that they have now nothing to offer in pledge for the money which the Fundholders have to lend them; and the consequence of this is, that we now behold the curious spectacle of a loan made by the Fundholders to the Government of France. This loan is stated at ten millions sterling. And now, my friends, pray observe what a traffic is bere going on! These ten millions of money have been raised in taxes upon us to pay the interest of the debt or part of it. The Fundholders, having got this money into their possession, lend it to the Government of France, because we, who pay the taxes, are become too poor; our property is fallen too low in value for the Fundholders to lend it to us; and thus ten millions-worth of the income of the gentlemen and of the fruits of the labour of the people, are conveyed over to another nation, which must tend to give life to agriculture and trade and manufactures in that nation, in just the same degree, that the operation tends to depress and ruin our own country. To make this as clear as daylight, let us suppose the Isle of Wight to be cut off from all trade and all interchange of commodities with the rest of the kingdom. Let us suppose that all the people in the Isle of Wight are compelled to pay a great portion of their incomes and of the fruit of their labour every year to be sent over and expended in the rest of the kingdom; and that no part of what they thus pay is to go back again to the Isle of Wight, except the interest of it. Is it not evident, that the Isle of Wight must shortly become most wretchedly poor and miserable ? Will not the proprietors there get rid of their property as fast as they are able, and will they not get away into the other parts of the kingdom? Yes, and this is what the people of England are now doing with regard to France.
The property of England is now going away, and all those who are able, and who do not live upon the taxes, are following the property as fast as they can. To take a single instance; suppose me to be living in the parish of Botley, or rather, to suppose something nearer the reality; suppose Mr. Eyre, who does live there, and who having a landed estate to the amount, perhaps, of two or three thousand pounds a year, and who, being a very good master, very hospitable and kind to all his neighbours, employing great numbers of them, and expending the greater part of his clear income amongst them, were, instead of so expending his income, to lend it to the Government of France, and to receive from that Government the interest only every year. It is clear, that instead of two thousand pounds a-year to expend among his neighbours, he would have only two hundred pounds a-year to expend amongst them. Here would be a falling-off of eighteen hundred pounds a-year, which, at thirty pounds per family, would take away the means of living from sixty families. If this mode of disposing of Mr. Eyre's income would deprive sixty families of the means of living, the loan which has been made to the Government of France by the Fundholders, through the agency of the Barings and others, must deprive of the means of living thirty-three thousand three hundred and thirty-three families ! And this is a truth, my good and perishing countrymen, which I defy the WILLIAM GIFFORDS, the apostate SOUTHEYS, and all the herd of sinecure and hired writers to controvert. The interest, you will perceive, will come back again to England, and may possibly be expended amongst the people of England, but all the principal will be expended in France to animate French manufactures, commerce,' trade, and agriculture, all of which will be fed by the ruin of England.
The same will be going on, in other shapes, with regard to other foreign countries, and especially with regard to America. For can it be believed, that men, in the farming and trading line, will remain here to give their last shilling to the Fundholders, and to see their families brought to the workhouse, while a country of freedom extends its arms to afford protection to their property as well as to their persons? At this very moment hundreds of farmers are actually preparing to remove themselves and their property to America, and many are now upon the voyage. Now, then, let us see what will be the effects of operations of this sort. A man, who rents a farm, we will suppose, determines not to remain any longer under such a state of things. He sells off his stock, amounting we will say, to five thousand pounds. He turns this stock into money, and he carries the money to America. In England he gave employment and paid in Poor-rates the means of supporting about twelve or fourteen families. Whence are to come the means of supporting these families when he is gone? There is no one to supply his place; for there are thousands of farms now lying waste. These families, therefore, must go to augment the already intolerable burden of the Poor-rates ; they must go to add to the immense mass of misery already existing, while the farmer himself, though he has lost, by the low price of his stock, two-thirds of his fortune, carries away the remainder, together with his valuable industry and skill, to add to the agriculture of America; to give employment to families there, to add to the population and power of that country; and to congratulate him. self on his escape from ruinous taxation, and his family upon their
escape from the horrors of a poor-house. And who can blame such a man? He must still love his country; but the first law of nature, self-preservation, imperiously calls on him to abandon it for ever!
Yet, such is the attachment to country, in the breast of every good man: so great are the powers of those feelings which bind men, and particularly the country-people, to the place of their birth; so numerous and so strong are the ties which restrain them from an abandonment of their homes, that emigration is a thing which they would have avoided as they would have avoided death, under any circumstances but the present; but now, when they have no prospect of an end to the calamities of the country; when instead of that relief, which peace was promised to bring, they feel their burdens not only already doubled by the operations of the paper-money and funding system, but daily and hourly increasing; when they see the ablest and most industrious of their labourers daily dropping into the ranks of the paupers; when they see their former wealthy and provident acquaintances reduced, one after another, to bankruptcy, and their families taking shelter here and there under the roof of charity; when they behold all this, and when to all this is added the reflection, that, in a time of profound peace, and without any insurrection or any commotion in the country, laws have been passed to take away the personal safety of every man, to expose free conversation to the malignant construction of spies and informers, to render the intercourse between man and man dangerous and even perilous, and, in short, to embitter and to curse every moment of their lives, there is no room for balancing; remove they must, if they have any spirit left in them, and if they have the means to remove; for to remain is certain misery, more than probable ruin, and possible death, though every action of their lives may be perfectly innocent, and even meritorious.
From these causes and many others that might be mentioned, the country must, as long as this state of things lasts, go on declining and perishing. Its means of meeting the demands of the unrelenting funding system will daily diminish; and, therefore, there is no remedy, let Mr. Curwen talk as long and as big as he will, but that of reducing and nearly annihilating, that thing which is called the National Debt, and also reducing the expenses of the army to a tenth part of what it now is. And, indeed, it is the Debt which has created and which keeps up the army, for which there would be no occasion were it not for the weight of the taxes, which weight of taxes, is the effect of the Debt.
The great question now to be determined is, WHETHER THE BOROUGHMONGERS CAN CARRY ON THE MILITARY AND SUSPENSION SYSTEM AFTER THE FUNDING SYSTEM IS DESTROYED. This system, this order of things, an immense standing army, with corps of yeomanry established all over the country, with the Press under the superintendence of the Magistrates, and with the personal safety of every man taken from him; this system I call the Boroughmonger System, it having been notoriously adopted in order to resist and to crush the petitioners for Parliamentary Reform. Now, then, I am quite sure that the funding system cannot last long.
I am quite sure of that. I know it with little less certainty than I know, that winter will follow the next summer. It may last two years, perhaps, and it may not expire wholly before the end of three or four years ; but I defy any measures, any powers, or any events, to save it from destruc.
tion at the end of a few years. The question, therefore is, not whether the funding system will be destroyed; nor is it a question, whether the boroughmongering system will continue as long as the funding system continues; for I am convinced that it will, seeing that it appears to me impossible to carry on the funding system any longer without the boroughmongering system. But, the grand and vital question is, whether the boroughmongering system can support itself amidst all the uproar and turmoil of the breaking up of the funding system; and whether it can go on and consolidate and perpetuate itself in this country. This is the great question, my countrymen, upon which you have to exercise your judgment. This is the question, the solution of which will determine the fate of England; and I frankly own to you, that it is a question which appears to me more difficult to settle than any one which ever before presented itself to my mind. You may have perceived a great change of tone in those who formerly talked so boldly about the endless resources of the country. They begin now to falter in their accents. They are frightened at the work of their own hands. They have surrounded themselves with all the securities which an army and the absolute power of imprisonment at pleasure can give them; but, be you assured, that they tremble within. They are scared at the desolation which they have brought upon the country. They are compelled to smile upon the fundholders ; and yet they would fain that there were no such people in existence! Baffled in all their projects and prospects, they know not which way to turn themselves. Their progress seems to be like that of the Gamester in Hogarth, and their situation at this particular stage is nearly approaching to that of his, when, having ventured and lost his last desperate stake, you see him gnashing his teeth, holding up above his head his two clenched fists, stamping upon the floor, and muttering curses, while the fund holders, who sit round the table, are speering and scoffing at his demoniac agitations.
Some time ago, it was their project to cause the Bank to pay again in specie ; and, agreeably to that project, they issued the new silver currency. It appears to be now their project to get fresh quantities of paper again afloat ; and, if they can do that, the first effect of it will be the disappearance of the new silver currency, which, though inferior to sterling value, will never long continue to circulate amidst such additional quantities of paper as will produce any sensible effect in the raising of prices and in the lowering the real amount of taxation. I do not clearly see the possibility of augmenting the quantity of paper in circulation, seeing that the proprietors of lands and of goods have nothing to offer in pledge for it. But, besides, if it were to be effected, what tremendous mischief would it produce ! Suppose the paper thus put out to reduce the value of the currency one-third. A man who has made a contract to-day to receive three hundred pounds at a distant day, would in fact receive only two-thirds of what he had contracted for. T'his real breach of contract would take place with respect to all bargains made at this time, or recently made; all mortgages, bonds, leases, annuities, yearly wages of servants, and every thing else of that description. Goods, sold on long credit, would share the same fate; and as there is perhaps many millions-worth of goods always sent to foreign countries upon long credit, when the money comes to be paid, it would be paid in a currency of one-third less in value than the currency calculated upon when the goods were sold. Thus a merchant abroad,
who must now send three hundred pounds sterling to discharge his debt to his creditor here, would, in fact, have to send only two hundred pounds sterling in real money ; because, two hundred pounds in real money would purchase three hundred pounds in the paper that would then be afloat.
Here, then, the waves of the system, by. suddenly taking a roll in this new direction, would overwhelm a new class of the community; and by this time, the discredit of the paper would become so notorious to the world, that the people of all foreign nations would keep aloof from it; would begin to shake their heads, and exclaim, “ Babylon the Great is fallen !"
What I am disposed to think, however, is, that this project for getting out new quantities of paper-money will not succeed ; and yet, without it, the interest of the Debt cannot be paid out of the taxes ; for though standing armies, and Sedition Bills, and Habeas Corpus Suspension Bills, are dreadfully powerful things, their power is not of that kind which enables people to pay taxes. In all human pro. bability, then, the whole of the interest of the Debt and all the sinecures and pensions and salaries, and also the expenses of a thundering standing army, will continue to be made up, by taxes, by loans from the Bank, by Exchequer bills, by every species of contrivance, to the latest possible moment, and until the whole of the paper system, amidst the war of opinions, of projects, of interests, and of passions, shall go to pieces like a ship upon the rocks. And THEN comes the question : CAN THE BOROUGHMONGERING SYSTEM OUTLIVE THIS TREMENDOUS WRECK? If it can ; if the army can still be kept up, and if the personal safety of all the people can still be suspended, if this breach between the two systems does NOT LET IN REFORM, it is hard to say how very low this country is to be sunk in the scale of nations. It would, in that case, become so humbled, so poverty-stricken, so degraded, so feeble, that it would, in a few years, not have the power, even if it had the inclination, to defend itself against any invader. The people would become the most beggarly and slavish of mankind, and nothing would be left of England but the mere name, and that only as it were for the purpose of remind. ing the wretched inhabitants of the valour and public spirit of their fore. fathers.
Let us hope, however, that this is not to be the fate of our country. Let us hope that she is yet to be freed of the mill-stone that hangs around her neck. As for me, I shall never cease to use the best of my endeavours to save her from the dangers which threaten her utter de. struction; and, I hope you will always bear in mind, that, if I quit her shores for awhile, it is only for the purpose of being still able to serve her. It is impossible for any man not to see elearly, that the sole choice now is between silence and retreat. Corruption has put on her armour and drawn her dagger. We must, therefore, fall back and cover our. selves in a way so as to be able to fight her upon more equal terms. The Giffords, the Southeys, the Walters, the Stuarts, the Stoddarts, and all the bireling crew, who were unable to answer with the pen, now rush at me with their drawn knife, and exclaim, " Write on!” To use the words of the Westminster Address, they shake the halter in my face, and rattle in my ears the keys of the dungeon, and then they exclaim, with a malignant grin, " Why do you not costiru 10 write you coward ? "