« AnteriorContinuar »
they will not always have quite enough; and why pester yourself, Mr. Curwen, to induce them to lay up money? If the latter, if the great mass of journevmen and labourers have not now half enough to eat, drink, and wear, as is notoriously the case, what an absurdity to suppose, that they will save out of their starvation the means of preventing their future demands upon the parish!
A Mr. OWEN, of LANARK, has, it seems, been before the Committee with his schemes, which are nothing short of a species of Monicery. This gentleman is for establishing innumerable" communities” of paupers! Each is to be resident in an inclosure, somewhat resembling a barrack establishment, only more extensive. I do not clearly understand, whether the sisterboods and brotherhoods are to form distinct bodies, like the nuns and friars, or whether they are to mix together promiscuously; but, I perceive, that they are all to be under a very regular discipline; and that wonderful peace, happiness, and national benefit, are to be the result! How the little matters of black eyes, bloody noses, and pulling of caps, are to be settled, I do not exactly see ; nor is it explicitly stated, whether the novices, when once they become confirmed, are to regard their character of pauper as indelible, though this is a point of great importance. Mr. Owen's scheme has, at any rate, the recommendation of perfect novelty; for of such a thing as a community of paupers, I believe no human being ever before heard. Mr. Owen has provided an hospital and a chapel for each of his communities ; I wonder that he, who appears to have foreseen every other want, should have forgotten a mudhouse. The formation of so many convents for paupers, with all their kitchens and “ dormitories," and other innumerable buildings, and with all the seeds, cattle, implements, household goods, &c. would require a sum of money, the amount of which would have staggered a man whose mind had been fashioned in any common mould. But, this is nothing with Mr. Owen, who says, it may be borrowed of individuals, or of the Sinking Fund !--Adieu, Mr. OWEN of LANARK.-Mr. Curwen's ideas are of a more sublime cast. He hears the people cry for food, and, in turning about him for the means of satisfying their hunger, he fixes his eyes, at once, upon the SEA! “ Thus," exclaims he, in an eloquent rapture, "might eighteen “ millions of acres of sea, without any cultiration, be called upon to “ yield an abundance of the finest fish in Europe, for our general sus. "tenance, our natural food as islanders!” In the Thanksgiving which was instituted for the escape of the Prince Regent, last winter, there was a supplication to God to “ still the madness” of the Parliamentary Reformers, the readers of my Two-penny Register. It had been more creditable to have relied upon this supplication, unaided by Gagging Bills. But, is there not more need of some such supplication to produce stillness in these mad projectors? “ Our natural food as islanders !” What, then, the “ Roast Beef of Old England” no longer appertains to us; and we are transformed into Seals! Fish is, at last, our natural food; and we have an immense domain, which yields it without cultivation. If it were not a shame to waste one's time in ex. posing the thoughtlessness, the childishness, of such notions as these, we might ask Mr. Curwen, whether he thinks, that he is the first discoverer of this immense tract of sea ; whether he thinks, ibat, if fish could be obtained allvantageously as a reneral food, it would not have been so obtained long ago; whether he was forgotten the memorable
projects for feeding the nation upon Scotch herrings and Cornish pilchards, and wliether the present Chancellor of the Exchequer (who commenced bis career as a placeman, in the capacity of a Commissioner of Scoich Herrings), never told him, that the herrings were not eaten, and that the pilchards were used to manure the land, after the nation had been beavily taxed in order to pay a bounty for catching them ; whether he does not know, that the fishing trade is now so poor a thing, as to be supported by a bounty, paid out of the taxes, amounting to more than a hundred thousand pounds a year. We might ask him all these things, and we might ask him besides, how it happens, that the cause of the national distress has been so very completely and so very suddenly changed ? Last year, the misery was ascribed to the " surplus produce :” this year to a " surplus population.” Last year food was 100 plenty : this year food is too scurce. Last year the profound as well as humane Castlereagh congratulated that body of which he is a most worthy member, that wbeat was rising in price, and he asked, in a triumphant tone, where would be the distress if wheat rose to eighty shillings a quarter? This year this profound Statesman assists in putting into the mouth of the Prince, the expression of a hope that the price of food will soon fall, and makes him ascribe the distress to the high price, and not to the low price, as in the case of the last year. Last year the distress and the sufferings of the poor, the desertion of their parishes by the farmers, the bands of poor prowling about the country, the want of employment for them, and the monstrous augmentation of the Poor-rates, were ascribed by the Honourable House, without a dissenting voice, to the low price of farm produce; and this year, when all these symptoms of wretchedness have increased in a three-fold degree, that same Honourable House, with a similar unanimity, and with equal profundity, ascribe the increase of these evils to the high price of farm produce. The year before last, in the face of the petitions of the people, and with troops actually drawn up round the House, a Bill was passed to keep up the price of corn. Last year the distresses of the country were ascribed to the not having passed that Bill sooner : this year those same distresses, together with their prodigious increase, are ascribed to the high price of corn.
After this, would it be presumption in the most illiterate and most feeble-minded man alive to express bis dissent from the opinions of any of those persons, or from the unanimous opinion of the whole put together? The truth of the matter is this : the whole nation knows now the real cause of the misery. The mass of the people cannot be any longer deceived. The most ignorant amongst the politicialis äre those who liave wiliully and obstinately shut their eyes,
There are many men, in both Houses of Parliavnent, who know that wine is the true doctrine, but who have not the courage to be candid. I have discussed all the points so often ; I have so frequently varied the views of the several questions; I have so carefully collected in my progress every detached ramification of the several subjects ; I have unravelled with sucii painful perseverance all the intricacies of these most intricate matters of inquiry; I have, at last, made the matter so clear to every unbiassed mind, that the whole nation, not only well understands what are the causes of its distress, but what are the remedies, and the only efficacious remedies to be applied.
This fact is known to those iwo Houses ; and, think now, my Lords and Gentlemen, would it have been more humiliat. ing to your pride, if you had (years ago even) aviopted my doctrines,
and prevented the existence of the grounds of that fear which has, at last, driven you to such acts of desperation ? Would you have more reason to be ashamed of having adopted salutary measures, though all the world might have called them mine, than you have to be of those mea. sures which have driven me from my country? Whatever way you may answer these questions, in this dilemma you must still remain : either you must keep my country in its present state, or I must be restored to that situation, from which to exclude me has been one of the great objects of your efforts, and of the efforts of your bireling press,
To return, now, for a little, to Mr. CURWEN's project; he does not see, or be affects not to see, anything at all of the cause of the evil, of which he complains, and to remove which he is, I dare say, very anxious, seeing that he pays, perhaps, a thousand pounds a-year in Poor-rates. The Poor-laws have existed three hundred years, or thereabouts. They were never regarded as an evil, till after the first American War, by which the nation was plunged deep into debts and taxes. In the reign of Charles the Second, they amounted to only 250,0001. a year. Before the late wars against France, they amounted to 2,200,0001. a-year. At the end of the first war against France, they amounted to 5,300,0001. a-year. Last year, or, rather, the year before, they amounted to 8,000,0001. a year ; and now they may probably amount to 12,000,0001. a-year. But, indeed, there is no rule to go by. Subscriptions, gifts, grants of money, applications of other funds : all these have been added, and still starvation raves throughout the land. And, how should it be otherwise, when those who labour, and who never can have any saving worth speaking of, are obliged to surrender in taxes more than half schat they earn. I have often proved this fact. Indeed, if you look at the taxes on beer, soap, candles, tobacco, tea, salt, leather, &c.; if you look at the amount of these taxes, you will see how large a portion of the whole of the revenue comes out of the earnings of the Labouring People. There are men to say: “Oh, no! this is all a mistake!” A mistake is it? And how so? If John Jolt pays four shillings for Barley, and four shillings for Tax on a bushel of malt; and twopence for Beer, and fourpence for malt-tax, beer-tax, and license-tax for a pot of beer; if be pays for these two articles 4s. 2d. and 4s. 4d, for tax, is he not just 4s. 4d, the poorer for the taxes on these articles? “Oh, no! It is his " master, Farmer Belch, who pays John's taxes, because John gets his “ money from Farmer Belch.” Indeed! why then, it is Farmer BELCI who pays 'SQUIRE LICKSpittle's taxes too; for the 'squire, who is Belch's landlord, gets his money from Belch as well as John does. “ Aye, but then the 'squire gives Belch something for his monev : be gives him the use of his land.” And does not John give Belch something too for his money? Does not John give him the use of his limbs and his head? And, are not these something; and are not these John's own private property, as much, to all intents and purposes, as Lickspittle's land is his own private property ? This is enough to show the fallacy of all such reasoning, and I defy Mr. MALTHUS, with all his scholars, to remove the conviction which at once flashes upon the mind out of this short exposition. Let us hear no more, then, of the insolent pretensions of what is called property. A man has a property in his writings; he has a property in his inventions; and what are these but his labour ? for, he has not only a property in what he has published or made, but also in what he is going to publish or to make. And, Toll, in his famous book on agriculture, very justly observes, if a man has not a property in his labour, he must be a real slave, and his body cannot be said to be his own. Whatever taxes, therefore, are paid upon the things, consumed by the labouring classes, is so much taken out of their earnings and carried away for the use of others; and, in proportion as these taxes are great or small in amount, must be the state of the labouring classes of the people. If the Government would but try the experiment in your (wo parishes, and send you ten or fisteen pounds a man to give back to your labourers at the end of each year, you would soon see HAMBLEDOX and TiTCHFIELD without a single pauper. A much better way would be not to collect the taxes in so great an amount by seven-eighths, or there. abouts; and then your men would not have to help to pay nearly four millions sterling a-year to the tax-gatherers, for their trouble in collecting taxes, and which sum exceeds the amount of the whole of the gross revenue of the country, only a hundred years ago! These are the causes of the increase of the paupers and the poor-rates; and, with these causes of the evil before his eyes, Mr. Curwen's remedy is, making the poor, that is to say, all the labouring people, put into a Saving Fund a portion of what the tax-gatherer leaves them to exist upon. But; and here we come round to the old point of the circle; if he proposes to take off taxes, he must show how the Fundholders are to be paid and how the army is to be maintained; and, as he dares not face this grand question, he resorts to his projects, and finds out that we have a “surplus popula. tion," at the very moment that the Parliament is taring Bachelors because they are not married, and while Mr. Malthus is roaring from his nicbe, that the salvation of the country depends upon checking the disposition to early marriages!“Well,” says JONATHAN, “these are wonderful men in the Old Countries ; what can be the matter of them ?” I will tell you, JONATHAN, what is the matter of them. They are stuck fast in the mud. There is but one way to get out; and to take that course they are afraid. That is the matter of them, and there let them stick.
REPORT OF THE FInance COMMITTEE ON THE ABOLITION OF SINECURES. -This curious document I will notice in my next Postscript, and, if I do not strip it naked, there never was a Local Militia-man stripped naked in the Isle of Ely. Ah ! they thought the Cat was gone for ever when they put out this Report! They were deceived. I stood at the hole looking for it, and it shall have that degree of attention, to which it is so well entitled. But in the meanwhile if anything good were to come out of this report, to whom will that good be ascribed ? Not to the Ministers; for why did they delay it so long ? Not to the Whiys; for they never once moved upon the subject. Not to the Parliament ; for they have never done anything, when they always had it in their power. To the People themselves, then, the thing will be due; that is to say the Petitioners for Reform; for no other man, or body of men, ever urged this demand home before. I shall show what has been done, and what is Teally intended at bottom ; but if any good could arise from this report (which I deny however) the people would have themselves to thank for it, a and nobody else. Yet, there will be enough selfish men, who skulked from the Petitions, who will applaud this step. They are stupid enough 10 think, and base enough to hope, that we shall get the burdens removed from them, without obtaining our own just rights. Cunning as this class of men are, they are not cunning enough to see far into the chapter of events,
A HISTORY OF THE LAST HUNDRED DAYS
OF ENGLISH FREEDOM, &c.
Opening of the Session. Speech.- Invitation to Strong Measures. - Attack on the
Prince. -- Who contrived it ?-- Thanksgiring for the Escape.-Language in Parliament.-M. Darson and Mr. Lamb, Lord Milton and Mr. Elliot.-- Affection of these men for the People. - The People discovered to be Ignormt.--" Lover Orders."
North Hampstead, Long Island, June 20th, 1817. MY WORTHY AND BELOVED FRIENDS,
As the opening of the Session of Parliament, which took place on the 28th of January, approached, the hirelings of the press were more constantly employed in hinting, that some vigorous measures must be adopted to keep down what they had the impudence to call the disaffected. So early as the month of November, they evinced their alarm, and began, even then, io endeavour to communicate their own feelings to the liinid part of the nation. There was, however, something so perverse in the proceedings of the Reformers, these laiter were so provokingly peaceable and loyal, that Corruption dared not openly, all at once, talk of violent She did, ihrough her press,
“ caution the well-affected against our peaceable language and conduct;” but, she found nobody but the grossest of the feeders on the taxes to listen to her; and to her great mortification, my Register, which she held forth as a species of political torch, calculated to inflame not only the minds of the people, but to produce real flames in the stacks, and barns, and mills, and manufactories, and farm-honses, did, in the precise proportion in which it circulated, produce a directly contrary effect; and those excesses, which hal finally loaded the gallows at Ely and in Nottinghamshire, were no more beard of.
No. 18 had principally this object in view, and besides the Leller lo The Luddites, writion in November, I missed scarcely a week to inculcate the doctrine of absolute necessity tu avoid all acts of violence of every sort, and lo observe a strict and real obedience to the laws ; nay, I went so far as to reprobate, in the severest terms, all those who had been, or who were disposed to be, ready to commit acts of violence. It is po small compliment to the heads as well as the hearts of the people, that I could do this, not only without any loss of popularity, but with a vast daily increase of it. I was well aware of all the prejudices of the people against machinery, and of their notions about the extortions of bakers,