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raise up and establish rivals in liberty as well as in power, on the same Continent; which, while it put a stop to the increase of their own marine, would create other American marines, sufficient to cope with theirs in point of force, and naturally in constant rivalship with it; which would make England the absolute arbitress amongst all the transatlantic nations, and which, while it necessarily tended to enrich the manufacturers, merchants and ship-owners of England, as necessarily tended to give to the English flag an undisputed predominance on the seas for ages beyond the reach of human foresight or calculation : while your Royal Highness and His Majesty's faithful people will perceive, that, with these prospects and considerations in their minds, it was perfectly natural and patriotic in the Congress to endeavour to prevent the success of the Revolution in the Spanish Colonies, your petitioner does not hesitate to express his firm belief, that your Royal Highness and the people will also perceive, that the inactivity, the torpor, the cold-hearted indifference, shown, on this occasion, by the Ministers of your Royal Highness, are altogether as unnatural and as unpatriotic, and discover a want of even the most ordinary feeling equally for the interests of the country and for the honour of His Majesty's Crown.
It being always less painful to impute mischief to folly than to wickedness, gladly would your humble petitioner ascribe this inactivity, this torpor, this cold-hearted indifference, so manisestly injurious to his country and his King, and apparently so unaccountable, wholly to that want of talent, that, incapacity for the managing of great affairs, that grovelling propensity of mind, for which the Ministers, imposed on your Royal Highness by the Borough-faction, and not the objects of your own Royal choice, are so strongly characterized and are so notorious; but, the same sense of duty towards your Royal Highness and towards his beloved country, which has urged your Petitioner to submit, with feelings of great diffidence and humility, to your Royal Highness the foregoing representation, also urges him to declare it to be his conviction, though. as an Englishman, the declaration covers him with shame, that this inactivity, this torpor, this cold-hearted indifference, this shameful neglect of the interest, the happiness, and the glory of England, are chiefly, if not solely, to be ascribed to a reluctance on the part of that Boroughfaction, by whom your Royal Highness's Ministers are removable at: pleasure, to suffer the taking of any part in behalf of the Spanish colonies, lest the principles of Holy Alliances and of pretended legitimacy should thereby receive their condemnation and their overthrow, and lest, upon the ruins of those detestable principles, and upon those of the Borough-usurpation, the rights and liberties of the people of England, and the just powers and prerogatives of their lawful Sovereign, should be built on sure and lasting foundations ; for, while your petitioner is too well aware of the magnanimity which prevails in the breast of your Royal Highness, and not less in that of the nation, to suppose either capable of being, upon this occasion, actuated by feelings of revenge for the conduct of the family of Bourbon, during the North American revolution, and, while he has too great a dread of the just displeasure of your Royal Highness to suffer him, for one moment, to entertain the thought of daring to suggest to your Royal Highness to act upon that perfidious example of that most perfidious family; he cannot refrain from humbly expressing his hope, that your Royal Highness, who well recollects that memorable instance of envy, insolence, and perfidy, will
see, therein, no reason that England, by standing with her arms folded, should now make a manifest sacrifice of her present and permanent interest and of her immortal glory, lest, in the frank and honourable pursuit of these, she should sterilize the vineyards of France and dry up the sources of the Treasury of Spain.
Therefore, your petitioner, well assured that your Royal Highness can have no feeling, not in perfect harmony with the interest and honour of the nation, and also well assured of your Royal Highness's disposition to listen with indulgence to the representations and prayers of even the most obscure of His Majesty's faithful people, ventures, upon the grounds of that assurance, to pray, that your Royal Highness will be graciously pleased to espouse, in the manner wbich to your Royal wisdom shall seem meet, the cause of the Colonies and Countries which have been the subject of this his most humble petition.
And your Petitioner,
As in humble duty bound,
Will ever pray.
PETITION OF WILLIAM COBBETT.*
(Political Register, February, 1818.)
To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled. The Petition of William COBBETT, of Botley, in the county of Hants,
now residing at North Hampstead, in the State of New York,
this 20th day of November, 1817, HUMBLY SHOWETH,
That your petitioner, always tremblingly alive to those feelings of respect, reverence and awe, which the character and conduct of your honourable House are so well calculated to excite and perpetuate in the breasts of all mankind, could not, though thereunto urged by a sense of imperious duty, have been induced thus to venture to beseech even one moment's attention from your honourable House, had he not been sus. tained by reflecting on the well-known indulgent and benign deportment of your honourable House towards all his Majesty's subjects, and more especially towards those who approach you with their petitions.
Your petitioner, though living in safety and happiness; though in no danger of arbitrary arrests ; though in no danger of changing his house for a dungeon and his own clothes for a criminal's garb; though surrounded by bis family who can lay their heads on their pillows unhaunted
* This petition was never presented to the House of Commons, Lord FOLKE, Stone having declined to present it on account of its length.-ED.
by the apprehension of seeing him no more ; though there is no fiscal extortioner to wrest from him his money, and no spy to sell his blood : thouglı thus happily situated, under the protection of a Government, founded on the common law of England, and carried on by men, amongst whom bribery, corruption, vote-selling and seat-selling, are not only not as notorious as the sun at noon-day, but are wholly unknown and almost unintelligible in point of meaning ; though, as the natural consequence of this just and wise Government, your humble petitioner sees around him no starvation, no beggary, and scarcely hears he of any of those acts which the law regards as crimes ; though his eyes are never shocked by those erections, exhibitions and circumstances, inseparable from the ignominious exit of malefactors, and though his ears are never annoyed and his heart wounded by the cries of the fatherless children and the widows of men, who have sought shelter from the shame of pecuniary ruin in death inflicted by their own hands; though, in short, your petitioner is in the midst of a state of things, where all is order, content, peace and goodwill, yet the calamities of his native country are ever present to his mind, and ihat true and faithful allegiance which he bears to his lawful king, together with the unalterable attachment which he bears to his country, impel him to submit to your honourable House his opinions as to the causes of those calamities and his prayer as to the remedy to be adopted, all which, however, he does with sentiments of deference the most complete and of humility the most profound.
Powerful as are the motives by which your petitioner is actuated, the contemplation of the dignified character and of the renowned wisdom of your honourable House produces in his mind so complete a conviction of his utter insignificance, that it would be altogether impossible for him to support himself under the thought of becoming an object of the displeasure or contempt of your honourable House ; a thought, which is, happily for him, wholly removed from his mind by that great indulgence, that kind condescension, that extreme candour, that charitableness of interpretation, that scorn to listen to abuse of persons who have no power to answer, that magnanimous disdain of taking advantage of involuntary error, that fairness in representing, that abhorrence of foul play, and that more-than-maternal tenderness for a petitioning people, which have, as the nation and the world so well know, invariably marked the proceedings of your honourable House.
Emboldened by reflecting on these facts, not less important to him than they are notorious throughout the world, your petitioner, though still filled with a sense of his insufficiency for the performance of so arduous a duty, will, with all humility, proceed to submit to your honourable House his opinions as to the principal causes of the calamities, under which his native country is now suffering, calamities which have already swept away whole classes of the community, and which, if not speedily arrested in their course, appear to your petitioner likely to produce a total dissolution of society.
In pursuance of this object your petitioner humbly begs to be permitted to state to your honourable House, that he has seen, in documents of high authority, but to which documents, from his profound respect for the sacred privileges of Parliament, he refrains from directly referring ; in these documents your humble petitioner has seen, that the calamities of the nation have, in great part, at least, been traced back to the Poor. laws, operating, as here laid down, so as to create a redundant popula
tion, a population exceeding a proportionate exertion of labour and
production of food. • Your petitioner most humbly beseeches your honourable House to
permit him to express his surprise, that this doctrine should have ventured to show its face, while the Statute-book of your honourable House proves, that the Poor-laws have existed nearly three hundred years, and while the facts are undeniable, that, during those three hundred years the nation has, for long spaces of time, enjoyed the highest degree of prog. perity, and that, until now, a redundant population has never been re. garded as amongst the effects of that now-reprobated code; and, if your petitioner be indulged by your honourable House in a permission to express his surprise as to this novelty, he fears not that your honourable House will refuse to permit him to express his astonishinent, and, if he may presume, in your presence, to exercise such a feeling, even his indignation, at the doctrine of an augmented and augmenting population being an wil, when it is well known, that the records of your honourable House contain volumes upon volumes of details, collected and arranged at great expense, to establish the fact of a greatly augmented and augmenting population, as au incontestible proof of greatly augmented and augmenting national prosperity, wealth and power.
With not less surprise, and with scarcely less indignation, can your pe. titioner hear the calamities of the country ascribed to a surplus of mouths exceeding the quantity of the produce of the exertion of labour, when not only is your petitioner sure that your honourable House is well aware, that the food produced by the labour of one labourer is, on an average, more than sufficient to sustain a hundred persons, but when the Statute. book and other records of your honourable House, of not more than twenty months' standing, prove to the world, that your honourable House imputed all the distresses of the country to a superabundant quantity, not of mouths, but of food ; and that, upon this very ground, clearly and for. mally expressed in several solemn Reports, your honourable House proceeded to pass, and actually did pass, and now keep in force, a law, the real as well as the avowed object of which was to raise the price, by diminishing the quantity, of human food.
Impotent as is your petitioner, feeble as is his voice, insignificant as he knows his means to be, he, nevertheless, humbly begs to be allowed to express his hope, that your honourable House will not disdain and treat with scorn the jealousy which he feels for the consistency, nay, for the common sense, of your honourable House, at which qualities in your honourable House these new doctrines appear to your humble Petitioner to be aiming a mortal blow; for, though your Petitioner is too well aware that the wisdom of your honourable House is invulnerable to all sorts of assault, yet the pride with which, as an Englishman, he must necessarily contemplate the spotless character of your honourable House, and the zeal which he feels for your renown, urge him to resent, with all the hostile feelings of his heart, the affront offered to your honourable House, in the formal and authoritative promulgation of doctrines directly at war with the records and acts of your honourable House.
Were it the misfortune of your humble petitioner to be addressing himself to an assembly ignorant of such subjects from the nature of its component parts, or rendered such by a disregard of every thing not connected with the gratification of a desire to amass private wealth by base and corrupt means; were your humble petitioner addressing himself to
an assembly of this low and disgraceful description, he should think it necessary to endeavour to prove the absolute impossibility of the Poorlaws and of a surplus of mouths having produced the calamities under · contemplation ; but, having the good fortune to be addressing himself to your honourable House, not less famed for your profound knowledge of all the various branches of political science than for your extreme disinterestedness and matchless purity, he dares not to seem to suppose such proof to be necessary, more especially as all the propositions of the innovators alluded to stand decidedly negatived in the Reports, the Resolutions, and in the venerated Acts, of your honourable House; and, there. fore, your petitioner will, without longer trespassing on the great indul. gence of your honourable House, proceed, though with inexpressible de. ference and humility, to submit to your honourable House a brief exposition of wbat he deems to have been, and to be, the real immediate causes of the nation's calamities, of which calamities your humble petitioner and his family bear their full proportionate burthen. .
Your petitioner is confident, that your honourable House will not withhold your candid and ready acquiescence from the following undeniable propositions; to wit: that the Poor-laws continued in operation, from their first enactment, two hundred and seventy years, without producing, and without having imputed to them, any national calamity; - that, in all ages, there have been alternately times of scarcity and times of plenty, times of high price and times of low price, and that never, until now, a want of employment accompanied adverse seasons any more than favourable seasons ;-that it is manifest, that the want of employment, which is the great symptom of the present national disease, and which is altogether peculiar to the present times, has not arisen from bad seasons, or high prices of food, it being notorious that it began to be severely experienced in 1814, and has continued to increase, under all circumstances of good seasons as well as of bad seasons, and of low prices as well as of high prices ;- that in 1815, the advocates for the Corn Bill all proceeded upon the principle, taken by them for granted, that the low price of farm produce was the cause of the want of employment and of the national distress ;-that, the Board of Agriculture, and that a Committee of your honourable House, made reports containing an assertion of this principle ;-that the numerous reports made to the Board of Agriculture to prove, that want of employment, a great increase of pauperism, and wide ruin amongst farmers and traders, had taken place along with a great redaction in the price of food ;- that it was then held, by all those who sought the enactment of a Corn Bill, that high prices were necessary in order to remove the prevalent want of employment, and in order to diminish pauperism and to prevent the total ruin of landlords, farmers, and traders ;-and that, it was upon the ground of these principles and of the evidence produced in support of their truth, that your honourable House passed the Corn Bill, the real as well as the declared object of which was to raise and keep up the price of the produce of the land.
To these propositions, which are altogether undeniable, your petitioner begs leave to add some others, to the truth of which he also believes your honourable House will not hastily refuse your assent; to wit : that, though it be possible, that the case may in nature occur, that national calamity may arise from a superabundance of population, such calamity can never arise from this cause while the already-enclosed lands of the