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of what they borrowed, spent and pocketted, they called, and still call, this debt, the debt of the nation; or, in the usual words, the national debt.
It is curious to observe, that there has seldom been known in the world any very wicked and mischievous scheme, of which a priest, of some description or other, was not at the bottom. This scheme, certainly as wicked in itself as any that was ever known, and far more mischievous in its consequences than any other, was the offspring of a Bishop of Salisbury, whose name was BURNET ; a name that we ought to teach our very children to execrate. This crafty priest was made a Bishop for his invention of this scheme ; a fit reward for such a service.
The Boroughmongers began this debt a hundred and twenty-four years ago. They have gone on borrowing ever since ; and have never paid off a farthing, and never can. They have continued to pass Acts to make the people pay the interest of what has been borrowed ; till, at last, the debt itself amounts to more than all the lands, all the houses, all the trees, all the canals and all the mines would sell for, at their full sterling value; and the money to pay the interest is taken out of men's rents and out of their earnings; and you, Jack, as I shall by-and-by prove to you, pay to the Boroughmongers more than the half of what you receive in weekly wages from your master.
Is not this a pretty state of things ? Pray observe, Jack, the debt far exceeds the real full value of the whole kingdom, if there could be a purchaser found for it. So that, you see, as to private property no man has any, or can have any, as long as this debt hangs upon the country. Your mas. ter, Farmer Gripg, for instance, calls his farm his. It is none of his, according to the Boroughmonger law; for that law has pawned it for the payment of the interest of the Boroughmongers' debt; and the pawn must remain as long as the Boroughmonger law remains. Gripeis compelled to pay out of the yearly value of his farm a certain portion to the debt. He may, indeed, sell the farm ; but, he can get only a part of the value ; because the purchaser will have to pay a yearly sum on account of the pawn. In short, the Boroughmongers have, in fact, passed laws to take every man's private property away from him, in whatever portions their debt may demand such taking away; and, a man, who thinks himself an owner of land, is, at best, only a steward who manages it for the Boroughmongers.
This, however, is only a small part of the evil; for, the whole of the rents of all the houses and lands and mines and canals would not pay the interest of the debt ; no, and not much more than the half of it. The labour is, therefore, pawned too. Every man's labour is pawned for the payment of the interest of this debt. Aye, Jack, you may think, that you are working for yourself; and that, when, on a Saturday night, you take nine shillings from Farmer GRIPE, the shillings are for your own use. You are grievously deceived, for more than half of the sum is paid to the Boroughmongers on account of the pawn. You do not see this, but the fact is so. Come, what are the things in which you expend the nine shillings ? Tea, sugar, tobacco, candles, salt, soap, shoes, beer, bread; for no meat do you ever taste. On the articles, taken together, except bread, you pay far more than half tar; and, you will observe, that your master's taxes are, in part, pinched out of you. There is an army employed, in Ireland, to go with the excisemen and other taxers to make the people pay. If the taxers were to wait at the ale-houses and grocer's shops, and receive their portion from your own hands, you would
then clearly see, that the Boroughmongers take away more than the half of what you earn. You would, then, clearly see what it is that makes you poor and ragged, and that makes your children cry for the want of a bellyful. You would clearly see, that what the hypocrites tell you about this being your lot, and about Providence placing you in such a state, in order to try your patience and faith is all a base falsehood. Why does not Providence place the Boroughmongers and the parsons in a state to try their patience and faith? Is Providence less anxious to save them than to save you ? If you could see clearly what you pay on account of the Boroughmongers' pawn, you would see, that your misery arises from the designs of a benevolent Providence being counteracted by the measures of the Borough-tyrants.
Your lot, indeed! your lot assigned by Providence! This is real blasphemy! Just as if Providence, which sends the salt on shore all round our coast, had ordained that you should not have any of it, unless you would pay the Boroughmongers fifteen shillings a bushel tax upon it! But, what a Providence must that be, which would ordain that an Englishman should pay 15s. tax on a bushel of English salt, while a Long Islander pays only 2s. 6d. for a bushel of the same salt, after it is brought to America from England ? What an idea must we have of such a Providence as this? Oh, no! Jack ; this is not the work of Provi. dence. It is the work of Boroughmongers; and the pretext about Providence has been invented to deceive and cheat you, and to perpetuate your slavery.
Well: all is pawned then. The land, the houses, the canals, the mines, and the labour, are pawned for the payment of the interest of the Boroughmongers' debt. Your labour, mind, Jack, is pawned for the one-half of its worth. But, you will naturally ask, how is it that the nation, that everybody submits to this? There's your mistake, Jack. It is not everybody that submits. In the first place, there are the Boroughmongers themselves and all their long tribes of relations, legitimate and · spurious, who profit from the taxes, and who have the church-livings, which they enjoy without giving the poor any part of their legal share of those livings. Then there are all the officers of army and navy, and all the endless hosts of place-men and place-women, pensioned men and pensioned women, and all the hosts of tax-gatherers, who alone, these last I mean, swallow more than would be necessary to carry on the Go. vernment under a reformed Parliament. But, have you forgotten the lenders of the money which makes the debt? These people live wholly upon the interest of the debt; and, of course, they approve of your labour, and the labour of every man, being pawned. The Boroughmongers have pawned your labour to them. Therefore, they like that your labour should be taxed. They cannot be said to submit to the tyranny; they applaud it, and, to their utmost, they support it.
But, you will say, still the mass of the people would, if they had a mind to bestir themselves, be too strong for all these. Very true. But, you forget the army, Jack. This is a great military force, armed with bayonets, bullets, and cannon-balls, ready at all times, and in all places to march, or gallop, to attack the people if they attempt to eat sugar or salt without paying the tax. There are forts, under the name of barracks, all over the kingdom, where armed men are kept in readiness for this purpose. In Ireland they actually go in person to help to collect the taxes ; and in England they are always ready to do the same. Now, suppose,
Jack, that a man who has a bit of land by the sea-side, were to take up a little of the salt that Providence sends on shore. He would be prosecuted. He would resist the process. Soldiers would come and take him away to be tried and hangeil. Suppose you, Jack, were to dip your rushes into grease, till they came to farthing candles. The Excise would prosecute you. The sheriff would send men to drag you to jail. You would fight in defence of your house and home. You would beat off the sheriff's men. Soldiers would come and kill you, or would take you away to be hanged.
This is the thing by which the Boroughmongers govern. There are enough, who would gladly not submit to their tyranny; but, there is nobody but themselves, who has an army at command.
Nevertheless, they are not altogether easy under these circ instances. An army is a two-edged weapon. It may cut the employer as well as the thing that it is employed upon. It is made up of flesh and blood, and chiefly of English fleshi and blood too. It may not always be willing to move, or to strike when moved. 'The Boroughmongers sec, that their titles and estates hang upon the army. They would fain cour the people hack again to feelings of reverence and love. They would fain wheeile them into something that shall blunt their hostility. They have been trying bible-schemes, school-schemes, and soup-schemes. And, at last, they are trying the Savings' Bank scheme, upon which I shall now more particularly address you.
This thing is of the same nature, and its design is the same, as those of the grand scheme of Bishop Burnet. The people are discontented ; they feel their oppressions; they seek a change; and, some of them have decidedly protested against paying any longer any part of the interest of the debt, which they say, ought to be paid, if at all, by those who have borrowed, and spent, or pocketted, the money. Now, then, in order to enlist great numbers of labourers and artizans on their side, the Borough. mongers have fallen upon the scheme of coaxing them to put small sums into what they call banks. These sums they pay large interest upon, and suffer the parties to take them out whenever they please. By this scheme they think lo bind great numbers to them and their tyranny. They think, that great numbers of labourers and artizans, seeing their little sunis increase, as they will imagine, will begin to conceive the hopes of becoming rich by such means; and, as these persons are to be told that their inoney is in the funds, they will soon imbibe the spirit of fund. holders, and will not care who suffers, or whether freedom or slavery prevail, so that the funds be but safe.
Such is the scheme, and such the motives. It will fail of its object, though not unworthy the inventive powers of the servile knaves of Edinburgh. It will fail, first, because the men, from whom alone the Borough-tyrants have anything to dread, will see through the scheme and despise it; and who will, besides, well know that the funds are a mere bubble that may burst, or be bursted, at any moment. The parsons appear to be the main tools in this coaxing scheme. They are always at the head of everything which they think likely to support tyranny. The depositors will be domestic servants, particularly women, who will be tickled with the idea of having a fortune in the funds. The Boroughimongers will hint to their tenants that they must get their labourers into the Savings' Banks. A preference will be given to such as deposit. The Ladies, the "Parsons' Larlies,” will scold poor people into the funds. The parish-officers will act their part in this compulsory
process : and, thus will the Boroughmongers get into their hands some millions of the people's money by a sort of " forced loun :" or, in other words, a robbery. In order to swell the thing out, the parsons and other tools of the Boroughmongers will lend money in this way themselves, under feigned names; and, we shall, if the system last a year or two, hear boastings of how rich the poor are become.
Now, then, Jack, supposing it possible, that Farmer Gripe, may, under pain of being turned out of your cottage, have made you put your twopence a week into one of these banks, let us see wliat is the natural consequence of your so doing. Two-pence a week is 8s. 80. a-year; and the interest will make the amount about 9s. perhaps. What use is this to you? Will you let it remain ; and will you go on thus for years ? You must go on a great many years, indeed, before your deposit amounts to as much as the Boroughmongers take from you in one yeur ! Two. pence will buy you a quarter of a pound of meat. This is a dinner for your wife or yourself. You never taste meat. And why are you to give up half a pound of your bread to the Boroughmongers ?
You are ill; your wise is ill; your childrren are ill. “ Go to the bank and take out your money,” says the overseer ; " for I'll give you no aid till that be spent.” Thus, then, you will have been robbing your own starved belly weekly, to no other end than that of favouring the parish purse, upon which you have a just and legal claim, until the clergy restore to the poor what they have taken from them. As the thing now stands, the poor are starved by others : this scheme is intended to make them assist in the work themselves, at the same time that it binds them to the tyranny.
But, Jack, what a monstrous thing is this, that the Boroughmongers should kindly pass an Act to induce you to save your money, while they take from you five shillings out of every nine that you earn? Why not - take less from you! That would be the more natural way to go to work, surely. Why not leave you all your earnings to yourself ? Oh, no! They cannot do that. It is from the labour of men like you, that the far greater part of the money comes to enrich the Boroughmongers, their relations and dependents.
However, suppose you to have gotten together five pounds in a Savings' Bank. That is to say, in the funds. This is a great deal for you, though it is not half so much as you are compelled to give to the Boroughmongers in one year. This is a great sum. It is much more than you ever will have ; but, suppose you have it. It is in the funds, mind. And, now, let me tell you what the funds are, which is necessary, if you have not read my little book, called “ Paper against Gold." The funds is no place at all, Jack. It is a nothing, Jack. It is moonshine. It is a lie, a bubble, a fraud, a cheat, a humbug. And, it is all these in the most perfect degree. People think, that the funds is a place, where money is kept. They think, that it is a place which contains that which they have deposited. But, the fact is, that the funds is a word which means nothing that the most of the people think it means. It means the descriptions of the several sorts of the debt. Suppose I owed money to a tailor, to a smith, to a shoemaker, to a carpenter, and, that I had their several bills in my house. I should, in the language of the Boroughmongers, call these bills my funds. The Boroughmongers owe some people annuities at three pounds for a hundred ; some at four pounds for a hun. dred; some at five pounds for a hundred; and these annuities, or debts
they call their funds. And, Jack, if the Savings Bank-people lend them a good parcel of money, they will have that money in these debts, or funds. "They will be owners of some of those debts, which never will and never can be paid.
But, what is this money, too, in which you are to be paid back again? It is no money. It is paper ; and though that paper will pass just at this time, it will not long pass, I can assure you, Jack. When you have worked a fortnight, and get a pound-note for it, you set a high value upon the note, because it brings you food. But, suppose nobody would take the note from you. Suppose no one would give you any thing in exchange for it. You would go back to Farmer Gripe, and fling the note in his face. You would insist upon real money, and you would get it, or you would tear down his house. This is what will happen, Jack, in a very short time.
I will explain to you, Jack, how this matter stands. Formerly banknotes were as good as real money, because any body that had one might go, at any moment, and get real money for it at the Bank. But, now the thing is quite ch ged. The Bank broke some years ago; that is to say, it could not pay its notes in real money; and it never has been able to do it from that time to this; and, what is more, it never can do it again. To be sure, the paper passes at present. You take it for your work, and others take it of you for bread and tea. But, the time may be, and I believe is, very near at hand, when this paper will not pass at all; and then, as the Boroughmongers and the Savings' Bank-people have, and can have, no real money, how are you to get your five pounds buck again?
The bank-notes may be all put down, at any moment, if any man of talent and resolution choose to put them down; and, why may not such a man exist, and have the disposition to put them down ? They are now of value, as I said before, because they will pass; because people will take them and will give victuals and drink for them; but, if nobody would give bread and tea and beer for them, would they then be good for any thing ? They are taken, because people are pretty sure, that they can pass them again ; but, who will take them, when he does not think that he can pass them again ? And, I assure you, Jack, that even I myself could, before next May-day, do that which would prevent any man in England from ever taking a bank-note any more. If
put five pounds into a Savings' Bank, therefore, you could, in such case, never see a farthing in exchange for it.
This being a matter of so much importance to you, I will clearly explain to you how I might easily do the thing. Mind, I do not say, that I will do the thing. Indeed, I will not; and I do not know any one that intends to do it. But, I will show you how I might do it; because it is right that you should know what a ticklish state your poor five pounds will be in, if you deposit them in the Savings' Bank.
You know, Jack, that forged notes pass, till people find them out. They keep passing very quietly till they come to the Bank, and there being known for forged notes, the man who carries them to the Bank, or owns them at the time, loses the amount of them. Suppose, now, that Tom were to forge a note and pay it to Dick for a pig. Dick would pay it to Bob for some tea. Bob would send it up to London to pay his tea-man. The tea-man would send it to the Bank. The Bank would keep it, and give him nothing for it. If the tea-man forgot whom he