Page images

well, that, from the beginning of
the year 1819 to the end of the
year 1822, prices kept falling.
We know that merchants, ship-
owners, manufacturers, all were
depressed in the extreme. We
know that the farmers were ruined
by thousands
upon thousands. We
know, that the landlords got, for
the year 1822, scarcely any rent
at all. We know that thousands
of farms were let upon condition
that the tenant would pay the
taxes. We know that the land-
lords were at last resolved to
make an attack upon the interest
of the Debt, if the ministers had
not consented to pass the Small-
note Bill, and thereby pour out
the paper again and make prices
rise. All these things we know;
and we know, besides, that the
depression of manufactured goods
was enormous.

the Lord Charleses, their sons whether rents, prices, and so and nephews. But, I have people forth, have had any effect upon of sense to deal with: I have a the revenue. We know, very great respect for those to whom I am writing; I, therefore, must make good what I say by FACT or by ARGUMENT, or by both. This I am now about to do, and I request you, my good friends of Blackburn; I request you to pay particular attention to the facts and the arguments I am going to employ. In the first place of all, there would be no fault to be found with the taxes, if they fell off in proportion as rents fell off, and as other things fell in price. If, for instance, taxes for the whole year amounted to ten millions, when wheat was at ten shillings a bushel, and if they fell off to five millions when wheat became five shillings a bushel; if this were the case, nobody could find fault with the taxes. But, the fact is, the contrary of this is the case: the taxes do not fall off as rents and prices fall off. They keep up to their full mark, though rents fall to next to nothing, and though a large part of the people are starving.

Very well, then, we know that this took place, from the beginning of 1819 to the latter part of 1822. Let us now see, then, what taxes the Government collected in these

One need enter into hardly any four years. Those were four reasoning to prove the truth of years, observe, of regularly inthis. There is, in every month of creasing embarrassment and disJanuary, an account made out of tress; mind, I say, regularly inthe taxes received in the foregoing creasing unparalleled distress, year. For instance, an account because Peel's Bill came into delivered in to the Parliament, in operation by slow degrees. January this year, contained an had four years to come into com- ́ account of all the taxes received plete operation, and it was got during the last year. Now, as we into the fourth year, and had nine have all these accounts before us, months yet to come before it was and as we know how prices have in full effect. Now, my friends of stood, how rents have stood, and Blackburn, pray bear all this in how the nation has been situated mind, and, then, look at the folfor several years past, we shall, lowing account of the taxes colby a reference to these several lected in those four years. These accounts, be able to discover taxes are the custom-house taxes,

[ocr errors]

the excise taxes, the stamp taxes, the taxes on the land, the taxes upon our letters; and, in short, all the ordinary taxes that we pay; and, observe, that the working people pay the larger part of the whole. These taxes amounted, then, for the following years, as follows:

In the 1819


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]





Pounds. £60,318,272

62,882,156 64,038,686 63,048,496 62,604,533 62,150,526

the two next years. Indeed, more than three millions additional was received in each of those years. When we come to the year 1822, you see there is a small falling off; but, in that year, part of the salt-tax was taken off. The whole of the salt-tax used to yield about a million and a halfNow, then, pray look at the years 1823 and 1824. You will find them less than the year 1822; and this is owing to the taking off of the salt-tax, which tax was in force in 1822; or, at any rate, had only been partly taken off. So that, you see, that the year of I have added the year 1823 "prosperity," 1824, yielded less and the year 1824, for a reason than the terrible year 1822. If, which you will presently see. At indeed, we reckon the salt-tax present, pay attention to the first taken off, the year 1824 yielded four years only. You will re- about 600,000 pounds more than member what has been said above, the year 1822. But, what is about the poverty, misery, and in- 600,000 pounds upon 63,000,000? tolerable embarrassment of these Let us now take another view of four years. You will remember, this matter. It is said, that the that the embarrassments went on proof of national prosperity, the increasing; that the distress, the proof of the comfort of the people; ruin, the suffering of every sort, the proof that they are happy, got to be greater and greater, consists in the keeping up of the from the beginning of 1819 to EXCISE collections. The doc1822. You will remember that trine is, that, in proportion that the distress of the landlords and the government collects money on the farmers was so great in 1822, the excise-duties; in proportion › that in numerous instances, men that the sum is great, the people refused to take farms rent free; are happy! It is held that these because the taxes were greater excise-duties, being collected than they would be able to pay upon beer, spirits, tobacco, and without paying any rent at all. other things, which BoroughLook, then, at the amount of the mongers choose to regard as luxtaxes received in those four years!uries to the working people; in You see, that the taxes continued proportion as these things yield a to increase with the increase of great tax, in that same proportion the distress. But, you must be the people must be living luxuritold, that in the year 1819, new taxes, to the estimated amount of three millions a year were laid on. Accordingly, you see the additional three millions received in

ously. Now, then, look at the following figures; bear in mind that only three millions of new taxes were laid on in 1819; bear in mind the embarrassments, the


ruin, the misery that went on I have referred; and you must be steadily increasing from the be-assured that I should not dare to ginning of 1819 to the end of make this statement from these 1822; bear this in mind; and then accounts if it were not true.

Years, 1819





Pounds. 27,955,810 .28,298,733 .28,912,985 28,190,948

bear in mind that, in the following The last table, that I have intable, I leave out the three mil-serted relates solely to the EXlions of new taxes, supposing them CISE-duties. I have inserted all to have been laid upon the them for the four years. For the excise, which was not the case. four years of increasing ́embarI take off the three millions of rassment, poverty and misery. new taxes, I leave the taxes as The paper-money came tumbling they were in 1819; and then I out the next year, that is to say, show you, that, instead of taxes in 1823; so that, in this year, falling off, the amount of them prosperity was coming again. In was actually augmented from the 1824, prosperity was completely beginning of 1819 to the end of come. The king, in opening the 1822. Parliament in February 1824, congratulated the hereditary legislators and the faithful Commons, that agriculture was recovering from its depression, and that it was recovering by the steady operation of natural causes. Mr. Will any one, after this, believe FREDERICK ROBINSON, that a keeping up in the taxes, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and especially in the EXCISE- in the same month of February, taxes, is a proof of the happiness 1824, congratulated the aboveof the people and the prosperity mentioned noble and honorable of the country? You, my friends, persons, that the country was in will not be cheated thus, at any a state of unexampled prosperity, rate. You know well, how flou- that it was in a state of great rishing and happy the nation was happiness, and that the Parliasaid to be in 1818. You know ment had the "delightful satiswell that Peel's Bill was passed "faction of looking round upon in 1819. You know that the de-"the face of a joyous country, cline began immediately; and "smiling in plenty, receiving you know that, in 1822, calicoes" comfort and prosperity diswere as cheap as dirt, wheat" pensed upon it from the ancient fetched only about four shillings" portals of a constitutional moa bushel upon an average through-"narchy"! It was in February out the kingdom, and that all was 1824, that this wise man described ruin and beggary; yet you now the country as being in this state see, that the Government did not of prosperity. Now, then, let us grow poor; that it grew rich on see how much the Government the contrary; that its taxes aug- collected from the excise in those mented, instead of declining; and two years: you will bear in mind, that the proof of this is to be found in the annual finance accounts to which



Pounds 28,032,231 .27,779,802

So that these two years of won-Jabove facts before them with one derful prosperity do not equal the hand, and hold a broom-stick in two last years of bankruptcy and the other. You are to be treated misery by 1,292,400 pounds, un- in a different manner. You have less you add the salt tax; and you understood all about the debt and are not to add the whole of that the paper-money for many years; tax, because, to a certainty, part not a young weaver amongst you, of the money formerly laid out in who is turned of twenty-one, who that tax, would be laid out in the is not more fit to make laws than purchase of other taxable commo- the Lord Charleses are. Had I to dities. It appears, then, wholly deal with them, in the present inundeniable that, upon the suppo-stance, I should no more think of sition that these accounts be true; that argument that I am about to upon the supposition that they be have the honour to address to you, not a tissue of abominable false- than I should think of addressing hoods, here is proof positive, that it to the pigs in my sty. This is the Government can collect, be- by no means affectation: I am cause for a series of years it has col-perfectly sincere in all I say: I lected, as great a sum in taxes, in declare that I should no more times of general ruin and misery, think of addressing this argument as in times of general prosperity. to any of them, than I should And, it is clear, that as long as the think of addressing it to the pigs Government has physical force to that I mean to kill next Christmas. compel people to pay the taxes. that it imposes, it need not, as far as concerns its revenue, care a straw whether the landlord receive rents or not.

But now, my good friends of Blackburn, though we have this strong, and, indeed, incontrovertible argument of experience, I like better that sort of proof, and that sort of conviction, which arise out of reasons springing from my own mind. I am always better satisfied, when it appears to me, from reasoning, that the thing must be so, than when it appears to me, from any thing that I see or hear, that the thing is so. My eyes or my ears may deceive me; but reason can never err: treat it fairly, and it never will deceive you. Let us, then, my friends, consult reason upon this subject. If I were addressing myself to Boroughmongers, or any of their stupid tribes, I should lay the

The great cause of error, in this case, is, that men take it for granted, that the whole of the community have their due share and proportion of the exciseable commodities; that every man and woman, has, at all times, a due proportion of all that is consumed; and that, therefore, the whole amount of the consumption is the criterion of the comfort and happiness of the people, and of the consequent prosperity of the nation. If the premises were true, there might be something in the conclusion; but the premises are wholly false; and as mischievous a falsehood it is as ever was sucked down by a credulous people. So far from every person in the community enjoying a due share of the articles consumed, it is notorious, that, during the four years above-mentioned, hundreds of thousands were upon the point of starving, and thousands actually

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

starved; and that, too, while the These newspaper fellows forget quantity of exciseable commodi- this operation of the system; or ties consumed was actually in- else, brutes as they are, and as creasing. How did this happen, that Baines, there, is at Leeds; then? Why, an unequal distri- brutes as they are, we should not bution of the exciseable commo-hear them talking such nonsense dities took place; those things about the "Quarter's Revenue." which ought to have been consumed by the landlord, the farmer, the merchant, the manufacturer, the weaver, the labourer; those

I have, upon some former occasion, put the case somewhat in this manner: suppose me to be a landlord, with a clear estate yield

things which ought to have been ing me five hundred pounds a consumed by them, were con- year in rent. Suppose me to pay,

lue of money as would take from me the means of buying one single drop of wine for the future. Suppose there to be a thundering army, thundering dead-weight, a Debt still more thundering; and suppose the annuities and pay of all these not to be at all diminished in point of nominal value: All the people belonging to these bands would have, amongst them,

sumed by the placeman, the pen- out of this, a hundred pounds a sioner, the sinecure-man, the Jew, year to the Government in tax on the jobber, the army-people, the wine. Suppose the Government navy-people, the police-people, to make such a change in the vaand all the bands that feed upon the taxes, and all the Quakers and other monopolizers, and all their footmen and girls, and understrappers, and devilish creatures of every description; and perhaps one single wretch employed in polishing a Quaker's boots, or waiting upon the old sly dog's wench, really consumed, in the year 1822, as much of exciseable commodities as half-a-dozen poor that ability to purchase wine, labourers and half-a-dozen poor weavers all put together. The newspaper brutes forget all about this: that Taylor, there, of the "Manchester Guardian," for instance, and that Cunliff, of Bolton; these fellows, for instance, never think about the operations of the taxing system, and the monopolizing system, which takes the beer, the wine, the spirits, the sugar, the tea, the tobacco, the soap, and the candles, and many other things from the weaver or the labourer, and gives them to this Quaker's scrub and pimp, and makes the rogue as fat as a hog and as greasy as a butcher, while the poor weavers and the poor labourers are skin and bone.

which ability I had lost. Consequently, the same quantity of wine would be consumed: I should consume none, it is true; but these people would consume more than they consumed before; so that there would be no diminution in the consumption, and, collsequently, there would be no diminution in the tax upon wine.

I will suppose myself to be a man (I hope God will forgive me for being so even in supposition) sucking up a pension out of the country. I will suppose that my pension is a hundred pounds a year. The Government makes a change in the value of the money: they make such a change that I can now buy twice as much bread

« PreviousContinue »