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and cloth and meat as I could buy something or other that is done to before for my hundred pounds a the nation, may cause the means year. What do I do now? Why of consuming exciseable comI take a little wine, which I did modities; or, rather, taxable comnot do before; I use more heer,modities, to pass from a class spirits and tobacco; I burn can- or description of persons, which dle a little more freely; I use class is less prone to consume dearer tea, and more of it; I put taxable commodities than another another lump of sugar in my cup. class into whose hands those In short, the Government gets means of consumption might be seven or eight pounds out of me conveyed. For instance, suppose for taxes more than it did before, a weaver's family at Blackburn in a year. But, what effect has the to be receiving thirty shillings a same operation of raising the value week for their work: to a cerof money, upon my poor neighbour, tainty the Government will receive, -the manufacturer over the way? in one shape or another, in beerIt makes him a great deal poorer tax, in candle-tax, in tea-tax, in than he was before; he, poor de- sugar-tax, in soap-tax, in tobaccovil, is obliged to leave off wine, tax, in pepper-tax, in tax upon and to curtail his quantity of tea, the cotton-gown, in window-tax; sugar, beer and tobacco: he is in one shape or another, the Goalmost brought to the fulfilment of vernment will, to a certainty, his Pittite promise; namely, to receive a good ten shillings out of give up his last shilling and his these thirty, every week. Comes last shirt. The Government does a panic; next come all sorts of not, therefore, get so much taxes laws to change the value of money, I from him as it did before; but it and to throw every thing into congets from me more than it got be- fusion; to make the soldier's thirfore: it loses nothing upon the teen pence a-week buy twice as whole, though it has plunged my much bread and meat as it bought poor neighbour into misery and before; to make the fundholder's - ruin. thirty shillings worth twice what it But, not only does not an in- was: but now, here; suppose crease in the consumption of ex- there to be a flashy fundholder ciseable commodities indicate an keeping a gig, a girl, and a guinincrease of happiness and pros-guette; his money that he gets out perity amongst a people; not only of the funds is worth twice as does it never indicate this; but, it much as it was before. The poor indicates, sometimes; it always weaver is reduced down to five may indicate, and it frequently shillings a-week, in place of thirty, does indicate, precisely the con- and this fundholder, or some such trary; that is to say, an increase fellow, gets the twenty; or, he of consumption of exciseable com- gets the means equal to the twenty, modities may, and frequently does, in addition to the means that he indicate an increase in the ruin, had before. And what does he the misery, the oppressions do with the money? Not as the amongst the people at large; be- weaver did, lay a large part of it cause, the acts of the Government, out in meat and bread and cloth the laws, political measures, and fuel; but he lays the whole
of it out, or the far larger part of it, in wine or spirits or something or other that bears a heavy tax; so that this thirty shillings, which, when they all went to the weaver, yielded the Government only ten shillings in tax, may, when twenty of them come into the hands of the flashy fundholder, yield the Government fifteen or even eighteen shillings in tax.
class of persons to another; its tendency is to beggar those that do the work, and to fatten the idlers, which, by the means of the monopolies, swarm as the lice swarmed in the land of Egypt, and call loudly, God knows, for the rod of another Aaron; or for something or another, to sweep them away. But, my good friends, what special brutes must those be, Thus, while the weaver's fa- then, who imagine that the taxes mily is, by this act of the Govern- will fall off, merely because the ment plunged into a state of half-working people are starving! starvation; while the community This has been a very injurious is plunged into misery; while fa- delusion. These "Quarter's Remine and almost pestilence stalk venues," which I, for many years, through the land, still the Govern-have called. the Old Humbug, ment may be gaining, still the have been a source of regular amount of its taxes may increase, quarterly deception. They have and steadily increase too, with the formed one of the grand tricks, increase of the misery. The ten- by which this fraudulent and dedency of the present system; the structive system has been supmultiplicity of its men in arms ported. In the days of PITT, the and in its employ; its innumera-old shuffle-breeches blackguards ble police; its various ways of used to meet one another in St. having people dependent upon it; James's-street, in London, and its paper-money system, and all shake hands so cordially, and conits endless monopolies, in corn gratulate one another upon Mr. and beer and almost every thing Pitt's statement of the flourishing else of general consumption; its quarter's revenue! This humbug system of bonding; its various is pretty nearly done for in Lonmethods of holding men's private don, and seems to be cast off for property in its hands and of lend- the use of Taylor of the Maning public money to private per-chester Guardian," Cunliff, of sons; its transactions in canals Bolton and Bott Smith of Liverand roads and bridges and gaols; pool. At any rate, my friends, its lending money to bodies of the boroughmongers do not seem men to build gaols and make im- to relish this humbug any longer. provements, as they are called, They could not see how the quarand for improving post-roads and ter's revenue took away your dinfor police and for public works ners; but they can see plainly and for employment of the poor enough how that flourishing reveand educating the poor and reliev-nue takes away their rents; and ing the clergy and building of they mean, if we will let them, churches. The tendency of this to pay off the fundholders with a all-pervading and everlastingly sponge. This is a matter which I intermeddling system is, to convey shall treat of in the next Registhe means of enjoyment from one ter; but, in the meanwhile, be
pleased to bear in mind, that part" until a part of the church-proof the charges against the Re-" perty, the whole of the sinecure formers in 1817 was, that they emoluments, and the whole of wished to attack the fundholders!" that immense mass of property, Pray remember that this was one "called crown-lands, be applied of the charges upon which the" to the use of the nation in gePower-of-Imprisonment Bill was "neral." Those were the prinpassed. It was a false charge; ciples laid down in the petitions for we never proposed to do in-which came up from the noble justice to the fundholders. The bo- county of Lancaster in 1817; roughmongers, however, are pro- those were the principles laid posing it now; and you will see, down by the Hampshire petition, before the next winter has passed signed on Portsdown-hill, in that over our heads, that propositions year; the same principles are rewill be made for robbing three corded in the Norfolk petition: hundred thousand families in the by these principles, my friends, middle ranks of life, in order to will we abide; for, were we to keep up the luxury and the splen- stand by and see the widow and dour of the boroughmongers. orphan in the middle rank of life It will be our business, my friends, plundered in order to add to the to be upon the alert, when these splendour and the luxury of the propositions shall be made; or, at boroughmongers, we should deleast, as soon as they shall be serve something, if the Devil made in a way for the whole could find it out, worse than hunworld clearly to understand them.ger, nakedness and the typhus The fundholders receive from fever. those who labour, and who do not Oh! but such an infamy never in any way participate in the will fall upon England! I never taxes, a great deal more than they shall see my country covered with ought to receive; but, surely, the infamy like that; and therefore I pensioners, the sinecure-people, will no longer dwell upon the horand others of that description, re- rible idea. I conclude this Letter ceive more than they ought to re- by an exhortation to you, in writceive, also. My determination, ing, similar to that which I had therefore, is now, what it was in the honour to address to you ver1823, when I addressed the peo-bally; namely, to rely upon the ple of Herefordshire upon the law, and not upon charity, for resubject of reducing the interest of lief in your present distress. Chathe debt. "One word from me to rity is always amiable, commend"the boroughmongers: one word able, and always a christian duty; "from me to them at parting; but, it is not charity that you ask "and that is this: whatever in- it is not alms that you seek: you "fluence I may possess; whatever seek just remuneration for the la"talent I may have at my com- bour that you are ready to give. "mand, shall be exerted to the You are not unfortunate people; "utmost to prevent the taking of but people whose means of living a single shilling from the in-have been taken away by public "terest of the debt, until the Par-measures. Yours is not that sort "liament shall be reformed, and of poverty, which is accompanied
with disgrace. Your poverty pro- fall in price; who caused, in ceeds from no fault of your own, short, any part of the distress that from no folly, from no negligence. now prevails. The law says that You have, therefore, no reason to no man shall die of want; it says blush for your poverty; and, the that every one shall have a suffionly apology for the Government ciency of food and raiment; and, is, that there is the law to give you would it not be a-land worthy of protection and support. The law destruction by fire from Heaven, does give it you; and if you do if it had laws to compel men to not appeal to the law, then the starve in the midst of plenty! It fault will become yours. Every does not, my friends; it bids ment overseer of the poor is to relieve do no such thing; it bids them every poor person that applies to to the parish to which they belong, him for relief, unless he think the and there obtain efficient relief. 'application improper. If the poor It does not say that the poor inan person be refused relief by the shall find his own way to his pa overseer, he or she must apply to rish, if he be not resident in it and the magistrate for a summons to he becomes poor: it says that the make the overseer appear before parish in which he happens to be him. The magistrate must grant shall convey him thither; and, in the summons; and when he has short, it commands that no human heard the overseer and the poor being, in England, shall perish person at the same time, it is his from hunger or cold. No man is duty to give an order to the over- to look upon it as a favour to be seer to relieve the poor person, if relieved out of the poor-rates. We such relief be proper. If the are all liable to pay towards magistrate refuse, and any fatal those rates. Indeed, every man consequences ensue, he can be does pay towards them, if he earn made answerable for it. The ma- any thing; for, it is the land that gistrate is compelled to act upon pays in the first instance, and pain of indictment or information. those who purchase the produce I hope that Lancashire and that of the land, or who pay for the England does not contain a mon-use of houses, finally pay the ster that would stand by and see poor-rates. So that, we all help poor people perish; but if there to pay the rates; and, all have, in were such a monster, and I could know his name, most assuredly I would do my best to cause him to be punished.
Listen to nobody that would advise you to emigrate. You have a right to a maintenance out of he land, unless there be labour or you of another sort and elsewhere. You are willing to work. It is not you who have changed the value of money. It is not you who caused the blowing-up of the banks; who caused the cotton to
case of need, a right, a perfect legal right, to be relieved from them. In short, this is a legal national "friendly society;" it is a fund to which we all pay, and out of which we all have, in case of necessity, a right to receive, without any thanks to any body.
In my next Number of the POOR MAN'S FRIEND, I shall treat of this subject fully; and, a most important subject it is, especially at the present time, and as appli cable to the times that are ap
proaching. The system, which merchants, manufacturers and has been pursued for many years land-owners would not have seen past, has had a constant tendency the present troubles. And, be to beggar the working classes; to you assured, that the country will take from them their little stores; never again know real peace and to leave them nothing but a living safety, until there be a parliamenfrom hand to mouth. Hence the tary reform, which will give the enormous increase of the poor- people their due share in the rates. The land-owners have also making of the laws, which share, been the law-makers; and, they if they had it, would effectually. have been borrowing, in all sorts prevent that starvation in the of ways; they have been, in fact, midst of plenty, which is now the borrowing even from the earnings disgrace of a country, long famed and the stores of the working throughout the world for goods classes; and, the present amount living. of poor-rates, is the amount of what the land-owners owe to the lic-spirited North, none have actpoor; the year's poor-rates is the interest of the sum which the working people have had taken away from them by the land
Amongst all the people in pub-,
ed a better part than the people of BLACKBURN. That part I am sure you will still act; and, as to my self, be assured, that the evening of the 27th of June, 1826, will never be forgotten; that the recollection of it will always be deemed one of the most valuable possessions of
Your faithful friend, and
most obedient Servant, WM. COBBETT.
It is of great consequence, my friends, that you entertain correct opinions, on the subjects of which I have treated in this letter. Be assured, that, however poor and miserable the working classes and all people who have to earn their living may be, the Government can continue to collect as much in taxes as it collects now. Be assured, that we should all be the P. S. I am just about to start vilest slaves in this whole world, for the West of England, where if the land-owners were suffered I shall, I dare say, see how the to plunder the fundholders, and to cloth manufacturers come keep up their pensions, sinecures, When I get amongst these latter, army, tithes, and so forth, at the I will write an account of their same time. Be assured, that the situation, and will address it to only real and efficient relief, that our friends of Bolton-le-Moors. you can obtain, at the present To-morrow there is, I see, to he time, is from the poor-rates, on a Meeting at Manchester! One which you have, in case of neces-day earlier, it would have been on sity, a right to draw. Be as- the sixteenth of August! - We sured, that, if our prayers had shall now see whether the prayers been heard in 1817; if the Par- of the "respectables" will avail! liament had reformed itself, instead of enabling SIDMOUTH to shut so many of us up in dungeons, the