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clearly and evidently it cannot. No falling prices and universal difficulty, both machinery can force the land to treble commercial and agricultural, they were or quadruple its increase. Nature thunderstruck; and instinct, if not reason, cannot be supplanted by the wit or
told them that no time was to be lost ingenuity of experimentalists. They
before something was done. They felt at may invent engines to supersede try, as England now was, could not possi
once that a highly taxed and tithed counmanual labour, and multiply pauper- bly carry on cultiration in competition with ism in the manufacture of their webs, lightly taxed and untithed Continental but they cannot interfere with the rivals. As early as the autumn of 1814, primitive laws of nature.
therefore, they had got together parliaAll this was perfectly understood mentary committees to inquire into the by the late William Cobbett and his state and prospects of agriculture; and disciples, some of whom grounded their these committees soon came to the conhopes of a total overthrow of our clusion, that, if the landed interest were to monetary system upon the repeal of stand at all, it could only be by means of the corn laws. It is not a little curious protection, and a corn bill. to contrast the present state of the abstract, I do not see how it is pos
“ That these committees were right in matters with that existing in 1814-15,
sible for any reasoning man to deny.” * when the restoration of peace caused the pressure of the debt which had The proposition of the Free-Traders been contracted during the previous is just this, that the landed interest of one-and-twenty years, to be felt at Great Britain shall compete in the once in all its severity by the nation, home market on equal terms with the aggravated by the blessing of a large whole world—the said landed interest importation of corn. The following paying, moreover, its share, and more sketch is from the pen of Mr Double- than its share, of the national burdens, day, perhaps the ablest and most including the interest of our enormous lucid writer of his school :
debt. That is wbat they proposed, “ The first trouble which the triumph forced. It is now perfectly obvious
and what is now required and enof 1814-15 brought upon the heads of the
that this cannot be done. Ministers and their supporters, was of a
With somewhat singular nature, being the
wheat at 4s. 6d. a busbel, cultivaplague of 'plenty and cheapness.'
tion is impossible-according to all Cheapness and plenty had, hitherto, been
the authorities on the other side, esteemed among the first blessings of a including Peel and Wilson. Culstate of peace. Amongst the people, in- tivation is being maintained, at deed, they were esteemed so still ; for, the present moment, simply at the amongst the illumination-devices, one of cost of the farmers, the most valuable the most vulgar was a great loaf, and a
and decidedly the worst used class of foaming pot of beer, with the mottoes of the community. They are already so "I am coming down !' and 'I am coming after you !
far immersed in difficulty that they *** This vulgar state of matters did not less advice of certain journalists, and
cannot adopt the flippant and hearthowever, suit persons who had now contracted a national debt of eight hundred
abandon the soil, for that would millions of pounds, and who were still be at once to precipitate the ruin paying taxes to the tune of sixty millions which no exertion of theirs can avail per annum. They by no means relished to ward off for a long period. They the mottoes attached to the big loaf and are paying rents and maintaining cauliflower-headed pot of porter ; and their labourers just now from capital when they saw them, in 1814, in the way or credit, not from profits, and when of being realised with all speed, their in
their capital and credit are exhausted, ward consternation was tremendous. In
there is an end of them. Is it posshort, when, after the opening of the
sible to suppose that these men can ports, they saw French corn, French sheep, French cows, French poultry, and continue to regard with a friendly French pigs, besides butter, cheese, fruit, eye the institutions of that country and vegetables, about coming over by which is doing them this grievous and ship-loads and boat-loads, amidst rapidly unnatural wrong; or that they will
* DOUBLEDAY's Financial History of England, p. 224.
be fervent for the maintenance of a ed spots as are situated in the vicinity national credit, to support which they of the larger towns. Now, let us see are yearly taxed beyond their powers what that would lead to. That vast of production ? Let the Ministry, and, share of our national taxation which above all, the fundholders, earnestly is now directly and indirectly borne consider this matter. It is no light by the agriculturists, would necesthing. Letitonce be thoroughly under sarily be transferred to the towns ; stood throughout the land that there and the instant that a commercial is no way of escape left for the farmers, crisis arose, such a yell would be and the danger is imminent that they raised against the pressure of the will unite in the demand that the taxes taxes as no Ministry could possibly shall be repealed to an extent which resist. Every one knows, and every will not admit of payment of the divi- one has seen how easily agitation of dends, and the result may be the most the most formidable nature may be terrible internal struggle that England excited in the towns during a period has ever known.
even of temporary depression. Where Most earnestly and humbly do we masses of misery are brought topray that our anticipations may never gether, the danger is really enormous. be realised ! But we cannot overlook It is this circumstance which has the indications which are already ex. always made congregated suffering hibited in many parts of the country, more loudly heard, and more attenand the authentic information we tively remedied, than distress when have received of the feeling prevalent scattered over a larger space. Lanamong the farmers. They complain, cashire has ten times the power of and that most bitterly, of the supine- Wiltshire or of Suffolk, owing to the ness on the part of the proprietors, denseness of its population and the and the seeming indifference which, multitude of its manufacturing towns. in too many instances, they have Should it come to this, that the shown to the cruel position of the Government and the fundholder must tenantry. We hope and trust that rely for by far the greater share of immediate and general steps will the public revenue, and the interest of be taken to show that this charge at the national debt, upon the contribuleast is founded upon a misconcep- tions of the urban population, their tion, for no greater evil could arise security would be virtually annihithan the loss of confidence between lated. We have seen with great the classes of tenants and proprietors. sorrow the attempts which have been But, either with or without the pro- made, for some years past, to destroy prietors, the tenantry are preparing the equipoise which formerly existed to act; and it is matter of the utmost between town and country, and to importance to the general welfare that give the former a vast preponderance they should act in the right direction. over the latter. This is the favourite If the agricultural interest is to con- scheme of the democrats, whose great tinue to exist, either protection must ulterior object is the destruction of be restored, or such a repeal of taxa- the public credit ; and they have tion must take place as will be been cordially joined by the Whigs, equivalent to a destruction of credit, who are ready at any time to sacrifice and, in fact, tantamount to a revolu- the general interest of the country for tion.
the sake of securing a little temporary But we may be told there is another popularity. Would the fundholder alternative -- that the country can go esteem himself in a better position on as formerly without the existence than now if he had to look for the of the agriculturists. This is not a payment of his dividends solely to the new view. It has been openly stated urban masses ? We suspect not: and expatiated upon both by Cobden and yet what other security can be and by Hume, and the fundholder is have if the land is put out of cultivacertainly entitled to give it every con- tion ? sideration. It presupposes that we Many people will of course be slow are to be fed entirely from abroad, to realise the possibility of such an and that the land generally is to go event. They have, all their lives, been out of cultivation, except such favour. accustomed to see the fields in tillage,
and they cannot well conceive how it since Sir Robert Peel ventured to can be otherwise. Let them, how- make his most dangerous experiment ever, apply to agriculture the same on the tariff. Native industry of principles and the same arguments every kind, and in every shape, from which they would form a conclu- has been assailed. The exporting sion with respect to any other trade, trades alone have profited by the and they must necessarily be con- change; and even their advanvinced of the entire truth of every tage has fallen miserably short of word which we have stated. So that which they so confidently antisoon as agriculture becomes a losing cipated. The reason is perfectly trade—and such it is just now-all en- plain. The stimulus which was gaged in it must suffer. Let the pos- given to foreign manufactures by sibility of recovery be excluded, as our total abandonment of the prothe continuance or rather the perman- tective system, has had the effect of ency of the Free-Trade system will creating rivals to our manufacturers exclude it, and it must be altogether in markets of which we expected to abandoned. There is no possible retain the monopoly, and at the alternative, at least while burdens present moment our merchants are remain as they are. The Free-Trade engaged in a desperate but fruitless oracles are distinct as to the remune- struggle to maintain that monopoly, rative price of produce. We have by underselling their competitors at taken their calculation, instead of any cost. It is evident that they assuming a higher one of our own ; cannot continue that struggle long. and by a comparison of that with Free access to the British market present prices, we have shown, beyond has given to foreign states a power all contest, that agriculture is not only which they never possessed before ; a losing, but a ruinous trade. We and not content with supplanting have stated our reasons for believing our artisans at home, they never will that it is impossible that prices can rest satisfied until they can meet the rally under the existing system of Manchester manufacturers, on equal imports; and even those who were terms, at those very outposts of commost bitterly opposed to us, and who merce which the latter have long formerly maintained the contrary regarded as their own particular view, now tacitly acknowledge the preserve. In the mean time, our naentire justice of our arguments. What tive artisans, whose sole dependence then remains to be said upon a matter is on the home market, are thrown so clearly ascertained ?
out of work. Our shops are filled Hitherto we have spoken as if the with foreign articles ticketed at a agricultural interest could be consi- price which appears to defy competidered apart from the other interests of tion. Unskilled labour is driven the community. It is not our fault if from the country into the towns, is we are forced to discuss it in this hired at famine wages to do the work light-it is the fault of the men who of the taskmaster; and the handihave promulgated the false and craftsman, without knowing why, unnatural doctrine, that one branch of finds his wages weekly dwindling, native industry can be struck down under the operation of a system which and annihilated, without any distinct professed to secure for him and his injury being inflicted on the others. class comforts wlich were hitherto The truth is, that Free Trade has not unknown. only prostrated the agriculturists, We rejoice to know that the period but has carried its desolating effects of this grand delusion is over. The into the heart of every large town eyes of the working classes in the in the empire. The artisans, who towns are opening to the delusion are large consumers of taxed articles, which has been practised; nor can and who therefore contribute greatly we give a better proof of this than by to the national revenue, find them- inserting a document which has been selves undersold and supplanted by already extensively disseminated the influx of foreign inanufactured through almost every town in Great goods which have poured into this Britain :country in a perpetual stream, ever
“ ADDRESS OF THE METROPOLITAN TRADES measures as will best secure employment
DELEGATES TO THE WORKING CLASSES to the entire population, and for their OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND. labour an abundance of the necessaries
and comforts of life. We therefore fear«• We warn the workman that all who are not receiving protection are paying for it.”—Times, lessly assert, that the unrestricted foreign March 1848.
cheap-labour policy, which has been for a “ Fellow Countrymen,-We, in com
series of years encouraged by the legismon with other sections of the people, lature of this kingdom, and extended by have assembled, and taken into our serious
the present Parliament, is theoretically consideration the present state of the wrong, and, under the existing constitucountry, with a view to urge upon you
tion of society, practically injurious to to be prepared to take a part in the
the industrial classes, by compelling them coming struggle for the rights of in
to enter into stimulated, unregulated, dustry.
and hopeless competition at home and “ In a petition presented to the House abroad, which is opposed to independence of Commons from the Metropolitan Trades
and happiness, dangerous to the country, Delegates during the session of 1848, it
and destructive to the general prosperity was stated that there were then in Lon
of the whole British people. don about 200,000 working men ; one
“ While reiterating the opinion which third of whom were employed, one-third
we formerly expressed against the prebut half-employed, and one-third totally
sent unfair system of unemployed. In consequence of state
RECKLESS COMPETITION, CALLED
FREE ments which have lately been made in
TRADE, both Houses of Parliament, asserting that the condition of the working classes was
from which its advocates promised so never more comfortable, we have made
much good, especially to the working inquiries into their present condition,
classes, but which has only proved 'a and find that, in the most numerous
mockery, a delusion, and a snare,' we will trades, depending for employment on
not now impute blame on account of the home consumption, the relative numbers
experiment; nor do we desire to awaken employed and unemployed are about in
in you angry feelings or enmity against the same proportion as formerly stated; any class of legislators or politicians, but the only difference being that the wages
we boldly call upon you to demand from of those employed are much lower than
any party that may hold the reins of they were three years ago, and therefore
office, to adopt their present condition is more depressed. A PROTECTIVE POLICY FOR NATIVE “ In some branches of trade a greater
INDUSTRY, proportion is employed, but these are exceptional cases ; for in every trade and
against unfair competition, so that you profession all over the kingdom, there is may be enabled to live by your labour, now a surplus of hands begging leave to
and give a rational, practical, and useful toil, although hundreds of thousands education to your children, without which have emigrated during the last three
the security and prosperity of the empire years to foreign lands, and transferred are impossible.” their genius, their labour, and their alle
“ Signed on behalf of the Metropolitan
Trades Delegates, giance to foreign states ; while hundreds of thousands more are ready to follow
“ Isaac Wilson, Chairman. when they can find the means to be
“ AUGUSTUS E. DELAFORCE, Sec. transported from their fatherland, where “ Committee-Rooms, High Holborn, they have been denied their right to
March 5, 1851." labour, and the right to live, except by wearing the pauper's badge, and by the What a comment is this document sacrifice of the social affections.
upon the prosperity speeches of “ Fellow Countrymen,-As it is now Ministers! What a contrast exists admitted by all classes that labour is the
between its plain practical terms and source of wealth, it evidently follows that the prosperity and independence of Great Wood, or the puerile declamations of
the bewildered jargon of Sir Charles Britain and her colonies will be best pro- the Premier about the company which moted by employing and protecting the greatest number of a healthy, industrious, he used to keep ! intelligent, and moral population, that
If any further argument were can be educated and comfortably main- needed against the continuance of tained by their own industry ; therefore, our present commercial system, Lord it should be the first and most important John Russell has furnished it by duty of a wise government to adopt such adopting, without reservation, the sentiments expressed in the Maga- duty of providing within itself the zine no later than February last. In necessary supplies for its population? the article entitled “The Dangers of We repeat, that on the issue of the the Country," the following question next general election depend in a was put, — “Now, assuming - as great measure the future destinies of experience warrants us in doing—this the country. For our own part we state of matters to be permanent, and have little fear of the result, provided the growth of wheat in the British that all men are fully alive to the islands to be progressively super- exigency and importance of the crisis. seded by importations from abroad, The views of Lord Stanley, and the how is the national independence to line of conduct which he proposes to
be maintained when a fourth of our adopt, in the event of his being sumpeople have come to depend on moned to undertake the direction of foreign supplies for their daily food ?" public affairs, are already before the The Premier has not, indeed, fa- country; and every one has the opporvoured us with a direct answer, but tunity of forming his own opinion the subject seems latterly to have oc- with regard to their merit and their casioned no slight amonnt of uneasi- efficacy. They appear to us admirably ness in his mind. In the debate of suited to meet the temper of the times. 10th March, on the Navy Estimates, We have suffered too much from rash he is reported to have said, with re- legislation to wish for a precipitate ference to the possibility of a hostile change in the other direction; and attempt upon our shores, or the fit- we are satisfied that, by adopting a ting out of an adverse armament,- moderate but decided course, far “Now, let the Hon. Member for the greater and more general satisfaction West Riding observe, that, injurious would be given than by rushing hastily as those operations might be, hurtful into extremes. Here perhaps it may to our trade, our wealth, and our re- be proper to insert an extract from sources in former times, the late change the speech of Lord Stanley on the 5th we have made with respect to the Corn of March, in answer to the address Law, made such operations far more from the deputation of the National injurious than they otherwise would be. Association, which, though imperfectly For the last two or three years, we reported, will serve to explain the had had eight millions or nine millions nature of his contemplated policy. quarters of grain imported. Let any
“ In the course of his address, the one think what a loss it would be to
noble lord noticed some remarks which this country, being in the practice of hav- had been made with regard to his having ing part of our
food to that amount come been represented to say that he was from foreign countries, if, in the event favourable to the adoption of moderate of a war, we had no sufficient naval import duties, with a view to revenue, force." So, then, his lordship does but not to price. If he had ever said this, begin to see, at last, that he and his he should have been uttering a paradox. confederates have placed the national He was quite aware that every duty that independence in jeopardy! He ac
was imposed raised the price of the article knowledges now, that, in the event of taxed, but he was also well aware that any war arising, which might interfere raise the price to the full amount of that
no duty which might be imposed would with the supplies of foreign food duty. What he had stated was, that no which we have so gratuitously soli- duty which could be imposed would raise cited, the consequences must be
the existing price of agricultural produce most calamitous to the country ! to the point which those who repealed And what is this but a broad and the corn laws declared would be remuneraplain confession that the system of tive. He contemplated the imposition of a Free Trade, and the independence of moderate duty on the import of foreign Great Britain, are two things which
corn and provisions, partly for the purpose cannot possibly co-exist, or be recon
of giving a slight-certainly a slightciled? What is it but an admission
but nevertheless a certain amount of pro
tection to the British agriculturist, and of the grand leading principle of true
also, by furnishing a certain amount of political economy, that no nation can
revenue, enabling Parliament to take off hope to preserve its independence, if those taxes which pressed most heavily it neglects or foregoes the primary upon him. It was with a double object,