Page images
PDF
EPUB

money, collected in the shape of taxes, but my community, a an 100 miles distant, feel nothing of the kind. The severa tradesmen, with the farmers are fully competent to supply each others wants. They grow their own corn, breed and kill their own cattle, spin their own wool, and dress their own leather, with every other thing that is necessary for food and raiment, after importing a few cotton or linen goods, which may be occasionally supplied in barter for a surplus produce. This parish reaps no benefit from the system of trade carried on in the metropolis, it feels no good effect from a few royal tradesmen making splendid fortunes, if they happen to get their debts paid, or from an extensive circulation of money in and about the metropolis, by contracts for the army, the navy, or any other of the government establishments. No, the only thing that is felt by this parish, is the call of the taxgatherer, which every succeeding quarter, successively impoverishes this parish, and if the system be continued much longer, will leave it nothing but a parish of paupers, unable to assist each other," unable to cultivate the ground or breed cattle, because the taxgatherer is inexorable, and must be satisfied, and if there be no money, he moves off the liye and dead stock, and sells it in the next parish where there might be a little money moving. So then, this parish is entirely rendered unproductive: idleness and pauperism is the result, habits of vice and theft are sure to follow, and all in consequence of the accursed system of extracting an extensive revenue by an extensive taxation. This is no unfair picture. There are hundreds of parishes in Ireland rendered desolate, in the manner which I have detailed; and in England, and Scotland, and Wales, the same system is producing the same effects. I might discreetly say, has already produced the same effects. The taxes we know must fall somewhere, in fructifying showers; but it happens, they are exhaled gradually from the whole surface of the nation, and descend in heavy showers on individual spots, and leave the remainder of the country dry and barren. The taxes have fallen in fructifying showers on Mr. Burke and Mr. Justice Bailey, They speak true enough, as far as they themselves are concerned; but it is the misfortune of such men, to consider that they and their fellows comprise what is termed, the people: they fancy that they are the nation, all its strength, and all its beauty. It is thus that we have found such men, which comprise all men who have salaries from the taxes, whether for services or not; and the whole host of clergy, applauding the measures of the government. It is an

excellent butterfly system for them: like this little insect, they fly about in gaudy colours, for a season, and but for a season, the cold blasts of winter must come, and they are cut off for ever. The cold blasts of winter are now about to pass over this nation, and the whole of this swarm of locusts must fall under it. The useful classes have suffered excessively, by their devouring the whole produce of the country, and fruits of their labour. The course of nature is without change and inevitable, artificial obstructions may be opposed to shift and remove her common bounties, but such an obstruction can neither be rendered eternal nor durable.

The third resolution attributes a great portion of the distress to the existing Corn Laws, which enhance the price of bread; and in consequence of the lowness of wages, leaves the labourer no means to purchase other necessary articles. This may be so far true, but the farmer is so situated, that with his high rent, taxes, tithes, and county and parochial rates, he is compelled to ask a protected price for his corn, to enable him to meet all the demands that come upon him, before he can apply any thing to his own use. If the farmer had a price for his corn one fifth more than at present, his condition would be far from being enviable; he would then scarcely be able to bear up against the overwhelming taxation that now overpowers him. It is keeping up a delusion in the country, to say that the high price of this, that, or the other thing, is the cause of the distress; it may tend greatly to increase individual distress; but the system of taxation is the root of the evil; and to make this country again happy and prosperous, it is necessary that it should be freed from internal taxation for some years to come, or, at least, that the taxes should not be one tenth of what they are at present. But such is the stupidity of our agricultural classes, that they imagine if they could but obtain one hundred shillings per quarter for their wheat, they might go on singing, God save the King, Old Roast, and Burn the Bellows. They are making a great push at this moment, to obtain this price; and at the same time, making solemn protestations; that they are not radically inclined. Poor, stupid blockheads, they are but a little above their cattle, in point of intellect: they feel themselves verging into pauperism, in consequence of the heavy demands made upon them, and vainly fancy, that if their corn would fetch a better price, they might struggle on. But who is to eat their corn at a higher price, not the labourer, of whom there are five millions in this country; his income will not afford him

wheaten bread, as it is at present; and an advanced price on it, would only tend to remove him farther from it, and to add more to the number of his class. There is no remedy for the system that is now carrying on, but to break it up and begin de novo.

The fourth resolution is half an admission of what I have stated above, and I should not have noticed those resolutions at all, had I not felt surprize at seeing such resolutions come from such a quarter, and about to be presented to the House of Commons, by George Canning, in the form of a petition, What an answer is this to the speech lately made by Mr. Canning, to those very petitioners? Do they confess, that they feel that security for their property, which their representative lately told them they might now do, in consequence of the li berţicide acts of the last Parliament? If Canning presents this petition to the House, it would be just as if he said, "You see here, those very men who have sent me to this House, have made me the instrument of giving the lie to all I said to them at Liverpool."

The fifth resolution is clear and expressive; and there is not a doubt, but that all restrictions on commerce are ultimately injurious to all parties concerned, It is a narrow and selfish policy which defeats its own purposes. There is a species of liberality in all the concerns and connections of life which amply repays itself. This medium is essential to the interests of individuals, and much more so in a government which sways the interests of millions. The miser, the suspicious and greedy mind, and the heedless spendthrift, are characters all equally inimical to their several interests, and the interests of those who are so unfortunate as to be connected with, or dependent on them. The fictitious currency of paper is the growth of an excessive taxation and a profuse expenditure, and has been carried to such a length in this country, as was never known before, or even contemplated by the most theoretic financier. It is past all remedy, and the day is fast approaching, when the holders of such nominal, ideal, and delusive property, will find, that it is of no other value than its weight in waste paper. The people at large cannot be re sponsible for any thing of the kind: it has not been circulated for their advantage, but to their injury, danger, and misery. What a picture will it be to review, when this frail fabric is blown away, and contemplate the thousands that have fallen victims, and have been banished their country, to prop this bubble, and prevent it from a natural dissolution. The bank,

ing system has been an idol that delighted in human sacrifices.

of

The sixth resolution is more candid and honest than any the others it directly charges all the public misery on the public burthens: but there is a false respect in the conclusion, when at a meeting, composed of the inhabitants of Liverpool, they hesitate to say what is the character of the policy that has produced all those public burthens. It should be continually rung in the ears of the King and his ministers, that it is the war which has been carried on for no other purpose than to keep down the spirit of liberty in this and other countries, that has produced all the distress now complained of. They should be further made to see and to feel, that the spirit which they have warred against, is not conquered, but is fast gathering strength, and will finally conquer them. It was the duty of the inhabitants of Liverpool to carry their resolutions further than they did-it was their duty to have pointed out to the parliament the only remedy for the distress, not that the present parliament would have acted upon it, but that they should be made to act in opposition to the better knowledge of the nation, by continually telling them what is their duty. We know that the House of Commons, as at present constituted, is not a deliberative body, but they pretend to be so, and therefore, it is fit that they should be exhibited in their proper character, and that it should be seen that they are guided by the interest and direction of the minister, and not by the collective wisdom of the nation. This should be practically exhibited to view as often as possible, and an attempt to impress upon them be made, that the day may arrive when a purer and a reformed Parliament, might call them to account for their past conduct.

The seventh resolution evinces that disposition which is too common throughout the country, namely, of the two classes commercial and agricultural, each endeavouring anxiously to lessen its own burthens, and throw it on the other. But would it not be much better if those classes would unite, and attack the system which tends alike to the ruin of both; and under the continuation of which, it is not possible that either can thrive. They might unite with effect, and produce a reciprocal advantage, but the fundholder and supporter of the system will smile, whilst he can keep those classes at loggerheads with each other. The fundholder must be put out of the question he may be a creditor to the government; but the mass of the people have had neither share nor interest in

the government, of late, and will never acknowledge them-selves indebted or liable to pay that debt, which has been accumulated to keep them in a state of subjection and degradation. A variety of schemes are afloat to get rid of the claims of the fundholder, by compounding with him, and giving him a part payment to acquiesce in throwing up the remainder. But this will be found impraeticable: the landholder will never willingly divide his lands. with the fundholder, and there is no other property tangible for the purpose. By way of amusement, I will say what I would have done at the breaking up of the funding system. I would take all the crown lands and other property, all the church lands and other property, and all lands and property belonging to public charities, and apply them to the remuneration of those, whose property is invested in the funds, whilst they are under a state of guardianship; and there may be some instances, where widows and others might have property invested in the funds, which they cannot remove, to those I would endeavour to afford a remuneration, but to the voluntary fundholder, I would say, you have contributed of your own accord to support, and benefit by this system, and you must now be contented and pocket your losses for your folly. The property which is said to belong to the crown and the church, I consider to be equally idle and useless to the nation, and to which no individual has a just and prior claim. The immense property which stands in the shape of public chari ties, we know has been converted to the most shameful purposes, and a national system of education might be adopted, much to be preferred to the badged and degraded system of charity schools: and at a very small expence to the community, every member might in his youth be led through the general routine of school education. But passing by theory, it is my firm opinion, that no quiet attempts of this kind will be made to restore the country to a prosperous state, and if that happy moment arrives, it must be from the effect of a compulsion, and not from a concession among parties. It is much to be desired, if we could get out of the labyrinth without violence, but history has no example for us to act upon, and it is very difficult to reconcile so many jarring interests, whilst the result will affect many of them so intensely. I can only echo what Mr. Cobbett has said on the subject, they must fight it out among themselves, I have nothing to do with either side, but to stand by and laugh. I could heartily wish the little fundholder who might have a 50 or a 1007, in them,

« PreviousContinue »