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means of securing the property accumulated by his diminished liberty, the aid and protection of society.

Labouring, as I am, under the conviction that first principles are the landmarks by which, though not the direct course which we must steer, to secure to ourselves all the practicable blessings of society, it caunot he my wish, by thus reverting to elementary rules, to give a false colour to, or draw inferences from, the argu. ments of those who differ with me i.1 opinion, which is not clearly contained in then; but in candour, can they stop short of the length to which I think they have carried their principles in opposing the assize of bread? If they cannot, am I not fairly at liberty to ask, Can we forget the very enils of society in the pursuit of interest? Can we separate the man from the tradesinan, and enable him to enjoy a degree of freedom in the one capacity, which he cannot possess in the other? In the pursuit of our respective trades, are we not as much indebted to the law for the security of our property as we are for the safety of our persons ? And if we are, ought we to be lawless as tradesmen, and bound as men? O yes, cere tainly, say the opponents of the Lord Mayor; for if we are guilty of mal-practices, the reaction of them will recoil upon ourselves, and force us to do justice to our customers. Granted: but will not our misconduct as men do the same thing? Were we perinitted with as much legal impunity to knock each other down for the sake of plunder, as the advocates of free trade would have us at liberty to sell by short weight or charge high prices with the view of gain, can any thing be more certain than that the tendency of the violence is to produce a reaction which will sooner or later recoil upon the guilty party? If not, and bearing in mind that by shor: weight and high prices we can do as much injury to each other, as by blows (broken shins and broken bones excepted) the question again occurs, ought we to be lawless as tradesmen and bound as men, merely because in abstract reasoning, the reaction of our misconduct will recoil upon our selves and do justice to the victims of our criminal licentiousness ? If this ques. tion cannot be answered in the affirmative, is it not the price, quality, and quantity of every thing that ought to be regulated, and not those of Bread left to the discretions of men, who making their power the basis of their right by the aid of their overgrown wealth ; the callousness of their feelings; their ignorance of public duty; or false notions of private interest, may bring irretrievable ruin upon millions before destruction can reach themselves, however certain it may be in the nature of things that it will ultimately overtake them?

When it is recollected, Sir, that nature has not gifted us with equal powers of self-defence, and how much the powers with wbich we are endowed, are, in many instances, impaired by legal restraints, is there not a something in giving this discretionary power to such men which strongly implies, not indeed that they are more vicious or ignorant than others, but that civilization itself is rather on the decline than otherwise ? Yet, Sir, with that boldness, clearness, and freedom of expression for which you are so much and so justly admired, you have not hesi. tated to call the practice of regulating the price of brea:l, or of withholding this discretiosary power from the bakers, “a relic of barbarism." Is it a relic of barbarism, Sir, to protect the natural and artificial weakness of different classes of the community against the natural and artificial powers of others : Granted, Sir: but of what is the disposition to withdraw that protection the relic? not, indeed, of the barbarity to which you allude, but of the superficial view, pardon me, which you have taken of the subject. For were it otherwise, the regardless of truth and morals, conductors of your country's press, would not have shrunk from the manly task of meeting you fairly in the field of argument; and the chances of your paying that attention to mine, which may be more its due on the score of my probable yoo:l intentions, than on that of any merit of its own, would be greatly diminished. But with respect to the question, whether, as the means of promoting the general interest in the greatest degree, the maximun, as you call it, ought to be rernoved from the price of bread, or laid on that of everything else; greatly, on the principle of choosing of two evils the least, as I prefer the latter, and clearly as it appears to me to be recommended as such by the principles on which I have reasoned, still I would have great difficulty in expressing that preference, did I not, as I think, possess the means of demonstrating, that as trade has gained its freedom and power, 80 have men lost their liberty and in. dependence, as a necessary Consequence. You will not consider this as a paradox when you recollect, that “the extreme of virtue terminates in vice;" or, in other words, that “two extremes produce the same effect."

It is no less our pride than our boast, that the freedom of trade, with its attendant prosperity, has been progressively on the advance for time immemorial, particularly since the Revolution of 1688, but more rapidly so since the commencement of the present reign. This being our pride and our boast, it is of course our shame and sorrow, that our forefathers knew no more of the means of rendering themselves prosperous, happy, and free. Be it so; but on whose side does the following too low rather than too high coloured a picture of the rate at whieh prosperity, happiness, and freedom receded from our view, as the freedom of trade appeared to our sight, leave this shame and sorrow to dwell? That of ourselves or forefathers ? for this I presume is the proper time and occasion to attempt the laying of that question to rest, if it belongs to facts to prevent it again from being agitated.

A TABLE, “ exhibiting at one view the Depreciation of our Currency: the Dis.

proportion between the Advance made in the Price of Labour and the Fall which has taken place in the Value of Money ; with its consequent progressive Pauperism from the Revolution of 1688 to the Year 1812."

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These, Sir, are indubitable results of the freedom of trade; for had all the fund. holders and all other limited annuitants, who are thus robbed and enslaved by the depreciated value of the money which that freedom brings into use, been gifted with the same power to raise their interest, incomes, or salaries, that the tradesman has to advance the price of his commodities ; could this damning proof of our growing barbarity have ever stared us in the face? And with this proof at your elbows, would you, Sir, and the decryers of public corruption, free from restraint the only trade on which restraint is laid, in favour of those, who are thus by legal as well as natural inabilities deprived of the power of advancing their incomes, as the tradesman raises the price of his commodities, and that, too, whilst your political opponents are honourably labouring with all their might to preserve it, and so do that justice to the superior foresight of our forefathers, to which their superior knowledge of the means of preserving the liberties and independence of their country, and wisdom in pursuing them, so superiorly entitles them. These, Sir, are the grounds on which I am inclined to prefer the maximum on the price of everything, to the taking it from off the price of Bread; and I trust their importance is such as will induce you seriously to re-consider the doctrines which you have broached in your two last Numbers. Yet, inclined as I am to prefer this arbitrary rule to the freedom of trade on its present principles, it is by comparing its bearings with the effects which that freedom has produced that I give it the preference, loving liberty as I do my life. In the abstract, or compared with the rules of a well-defined freedom, there is no human being that can abhor the maximum more than I do myself, particularly as I am confident that there are other rules by which the progress of the calamities exhibited in the foregoing table may be arrested and their return prevented. The Sun at noon-day is not clearer to our sight than these rules are within our reach; and that too with no more trouble in Tollowing the one than there is in looking at the other ; compared with the troubles which are borne under the present system, and those which would attend the maximum on a more extended scale. But as I have already occupied too much of your valuable time, to call your attention to this no new

discovery, because it only lay buried under the ruins occasioned by the freedom of trade (if that and not anarchy be its name), I shall only, for the present, subscribe myself, Sir, yours very respectfully,

HECTOR CAMPBELL. Surrey-street, Strand, Oct. 13, 1813.

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THE SUBJECT OF TEACHING THE CHILDREN OF THE

POOR TO READ.

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(Pulilical Register, December, 1813.)

LETTER I.

SIR,

I see, from accounts published in the newspapers, that you are taking great pains to establish a school upon the Lancasterian plan, the main object of which appears to be to teach poor children to read, and parti. cularly to read the Bible. I have, for some months, had an intention to address you upon this subject, and to state to you my reasons for believing, that an act, arising solely from your benevolent disposition, is not, with sufficient clearness, founded in reason, and that it is not likely to produce the good which you certainly have in view.

The subject naturally divides itself into two parts; or, rather, presents two questions for discussion : 1st. Whether, under the present circumstances, in this country, the teaching of poor children to read generally be likely to do good ; and, 2nd, Whether it be likely to do good to teach them to read the Bible.

Whatever men may think about reading the Bible ; however their opinions may differ as to the utility of reading this particular Book, the number is very small, indeed, who think that the teaching of poor children to read generally is not a good past all dispute. To that very small number, however, I belong; and my opinion decidedly is, that, under the present circumstances of this country, the teaching of poor children to read generally is calculated to produce eril rather than good; for which opinion I will now proceed to offer you my reasons, and not without some hope of being able to convince you, that your money, laid out in pots of beer to the parents, would be full as likely to benefit the community.

The utility of reading consists in the imparting knowledge to those who read; knowledge dispels ignorance. Reading, therefore, naturally tends to enlighten mankind. As mankind become enlightened, they become less exposed to the arts of those who would enslave them. Whence reading naturally tends to promote and ensure the liberties of mankind. " How, then,” you will ask, can you object to the teaching of the children of the ignorant to read ?" But, Sir, when we thus describe the effects of reading, we must always be understood as meaning, the

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reading of works which convey truth to the mind; for, I am sure, that you will not deny, that it is possible for a person to become by reading more ignorant than he was before. For instance, a child has no knowledge of the source whence coals are drawn ; but, if, in consequence of - what he reads, he believes coals to be made out of clay, he is more ignorant than he was before he read ; because falsehood is farther from truth than is the absence of knowledge. A child, in the neighbourhood of Loretto, who had been happy enough to escape the lies of the priests, would know nothing at all of the origin of the Virgin Mary's House at that famous resort of pilgriins; but, if he had read the history of the Bees' House, he would believe that it came thither, Aying across the sea from Palestine ; and he would, of course, be a great deal more ignorant than if he had never read the said history.

Thus, then, reading does not tend to enlighten men, unless what they read convey truth to their minds. The next question is, therefore, whether, under the present circumstances of this country, the children of the poor are likely to come at truth by reading; which question, I think, we must decide in the negative.

You will please to observe, that I am not now speaking of the Bible, or of works upon religion. Those i shall notice by-and-by. I am new speaking of reading in yeneral. To those who object to the teaching of children to read the Bible, as being above their capacity to comprehend, it is usually answered, that if children learn to read the Bible, they will inevitably read other things; and that out of reading will proceed light, and the means of giving the people true notions of their rights in society. But, here again it is taken for granted, that what they will read, after they have been taught to read the Bible, will be calculated to give them true notions, and will inculcate the principles upon which men ought to be governed.

Now, Sir, is this the fact ? Does the press in this country send forth works calculated to produce such an effect ? That is to say, are its productions generally of this description? Or, to put the question more closely, is the major part of its productions of this description ? Because, if it send forth more productions which are calculated to give fulse notions, than of productions which are calculated to give true notions, it follows, of course, that reading, generally, must tend to the increase of a belief in falsehood, which no one will deny to be the worst species of ignorance.

Let us see, then, what is the real state of this press; this vaunted press, which, in ninety-nine hundredths of the publications which issue from it, is represented as being FREE. Let us see what is the real state

of this press.

In the first place, a man is liable, if he write, or print, or publish any thing, which the Attorney-General (an officer appointed by the Crown and removable at pleasure) chooses to prosecute him sor; any man who does this is liable to be prosecuted, and to be punished in a manner much more severe than a great part of the persons convicted of felony. You yourself remember (and I shall always retain a grateful recollection of your goodness upon the occasion), that I, for writing an article, respecting the treatment of the Local Militia at the town of Ely, was sent to pass two years of my life in a place where there were felons, and men actually found guilty of unnatural crimes. Many of the felons, at that time in Newgate, were punished with a shorter term of imprisonment

than I was; to say nothing of the fine, a sum equal to what may be fairly deemed a fourth part of the average earnings of any literary man's whole life.

And, who will say, that, if he venture to utter what is calculated to displease men in power, he will escape such punishment ? There are no laws, which set bounds to his pen; there is no settled rule of law which enables him to know what is criminal and what is not criminal. He is prosecuted if the King's officer chooses to prosecute him ; and the jury, by whom he is tried, is specially nominated by another officer of the Crown, the accused party having tlie privilege of objecting to twelve out of forty-eight of the persons so nominated. The Attorney-General may, if he please, commence a prosecution and not proceed in it. He may keep a criminal charge hanging over the head of any writer as long as he chooses; and, with the consent of a Judge, he may hold the party to bail for his appearance for as long a time as he chooses to keep the charge suspended over his head. Su that such writer, during his whole life. time, may have a criminal charge kept suspended over his head, and, without forfeiting his recognizances and those of his sureties, he cannot, during his whole life.time, quit the country, or be absent at any one term ; for, at any term, whenever his accuser pleases, though, perhaps, after his witnesses are dead, he may be commanded to come and take his trial.

On the other hand, the Attorney-General may, if he chooses, drop the prosecution, and that, too, at whatever time lie may please to drop it. After baving charged a writer with a crime, he may keep the charge suspended over his head for months or years; and then, without even leave of the Court, and without assiguing any reason at all, he may wholly withdraw the charge, and relieve the poor creature and his family from their fears.

This is the state of our press as it is affected by the law. And, under such circumstances, is it to be expected, that the press will convey, freely convey, truths to the people? For, you will be particular in bearing in mind, that the truth of any writing, so far from being a justification of the author, is not permitted to be pleaded in his defence. To utter truth, therefore, respecting the measures of the government, the administration of the laws, the weight or the mode of collecting the taxes, the treatment of the army or the navy, the conduct of the clergy, the creeds of the Church; to utter truth respecting any of these may, in the eye of the law, be a greatly criminal act, and may subject the utterer to a punishment more severe than that infi ed on a great part of the felons.

We are not inquiring here, whether this law of the press be good or bad. There are those who assert it be full of justice and wisdom. We will not, therefore, raise a dispute upon the point. We will content ourselves with observing that such is the law; and, then, we have only to determine, whether, under such a law, the press is likely to be the vehicle of truth. There are those, who say, that it ought not to be permitted to convey, in an undisguised manuer, truths, upon all public matters and concerning all public men, to the people. Very well; but, if this be the case, can the reading of the productions of this press tend to dispel ignorance; can it tend to enlighten the people ? Can it be any public benefit, can it further the cause of public liberty, to teach the children of the poor to read ?

Let us, if you please, trace one of these poor boys in his progress of

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