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their inevitable tendency is to enable the grower of wheat to draw money from the eaters of bread, and to pay it over to the Government.— I do not know how it has happened, but no one appears to me to have viewed the matter in this its natural light. Some persons have talked of the hardship upon the farmer to pay such heaps of taxes. The hardship consists wholly in the trouble, and the torment, and the humiliation : for the farmer does, and must get the amount of the taxes back again from the bread-eater. He may not do it for one year, or for two years ; but, upon an average, be must. The tax pursues the cornmodity to the mouth, as, necessarily, rivers find their way to the sea. I view the wheat-grower as a collector of money to be paid over to the agents of the Government; and, if others did the same, I am of opinion that we should hear much less about the grasping disposition of the landholders and their tenants. I dislike the talk about that “ valuable class of men, the agriculturists," as the farmers are now called. I do not see any peculiar claim that they have to such an appellation. They till the land for gain, just as a shoemaker makes shoes for gain, and as a merchant, or manufacturer, carries on his business for gain. I see no obligation that the community is under to the growers of wheat, who sell it as dear as they can. They are entitled to no special mark of legislative favour; but, as they are the grand vehicle for the taxes, it is the height of stupidity to express wishes to make them an unproductive vehicle.- As very closely connected with this view of the corn subject, I will here notice what bas been said about bringing round our CURRENCY to the standard of 1796 ; that is to say, when gold was in free and general circulation. How such an idea came into the head of any one accounted sane, I am at a loss to discover. We were told, that peace, upon a firm foundation, would do the thing of itself. It is notorious that a light guinea will sell now for 26 or 27 shillings in paper. But the worst, the most foolish part of the conduct of those who entertain the notion of restoring our currency to the standard of 1796, is, that they allow, at the same time, that the paper-money is depreciated; and (now observe) that this depreciation has had the effect of raising prices.-Very well. It is depreciated, and it has raised prices.-Keep this in mind, and then ask these wise men, what would be the effect of " restoring the currency to its former healthy state.”—These gentlemen, in their anxious desire to restore guineas, overlook the interest of the debt. But, is it not manifest, that they ought to have this object continually in their view, when they are talking upon the subject of restoring guineas and lowering prices? And is it not also manifest, that, in whatever degree prices be lowered for a permanency, the interest of the debt must, in reality, though not nominally, be augmented ?-Now, then, what is the annual interest of this debt ? I will not plague the reader with any miserable detail about funded and unfunded, and redeemed and unredeemed; but will state, in round numbers, that the debt requires taxes to be paid to the amount of about forty millions a year.

Suppose, then, that wheut (to take that article as an instance) be now upon an average of years, 271. a load, of five quarters ; the papermoney has, at the rate of exchange with Paris, depreciated one-third below gold; and, of course, has raised prices one-third. Bring the currency back to the standard of 1796, and the consequence is, that wheat will be upon an average of years, 181. a load, Well, then, farmer Stiles, whose share of payment of interest of the debt is 271. a-year,

VOL. IV,

X

and who, of course, used to pay a load of wheat, a-year, must, upon the restoration of guineas, pay a load-and-a-half of wheat a year. This would make the farmer scratch his head, I believe! It is as clear as day-light, that the restoration of guineas would, in reality, make the debt cost sixiy millions a year instead of forty millions a-year. But this is not all. The Civil List, officers of all kinds, pay, pensions, annuities, fixed stipends of every sort, leases, ground-rents, rent.charges, must all become more expensive by one-third to those who have to pay them. What a revolution would be here? What smashing, what work for law. yers, and bill-framers ! Besides, as to the justice of the thing, I am so certain that it is impossible for it to take place without the utter destruction of the paper, and the debt along with the paper, that it does seem to me superfluous to talk about the justice or the policy of it; but, for the sake of those who may not be of my opinion as to this point, I will say a word or two as to the justice of such a measure, if it were practicable.

The greater part, or, at least, a very considerable part, of the debt has been contracted since 1796 ; that is to say, since the Bank ceased to pay their bills in specie. Of course, those who have lent the Government this part of the money, have lent them paper-money of the same, or nearly the same value, with the present paper-money. To pay these people their interest, therefore, in specie, would be to give them one. third more than is really their due ; and, in the same degree, it would be to do wrong to those who have to pay that interest.

The same may be said with regard to all offices, pensions, grants, rentcharges, &c. which have originated since 1796.-But, as I said before, the thing is impossible.—The Chancellor of the Exchequer is reported to have said, that it was probable, that the Government would not call upon the Bank to pay in specie in six months after the signature of the definitive treaiy of peace.

His answer was wise. It is really very probable indeed, that the Bank will not be so called upon.--0h, dear! What curious things this glorious event in France will bring to light, and bring about! Very probable, indeed, that the Bank will not be called upon to pay in specie! This peace will put many a one to his trumps !

WM. COBBETT,

TO THE PEOPLE OF SOUTHAMPTON, ON

THE CORN BILL.
(Political Register, June, 1814)

MY WORTHY BUT DELUDED NEIGHBOURS,

Having read your Resolutions on the subject of the Corn Bill, signed by Mr. Jobn Rowcliffe, the Mayor of your town, upon which Resolutions, it appears, you are now about to frame a Petition against the said Bill ; and being convinced that the views of the matter taken in those Resolutions are extremely erroneous, I think it right to endeavour to show you that you are in error.

Before I proceed to this, however, I must premise, that I myself disapprove, not only of the proposed Corn Bill, but of any and every Bill or law, that has been, or can be, passed upon the subject. I look upon such laws as wholly useless, and as always attended with a greater or less degree of injury to the country. I am of opinion, that the trade in corn should always be perfectly free, let its price be what it may; and that the trade in all other products should be the same. I, therefore, would have eheerfully signed your Petition, had it simply prayed for the not passing of the proposed law. But, if your Petition had been handed to me, I would not have signed it ; because it seems to me to be founded on, and to give sanction to, wrong notions relative to the causes of high price and public distress ; because it seems to me to be calculated (and was, perhaps, by its chief promoters intended) to keep the people of this country in a state of blindness, as to the causes of their miseries, in which state of blindness they have lived for more than twenty years past. Your Resolutions contain many propositions unsupported by reason or fact ; but my great objection to them is, that they are calculated to withdraw the minds of the people from the true causes of the distress and miseries of which they speak, and to direct them towards false objects ; and, by that means, to put off the period of the application of an effec. tual remedy. It shall be my endeavour, as it is my duty, to show, that this objection of mine is well-founded; and, in order to do it in a clear and satisfactory manner, I will, as I proceed, quote the several Resolu. tions, which you have caused to be published, under the signature of your Mayor, who, however, I am very far from regarding as the real mover of the question in your town, there being, manifestly, a stronger hand be. hind the curtain pushing the matter forward.

Resolution 1st.—"That for several years past the price of wheat and other "grain has been excessively high throughout this kingdom, and that the conse

quent distress has been considerably felt by all classes of society; while the " poorest classes have occasionally been sorely and severely tried with all the evils "inseparable from dearth and indigence.

Resolution 2nd." That this Meeting had earnestly hoped, in behalf of them selves and their poorer fellow-subjects, who have in general borne the calami, ties of the times with most laudable and exemplary patience, that the return of peace would have alleviated the distress that has been so long experienced, and

would have carried comfort and plenty into every part of his Majesty's do"minions.

Resolution 3rd." That this Meeting are struck with great apprehension as to the effects which they conceive will inevitably follow from the enactment of "a Bill which is now depending in the House of Commons, on the subject of " the Corn Laws; which must at once sweep away all hope of a reduction in the "price of the most necessary article of human subsistence : fearful lest the dis" appointment of expectations long cherished, during a most protracted and “ anxious contest with foreign power's, should excite at home, among the suffer"ing classes of the community, a spirit of discontent and dissatisfaction, at & moment when it is most fervently to be wished that this kingdom should find

rest from that tedious curse of suspense and calamity, in which foreign ambi“tion and tyranny have so long involved it."

I wonder why you should have introduced this latter sentiment, seeing that it could do no good, and seeing that the point might be disputed with you. I, for instance, deny, that it was foreign ambition” and " tyranny" that involved us in the war. But, I will, as far as it is possible, keep all extraneous matter out of the discussion, You assert here, at the outset, that the high price of corn has been the cause of distress ; that you hoped that the return of peace would have alleviated that dis. trees; that peace would have carried comfort and plenty into every part of the King's dominions; and you fear that, if the suffering classes should be disappointed in that hope, a spirit of discontent and dissatisfaction will arise throughout the country. From this it is manifest, you mean THAT CORN IS USUALLY AT A LOWER PRICE IN PEACE THAN IT IS IN WAR. This is an error. It is, indeed, an error into which others have fallen as well as you. The people at Portsmouth have promulgated the same sentiment. Mr. Waithman, in his speech to the Livery of London, is reported to have talked about “the social connection between peace and plenty.”

The error is, therefore, not confined to you. But, it is still an error; and certainly not less subject to exposure, or more entitled to respect because it is a vulgar error. The “socal connection" of which Mr. Waithman and you talk, has no existence in fact, and never can have such existence, until there is a connection between peace and fruitful seasons. What does plenty mean? Why; abundance proportioned to our wants. And what can possibly make one time more abundant than another, excepl the difference in the seasons? Will any one say, that the blights or the mildews pay any respect to peace or war? Was it peace that gave us the feeding showers, the hot suns, the fine harvest of last year ? Or is it war which has given us the cold dry winds of this last month of May, and the white frosts which we have had, until within these four days ? Does peace give us greater quantities of apples and peaches than war does ? Why, then, should it give us greater quantities of corn ? Upon the very face of the thing, these propositions contain absurdities too gross to be endured. But the error exists, and it is my object to eradi. cate it, first reminding you, that the idea of an inseparable connection between peace and plenty is directly in the teeth of all those assertions, which the advocates of war have been maintaining for the last twenty years. They have always contended, that the war was not the cause of distress; that the people were better fed and better clad than they were ever before ; that the nation was at the height of prosperity; and that veteran placeman, old Mr. George Rose, whom you so highly complimented, has taken infinite pains to prove, that the population has been increasing during all this bloody war; a proof, according to him, of the increasing happiness of the people. But, now, all at once, he seems to have discovered, that war was a cause of distress and misery! So it has been, indeed, but not in the way that he would now have us believe.

There are two modes of meeting and controverting any proposition : by reference to experience; or by the arguments which the case offers. The former is an appeal to facts ; the latter to reason. I shall appeal to both, and with full confidence that the “ social connection between peace and plenty,” will be proved to be the fruit of vulgar error-an error having no better foundation, perhaps, than the alliteration which two very pretty words offered to the author of some ancient popular ballad.

When these words were rung in our ears at, and soon after the peace of Amiens, I took some pains to ascertain what experience said upon the point. Mr. Addington, who is now Lord Sidmouth, came into office, and made peace in the year 1801. Bread, which had, owing to two bad crops and one bad harvest, in 1799 and 1800, become very dear in 1800, and the first nine months of 1801, became cheap the moment peace was made. That was quite enough. Mr. Addington had given us PEACE and PLENTY. There needed nothing more. Bread had been dear in the two last years of the war; and, the moment peace was made, it be

came cheap. These two facts were put together, and the point was settled for ever. The vulgar notion was planted for the present generation. It was not considered what moment that was when peace was made. It was made in the end of September; that is to say, at the end of harvest ; and that, too, a very fine and most abundant harvest. This was wholly overlooked. This was too triding a circumstance to be noticed. The belly was satisfied, and "peace and plenty" became the standing sentiment. In my inquiry into the truth of this sentiment, I resorted to the actual weekly accounts of the price of the quartern loaf, as recorded in the Gentleman's Magazine ; and the result of which inquiry, I published in detail, in an article in the Register, which article I wrote, as it oddly enough happens, at Southampton, the first day that I ever saw that town, the 18th of August, 1804. The following is an abridged statement of that result. It will give you a view of the average price of the quartern loaf in the several periods of peace and of war for the space of time exceeding half a century. The price is stated in pence, farthings, and fractions of a farthing. The years are stated inclusively :

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From 1750

to 1756 From 1757

to 1762 From 1763

to 1775 From 1776

to 1782 From 1783

to 1792 From 1792

to 1801 end of Sept. From 1801 end of Dec.

to 1803 end of April From 1803 end of April

to 1804 end of July

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Now, as my source of information is open to every gentleman in the country, you will hardly suppose me to be stating here that which is not true ; and if it be true, where is the foundation of your fine idea of "peace and plenty ?” We see here only one instance out of four in which the loaf is dearer in war than in peace; and that instance will surprise no one, who recollects, as I do, that the harvest of 1800 was so wet, that the wheat grew in the ear over one-half of the kingdom, the preceding crop having been very poor indeed ; and that the peace, luckily for the Minister, came in the same month with a very fine dry harvest and a most abundant crop. After this last war commenced, the bread continued to fall in price, as you will perceive by the statement. Yet, the favourite idea, the sweet alliteration of peace and plenty” continued to vibrate on the ear; and the vulgar, the stupid notion became

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