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rooted in the minds, even of men of talents and general knowledge, who did not give themselves the trouble to inquire, or the time to reflect. But, indeed, why need we recur to former times of war and peace? The wheat was at a lower price last December than it is now. It fell to the lowest price that it has yet been at before there was any prospect of a peace. Was it peace, then, that made it cheap ? Is it not to set common sense at defiance to hold such a notion ? Experience, which is said to make fools wise, seems to plead in vain when the belly is concerned. At the time when the wheat began to grow cheap, the war existed, and upon a more extended scale than ever. We got no wheat from America, none from France, very little from the Baltic; and yet it became at half the price that it was the year before. Still, in the face of all this ; with these facts so fresh before our eyes, we affect to believe that it is peace which makes wheat cheap ; and these men, to whom the public look up, who talk about the “ social connection between peace and plenty.”
Coming now to the other mode of meeting this vulgar prejudice, let me ask any of you, what are your reasons, leaving experience out of the question, for believing that peace and plenty are, or ought to be, inseparable associates ? Do you think that the people of the country will become less numerous in time of peace, and so the demand become less?
you think, that, continuing the same in number, their appetites will become more moderate? Do you think that the soldiers and sailors will eat a less quantity on their return home than was sent them to eat abroad? Do you think that the sun will shine stronger, and that the dews and rains will be more propitious ? What, then ; what, in the name of common sense, do you think? And why were you led to hope that corn would become cheaper with peace? Do you think that more will be imported ? And, if so, why? During the far greater part of the war, we have had all the corn from America that the Americans thought it worth their while to send us. We have always had all the corn that France could spare us.
Between England and the Baltic the intercourse has been very seldom obstructed. Why, then, should more be imported now than before, when, into the bargain, corn here is become cheaper than it was before ?
The Portsmouth Resolutions state: “ That, at the present moment, the alteration is more particularly ob. jectionable. Under the pressure of Taxation, necessarily occasioned
by a long and expensive war, now happily about to be terminated, the “ Country has been induced to look forward to the return of peace as “ the means of alleviating their burdens ; the disappointment of so “ reasonable an expectation, which must be experienced in the increased
price of the necessaries of life, is an evil that cannot therefore be
contemplated without alarm.” What a jumble is here! What a strange confusion of ideas! They have here thrusted together two things 80 wholly different, that one is at a loss to discover between them the smallest connection. Aye, indeed, it is reasonable enough to expect to pay less taxes ; but what has that to do with the price of wheat? Or, if these sons of Neptune, who have really fattened upon the war, meant that the bread ought to be cheaper in consequence of the tax being taken from the land, they ought, in common conscience, to have waited to see the tax taken off the land first. If these gentlemen do really feel any alarm at the prospect of seeing bread continue to be dear, their best way would have been to petition to have the taxes taken from the land and
the horses ; for, they may be well assured, that, whoever eats bread must pay, in the price of the loaf, the amount of those taxes.
I will now insert the rest of your Resolutions, premising that it is only on the 7th and 8th that it will be necessary for me to offer you any observations, the rest relating to the detail of a measure which I hope will be adopted, and which detail, if we really understood it, could be of no use except to some one in the situation of a Custom-house officer.
"Athly.—That the allowing at all times of the unrestrained exportation of "wheat and four, and the prohibiting of the importation thereof, at the low " duty, until the average prcie of the aggregate quantity sold in England and "Ireland reaches the exorbitant rate of eighty-six shillings per quarter, must “ necessarily be attended with most grievous consequences, and must effectually " and permanently destroy every hope of returning cheapness.
"5thly.—That as the word aggregate' comprehends all sorts of wheat, how "inferior soerer in quality; and also wheat that has been injured by blights,
smuts, mildew, heat in the mow, or by damages on ship-board or otherwise ;
and also Irish wheat, which is altogether of an inferior quality, and which “ never bears the price of English wheat within froin 8s. to 15s. per quarter; "the consequence must certainly be, that when eighty-six shillings per quarter " is the average of the aggregate quantity, ihus including all sorts of wheat, the "actual average of good uninjured wheat, such as is brought to the English " market, will be from 10s. to 15s. per quarter above that price, before relief can " be obtained from any foreign market. That, thus, when this plan shall be felt "in its operations, the actual importation price in England will be above one "hundred shillings per quarter: which sum is about fiity shillings per quarter "higher than the price at which importation was allowed at threepence per
quarter duty under the Act of Parliament called Governor Pownal's Act; a " law that had for its basis the benefit both of the landed interest and of the
consumer: so that the absolute difference between the importation prices will “ exceed the entire price of wheat at the time when that Act passed.
* 6thly.—That a graduated scale for imposing a duty on this most necessary "article, must have a tendency to check, and even absolutely to prevent im
portation, in tiines of dearth and distress, when it should seem that every
encouragement and facility should be afforded to the importers, in the laulable " exercise of a branch of commerce, which, at the beet, is always subject to in“ numerable risks. That these risks will be so increased by the effects of the
graduated scale, that it can scarcely be expected that any prudent man will
venture to send orders abroad for wheat; because, as, at the end of every " three months, new returns will regulate the duty on importation, and as “various delays nay cause cargoes to be four or even six months on their
voyage, a declension of price at home in the meantime may actually subject "the importer to a duty of 24s. per quarter, while he has also to bear other " losses, that in such cases must arise from the late arrival of his cargo.
“ 7thly.-That since, for so many years, the iniddling and lower classes of his “ Majesty's subjects have borne the burden and pressure of the times, in a
manner that reflects the highest honour on their good sense, and just value of " the blessings of good government and social order, they have a right to expect " that, in the present state of things, the opulent land-holders of this kingdom "should be prepared to make some sacrifices; that, in consequence of the ex.
cessively high prices of corn, hay, and butchers' meat, since the commence“ment of the war, the land-holders of the United Kingdom, on the expiration of “ leases held under them, have from time to time raised their rents from one to " two hundred per cent., and in many instances still higher, while rectors and " lay-rectors have also, with better reason, raised their tithes in like proportion; " so that these classes have thus been, in a great measure, if not wholly, indem"nified against the taxes and consequences of the war : while gentlemen (not " being land-holders), men of slender fortunes, annuitants, tradesmen, and the
poor at large, could have no indemnity nor relief whatever ; but were obliged to
bear the heavy burden of the Government and parochial taxes, both for them. * selves and for those exonerated as aforesaid.
" 8thly. That a Petition, grounded on these Resolutions, be presented to the “ House of Commons, praying that they will by no means sanction a plan that “ must inevitably fix the rent of land at a permanently extravagant rate, con“ firm the load of parochial burdens for the maintenance of the distressed poor, “ render the most necessary article of subsistence perpetually dear, bar the “ bounties of Providence froin the majority of his Majesty's subjects, and hope“ lessly discover the pleasing association of peace with plenty and cheapness,
that has so long been a source of consolation in the midst of extensive calamity.”
Before people make assertions, they should take some pains to ascertain the truth of them. Almost the whole of these which you have here made, are wholly untrue ! and, it must be allowed, that Mr. Rowcliffe, who has put his name to them, is, in some measure, answerable for the falsehood.- What does he mean by asserting, that it is the middling and lower classes who have borne the burden and pressure of the times ? Has not every landholder in the country borne his share ? Have not his land, his house, his windows, his horses, his carriages, his dogs, his servants, his malt, his wine, his spirits, his sugar, his soap, his candles, his salt, his everything, been taxed heavily? How, then, has he escaped the burden and pressure ? By the middling and lower classes Mr. Row. CLIFFE must mean the Tradesmen and Labourers ; for, he manifestly has no feeling for those who have been farmers : And how has the pressure been confined to those two classes ? Tradesmen have raised their prices; labourers wages have nearly been doubled ; servants wages have undergone the same change : And who has been paying this advance, but those who have employed those tradesmen and those labourers ? How, then, have these classes suffered more than any other class ? The common labourer, at Botley, did, until last Autumn, receive, upon an average, about 2s. 8d. a-day. He now receives but 2s. even in the month of June ; and his average pay for this year will not exceed Is. 6d., for the crowds of labourers, who are out of work, it is quite surprising to see. A year and a half ago we were glad to employ any creature that we could find. We have now to pick and choose. It is surprising what an improver of manners this low price of corn is! In 1812, I gave twelve shillings an acre for hoeing, which I can now have done for six shillings, being in no sort of fear of giving offence, if I find fault with the execution of the work. Many men employed in that year, earned, before harvest, from six to eight shillings a-day. None of them will earn, this summer, at the same sort of work, above three shillings. Farmers will judge of the state of our labourers, in 1812, when I tell them, that some men asked me a guinea an acre for hoeing out turnips, drilled in two-feet ridges. I can now have the same work performed by men for about three shillings an acre. I did not give the guinea, to be sure ; I had the work done by women, who worked by the day. But I notice it as an instance of our situation at that time. My harvest-men had eight pounds for the twenty-eight days of the harvest-month, including four Sundays. They reaped and mowed, some of them, with pipes in their mouths, as the Hanoverians, in America, used to march to battle. They took the thing very coolly. I can now have more work done for three pounds. If my neighbours gave less in money, they made it up in drink and food. What, then, has the labourer gained by the low price of corn, and how is he to gain by it? How did he bear the burdens of 1812 ? The fall in the price of corn has been a great injury to him. His clothes have not fallen in price! His salt, his sugar, his candles, his soap will not fall, nor will his heavily-taxed beer fall in price. So that his lot is greatly worsted, and he is everywhere praying for the return of the prices
of 1812. It is not only the farmer's labourer who feels this, but every labouring man, in whatever way he may be employed. The labourers of bricklayers, in gardens, in nurseries, in woods, on roads and canals: and it must be so; for, not being wanted in the fields, they must seek work elsewhere, and thus they must reduce the price of labour in other departments. The lower class, therefore, have felt nothing of the burden of the times. Their very manners have changed with the change in the price of corn. They are, all of a sudden, become humble as beggars. They surround our doors with cap in hand to obtain work. We were the beggars before ; but, not now having the same motive to solicit their services, and to put up with their misbehaviour, we resume the tone and authority of masters ; yet Mr. Rowcliffe asserts, that this is one of the classes who have borne the burdens and pressure of the times, and that the hour is now come, when they had a right to expect, that the masters would make some sacrifices! Mr. RowCLIFFe seems to think, that the landholder and the farmer (for they go together), ought to pay the labourer the same wages when wheat is 15l. a load, as when it is 401. a load. Does Mr. Rowcliffe happen to know any manufacturer, who acts thus ? Let him consult that venerable old placeman, Mr. Rose, or his son, George Henry Rose, who has the reversion of a 30001. a-year sinecure, whether the manufacturing labourers are not paid in proportion to the price of, and demand for, the products of their labour ? Those gentlemen will tell him, that the stocking-weavers wages were, some time ago, lowered to one-half their former amount; that they rioted on that account ; that many of them were shot ; that laws were passed to punish them, in certain cases, with death. Why, then, does Mr. Rowcliffe suppose, that other labourers are not to feel the effect of any fall of the price of the products of their labour ? But, the truth is, that Mr. Rowcliffe does not reflect at all upon the subject. He takes up the matter upon the vulgar cry; and he puts forth notions which are perfectly absurd. With regard to tradesmen, too, does he suppose, that those who own, and those who till the land, will pay them at the same rate at which they paid them when wheat was 401. a load ? Will the man who receives 151. instead of 401. have so much work done by smiths, carpen. ters, wheelwrights, bricklayers, collar-makers, saddlers, tinmen, plumbers and glaziers, as he had done before ? He will not, because he cannot. The consequence will be, because it must be, that the workmanship in all those trades must fall in price, and that, too, in proportion to the price of corn; and it will be still worse than it was before for tradesmen, be. cause, not only must their prices come down, in proportion to the price of corn, but the extent of iheir employment must be diminished ; and, as in the case of the labourers, many of them will have no work to do; or, which is the same upon the whole, they will be frequently out of work. Mr. Rowcliffe should propose a law to compel the owners and cultivators of the land to pay tradesmen and labourers as high prices now as they paid them in 1812, and to employ them in the same numbers. Then his conduct would, at any rate, have the merit of consistency ; but, at present, he exhibits to the world a sad and barbarous jumble of nonsense.
It is asserted that the landowners and farmers (for they must go together) have indemnified themselves against the taxes and consequences of the war; that gentlemen (not landowners), men of slender fortunes, annuitants, tradesmen, and the poor at large, have been obliged to bear, not only their own share of the Government and parochial tares, but have also borne the share of the landowners and farmers. I will not call it impudence to make an assertion like this. I will call it folly ; incomprehensible emptiness, to assert, that the poor at large have paid the Gorernment and parochial taxes; and I should not at all wonder, after this, to hear Mr. Rowcliffe boldly assert, that the poor-rates have been collected, in part, from the paupers, and even at the door of the poor-houses. Is it possible that this Mayor of Southampton should be ignorant, that the poor-rates are assessed upon the real property of the country. Is it possible for him to be ignorant, that it is the land, and the land only, which is called upon to maintain the poor? Houses, in towns, indeed, bear their proportion, and why should they not ? Why should not tradesmen pay their poor as well as the farmers their poor? But, it is notorious, that a considerable tradesman, in a country town, does not pay more to the poor than a little farmer, who rents land to the amount of 501. a year, and who and whose family very frequently work harder and live harder than the poor, whom the laws and the justices compel them to feed. And yet Mr. Rowcliffe is not ashamed to give it under his hand, that those whose property has been in land, and its produce, have borne no share in supporting the poor! This is no particular hardship upon the landowner or farmer; because what they pay in poor-rates must finally fall upon the consumer of the corn ; and they can, in the end, lose by the poor only in proportion to what is consumed by themselves and fü. milies. But, surely, they bear in that proportion. How, then, can it be said, that they have been indemnified against taxes by high prices of land and corn? I will suppose a case, in order to make this matter clear to Mr. Rowcliffe, who, though, I dare say, a very worthy man and magistrate, certainly does want leading-strings upon subjects of this sort. -The landowner, in fact, would lose all the taxes paid by himself and the farmer, if they did not fall upon the consumer. But, to get rid of all complexity here, we will suppose the case of a man cultivating his own land; for he is both landlord and tenant. - Now, suppose him to be relieved from the plague of those multifarious papers which are tendered to him by the tax-gatherer. Suppose him to know nothing about poorrates. Suppose there to be no tax upon his leather, iron, hemp, salt, sugar, soap, candles, borses, dogs, or anything but his land ; and, suppose that land to be taxed at 31. an acre, which is probably less than he now pays in one shape or another, directly and indirectly. Suppose his farm to be a hundred acres. Suppose him to grow upon it 300 quarters of wheat (and nothing else) at 41. a quarter. His produce is worth 12001. a-year. Take off the tax, and his wheat will sell for 3l, a quarter, because he can afford to raise it now at 31. as well as he could before at 41.; and because, the cultivation of the land, like all other pursuits of gain, is, and must be, subject to the unerring and unchangeable laws of competition.-for, if his wheat continued to sell at as high a price after the tax was removed as it did before, his pursuit would become so profitable, that capital and talent and industry would crowd into it from all directions ; and thus would competition reduce his gains to their former standard, It is manifest, then, that the tax falls upon the consumer of the wheat ; and this is Mr. Rowcliffe's idea; but he seems to think, that the grower of the wheat never eats any bread himself. This would be a little !00 hard. The Jews (God's chosen people) were forbidden to muzzle the ox employed in treading out the corn. Would Mr. Rowcliffe not suffer