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loss, any falling off in their fourishing state. But, gentlemen, this is unreasonable. You have had what you wished for. You have destroyed Republicanism in France, and are now giving a drubbing to the Yankees ; and, will you not pay for this? Do you think, that the soldiers and sailors, and contractors and paymasters, and barrack-people, and pursers and purveyors, are not to be paid for gratifying you ? You huzza at the grant of an immense sum to Lord Wellington; you almost kiss the shoes of the gallant Duke ; you are ready to cram your fists down the throats of those who do not feel disposed to bawl as loud as yourselves. Grant ! yes, gentlemen; but what is the grant without the money? A grant does not mean vords. Palaces and splendid equipages, and pleasure.grounds and ample domains are not made of parchment. It is money; money, good gentlemen, that the grant means; whence, then, is the money to come but out of the taxes ? whence are the taxes to come but, in part, at least, out of your pockets ? And, as it is in the nature of taxes to produce poverty and misery, what right have you, above all men living, to complain of bearing your share of that poverty and misery?You appear to have thought, that the taxes you were paying would sup. port a war, which would so completely ruin the people of France, that they would not recover in a century, or, at least, before we should be at them again with another war; and you were exceedingly gratified at being told, that Napoleon had left nothing but old crippled men, women, and children, to till the land. How surprised you must have been to see the wheat, barley, oats, neat cattle, sheep, hogs, and poultry of France come crowding upon our shores, the moment that peace was made ! These old cripples, and the women and children of Napoleon, must have been very busy in the fields! The truth is, that, while England, by that war against the Republicans of France, which you were so eager to support, has been loading herself with unredeemable debts, and unbearable taxes, the people of France have been tilling and enriching their country; they have been multiplying its means of increasing population; they have been freeing it from those restraints, those bars to agricultural improvement, which besore kept them poor and miserable amidst the richest gifts of nature. You have been, for years, amused with lies, which your evil passions, your hatred and envy, led you to believe; and you now find the sorrowful truth forced upon you in a way that makes you feel as well as hear; and, which is not the least galling part of the change, you find your own countrymen, who joined you in hallooing for the war; you find the colonels and captains, and barrack masters and pursers, all exelaiming against you, because you want to sell them a loaf at a shilling, when they can get it from the people of France at ninepence, notwithstanding Napoleon left none but old crippled men, women and children, to till the land !-There is in our statute-book a law, punishing with death, and death too, of the most horrible kind, any man who should send from this country even a bushel of potatoes to France, when the people of that country were thought to be in a state of famine. This law was passed at the outset of the war against the Republicans of France. They were not starved. They set themselves to break up the parks, to turn the monasteries into farm- buildings, to make the drones labour for their bread. The result is, that they have enough to spare to reduce our prices one-third ; and you have the mortification to find, that those who have become captains by the war, prefer the French cheap loaf to the English dear loaf.-One of the charges against Napoleon was, that he had
ruined agriculture ; that he had left the farmer no market for his produce. It seemed odd, indeed, that the farmer should be at a loss for a market for what the old crippled men, women and children, were able to raise. But this was the assertion; and he was cursed, through all our edifying prints, for this his tyranny. Well! He is put down. The French farmer has a market in England; and the moment he sends his produce to it, that moment would you pass a law to stop him. Yes, you would have a law passed to deprive the French farmer of that very market, for having deprived him of which you so heartily cursed Napoleon! You would have a law passed for the purpose of making the French farmer endure, during peace, that very evil, which you abused Napoleon for causing him to endure, during war!
With relections like these in my mind, it is impossible that I can pity (I speak generally, of course) the farmers or the landlords. But it is certain, that they cannot grow wheat, with the present taxes, so cheap as the French, who pay so little tax and no tithe, can send it hither; and tbat, unless the French be probibited from sending their products hither, many of our farmers must be ruined.
Eh bien! And what then! They endeavoured to ruin the people of France. Ruin, however, is a word of indefinite meaning A man calls himself ruined, if he cannot ride a3 fine a horse as he has been used to ride. The truth is, that, if no law of prohibition be passed, agriculture in England (if the present taxes continue) must, in some measure, de.. cline ; part of our food will be raised in France, now freed from feudal shackles and tithes ; part of the capital now employed in farming will be withdrawn from it ; part of those who now till the land must be driven to other occupations. And where is the harm of all this? Is it for this reason that the fertile fields of France are to be closed against us? What! are the big-bellied, bluff-cheeked, port-guzzling, loud-talking farmers of England, whose daughters play upon the piano, to be ruined by the sale of the produce, raised by the old crippled men, the women and children of France !
We know that, before the Revolution, a principal article of food, in France was the frog. In our favourite national song, 0, the Ronst Beef of Old England !” the air of which, on the drum and fife, we bear, in our streets, calling our sons of Mars to their dinners, it is said, that the shirtless Frenchman, menyre, pale and leun,” lives upon “ soup meugre, frogs, and sulad.” How, ihen, must this Revolution, which, we are told,“ humanity ought to deplore," have changed things in France, since you, the farmers and landlords of England, want a law passed to prevent the French from sending their spare . .
not frogs and salad; but their spare brend; and when these frog.eating people do actually send us, not only a great deal of bread, but thousands upon thɔusands of milch cows, heifers, oxen, fat hogs, fat sheep, and poultry, and eggs and butter in prodigious quantities. How must this Revolution have changed things in France !
But, if the farmers in England be ruined, and the landlords be obliged to lower their rents one-half, how are the taxes to be paid ? That is a question, with which I never embarrass myself. I never ask how they can be paid, or how they can be dispensed with. It is for those who hallooed for the war against the French, and who now halloo for the war against the Americans, to discuss those interesting questions. The war has been, and is, the cause, and the sole cause, of the taxes ; and, there
fore, to halloo for the war was to justify, and call for, additional taxation. So that it is beyond all measure stupid as well as base in those who hallooed for war to complain that they have the expenses of it to pay.
A free intercourse between nations is a right of human nature. I disapprove of imposts upon wine, oil, sugar, and every thing else; and though I am aware, that it would be no more unjust towards the manufacturer of cloth to permit French cloth be imported duty free, than it is unjust towards the manufacturer of corn to permit French corn to be imported duty free, it does not follow, that, because the entry of cloth is prohibited, I must agree in the propriety of prohibiting corn. I am glad, that, at least, there are some articles, in which the trade is free; and, especially, as the wide difference in the prices of these articles compared with those of our own, must necessarily give rise to reflections, which may finally lead to those inquiries, as to the real causes of this difference, which inquiries may do a great deal towards producing an event, so much to be desired by every well-wisher to the cause of freedoin.
It is very certain, that the Government is in a dilemma upon this subject of the Corn Bill, which, if I mistake not, must, if passed with effect, become a Cattle Bill too. If the Government bring in such a Bill, the Captain and Barrack-master will complain, that they are thereby compelled to buy their bread dearer from the English farmer than they could get it from the French farmer ; and if no such Bill be brought in, these gentlemen may begin to complain, that proper means are not adopted to raise taxes, out of which is to come their half-pay. The dilemma is a pinching one, I must confess; but I must leave the partisans of the war, the most prominent of whom are the farmers and landlords, to get out of it as well as they can. I have, indeed, heard of a scheme, which I will just mention, though I, by no means, give it as feasible, or as having my approbation. It is this: to apply to the farmers of France, who have but little Government tax to pay, and who have no poor-rutes nor any tithes to pay, to make, annually, a collection amongst themselves, and send it over to be distributed amongst the farmers of England. At the first blush, indeed, it does appear reasonable, that those who have the profit of agriculture should bear a part, at least, of its burdens. But this scheme is impracticable; and, therefore, I must, as I said before, leave the remedy wholly to the partisans of the war, past as well as present.
Of all the motives to intercourse between nations no one is so powerful as the want, on the one part, of the necessaries of life, of which, on the other, there is a superabundance. Our intercourse with the baker and butcher is much more constant, and of greater importance, than that with the carpenter or mason. We are better acquainted with their persons, their manners, their character, and with the immediate causes of their prosperity or decline. So it is between nations; and, as I am thoroughly convinced, that it would be of the utmost importance to this country to make its people well acquainted with the state of France, and with those causes which have led to that state of prosperity and abundance, which enable her farmers to come here in person, and undersell ours in our own markets and fairs, I do most anxiously hope, that no measure will be adopted to put a stop to, or to restrain, in the smallest degree, this amiable and promising intercourse.
I must defer, till a future number, my other objections to any law,
tending to prohibit, or restrain, the importation of the products of the earth from any foreign country, and especially from France.
(Political Register, October 1814.)
| Before notified my intention to oppose with all my might the projected bill in all its stages, which intention nothing shall prevent me from carrying into effect, regarding, as I do, this project as one of the most outrageous attempts on the rights of mankind that ever was entertained.
I have read, with great attention, the Reports of the Lords' Committee, and the evidence subjoined to them. To enter into an examination of this mass of evidence ; this jumble of crude matter; this mixty maxty of guess-work, facts and speculations; this book of the philosophy of conceited farmers and land-surveyors; to point out the absurdities, the downright contradictions, the flagrant foolishness of men, who, while they complain that corn is too cheap, that is to say, too abundant, call for a Corn Bill in order to induce people to make new inclosures, which, as they say, would cause more corn to be grown; to go into anything like detail in such a case would, I should think, be to insult the understandings of my readers.- 1 shall, therefore, content myself with stating that the main point, to which the evidence and the Reports tend, is this : that it is for the good of the nation, that something should be done to prevent wheat from being sold under 10s, a bushel. But, first of all, I must notice the source of this evidence. Who are the witnesses ? Persons who have come, upon being called upon to come by the Committee. The Committee state, that they endeavoured to get before them some of the persons who had petitioned against the Corn Bill last year; but then no such persons appeared ; from which the Committee conclude that the petitioners had no distinct notion on the subject ; or, that they objected to a hasty passing of the Bill without inquiry, and not to the passing of the Bill altogether. I cannot tell whether the invitations to these petitioners were very pressing. My objection to the Corn Bill was pretty well known to their Lordships. I dare say they had heard too that I was a farmer; and I have the presumption to suppose, that they must have thought me pretty nearly as capable of affording them information upon the subject as some, at least, of the moral philosophers, whom they ex. amined. Their Lordships did not call me before them. If they had, they would have saved me the trouble of stating my objections through this channel ; for they would have found me not so ready, as their other witnesses were, to support the pretensions of the project. Their Lordships might dislike my politics; but that could have no weight in a ques. tion like the present; and as to motives of self-interest, if the Bill be for
the protection of the farmer, I must bave been the best possible witness, seeing that my declared opinion was against the Bill.
What are the grounds upon which this Bill, if again brought forward, are to rest ? Why these : that by prohibiting importation to a certain extent, wheat will be kept up to 10s. a bushel; that the farmer will then be able to grow it ; that he will then take care to provide a supply for the nation; and that, by this means, inclosures will go on, and a security be obtained against scarcity.
In the first place, it is impossible, under some circumstances, to keep wheat up to 10s. a bushel; and it is arrant nonsense to talk of it. If the crop be a very large one, wheat cannot be so dear as when the crop is very small. Besides, if every acre of any farm produces five quarters this year, and only two quarters and a half the next year, would you have the price the same in both years ? Cannot the farmer afford to sell his wheat at 5s, in the former year, as well as he can afford it at 103. in the latter year? And in what case is this notion of the 103. to apply ? In years of great crops or years of small crops ? When is it that he can afford to grow wheat at 10s. a bushel ? Is it when he has forty bushels to an acre, or when he has only sixteen or twenty bushels to an acre ? It is clear, that, if a law ought to be passed to keep wheat up to 10s. a bushel (on the ground that the farmer cannot grow it for less), the law ought to extend beyond the prohibition of imports. It ought to provide also against the effects of great crops. It ought to provide some means of compelling the people always to buy wheat at 10s. a bushel. I leave the reader to guess at the outcry which such a proposition would occasion; and yet, monstrous as is the idea, what does it contain of a nature more monstrous than the proposition, that something ought to be done to in. sure the farmer 10s. a bushel for his wheat ; seeing that, as is asserted, he cannot grow it for less ?
It is asserted, that, by securing to bim a high price, the farmer will be induced to grow so largely as to supply amply all the wants of the nation, But, if all these wants can be supplied at a low price, is not that as well ? There stands France ready to supply all deficiencies; and why would you say to her, “ You shall not supply us with cheap bread, because our farmers are ready to supply us with dear bread ?" Has not this something monstrous upon the face of it? You want a supply. That is your object. And, when ihe supply is tendered you you turn from it, and say, "No, our own farmers will supply us at double the price ;" and, if we buy bread of you at sixpence a loaf, our farmers will turn sulky upon our hands, and will not grow us any wheat.-What would be thought of a proposition to prevent the people of Kent from sending wheat into Surrey and Middlesex ? Yet, where is the difference? It is easier to convey wheat from Norway to Kent, than from Canterbury to London, or to Guildford. France is, I grant it, a new country. Her happy Revolution, by sweeping away the Corvees, the Gabelles, the Game Laws, the Feudal Laws and Rights, and the Tithes; by turning the convents into commodious farm-buildings, the gardens of the monks into yards, their cloisters into ox-stalls, their dormitories into pig-styes, their cemetries into dung-holes, and their chapels into barns. The Revolution, by these and other means, has made France a new country; has added to her capability of producing subsistence; has given her the full and free use of all the means that nature had allotted her. It must also be confessed, that, as things now stand, the English farmer meets the French farmer