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ing asked how much a labourer and his family ought to have to live upon, answered : “We calculate, that every person, in a labourer's family, should “ have per week, the price of a gallon loaf, and threepence over for feeding and clothing, exclusive of house-rent, sickness, and casual expenses." This Report was ordered, by the House of Commons, to be printed, on the 26th of July last.

Now, “a gallon loaf" weighs, according to law, 8lb. 10oz. avoirdupois weight. This is the allotment for seven days, for one person; but, then, as you will perceive, Mr. Bennett and his neighbours allow threepence, or five cents, a week more, or suppose, a cent per day more, for feeding and clothing. The particulars of the feeding and clothing that can be had for threepence per week, or 13 shillings a year, it would,

perhaps, be difficult to ascertain, without immediate application to Mr. Bennett; and, as that is out of my power, I must leave these particulars to be come at by your powers of divination; adding, however, that, as far as my observation has reached, Mr. Bennett's account appears to have been tolerably correct.

I am, with sincere esteem,
Your Friend,

WM. COBBETT.

FIVE LETTERS

TO

LORD SHEFFIELD,

ON HIS SPEECH AT LEWES WOOL FAIR, JULY 26, 1815.

(Political Register, August, 1815.)

LETTER. I. Intended to show, that the real Cause of the Distress of the Farmers is

not to be looked for in the luw Price of Wool and Grain, nor in the eristence of Tithes.

Botley, August 9, 1815. MY LORD,— Your Lordship’s Speech, or Report to the Wool-growers, at the late fair at Lewes, pressingly invites me to offer some remarks on it, an invitation which I the more readily accept, as it will, for an hour or two, at least, waft my readers and myself, in the respectable company of your Lordship, away from the degrading and abominable scenes of Europe, to a country, where mankind seem likely to live unyoked for a century yet to come, and where we may yet hope to see arise the means of avenging, in time, the cause of the oppressed.

Your Lordship expresses your disappointment that the prosperity of the wooi-trade has not returned : “ I had,” say you, “ Aattered myself " that after the failure of the American embargo and non-importation measures, and also of Buonaparte's attempts by decrees to ruin our “ trade, and that the difficulties respecting our foreign intercourse were “ removed, that the trade in wool and woullens would return to its former

state, and proceed steadily, as heretofore ; but the mischief I had fore

seen, and had repeatedly represented, as also the necessity of checking " that mischief, has increased in a most extraordinary degree, and in

finitely beyond even what had been apprehended.”

I will stop here, for a moment to observe, that you have omitted any mention of the American wur. You will see, by and by, that the American embargo and non-importation measures were not attended with a failure. You will see, that they had the wonderful effect of assisting in creating flocks of Merino sheep, manufactories of cloth, cotton, linen, iron, steel, leather, gunpowder, &c., &c., and in the construction of machinery of all sorts. This I shall show you by and by; but, amongst the causes of the depression of wool, why not mention the American war? That war lasted longer than the embargo and non-importation measures. It was far more complete in its operation; and yet you pass it over in silence. My opinion is, that you would not have passed it over in silence, if the events and the result of it had not been what they were. If these had not demonstrated to the world the excellence of free government, I am persuaded, that you would have put this war in the list of impediments to the wool-trade. The omission, however, as far as related to your auditors, was perfectly safe; and, if you had ascribed the fall of their produce to the malignity of the stars, they would have been just as attentive and just as full of belief as you had the happiness to find them.

Your remedy for this evil of low price of wool is the old remedy: a tax on all wool imported. To be sure: as the hop-growers of Farnham would, if they could, have an additional tax put upon the hops of Kent; and as farmer Gripeum would have all the wheat in the country blighted, except his own. You say that the same arguments that were made use of in defence of the Corn Bill will apply with equal force to a Wool Bill ; and here you are very right. But, you should have shown that those are guments were sound; and, not having done this, you only said that a Wool Bill would be as wise and as just as a measure, against which petitions were presented from every part of the country, and which was, towards the period of its adoption, discussed with regular troops drawn up round the House of Commons.

If, when his Majesty, in his wisdom, was pleased to conser a title on your Lordship, he had at the same time endowed you with a capacity to embrace, in one view, the whole of the interests of a community, to comprehend and to develop abstruse matters of political economy, he would have provided you with a shield against criticism, which, when you venture into the press, that bare title does not afford you. As yet, whatever we find in print about wool, at any rate, we may freely conment on; and, your Lordship will be so good as to excuse me, if, upon this occasion, I should sometimes seem to forget the Lord while I am answering the arthor. I am about to lead your Lordship into new scenes.

The sight, which it is my intention to open to your view, is one of such novelty and such grandeur ; I am about to exhibit to you proofs of such astonishing enterprise and improvement; such a wonderful revolution in the most important affairs of human life; that I must beseech you to call to your aid, if possible, an expansion of mind commensurate with the interest and the magnitude of the subject.

But, before I venture to lift you to this point of elevation, let us, if you please, discuss the subject of your projected Wool Bill ; let us, before we cross the Atlantic and the Alegany, see if we can come to something like common sense on the question which you have now again set in agitation.

You see the farmers distressed ; you see them breaking ; you see the newspapers filled with notices of sales of their effects. The immediate cause of this is the want of money. The cause of that want, however, you do not seem to understand ; and, if you do understand it, you keep it out of sight. You say it is the low price of their produce ; you would, therefore, compel the mass of the people to pay them a higher price, not seeming to reflect, that, if you could succeed, you would only produce, in other classes of men, just that quantity of distress and ruin, of which you wish to relieve the farmer.- If your Lordship was attacked by a ruffian, who aimed at putting out one of your eyes, and were to aim at your left eye, should you think you had done much by warding bis bayonet from that eye to have it thrusted into the other ?

But, my Lord, the foundation of your reasoning, if reasoning it must be called, is unsound; namely, that the distress of the farmer arises from the low price of his produce. In the time of Mr. Tull, that is to say, seventy years ago, wheat was five shillings a bushel. It is now from eight to nine shillings a bushel. If low price be ruin, how could farmers bave lived in his time? It is not, then, positive low price, it is relative low price, which, not to deny you very confined common sense, I must understand you to mean. Well, then, can you show, or can any man living show, that labour, tackle, horses, and seed, do not always bear, upon an average of even a very few years, an exact proportion to the price of wheat? In Mr. Tull's time wheat was five shillings a bushel, and the price of reaping an acre of wheat was five shillings. Wheat is now from eight to nine shilling's a bushel; and the price of reaping of an acre of wheat, in this part of England, is nine shillings. In other parts it must be much less, labour being always higher here than in almost any other part of the kingdom. This is the price that I and my neighbours are actually giving at this moment. As to the present day, I state facts that are notorious; and, as to the age of Mr. Tull, thousands have his work in their hands.

If, therefore, from the very nature of the thing itself, it were possible that the price of labour (including smiths, wheelwrights, and horses) should not descend and ascend, step for step, with that of wheat, which, upon an average of years, is the standard of the price of all other products of the earth, we have proof positive, that such has not been the case in our own country. How, then, must that mind be constructed; how narrow its views ; or how perverted its faculties, which can see the cause of ruin to the farmer in the low price of his produce ?

You ascribe his ruin to the rant of a sufficiency of money. Right so far; but, there are two ways in which a want of a sufficiency of money may come: the first is by not receiving a sufficiency: the other by the disproportionate greatness of the demands upon what is received. The man who has five hundred a year may be in no want of money; while he who has twenty thousand a year may become a bankrupt. The farmer always does, because he must, receive enough money proportioned to the labour on his farm : its receipts and expenditures here regulate each other with the greatest correctness : but, if there be a demander of money, whose demands never lower with prices; who pays no respect to seasons or any other circumstances; who comes for large sums many times in the year; wlio will not wait a moment; who needs none of the usual forms of law to obtain payment, but who, at once, lays hold of the crop or the utensils ; and, withal, whose demands are continually increasing ; if there be such a creditor, it is very clear, that, as prices fall, the farmer must sink into ruin.

Now, has not the English farmer such a creditor ? His taxes, direct and indirect, far exceed the amount of all his other outgoings. Let us suppose, then, a man on his own land, who paid a hundred pounds a year for labour and a hundred and fifty pounds in taxes, when wheat was eigh. teen shillings a bushel. He was then able to live. If the wheat be nine shillings a bushel, his labour will cost him fifty pounds, and if his taxes fell down to 75 pounds, he would be still where he was. But his taxes continue to be 150. It is manifest, therefore, that the taxes, and the taxes only, are the cause of his ruin.

Your Lordship does, indeed, allude incidentally to our taxes ; but, then, this allusion is accompanied with nothing to induce the belief that you wished to point the attention of your hearers towards them as a cause of that ruin of which you were speaking; much less do you hint at any hope of relief in this all-important respect, You say : “ If the landed “ interest in which I include the land-occupier) will not make known its grievance, it cannot expect attention or redress, and it will be responsi" ble for the ruin that will fall on the growth of fine wool. For if the “ wool of all countries, untaxed and untithed, is to be poured in upon “us without restriction, every man the least acquainted with the subject “ will agree with me that it never can be worth while to raise fine wool “ in this kingdom; and the agriculturalist will aim only at quantity, nego lecting the quality of the wool.”

Here, again, what a jumble of ideas! Why should he aim at quantity if his prices are depressed by any cause, no matter what, seeing that, upon an average, the coarse must bear a proportion in price to the fine ? These are notions which might be excused in a farmer or a wool merchant; but they become not one, who sets himself up as a political economist. They belong to the sheep-fold and the carding-house. How nature has been thwarted. What mischief has been done by perverse man's setting her laws at defiance !

But, my Lord, you talk of grievance and of redress, and then you talk of the "untared and untithedwool of other countries. Was it not then to be expected, that you were going to propose to make other nations adopt our taxes and tithes, or, to induce our Government to remove them ? Neither of these do you propose, however; but, in their stead, a tax, more tax, to be paid on our coats and blankets, and on the goods which our manufacturers export. And, then, the confounding of taxes and tithes as the cause of relative expensiveness; as the cause of the English farmer's inability to contend with foreigners; though not calculated to excite surprise when coming from the lips of a vulgar, uninformed farmer, it is so grossly absurd that it really fills me with shame at hearing it uttered by an English gentlemart. During six centuries the land of England has yielded tithes; and, surely, English farmers have seen pros. perous days! If the farmer did not yield tithe, would be not pay the full worth of it in additional rent? Where, then, is, where can be, the difference to him ? If the purchaser of an estate were not to yield rithe, would he not pay the full worth of it in the purchase-money? Where, then, can be the difference to him ? Far otherwise is it with the taxes. These are not of sixcen turies standing, and hardly of six years. They are a clear addition to the out-goings of the farmer ; their amount, like that of the tithe, is not proportioned to the value of the crop; but keeps always to its full height whether the crop be small or great, dear or cheap. If, indeed, you had spoken of tithes as the means of supporting a body of men, having enormous weight in the state, and invariably, as a body, ranging that weight on the side of political and military power, you would have spoken of them in a manner becoming a gentleman of liberal ideas ; but, to point them out as a cause of the ruin of the farmer, and that too, in a mere pecuniary point of view, was to emulate the conduct of those grudging and unfeeling clowns, who and whose wives have all along been bawling for war in the cause of Religion und Social Order;" who have been branding as Jacobins all those that wished to see an end to that war ; and which clowns, groaning, at last, under its consequences, now, like the much-more-to-be-pitied canine unfortunate, unconscious of the real cause of their sufferings, fly for vengeance on all that falls in their way.

Still, I have taken but a very limited view of the subject. Yet, if your Lordship’s head turn at the first step of the staircase, how am I to get you to the top of St. Paul's ? The task is hopeless. Unable, therefore, to stretch your mind to the measure of such a view; unable to make you capable of seeing, how, even the taxes laid upon the farmer affect him no more than they affect all the other classes of the community, ercept those who live upon those lares, and that it is a general and not a partial, a lasting and not a temporary, depression that the nation now feels ; unable to accomplish this object, I shall proceed to that part of your speech, where you express your expectation of speedily seeing an ertraordinary demand for wool. This, however, must be the subject of another letter. -I am, your Lordship’s most obedient servant,

WM. COBBETT.

FIVE LETTERS

TO

LORD SHEFFIELD,

ON HIS SPEECH AT LEWES WOOL FAIR, JULY 26, 1815.

(Political Register, August, 1815.)

LETTER II. Intended to show, that his Lordship's Hopes of a more flourishing

Trade, in consequence of the Devastations in other Countries, are fai

lacious. MY LORD,

After expressing your disappointment that prosperity had not returned to the wool trade, in consequence of the failureof the American embargo and non-importation laws, and the cessation of the "continental VOL. IV.

BB

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