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at Lewes, in 1811, that they were under great obligations to your Lordship, without whose information, they would have been under grrat difficulty to form a conjecture as to the real value of their wool. Just as if the Market would not have taught them! By following your Lordship’s advice, some of them kept up their wool, of which a continually falling price must have made them sorely repent. The old adage that“ a thing is worth what it will bring,” applies to every vendible commodity, to all trades, to all countries and to all times. The Market is the only criterion of value with the trader of sense : other grounds of calculation are left for the visionary and the speculator, I am your Lordship’s most obedient and most bumble servant,
WM. COBBETT. Botley, 18th August, 1815.
CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER.*
(Political Register, October, 1815.)
“ Something must be done.”
Botley, 25th Oct, 1815. SIR,
This phrase is in the mouth of every man of every class in the country, which feels itself, at the end of this long pursuit of glory and of happiness, in a state somewhat like the citizen, who, after having passed forty years amidst smoke and noise and stench, in order to amass the means of living easily and tranquilly and happily for the remainder of his days, mopes about in his country-box like a fish out of water; or, like a new married man, who has been for months up to head and ears in love, and who, at the end of about four or eight days, according to circumstances, begins to wonder what ails him. A Frenchman told me once, in Philadelphia, that in about a week after he was married, he was seized with the idea, that he was not the same identical person that he was before, and that he looked in the glass and felt his arms and legs (“Je me touchoil," were his words) to ascertain the fact. In the course of a few weeks, however, he found that he really was the same man as before, with a suitable diminution of spirits, or, what is vulgarly called pluck.
Such, or thereabouts, is the present state of feeling in this country. Every one is disappointed. Every one, however ignorant, begins to perceive, that this career of war and this harvest of glory, have not yielded happiness. People do not know how it is ; but, they know, that they are all in distress. They see that we have reduced the French nation to submission to the Bourbons; they see that we have imprisoned Napoleon By
* Mr. NICHOLAS VANSITTART, afterwards created Baron Bexley.--Ep.
for life; they hear of the intended Waterloo column ; they see that the Church and all our venerable establishments have been preserved unto us; they see hundreds of English and Hanoverian knights created; they see peace and even plenty; and ye they are miserable. Agriculture languishes ; trade follows agriculture ; nobody has money to pay rent, taxes, or debts. --A Corn Bill has not protected the farmer. The cheapness of food has not lessened the misery of the poor. Nothing sells. The nation perishes in the midst of the spending of the produce of successive abundant harvests.
This state of things draws from every one the phrase at the head of this Letter. The Banker, when he sees himself compelled to refuse his usual discounts, tells his applicant, that “ somethiny must be done." The farmer (formerly so gay on his yeomanry-cavalry-horse, and so ready to hack the Jacobins), when he is offered 17 shillings instead of 37 shil. lings a head for his South-down Ewes, squeezes out his thick lips, swells his nostrils, shrugs up his shoulders, throws his jolterhead on one side, with a nod, and exclaims, "
zumnert must be done!” The landlord, who has vociferated for war, taxation, sedition and treason-bills for two-and-twenty long years, when his steward, instead of ten thousand, brings him five hundred pounds in money and half a hundred notices to quit, observes, with one of Lord Burleigh's shakes of the head : “ Really,
Mr. Trusty, Government must do something. Parliament meets in “ February. I do not know what the Chancellor of the Exchequer
means to propose, though I am very intimate with him ; but something “ must be done.” The tradesman, who has, for months past, used the door-knocker much more than his hammer or scissars, when, for the twentieth time, he is told to call again, goes muttering away, that “ Something must be done." In short, all agree, that it is impossible to go on long in our present course. The parson, the lawyer, the doctor, the very lowest of labourers say that a change of some sort must take place. The " loyal," as they call themselves, observe, very seriously, that Parliament must do something; and, the Jacobins, as they are called, with more of curiosity than sorrow on their countenance, say, Now let us see what will be done.”
All persons, of every class, are now Sir, looking to you. Some think, that you can conjure money into their pockets; others that you can pay the soldiers, sailors, judges, placemen, pensioners, and the Royal Family somehow or other without money. The farmers generally most firmly believe, that you can raise the price of their produce, for which you would have their blessings and the curses of the rest of the country, especially the army, the navy, and the annuitants. What you will do it is hard for me to say; or, rather, what way you will go to work; for, in substance, I know, that you must do, in the course of about two or three years, one of three things. You inust diminish the interest of the debt; you must cause large additional quantities of paper-money to be issued, so as to bring the guinea back again to be worth 283. or 30s.; or you must suffer the whole of the paper system to go to atoms.
The people do not perceive the real cause of their distress. The farmer sees bis wheat fall from 15s. to 7s. a bushel. He ascribes it to the defeat of Napoleon, and says that he was the best friend of the farmers. Others think, that things will come about. Others damn the French, and say that it is their produce that lowers ours in price. Others curse, most unjustly, the parsons, and say that it is the tithes which we pay, and which the French do not pay, which is the cause of our ruin ; and, a stupid man in Wiltshire of the name of Bennett has actually written and published a long pamphlet to show, that the parsons have no right to what they receive. Nobody sees, or, at least, appears to see, that their distress arises from the debt and the military establishment and other fired erpenses, entailed on us by the war ; and from the attempt which is now making to bring us upon a par of exchange with other countries, by die minishing the quantity of our puper-money.
I contended, with Mr. Huskisson, that wheat must continue to be, on an average, about 15s. a bushel, or that the taxes could not be paid in sufficient amount to meet interest on the debt, and to pay the other expenses of the year. You are now trying the experiment of disproving that position ; but, I shall soon see you, I think, compelled to give it the most complete sanction. Again, the Bullion Committee formally declared, that, by drawing in their paper judiciously, the Bank might be able to pay in gold and silver at the end of two years. I contended, that this was impossible, as long as the interest of the debt continued to be paid; for, that, if the quantity of paper were to be so diminished as to bring the pound-note to be worth 20s. in gold, the people, who pay the taxes to support the funds must all be ruined; and this ruin is now actually taking place in consequence of an attempt to raise the value of the paper. The Bank, in endeavouring to follow the advice, and to act upon the principles, of the Bullion Committee, has plunged agriculture and trade and rents and debts and credits all into confusion. And was not this a consequence for any man of common sense to foresce? If his head was not clear enough to conceive the idea, was it not so plainly marked out for him in niy“ Paper against Gold” as to be palpable to one almost an idiot ? Was it not as plain as your nose is upon your face, that the land (from which all ability to pay taxes proceeds) could never pay interest in paper worth 20s. in the pound, for money which had been borrowed for it, and salaries (including pay of soldiers and sailors) which had taken place, in a paper worth 12s. or 15s, in the pound? When Wheat was 15s. a bushel, the land was able to pay; but, if Wheat be, by a diminution of the quantity of paper, made worth only 7s. a bushel, can it still be able to pay? The Corn Bill is, as I always said it would be, wholly unavailing. But, what a monstrous absurdity, to deal out a Corn Bill, with one hand, in order to protect the farmer; and, with the other hand, to mow him down by a diminution of the paper-money.
To make this matter plain to you, Sir, if it be not already so, let us suppose the interest of the Debt and the other expenses to be paid in wheat instead of money; and, that farmer Gripeum is assessed at 500 bushels of Wheat, leaving him 200 for bis landlord, and 300 for other purposes, and that he never grows anything but Wheat. All of a sudden the Government comes and demands 1000 bushels, instead of 500. It is clear, that the landlord goes without his rent, and that Gripeum must be instantly ruined, if he has no extraneous fund to resort to ; and, this can be the case in comparatively very few instances. Well, now, how does this differ from the paper operation ? In consequence of the great quantity of paper-money, Gripeum can pay his share of the interest of the Debt and of the Expenses of Army, Royal Family, &c., by selling 500 bushels of his Wheat; but, the Government, or the Bank, or both, or the Thing that sways, call it by what name you will, diminishes the quantity of paper so as to compel poor Gripeum, whose helmet shone so bright
against the Jacobins and Levellers, to sell the whole of the 1000 bushels to pay his share of the interest of the Debt and of the Expenses incurred by the Anti-jacobin war. Now, where is the difference in the two cases ?
I have, you will say, supposed an extreme case. I have supposed Gripeum to be wholly swallowed up at once, helmet, uniform, horse, and all; but, if these extreme cases have not very frequently occurred, the effect is only different in degree; and, because the farmers are not all completely smashed at one blow, you are not to suppose, that the blow is ineffectual as to the total smashing. The greater part of farmers have, they must bave some capital; that is to say, the amount of a year or two's produce, over and above the demands of the current year. Some bave money at use. For these cases, they flee to the capital to sustain them under the first blow, and to obtain a little time for them. Some are able to stand two or three blows. But, I imagine, that a second blow will, if inflicted, nearly turn them up; and, in the meanwhile, the work of retrenchment goes on, and particularly that of diminishing the use of taxed articles. The tradesman feels, twitch for twitch, with the farmer. One is the Belly, and the other a Member. The latter was highly delighted, last year, when he saw the farmer's produce falling, and said, that he, the tradesman's turn of enjoyment was now come. But, as I told the worthy Mayor of Southampton, Mr. Rowcliff, it would come to pass, so it bas come to pass, that the tradesman would soon find, that if Gripeum became poor, those who lived by selling his wife baubles, and himself drink and clothes, would wholly starve or must turn out to beg. Gripeum, after all, will stand the storm longer than Crispin, Snip, and Boniface. He'll nail his shoes, make his wife patch his coat, and go home from market hungry and thirsty. He has always something that he can eat, and mali, though taxed, keeps pace with the price of his wheat in all but the tax. Whereas they must live, if they live at all, upon the profits and superfluities of the land. Thus is the depression felt through all the veins of the community, and thus do you experience a degree of embarrassment, which that bold botherer, Pitt, never had to encounter. He got over the stoppage of cash-payments at the Bank, by reports of Committees, subscribing combinations, false alarms, and divers other devices, calculated to deceive a people full of fear of the enemy, and easily duped from their natural credulity. But, yours is a case that can receive no aid from trick and contrivance. It is not now a question of jacobin or antijacobin; it is no question of alarm ; no question about religion or government; no Yeomanry Cavalry, Loyal Associations, or Volunteer Corps, will now avail. No appeals from the forum or the pulpit will be of any use. It is not a matter of seditious or treasonable practices. There are no Corresponding Societies, or Pop-gun plots. It is not a question of passion, but of money. The means that would put down a thousand market mobs will now avail nothing. Majorities and minorities are here out of the question. No acts of Parliament or proclamations; no societies for the suppression of vice; no Lancaster Schools ; no Bible Associations, will do any good.
Thus, Sir, have I just opened the subject. In future letters I shall go fully into it; and, in the meanwhile, I remain your most obedient servant,
CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER.
(Political Register, Norember, 1815.)
QUACK REMEDIES. Sir,
The fetid hospital, which excites loathing in all other persons, is the natural element of Quacks. The hollow cough of the consumptive is music to their ears. They chuckle with delight at the tumbling out teeth and the half-disguised limp, from which other people turn with disgust. How these gentry, the political and financial Quacks, now revel and enjoy themselves! Here they have a patient of consequence en
enough to employ them all. Here is a nation disordered, without knowing what is the matter with her. Her Physicians, after many and long consultations, prescribed her the bitter dose of a Corn-Bill, which they were actually compelled to make her swallow by force. A year's experience has shown, that this remedy is so far from effectual, that she has, ever since she was drenched with it, been growing worse and worse * ; and, as is always the case, the Quacks are now coming forth, each with his phial in his hand, to apply their simple remedies.
One of these dealers in "simples ” has made his application through this Register. He uses the signature of F., and, his last letter (see page 118), he dates from Paris, on the 21st of October. This gentleman, who, being anonymous as a writer, cannot complain if I make very free with his nostrums, professes to show, that the vast accumulation of debt and the consequent enormous amount of taxes do not at all tend to injure the nation. He insists that the debt and the taxes are good things. He calls the debt so much riches acquired by the nation. He says, that if it were ten times as great as it is, we should be ten times as rich as we are. But, in addition to all this, he was so unfortunate as to say, that he
We have, what are called, Agricultural Reports published at the end of every month, in the newspapers. The following is an extract from the Report for last month, which I have taken from the Times newspaper :-" Monthly Report for October. The continuing (leclension in the prices of Bread, Corn, and other grain, is operating so generally against tillage husbandry, that its consequences are likely to extend from individual to considerable national distress. The accounts from every district, of the numerous farms being abandoned by the tenants in an uncultivated state, must so far diminish our produce of grain, as to render it doubtful whether, a short time hence, we may be able to raise a suficiency, from our own soil, for our own consumption. Though exportations have taken place of the foreign wheats, which Government permitted to be brought in, to such an impolitic excess, a bulk of it still remains to depress the agricultural interest of the British dominions, so that it may be found difficult to apply any saving REMEDY for a calamity 80 extensive and disastrous.