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holders must be punctually paid their interest, because they have been so serviceable in helping the Government to carry on its wars; but, that the application of 7 millions as above, will not endanger the value of their property; and, that the 5 millions remaining will redeem the Debt fast enough. Indeed (and now comes their bright thought), they assert, that the greatest of dangers would be, that the Sinking Fund would accumulate to such a degree, that, at last, it would become terrible from its magnitude. For, say they, when the fund (they always regard it as a heap of real money) amounted to 30 or 40 millions a year, and the com. missioners had thus got the whole Debt into their possession, “all this “ must be suddenly thrown loose in a manner extremely detrimental to national capital, so as to render the difficulty almost insuperable of “ finding means to invest such annual sums as we are supposing to be in. “stantaneously set free.

Sir, do you understand them? Though I dare not say that I do, I think I can guess, that they must, after all their railing against debts and taxes, look upon them as absolutely necessary to the safety of the nation even in a mere pecuniary point of view. But, what can they mean by the letting loose of capital, and by the difficulty of finding the means of investing it ?

What is the Sinking Fund ? It is no fund. It has in its nature nothing to entitle it to that name. A fund means a collection of money. Is this thing a collection of money ? Suppose the taxes to be paid in guineas. The people pay twelve millions of guineas this year to be paid over to the Sinking Commissioners. They go and purchase up stock with the twelve millions of guineas. The stock thus bought stands then in their name; but the guineas are gone. Next year they would receive from the people more than twelve millions of guineas, and they would go too. If the Commissioners thus kept on till they had bought up all the stock, they would not have a guinea in hand. They would need no more to buy stock with. There would be an end of the Debt; and all the alteration that would take place would be this : the people, instead of having so many guineas a year to pay to the Commissioners, would have none to pay to them, and they would keep, and otherwise employ, the money which they used thus to pay in taxes.

And this is what these sages of Edinburgh call letting capital loose ! This is the sad event that they are so much alarmed at the thought of ! If I now pay 100l. a year towards the Debt, and the Debt becomes extinct at the end of this year, I shall, next year, have nothing to pay towards it. But, will it do me any harm to have the 1001. left in my hands? If not, what barm can it do the nation to bave the whole of the charges of the Debt put an end to ? And what sense is there in this talk about the accumulation of capital; and about the letting of capital loose ?

If there be any sense at all in the passages here referred to, it must mean, that the putting a stop thus suddenly to so large an amount of taxes would leave so much money in the people's hands, that they would not know what to do with it; and, that, hence would come great public distress. I have shown how absurd this notion is, supposing such a thing as paying off the Debt possible ; but is curious enough that the Reviewers, in another part of this same article, should themselves have discovered great benefits in paying off the Debt, and in the leaving of the amount of the taxes in the hands of those who used to pay them. After observing, that the whole of the Debt, which existed, previous to the late war, might have been cleared off, if it had not been for that war, the Reviewers proceed thus : “ We might have had good French wine for

eighteen-pence a bottle; porter at less than 2d. a pot; and a post"chaise at seven-pence or eight-pence a mile. The accumulation of wealth in every

hand would have been the sure consequence of this state of things. Not only our enjoyments would have been incalculably multiplied, but our farms would have increased; and thus a new

source of comfort and of wealth have opened upon us, from the in"creased cultivation of the country, and improvement of its manufac

tures.” And yet, these are the very same philosophers, who are afraid of paying off the Debt too speedily now, lest the letting loose of so much capital should prove detrimental to the nation.

It must be confessed, that this is a subject, as to which very strange and confused notions have long prevailed. But, we have certainly a right to expect, if it be treated of at all in such a work as the Edin. burgh Review, to see it treated of with something like ability, something like a knowledge of the matter. It is said, that Mr. Horner sometimes writes these financial articles, and sometimes Mr. JEFFERY ; the same who forgot whether he had ever heard the name of America mentioned in England. I do not believe that Mr. Horner can have written this article. His own observation in England would have prevented him from putting forth such absurdities as we here find. After all, however, if he should pass for the author of this very weak production, he must look upon it as an evil naturally inseparable from the enjoyment of the vast advantage which an anonymous work gives him in other respects. What I have to say further upon this article, and upon other parts of their work I shall address to the Edinburgh Reviewers themselves, and send it to them, probably, by the way of New York, or Philadelphia ; for, their behaviour with regard to the affair of Mr. Tweeddell and Lord Elgin is so abominably unjust, that it must not and shall not pass without exposure. If they say, that their fears prevented them from acting justly, the answer is, that they might have held their tongues : their fears could not compel them to speak. They are very bold in attacking Sir Nathaniel Wraxall. But on this subject, I shall address myself directly to them. I am, Sir, your most obedient servant,

WM. COBBETT.

TO

SIR FRANCIS BURDETT, BART.,

ON THE

DISTRESSES OF THE COUNTRY, AND ON THE MEASURES TO BE

ADOPTED TO PREVENT CONFUSION AND DEVASTATION.

(Political Register, August, 1816.)

Botley, August 7, 1816. SIR,

" What does Sir Francis say ?"_"What does Sir Francis mean to do?"_"What is Sir Francis about ?" -These are questions that I continually hear asked, go where I will; and I verily believe, that that time, long ago foretold by me, is now at hand, when more will depend on your exertions and your influence, than on those of all the rest of the public men in England. Therefore, though I am not one of those, who think you ought to be incessantly speaking ; that you ought, in imitation of the late Mr. Whitbread, to stand with your mouth everlastingly open, like a chicken that has the gapes, I cannot help feeling a strong desire, that great activity may now mark your public life; that life which, every man knows, you have devoted, in great part, to the liberties and happiness of your country. I am aware that it may be deemed somewhat presumptuous in me to offer advice, or any thing that shall look like advice, to a person whose conduct has invariably borne the stamp of profound political knowledge as well as of public spirit. But I know you will have the goodness to excuse anything which proceeds from an anxiety to promote the public good; and, therefore, I will here lay before you the result of long and attentive observation respecting the distresses of our country, and also respecting the causes of those distresses, and the remedies which ought to be applied.

As to the existence of the distress, nothing need be said. That is now acknowledged by those, who so long endeavoured to persuade the world, that the nation was in the highest state of prosperity. The deplorable descriptions of the distresses in the manufacturing districts, though very afflicting, are not, however, those which produce the most serious impression upon my mind. Ian much more deeply affected by the general, though silent distresses of those whom we call the country people. I have the good fortune to live in a part of England, where the labouring people are better off than in any other part of England that I bave ever

We live here amidst immense woods and coppices. We have large forests round about studded with cottages, which are in general the property of labourers, who, in addition to the great blessing of health, enjoy all the numerous resources of large gardens, and sometimes little fields, cows, pigs, geese, bees, &c. The work in the woods occupies the whole of the winter; the felling of the oak timber every month of May, is equal to a harvest in point of profit to the labourer, and even surpasses the harvest as it furnishes him with an abundance of fuel, and employs every woman and child able to work. These various occupations with the spade, the grub-axe, the hatchet, the saw, and the plough, produce that which is natural to be expected, a race of adroit and enterprising la. bourers. The arable land is in general pretty good : there are very

few of those large farms which are to be found at some distance from this spot; a great portion of the land is cultivated by its owners, and in the best possible manner. We are at a very small distance from the sea, which would bring us fuel at a very reasonable price, did not the woods themselves furnish our labourers in abundance. I have, several times, been more than a hundred miles from home in different directions; and, a pretty attentive observer of what I see, I have always returned confirmed in my opinion of the comparative bappiness of the labourers in my own neighbourhood.

Indeed, until within these three years, very little distress was known here. But, now, it has found us out, and it threatens to involve us in one general mass of misery. I could name numerous individuals, who are actually become a sort of skeletons. It is useless, however, to enter into descriptions; and I need only tell you that since my return from London, in the month of March, more than three hundred labourers have applied to me for work, and none of the three hundred have I been able

seen.

to employ, though the nature of my crops require a great many hands. I see scores of young men, framed by nature to be athletic, rosy-cheeked, and bold. I see scores of young men formed by nature to exhibit this appearance ; I see them thin as herrings, dragging their feet after them, pale as a ceiling, and sneaking about like beggars. Is it, Sir, compassion, which ought to predominate in my heart when I behold these men ? Is it not, rather, indignation at the cause of this degrading metamorphose ?

What is it, I ask myself, that can have changed men in this manner? What is it that can have brought into a state of inexpressible misery, a set of the most industrious, laborious, and careful people that ever lived upon the face of the earth? What is it that can have brought misery under the roof of the man, every hour of whose life, except those required for sleep, is employed in providing for the wants of his family, and employed, too, with the greatest skill as well as with the greatest industry ? What is it that can have produced this effect in the midst of a fertile country cultivated like a garden ?

These are the questions which I ask myself ; which every man of public spirit has long been asking ; which the whole nation is now putting home to the Government; and which the partisans of that Government are endeavouring to evade by every trick that hacknied subterfuge can invent, and that the most offensive impudence can play off. This question, however, must be answered. The real cause of the calamity must be exposed, at last; for, unless I am greatly deceived, the distress is even now only beginning. It appears to me, that, in addition to its natural progress, from bad to worse, it will receive a strong push from the adverse season of this year. From all the observations that I have been able to make, I am of opinion that bread and meat, and, of course, all sorts of food will be high in price during the next winter. This opinion is founded on the well-known fact that one-half at least of the crop of hay has been totally destroyed. I mean that it has been rendered wholly unfit for food for animals of any sort ; and, though, doubtless, it will return hereafter in the shape of manure, for this year it is destroyed As to the corn, of all desriptions, a buckward narvest is invariably injurious in every part of England. I have never before known a year when some wheat in this part of the country, was not reaped in July; and, I believe, that none will be reaped this year before the last week of August. Independent of present appearances, therefore, the wheat must be a failing ciop; because if it remained green to a very late period, it is sure to be assailed by what we call the blight in the straw, which is equally sure to take ai least one. half of the flour out of the grain. But, if such is likely to be the effect of a backward harvest here, where we are fifteen days, at least, forwarder than they are in the centre of England, what is to be the case in the North? In addition to the presumption founded upon general experience, 1 perceive that the wheat is already greatly affected by blight. Within a circuit of several miles, taking in hill and valley, I have minu ely examined the state of the wheat ; and, it appears to me that if the whole of England be as unfortunate in this respect, as it is in this part of it, the crop will be very small in amount, compared to what is on an average of years.

If I am right in these opinions, the price of corn will be high. But, you will plea-e to bear in mind, thai the fariner cannot be benefitted by high price proceeding from such a cause. If, indeed, my crop were large

or as large as an average of years affords, then I should be benefitted by the high price; or, at least, I should have more money to expend in labourers' wages. But if the high price proceed from the diminution in the quantity of my crop, I acquire from that high price, no additional means of paying my labourers. If I grow a hundred quarters of wheat and sell them for eight hundred pounds, I am in no better state than 1 should be if I grew on the same land two hundred quarters of wheat, and sold them for eight hundred pounds. My situation, so far, is nearly the same; but what is the situation of my labourer, in one case, compared with the other ? If the high price of my wheat arise from a diminution in the amount of my crop, that high price gives me no means of adding to the wages of my labourer, while the price of his food keeps an exact pace with the price of my corn. I should still be unable to give him more than twenty-pence a day, while he would be compelled to purchase his bread at double the price which he now pays for it.

Appalling as it may be to contemplate such a prospect, the state of things which I have just been supposing, is, I verily believe, likely to take place during the ensuing winter. For, you will please to observe, that if the price of food be kept down by importation ; if the natural effect of a failing crop, be counteracted in this unnatural manner; if I grow but a hundred quarters of wheat from the land, on which I ought to grow two hundred quarters, and if, in consequence of importation, I obtain four hundred pounds for it, instead of eight hundred pounds, I am inevitably ruined, and rendered utterly unable to support the poor, either as labourers or as paupers ; so that, in this case, we must all sink together.

It appears to me, therefore, very clear, in any view that I can take of the matter, that a great falling off in the crop of corn, added to the destruction which has already taken place, of the crop of hay, must produce a fearful addition to the miseries of the country; and, that such a falling off in the crop of corn will take place, I could almost venture to assert, as a fuct within my own knowledge. I am aware that there will not be want. ing persons to say, that my opinion in this respect is founded on my uishes much more than on my observation or my reason. - And I will not be hypocrite enough to say, that I would not wish even for a bad crop of corn, if I thought it would produce a constitutional reformation in the Government, and the lasting happiness of the country. But I do not believe that a scarcity of food would produce such an effect. The patriotism which is inspired by the wants of the belly, is of a sort that I do not admire. The resistance, which was made by Hampden, was much the more glorious, on account of the trifling amount of the sum for which it was made. I wish to see the people animated by the principle of liberty, and not by the calls of hunger. But, after all, the calls of hunger, if we come to that, must be listened to; and, therefore, it becomes those, whose station, or whose character gives them great weight in the country, to consider beforehand, what measures they shall adopt, or recommend, if the state of things which I am anticipating shall arrive.

Far be it from me to suppose, that you entertain the most distant idea of seeing your wretched countrymen relieved ; of seeing the madness of hunger soothed; of seeing devastation and uproar put a stop to, by the paltry means of subscriptions, clubs, soup.shops, and those other contemptible devices that are now resorted to for the purpose of quieting the sufferings of a community. The evils, Sir, that aftlict a whole people, you well know, are to be removed by nothing short of means, which flow from

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