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" Surely the writers of this cannot have taken the trouble to read the debates of “ last Session, in which Ministers stated the reductions that were intended to be “ made in our Peace Establishment in the course of the next and ensuing year; “ for if they had, they could not have ventured such an assertion against “ Ministers, that they were determined not to lower the peace expenses of the
country.'—Those who really feel for the distresses of the country will apply " themselves to the present rather than to the past. Those who attempt to raise
upon them a clamour against Government, are, we suspect, much more anxious to convert them to party purposes, than to find a remedy or an alleviation for “ them."
After a few moments spent in admiration of the unparalleled impudence of this filthy scribbler, who really lives upon the sweat of the people of England, and who puts himself forward as the author of plans for administering food to them, pray, Sir, mark the earnestness with which he deprecates the touching upon any thing, calculated to influence and irritate the poor by causing them to believe, that the Government are obstinately determined to withhold all retrenchment. Why are we to avoid every thing of this sort ? Why are we not to tell the people what is the truth? The ministers, we are told by this writer, are engaged almost the whole of their time in endeavouring to find out the means of retrenching ; and that it will be for Parliament to decide, whether they have done what they ought to do in this respect. This is what the impudent Pitt used to say, when he was attacked on account of any of those measures which have at last led to the present state of things. When detected in any of his blunders or his jobs ; when his bank could no longer pay in cash ; when his friends Melville and Trotter were brought forth; when his own transactions with Benfield came to light: upon all such occasions, when even he could find out neither pretext nor subterfuge, he appealed, like his protegé, GoverNOR Aris, from his assailants, from his detectors and accusers, to the Parliament. But, Sir, we do not choose to stop for the purpose of making any such appeal. The people are now in a mood to exercise their own judgment. We know, that the Ministers have made no retrenchment worth speaking of, and we can perceive no symptoms of their intention to retrench. This writer tells us that the Ministers ought to have a “fair trial,” and he says, that this is the common privilege of all Englishmen. What sort of trial does he mean, Sir? Does he mean that they shall have a Special Jury ? For that was the only species of trial that I could obtain and, upon the same principle, when these ministers are to be tried, we ought to select the Jury. But, good God ! what trial do they want, more than they have had ? Have they not already had five and twenty years of trial ? Are they not the continuation of Pitt's ministry ? Do they not meet annually and boast of this ? What further trial, then, do they want ? Besides, did we not see with what desperate attachment thay adhered, during the last session of Parliament, to every branch of expenditure? Did we not see that they parted with their power of spending money as if it had been their heart's blood ? What trial, then, are we to give them further? No, Sir, the nation is now well convinced, that not only these men, but that their system also, has been tried long enough, and that there is an absolute necessity of a speedy and radical change.
This writer, in the Courier, answers the complaint against sinecures, which has been made by the Morning Chronicle, by observing, that, “if the
labouring classes are told, that their distresses could be alleviated by taking
away all incomes derived from sinecures, they might be persuaded, that " there are OTHER INCOMES which might bear reduction;" thereby
giving to men like you a broad hint, that if sinecures should be abolished, your estates will be taken from you by the labouring people. Oh, no, Sir! The labouring people of England are not such brutes as to be unable to perceive the distinction between property which a man has derived from his industry, his talents, or which he inherits from his ancestors, and a heap of money which is annually received out of the taxes, that is to say, out of the labour of the people, for doing nothing, that being the strict sense of the word sinecure. The people of England, kept down as they have been, are not such brutes as to be unable to perceive, that there is a great deal of difference, indeed, between the rents which your fortunate tenants pay you, and the many thousands a year paid to George Rose at the public expense. They know the difference, very well, between a man like you, who in one shape or another, pay probably, ten thousand pounds a year in taxes, and a man like Lord Camden, who receives thirty thousand pounds a year, and, probably, a great deal more, out of the taxes. The people of England are not so stupid, as to be unable to perceive, that they participate with you in the produce of your estates ; that it is impossible for those estates to flourish in your hands, or rather in the hands of your happy tenants, without shedding blessings upon all who dwell around them. The people of England still remember, those who are old enough, and those who are young still hear their fathers say, how much they owed to the hospitality which formerly reigned througliout the country, and particularly in the mansions of the gentlemen. Those mansions they now see abandoned, literally abandoned, I mean. They see the ancient inhabitants actually driven forth by the tax-gatherer, and the scenes of former plenty and mirth they see changed into a miserable solitude.—No, Sir, if the writer in the Courier hopes to deter you from doing your duty by the dread of losing your estate, he is as ignorant of your character, as he supe poses the people of England to be ignorant of the character of those against whom you have so long contended.
It is in vain also that he trumps up the old bugbear, the French Revolution. "The transition,” says he, “is not difficult, as the experience of “ the French Revolution too fatally proved. The mind, in a state of in“ flammation or agitation, is not very much inclined to reason : War lo the
gentlemen's mansions ! peace to ihe cottage ! was the cry of the French “ Reformers and philosophers. And what was the effect? The palace was " destroyed and the cottage also: both were involved in oppression, po
verty and ruin." This is the old hackney cheat. It has a dose of terror for some of the country gentlemen, and for the whole of their wives. But, the history of the French Revolution, if rightly viewed, would operate in producing terror on the other side. What was it that gave rise to the French Revolution ! What was it that ercited the cry of " War to the gentlemen's mansions! peace to the cottage !" What was it that gave rise to this cry? The hireling scribe says, that was the cry of the French Reformers and Philosophers; but Mr. Arthur Young tells us'; he tells us, who was a witness of the scenes, that this cry was excited by the innumerable oppressions and the tyranny exercised under the Bourbons, and especially by a long list of vexatious and grinding taxes ! These were the causes of the French Revolution ; these were the causes of the vindictive cry against the nobility and the priesthood. Therefore, Sir, this writer, in referring to the horrors of the French Revolution, furnishes a subject of alarm at the delay of reformation; and the wives of the country gentlemen, who must be base and foolish indeed, if they have less spirit or less sense than the greater part of their husbands have discovered, will, if they see the history of the violences of the French Revolution in its true light, urge their boobies to step forward, while there is yet time; and to use all the influence they possess in endeavouring to produce a diminution of the taxes, the grinding weight of taxation having been the principal cause of those scenes in France, which are now brought forward in order to prevent any attempt at reform of any sort.
After referring to the bloody scenes of the French Revolution, the hireling naturally enough comes to a saying of the pensioned Burke, which, is "that
were every RICH man's throat cut, the poor would not have a meal the “ more for it.” This is one of the frauds in argument, made use of by that corrupt, crafty, and clever man. We are not proposing to cut any body's throat. We are proposing no violences of any sort. We are proposing to adopt measures of justice, and will not believe that to do men justice has a tendency to urge them to cut throats, or to commit any outrages whatever. Besides, when have we said, that there ought not to be rich men in the country? When have we said that any man's estate, which he has fairly acquired, or has received froin his ancestors, ought to be taken away from him ? This is no doctrine of ours. We, on the contrary, wish that every man should keep his own, and that the incomes of some ought not to be taken away for the purpose of being given to others. We complain that great sums are taken out of the pockets of the people, and given to those who do nothing for the people ; we express a wish that this practice may be put an end to, because it tends to produce misery amongst the people ; and, in answer to this complaint, the false Burke is brought to tell us, that if every rich man's throat were cut, the poor would not have a meal the more for it!
But, Sir, it gives me pleasure to be able to say, that sophistry like this ; that all the arts of hypocrisy; that all the cant of those who affect such a tender concern for the people, have, at last, been completely defeated, and that there does exist, from one end of the country to the other, a clear and decided opinion, that to the waste of the public money, on barracks, military academies and asylums, to an immense standing army, a most enormous staff establishment, to innumerable sinecures, pensions, grants, allowances, commissionerships, with all their endless retinue of officers, clerks, messengers, doorkeepers, &c, there does exist, throughout the whole country, a clear and decided opinion, that to these causes are to be principally ascribed all the distresses which the country endures, and which is daily and hourly covering it with shame and degradation, and sapping the foundations of its strength and its fame. I beseech you, therefore, Sir, to step forward to assist and to protect us. I am quite certain that the country will be responsive to your voice. I would fain hope, if I could, that many country gentlemen will be ready to co-operate with you in all lawful endeavours (and no other endeavours will you make) to rescue their country from ruin. But if you are still destined to stand alone, or, at least, to have the assistance of no one but your gallant Colleague, who has so nobly dealt corruption a mortal blow, I am quite satisfied, from every thing that I have seen or heard, that you will have the support of the people. You have frequently declared that you have no new scheme to adopt ; that you want nothing new; that you wish to overturn nothing that is agreeable to the Constitution of the country; that you wish to deprive the Crown of none of its rogatives, the Nobility of none of their privileges, the Church of none of its dignities or dues ; but that you wish the people to enjoy fully their rights also,
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and that to obtain them this enjoyment, you will exert yourself to the utmost of your power. The people concur with you in opinion ; thy are impatient to hear your propositions distinctly laid before Parliament; and they are ready to assist you by every lawful means at their command.
I am, with the greatest respect, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,
SIR FRANCIS BURDETT, BART.,
BOOK OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE.
(Political Register, September, 1816.)
The book, of which so much has been said, has at last been published by Mr. Clement, in the Strand. For a great many years you have been accused of drawing gloomy pictures of the state of the country. You have been, by the sons and daughters of Corruption, by those who fatten on the miseries of the country, accused of endeavouring to make men discontented with the best and wisest of governments. The hour of vengeance on these reptiles ; or rather the hour of justice, is now arrived. For the very creatures of this Government are now representing the state of the country in colours much more gloomy than even your eloquence would be able to come up to; and that very press, which they have so long made use of to misrepresent and abuse all those who oppose them, and at the same time to mislead the people; that very press has now, though against their will, been made the instrument of justifying you and condemning themselves. How
many times have you predicted, that the country would be ruined ? How many times have you told the people that landowners were become little better than stewards for collecting money to be paid over to the Government? How many times have you told them, that the war, which was carrying on against liberty abroad, must end in the total debasement of the whole nation, and tinally produce a revolution at home, or a state of slavery nothing short of that of the negroes in the Island ? Well do I remember, too, the prophetic words of that celebrated man, that martyr in the cause of freedom, Mr. Horne Tooke, who was vilified for your sake, while you were vilified for his sake; well do I remember bis prophetic words, while he was in that assembly, where you have so long laboured for the good of your country, and from which assembly he was afterwards excluded by an ¡Act of their own passing, as he had been in the early part of his life, shut out from a Bar, the character of which is now become notorious to all the world." I know," said he, “ that you
" will continue the war. Your object is to prevent the people from en" joying their right of choosing their representatives. "You intend, by " this war, to destroy liberty for ever. But you will be deceived. The
cure will arise out of the excess of the evil. The debt which you will create by this war will ruin yourselves, and will produce at last such a
mass of misery, that the people, unable any longer to endure it, will “ shake it off, though many of them may be destroyed in making the “ effort.” It is a subject of deep regret, that this man is not now alive.
He, on the one side, and Pitt and Dundas on the other side, should have lived to see this book of the Board of Agriculture! This book, which is the work of the creatures of the Government, has made good the predictions of Mr. Tooke to the very letter, as far as events have hitherto gone. And, as to the future, it is utterly impossible, that anything can arise to prevent a change, which will approach very nearly.
This book is by far the most interesting document that ever was laid before the public in England. It comes from the creatures of the Government; and it relates to matters of the greatest importance. It furnishes undoubted proof, that the country has been brought into a state, out of which it cannot emerge without some great change. This being the case, it follows, of course, that we shall not now be deemed so very impertinent, if we take upon us to offer our opinions respecting what sort of change it ought to be.
In the present letter, I shall not attempt to call your attention to any great part of the detail of this book. Indeed, I have not time. The book has but just reached my hands, and it will require an attentive perusal in order to exhibit its contents in a contracted form. In another letter I will endeavour to make this exhibition. At present I will confine myself to a few points, which I deem of the greatest importance.
We shall see by-and-by that more than half the letters, of which the book consists, complain loudly of the weight of taxes; but, the Board of Agriculture, in their part of the book, seem very anxious to lay the greater part of the blame upon the poor-rates. These rates ought not, however, Sir, to be considered as a tax, because a tax denotes something taken away by the Government, and not something which is raised upon one man for the relief of another man. This is a distinction which people in general overlook, but which distinction, in inquiring into the causes of the miseries of the country, ought to be constantly kept in view. The poor-rates have existed a long while. There appears to me to be nothing radically vicious in them. There will always be unfortunate people. There will always be the aged, the infirm, and the helpless. The vast amount of the poor-rates is no more an argument against them, than the vast amount of the taxes in general is an argument against all contributions towards the support of Government. As far as the poor-rates operate in leading people to be lazy and careless, they must be considered as an evil; but it is notorious, that the poor-rates in England produced very little effect in this way, until the weight of taxation brought on by the American war, rendered the poor-rates triple in amount to what they had been before. The poor-laws were enacted in the reign of Queen Elizabeth; and, towards the close of the reign of Charles the Second they amounted, in England and Wales, to no more than about two hundred and fifty thousand pounds a year. It was not till towards the close of the American war, it was not till after this present reign began, that the poor-rates were