Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

This was not the sort of persons wanted in that country, which was already, as every country will be, overstocked with young gentlemen, who prefer white and soft hands to hands that are dirty and hard. And, besides this general overstock of empty heads and white hands, the Commerce of America and her tribes of speculators have experienced, as I said they would experience, a great shock. To you yourself, Sir, were my letter intended solely for your perusal, I should think it very impertinent, though your kindness miglit excuse me for it, to observe, that it is impossible for such a revolution to take place, as has taken place with regard to the circulating medium and the commercial concerns, of this great Commercial Nation, without producing an almost simultaneous effect in all other Commercial Nations. One commercial Nation is to another what one great Merchant is to another. It is impossible that England should become bankrupt, or that great commercial bankruptcies should take place in England, without producing great commercial embarrassment and numerous bankruptcies in America, seeing that the transactions between the two countries during each year, amounts to so many score of millions. And, it is very curious to observe, that, the moment the Bank of England, the old Lady of Threadneedle-street, the fruitful Mother of all Banks, all depreciation, all corruption, in the whole world; it is very curious, that the moment she began to draw in her issues, the paper system in America was brought to a crisis, and measures were taken for getting rid of that dreadful curse, a paper-money not convertible into gold and silver, which measures I perceive are now about to go into effect. This has produced an unprecedented stagnation of Commerce in America, which, added to the effects of bankruptcies in England, and the loss in the trade with us, owing to our poverty, have led to that state of things in America, which have probably produced great distress amongst the numerous soft-handed tribe before mentioned.

But, Sir, as to emigrants, who are able and willing to work, to get their living by the sweat of their brow, the representations of our hireling newspapers are totally false. The debt is so small in America, the Government so economical, the people so fairly represented, that, gene. rally speaking, that country never enjoyed more prosperity, as a proof of which I have only to inform you that agriculture flourishes beyond all former example.

I am happily, upon this subject, able to produce other proof than that which comes directly to myself from America. Mr. Drakard, the proprietor of the Stamford News, who, as you, I am sure, have not forgotten, was one of the victims of the Perceval administration, has published a letter, from an English farmer who emigrated to America a year or two ago. I will here, Sir, insert this letter, just as I find it published by Mr. Drakard, and you will be pleased to see how exactly it corresponds with what I have published upon the same subject.

DEAR SIR,

George Town, July 30, 1816. I should have wrote to you before this, but concluded you and the rest of my friends would hear of our safe arrival. I therefore thought it best to wait à few weeks, that I might be able to give you and my friends in general some information from my own knowledge of what I had seen and heard respecting America. We arrived at Baltimore on the 22nd of June, after a passage of fiftysix days, which is considered rather a long one; but upon the whole it was not an unpleasant one. We were all sick the first week, but after that time the sea had but little effect upon us. I could smoke my pipe on the quarter-deck with some pleasure, and have often wished, that some of my friends who had such a terrible dread of the sea had been with me; in fact, crossing the Atlantic (in a good vessel) is not worth mentioning, as an objection, to coming to America. Any of our friends who intend coming, need not be particular as to what part they come to, whether New York, Philadelphia, or Baltimore, as there are conveyances by steam-boats froin all the above places. I find America to be a very rising country, and every person that can do any thing that is useful is welcome here, and will be well paid for what he does. Journeymen's wages in all kinds of trades, such as joiners, bricklayers, stone-masons, blacksmiths, shoemakers, tailors, sadlers, wheelwrights, &c. &c. are from 17 to 2 dollars a day, and there is plenty of work for all that come, and will be for many years. All tradesmen may do well; they have great profits upon all they sell. You may inform Mr. that a sadler is an excellent business; they charge very high for their articles, and they supply the farmers with gears for the horses they use in the waggons and carts, and most of these gears are made of leather, much more so than in England; there is also a great deal of harness wanting for carriages. I was soon tired of being at George Town, doing nothing; therefore I wished my friends here to get me a small farm, not wishing to engage with any thing upon a large scale at first; and I soon met with a very pleasant situation, about eight miles from the city of Washington, where I now reside. You may inform any of our friends who wish to come here to farm, that I can purchase land close to where I live, principally cleared of timber and fit for cultivation, at frem 16 to 20 dollars an acre, 4 roods to the acre. They are in general bad farmers in this country, and do not make half so much of their land as they might do. There are some thousands of acres to sell in this part of the country, within eight or ten miles of Washington and George Town. The price of wheat is 2 dollars a bushel, and other grain in proportion. Give my respects to —, and tell him that he can have a situation either in the farming or his own business as soon as he comes. I have made a great deal of inquiry respecting situations for bankers' and merchants' clerks, but find they are rather difficult to be obtained, and when obtained not so good as trade. Brewing ale and porter is an excellent business : the demand for both increasing daily, and the profits being very good. If any person had come over with me that understood malting, I would have engaged in the brewing business, in preference to any other concern.

When I get my business closed in England, which I intend to have done as soon as possible, it is quite likely that I shall go into the concern :-the more I inquire after it, the more satisfied am I of its answering. Labouring men of good character are much wanted here: the meanest hand will get a dollar a day; and HE NEED NOT BE HERE A DAY WITHOUT GETTING WORK. If any of our friends come over in the fall or spring, be sure to send by them, for me, 21b. of white turnip-seed, 21b. of Swede turnip, llb. of cabbage-seed, llb. of brocoli, llb. of Scotch kale, and llb. of Brussel sprout seed. Also send a few ounces of onion, parsley, radish, &c., mark the different parcels, and let them be packed safe;-they are all very dear here. A gardener in this part of the country is as good a business as can be followed: they may make a fortune very soon, if they have property to begin with, and are steady and understand their business. Tell- --what I have said upon the business, and if he or any other gardener should come, tell them to bring with them from 1001. to 4001. sterling worth of all kinds of seeds, but principally what I have ordered you to send me. If any one comes, let him come to me, and I will get him from 30 to 50 per cent. profit on all he may bring. Let smail seed be included, such as mustard, celery, onion, radish, &c. &c. All kinds may be sold here at a very great profit. has got a situation just by my farm, to superintend a water-mill, and I expect going into a store, either in the city of Washington or George Town. Washington is im. proving very rapidly, and has been ever since the English were so good as to burn the public buildings, which were very fine, and are now repairing. I hope when they are finished they will erect a stone to tell posterity what country it was that committed such violent outrages upon defenceless places; but it has done good to the city for many miles round. The Government is now firmly established there, which was not the case before the burning of the public buildings. The result is, that all kinds of landed property has increased in value very much, both in the city and for 10 miles round, and will continue to increase.

“ If any of my friends come here I will give them all the advice and assistance that I can towards getting the situations. Schoolmasters and mistresses are

wanted here, and are well paid for teaching; they are about establishing some schools upon the Lancastrian plan: masters understanding the mode of teaching might get well paid. The prices of what you would call a common school for girls such as my or younger, to do plain work, are 3 or 4 dollars a quarter."

I have only just to observe here, Sir, that this gentleman says, that the meanest labourer will get a dollar a day; that he need not be a day without getting work; and that wheat is two dollars a bushel. Contrast this with the dollar a week, which is allowed to the poor labourers in Northamptonshire, where the wheat is also iwo dollars a bushel; and when you have done that, you will be able to judge what sort of persons those must be who think themselves unforlunate in having changed England for America.

But be this matter as it may, I have never recommended emigration to any one. On the contrary, I have always said, that England, wellgoverned, is the best country in the world ; and I have further said, that it is a shame for any man to quit his country, on account of its miseries, while there is the smallest chance of his being able, in any way whatever, of lending his assistance in restoring her to freedom and happiness. This is the doctrine that I have always preached ; and, Sir, to what a pass are we come, when an English country gentleman, a magistrate in his country, can coolly recommend to the Government to encourage the people to quit their native land; to advise the Government to adopt measures for getting rid of the people! He wanted the courage to tell the Government to remove the burdens that press his unfortunate countrymen to the earth. He says that he was in the hourly habit of witnessing the miseries of the people; and, did it not become him, then, to tell the Government what was necessary to do away these miseries? Yes, but he wanted the courage to do this. He could no longer endure the sight of the misery, and therefore he recommended to drive the miserable objects far away from their country and their friends.

There was a time, Sir, when an English country gentleman would as soon have thought of commiting a murder as of committing so base a proposition to paper. No, Sir, the people will not flee from their country. They will teach Mr. Moor, that they have as much right to remain in England as he has, and that they have a right too, and a perfect right, to comfortable lodgings, and to a sufficiency of food and of raiment, in exchange for their labour. What! shall the Royal Family have a right to be maintained in the manner that they are maintained ; shall all those whose living in splendour is derived from the public purse, tell us that they have a right to what they receive; and shall the labourer and the journeyman and the tradesman and the farmer when they are reduced to misery by the overwhelming force of taxation, and by the vicissitudes of a paper system, in the creation of which they had no hand whatever ; shall they when reduced to misery from these causes, and these causes are acknowledged by this very book to have produced their misery; shall they, when thus reduced to misery, be told to seek relief in a foreign land, and to abandon for ever the hope of again beholding any portion of what is most near and most dear to their hearts ? No, they are not to be told this! They will not be told this, and hear it with patience. They will remain in their country with the hope of seeing better days; and there is not a man of them, of honest heart and sound body, who may not contribute towards her restoration to that freedom and happiness which were

VOL. IV.

KK

formerly her lot, and which made her in reality, and not in empty boast, the envy and admiration of the world.

As to the means, Sir, by which this restoration will be effected, it would be presumption in any one to speak with any degree of confidence. But, when all agree, that some greut change must take place; and when the friends of reform wish that such a change may take place, one may be allowed to conjecture, as to what will probably be the course of events. It will be impossible for taxes to be collected during the next year, to the amount of fifty millions, unless new issues of paper come forth, which I do not now think to be probable. Besides the effects of the general and increasing misery of the labouring classes, the landowners, seeing themselves upon the verge of utter ruin, will be disposed to seek relief in some way or other; and they will soon discover, that there is no other way than that of reducing the expenses of the military establishment and of the Government debt. Some member of Parliament will propose such reduction ; a great deal will be said about national honour and national faith ; you and your colleague, and perhaps one or two more will justly say, that as far as the debt goes, the nation has very little to do with the matter. But at last divisions will take place. That will be quite enough. The blow has already been struck, and the symptoms of mortality will then make their appearance. The old lady in Threadneedle-street is merely patched up for show. She is like the beautiful young nymph” of Swift. Run but your finger against her cheek, and you make a hole. Her reputation is so very tender, that if you breathe upon it, it is gone.

A proposition to lower the interest of the debt, though it were rejected by ten to one, would put every hackney coach in requisition to carry the sellers out to the Stock Exchange. In such a state of things all men of common sense would see that a change, a great change, of some sort or other, was become unavoidable; and let us hope that a vast majority of the people, and even the Government itself, would prefer that change which is agreeable to the constitution, which would produce no violent convulsion, which would unite all parties, and which would afford the best, and indeed the only chance of extricating the country from its difficulties, by giving the people perfect confidence in their rulers ; namely, a constitutional reform of the Commons' House of Parliament. Until this change take place, there never can, in my opinion, be real peace in England or in Ireland. It is useless for men to talk of the power of the Government, or of the strength of its army. If it were possible to keep soldiers stationed in every street of every town, that would as effectually destroy the funds as an Act of Parliament would, if the Act were made for the express purpose, Credit is a thing not to be kept up by force of arms, any more than principles are to be put down by force of arms. The noisy and impudent Pitt, when he wished to draw immense sums imme. diately out of the pockets of the people, told them, that such sums were necessary to keep down the amount of the debt, and that the debt was the best ally of France. This debt is, as it has turned out, the best ally also of the people of England; and it will be a curious instance of retribute justice, if this debt which was contracted to support a war against freedom abroad and reform at home, should, at last, as I verily believe it will, insure Parliamentary reform to England and restore liberty to France. I am, Sir, with great respect, your most obedient servant,

WM, COBBETT,

499

TO

SIR FRANCIS BURDETT, BART.

WHAT GOOD WOULD A REFORM OF PARLIAMENT NOW DO ? AND IN WHAT MANNER CAN IT TAKE PLACE WITHOUT

CREATING CONFUSION ?

(Political Register, October, 1816.)

Middlelon Cottage, 7th Oct. 1816. Sir,

These are the questions which the sons and daughters of corruption now put to us. They can no longer deny the existence of the corruption ; the declaration of some members, that they thought no worse of Castle. reagh and Perceval for their conduct in the case of Quintin Dick, and the avowal of others, that the traffic in seats was as notorious as the sun at noon-day; these declarations have silenced those who had the impudence to contend for the purity of the present thing. They, therefore, give that up, and now contend, that if a Reform were to take place, it would do no good, and might throw the country into confusion. And, proceeding upon these grounds, they ask us the questions, which I have placed at the head of this Letter, which questions, shall now be my business to answer, seeing that we now certainly, in my opinion, approach the hour of Reform, or that of confusion. At such a moment, it is proper that we should be able to show, not only that Reform would do good when carried into effect; but, that, if now entered on, it may be carried into effect without any risk of creating violence and confusion. This I think myself able to do to the satisfaction of every impartial man in the kingdom.

With regard to the first question (“ What good would a Reform of Parliament do ? ') I ought firs to observe on the impudence of such a question. When a man comes into a court of justice and sues for any thing which he claims as his right, the Judge and Jury do not ask him what good the thing will do him, if he gain his cause.

The only ques. tion with them, is, whether his claim be just ; whether he has a right to the thing for the recovery of which he sues. What should we say to a thief, detected with our plate in his possession, if he were to say, that he would keep it, because, in his opinion, it would do us no good, if we got it back ? But, this is an old trick with wrong-doers, who are always ready to pretend, that the wronged party has not suffered any real injury by the wrong ; or, at most, but little injury, or little comparative injury. The man who is robbed upon the highway suffers, in general, but a trifling loss; the recovery of a few shillings is not worth the half of his trouble; but, this consideration does not save the robber from the gallows. It being acknowledged, therefore, that representation ought to precede taxation ; to be represented by persons chosen by themselves being the

« ForrigeFortsett »