« ForrigeFortsett »
must have descended from the few pairs that flew out of the ark; and so on with all other animals.
But, man steps forward, and asserts his sway—the wild beasts flee from his approach, and retire farther into the wilderness, and, in the course of time, perish from the land: a wolf in a state of nature is not now to be found on the British islands. The tameable, or domestic animals, would have shared the same fate with the wild ones, had it not been for their usefulness. The horse is caught by the human biped—is tamed through food—a bridle is put into his mouth—and the proudest of all animals bends his neck to the hand of man.
FOOD IS POWER.
ARISTOCRATIC DOMINION AND SACERDOTAL INFLUENCE REST ENTIRELY
Man is endowed with higher powers, for good or evil,
The soil is the source whence food, and everything that conduces to the enjoyment of life, is derived; and, in the occupation of the earth's surface, there is a striking contrast between the struggles, the violence, and fraud of men, and the quiet migrations and settlements of the irrational animals.
Man knows that food is the immediate and continued necessity of his nature, and by securing to himself the source of an abundant supply, he augments his own enjoyments,
and possesses the means of controlling other men destitute of similar advantages. One man who can withhold, for forty-eight hours, the food of another man, or of a thousand, or a million of men, retains the one man or the million under his subjection. This is the grand secret of society as unfolded in history down through the long period of six thousand years. Man controls his fellow-man by restraining or keeping back his subsistence.* On this principle is founded power of every kind—military despotism, oligarchical dominion, and, to a great degree, sacerdotal influence over the bodies and minds of men. On it, Nimrod established the first great empire on earth, and in the present day it is developed to a fearful extent, in the usurpation of the British aristocratic power over the subsistence and the industry of a great nation. It is not easily detected on reading the florid pages of general or national history. In early ages, poets were generally the historians or annalists of their times; and they were either not aware of the moving springs of action in men, or they followed the bent of their own genius in describing the picturesque and romantic incidents of wars and> revolutions. Regular historians are commonly the companions or the proteges of the men possessed of power, and their narrations are rather the accounts of the actions of their patrons, than statements of the effects of those actions on the great mass of the people among whom they take place. History is almost exclusively filled with the lives and doings of princes— the changes of dynasties—and the proceedings of warriors; but these are descriptions of the parties who hold in their hands the power over subsistence, or narratives of the struggles among a few men to gain possession of that power.
* At the outstart it may be proper to meet an objection which appears to rest on the definition and description of Power given here. It may perhaps be said, that the definition will apply to the authority of a parent over his children, or to that of a master over his domestic servants, as well as to the power of a government over its subjects. Unnatural parents and cruel masters may go great lengths to starve their children and dependents, but all these classes are themselves subject to the supreme authority of the government, and the laws regulate the connection between them. The natural relation between parent and child does not supersede the civil law; and the connection between master and servant is a contract, which the latter can compel the former to fulfil. In a country there are many masters and the servant if not pleased with one can remove to another; but within the same boundaries there cannot exist contemporaneously two governments executing one law.
A government will not brook a rival: a country is in a state of revolution or anarchy, when two powers claim the control of the subsistence of its inhabitants.
In barbarous ages, the lands or the means of subsistence of a people are invaded, and seized with open violence, by the invaders, who again are controlled in the division of the conquered territory by their own leaders. The irruption of the northern barbarians into the south of Europe, and the conquest and seizure of the lands of England by William the Conqueror, may be adduced as instances of unmitigated violence used in the control of subsistence.
In the seizure and occupation of the waste-lands, as practised in the modern system of colonization, we have the principle in full vigour. Throughout America, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, we behold a struggle going on among men to seize the soil and to prevent others from encroaching on it The miserable native inhabitants are actually crushed, or extirpated, in the scramble of the new race of invaders; but a semblance of decency is preserved, by throwing down to the savages the smallest piece of money as the price of their lands, and when the seizure is completed, the invaders turn round to the fellows of their own race, and demand for the same lands an enormous price for an acre.*
In modern times, the governments of civilized countries exercise their power over subsistence, by laws of restriction, prohibition, monopoly, and by TAXATION, in all its forms of insidious, indirect impost, and of direct personal payment or service. Salt is the savour of life,—without which the bodies of men would become living masses of worms and corruption. It has therefore been seized by the hand of fiscal power of every country as an article of taxation, and in some countries, it is held exclusively by the government. Throughout Asia, salt may be termed one of the instruments of despotism. In France, before its great revolution, salt was a government monopoly, and formed a productive source of its revenue; and, at present, the duties on salt appear considerable items in the national accounts of that country, and also of Spain, j It is only
* Question by Committee of House of Lords, April and May, 1838: N.B. "Lord Durham's Company probably did not give for tbe million of acres more than forty or fifty pounds sterling?"
Answer by the Hon. F. Baring—" Probably not; they would give a certain number of muskets or blankets."
Evidence of John Ward, Secretary to the New Zealand Company—given before Committee of House of Commons, 17th July, 1840:
"Land secured, about twenty millions of acres. Cost about .£17,000. The Company paid altogether j£45,000 for land in different parts of New Zealand." Answer, No. 645—" The cost appears to be about a half-penny an acre."
In the Loudon newspapers of January, 1842, the Court of Directors of the New Zealand Company advertised their lands, on sale, at 30 shillings an acre!
t" Taxes In Paussia.—The reduction of the taxes is estimated at 2,000,000 of Prussian dollars, of which 1,900,000 are to be allocated to diminish the price of salt, and so relieve the indigent classes." Extract from The Times of Dec. 9, 1842.