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than as a drone in the hive, if he invests his capital in land? We frankly acknowledge that we can find a sufficiency of reasons for bringing under investigation the Corn Laws and their concomitants, without going back to the origin of rent and the early tenure of land, which can now lead to no sound practical end, for the purpose of putting a sting in the sides of landowners, and making the country look with jealousy upon their right of possession. We have never shrunk from speaking out with regard to the aristocracy in common with other monopolists, and before we come to the close of this article we shall have occasion to notice its conduct in no very favourable light; but we cannot consent to drag into the cause of even justice and humanity, eircumstances that in our conscience we believe do not belong to it, and which cannot be brought to bear equitably against those whom we are opposed to. That which is called rent, as we imagine, in the present condition of the community, can only be regarded as a return for money invested, as the interest of capital laid out in land, and it must equally be paid to the possessor who inherits, as to the possessor who purchases. This is the present state of the case; and from this point we think we may start for every useful purpose of inquiry upon the subject of the Corn Laws. We are offering no opinion as to the accuracy of one doctrine or another upon the origin of rent, or any other abstract question of economical science; but as many other circumstances are involved in the consideration of this long agitated subject, the space that we can afford to it shall not be wasted by any extraneous matter, or upon that which does not strictly bear upon the present state of circumstances; or, in a word, upon that which may not be usefully, practically, and extensively applied to the varied branches and relations of this vast empire, every one of which must stand or fall by the conduct of the Government, and the efforts of the country, under the present trial. If the conduct of the one, as we hope and think it will, should be vigorous and firm, and the efforts of the other honest and enduring, and distinct from narrow interests, England will come triumphantly out of the struggle ; but if either party fail in its duty, political destruction must be expected from such dereliction.
In the pursuit of their exclusive privileges, there is an arrogance in landed proprietors, of long standing the more particularly, that is exceedingly obnoxious. Other monopolists are contented with assigning some especial reasons that they have concocted, as sufficient proof of the hardship of their case, should they be interfered with ; but those connected with the land take the high ground at once, and declare themselves to be the country, and that every other interest ought to be subservient to their own, and succumb to their advantage. If they do not in words assert this doctrine, their acts maintain it; and in proof of this it is only necessary to refer to the conduct of the agriculturists since the peace upon all the discussions of the Corn Laws and the Wool-duty question. The gist of their argument has been, that the land must be maintained at all sacrifices; that the country could not retain her place among European powers, if those who owned and tilled the soil were not sufficiently protected. In fact, the old leaven of feudalism, softened down and amalgamated to the present order of society, it is true, in a great degree, but still among many members of the aristocracy scarcely concealed, is still in operation. The lords of the soil are striving hard to be the political lords' paramount of the empire; they have perceived with jealousy, other interests swelled into immense importance, and occupying prominent positions; and most unworthy efforts, from time to time, have been made to check their progress, collaterally at least, by setting up pretensions for the owners and occupiers of land, which could neither be justified by policy nor justice. But these efforts must now be abandoned, unless the horrors of a revolution are less dreaded by those who have made them, than the privation of an execrable monopoly. The die, we are persuaded, must soon be cast; the empire will not long endure this galling injustice. · The landowners are, in many respects, to be considered in the same light as the improvident holders of West India estates. They expect the public to pay for their extravagance and folly. The individual who becomes a West India planter upon borrowed capital, expects his sugar and coffee to be charged to purchasers at a price that will cover all the expenses that he must of necessity incur, and leave him a handsome residue; and the English landholder, on his part, expects an equally smooth passage through life. The community is to accommodate itself to his convenience and advantage. He is to suffer no loss from changes of any description; he is never to be removed out of calm water. We hear a great deal about the landed interest having borne the brunt and burden of the war, when the fact is that it was the extraordinary circumstances of that period that produced the largest gains to it; but the aptitude with which all classes of persons connected with it enlarged their expenditure causes those advantages now to be forgotten. The landowner and the landholder, each of them in their respective stations, increased their mode of living quite as rapidly, and in many instances much more rapidly, than even the forced events arising out of the war justified ; and the consequence is that many large estates are deeply encumbered, and farmers generally, we believe, are poor; but is the country to be burdened with a bread-tax to pay off mortgages and annuities, and to enable farmers to live beyond their legitimate means ? Both these parties thought that, with them, war-profits were to last for ever. Land could not be bought at too dear a rate, or rented at too high a price, and every person living out of the land made long strides in artificial prosperity. This, we admit, was the case, to a certain extent, with every other interest in the United Kingdom. They were all forced by the war, which was the epoch of excitement, and society generally made a rapid march. But what has been the case with those other interests? They have been fast accommodating themselves to circumstances; they see that the day of high prices is past; that no longer enormous profits are to be made from casual circumstances, and that national and individual prosperity must now be found in steadfastly adhering to sound commercial principles, which unfetter buth buyer and seller, and bring them into all markets upon fair terms. The consequence of this anti-monopoly operation has been an extraordinary decline in the price of almost every article of commerce, whether raw or manufactured, excepting articles of food, which exception is mainly occasioned by the monopoly existing in the corntrade, by maintaining which all the commercial transactions of the empire have been interfered with, retarded, and recoil, in many cases, with ruinous effect upon those who have entered upon them. The truth is, if the trade of the first necessary of life is proceeding to the prejudice of, and in direct opposition to, the interest of the community, commercial relations cannot be in a wholesome state. The foundation is not properly laid, and therefore to expect a good superstructure is childish. Whilst every other interest is finding its level, and sees, or is told by the Legislature, that it must be removed from its artificial state, and by activity, industry, and enterprise, engage in competition with other powers for the general advantage of the British community, the landowners are to be propped and bolstered by restrictive duties, which at once prevent the English manufacturer from eating bread at a price proportioned to his reductions, or the foreign farmer from taking English manufactured goods. Circumstances have compelled the Government and the Parliament to adopt a sounder policy in every minor branch of trade, but they have still left the great article of commerce in the fangs of overgrown monopolists.
It is said that country-gentlemen have not kept pace with the progress of information, and we believe this to be the case generally; but as far as their own interest is concerned, or rather that which they conceive it to be, they are in no degree behind their neighbours. The same year that the battle of Waterloo was fought, which closed the war, we find the agricultural interest asking for and obtaining protection for its produce. It was quick-sighted enough to perceive thus early that a change must take place in land and its concomitants, and that therefore it behoved those concerned with it to echo forth distress in good time, that they might the more readily receive assistance. It would be useless to enter into the details of the several measures that have been introduced for the protection of agriculture, as the term has gone, from the year 1815 to the present act, which has had the complete effect of keeping wheat at a high price without assisting the national income: a duty, as far as it is concerned, serving the double purpose of irritating the people and checking the progress of the revenue; because it is not the shades of difference in these expedients that we care about, or that can be of any moment to the country, but the removal of a false principle from the mercantile transactions of the chief commodity for human subsistence. At the period we have noticed above, the agriculturists made out a case for themselves that they imagined would appear as one of great hardship, and they particularly dwelt upon the high rate of taxation imposed upon them, when compared with that imposed upon other classes, and they have steadily adhered to the same assertion whenever their case has come before Parliament. But how does the matter appear in point of fact? Why, that the landed interest is less taxed than any other in the realm; or at any rate, by no distortion of circumstances can it be made out that it is more heavily taxed than its neighbours. The assertion has uniformly been most unblushingly put forth, and has very generally gone uncontradicted ; but let us for a moment examine its accu. racy; and in doing so, we would previously observe that if agriculturists understood their own interest, they would be convinced that they reimburse themselves from the consumer, let the taxes imposed upon them be higher or lower; but be that as it may, how does the fact stand as regards an excess of taxation falling on the land? With the exception of tithes, the imposts laid upon those who own and occupy it are lighter than those imposed upon the rest of his Majesty's subjects. The agriculturists are especially relieved with respect to the horse-duty, which is of great importance: they are exempted from the window-tax in the places where they prepare their produce for sale. Another exemption from taxation that the land enjoys, is in the legacy-duty. Personal property pays legacy-duty at the rate of from one to ten per cent. while no devise of land is subjected to it. As regards tithes, probably, no part of the community comes so decidedly in contact with their vexatious operation as the agricultural; but, we would ask, do they not oppress all classes of society? Are we not continually hearing of the hardship and pressure of the tithe system amongst the merchants and traders of this metropolis? Then, again, as regards the poor's-rates, which the landed interest is perpetually declaring so grievously oppress it. In point of fact, this interest throws a portion, and that too not a small one, of the impost in question from the land upon other parties. The management of the poor'srates-in other and more applicable terms, the rank jobbing that is going on with regard to them in agricultural villages is a matter of deep concern with the farmers; not for the benefit of the poor, or the parish, but for the purpose of relieving themselves as much as possible of the burden, and throwing it upon others. The scale of wages for agricultural labourers is generally arranged by a few principal farmers in each village, who take care to give the labourer As. 58. or 6s. per week minus the amount that will maintain his family, and then pay him that deficiency out of the poor's-rates as parochial relief, and by these means render it compulsory upon every ratepaying parishioner to contribute towards the maintenance of the individuals who earn the farmer money, although some of those rate-payers may have no more connexion with the land than a London shopkeeper. All tradesmen in villages, persons who have retired there upon limited incomes, and others that might be mentioned, who do not own or occupy an acre of land, are thus forced into the maintenance of those families that earn the farmer all his profits. If we turn to the land-tax, we find the agriculturists paying only in common with all other subjects of the realm who are charged with taxes.
Thus, then, we hope that we have made it appear that, as far as imposts go, the agriculturists are not more oppressed than their neighbours; and consequently, upon this ground, there can be no cause for apprehension of having acted unjustly towards them when the Corn Laws are removed ; and we will now, in a very few words, notice the price of production ; but before we do that, we will refer to the state of improvement in agriculture, which is not an unimportant feature in this case. The owners and occupiers of land, like all monopolists, prefer any expedient rather than the application of industry, activity, and enterprise. Their own resources are neglected so long as they can lean upon the community, and cause it to make returns to them that ought alone to emanate from perseverance and other personal acts. We are not now going into any details to show the aptitude for improvement that exists in agricultural pursuits positively, or as compared with manufactures ; probably it may be extremely limited under that comparison; but the question is, has there been the general anxiety evinced among agriculturists for the improvement of their system that has been apparent among manufacturers, or those, at least, who have not been encumbered with protection? A great impetus was given to agricultural improvement about forty years since, which the excitement of the war encouraged; for the prosperity of the landed interest was at that time so vigorous, that a large return was expected for every sum of money that was laid out in or upon land; but the moment a change of circumstances occurred, instead of applying fresh enterprise to meet it, the agriculturists quail, and look only to the other orders of society for assistance, as if they alone were to be free from the effects of that change; and one of those improvements which the excitement of the time had produced, and which the farmers considered as a desideratum, has been brought forward as a reason for protection ; but as this point refers to the Wool question, which, with all its important circumstances, we may at a future period have occasion to discuss, when this fact would be noticed, we shall now quit it, and remark upon the cost of production. It appears to us that the necessity for protection, like the assertion that the landed interest is more heavily taxed than others, has been too much taken for granted, and, in a single line, we will state why we think so. Mr. Jacob, who we believe is allowed to be the highest authority in this case, states, upon an average of fifty years, that the charge for producing wheat on the Continent is 358. per quarter; or, rather, bringing the charges for producing wheat in the different Continental States to one focus, the Dantzic market, that sum covers the cost. Wheat, then, in this market (and Hamburgh, and other Continental depots, average about the same,) is to be bought at 358. per quarter. The conveyance of it to this country will cost about 10s. per quarter more. There are other incidental expenses not included in the above 108. and losses attaching to foreign grain ; but these we will not detail, and will call the charge of production and transit to this country of foreign wheat 458. per quarter. The cost of production to the English farmer is about 508.; so that, leaving out minor disadvantages that the foreigner labours under, a protecting duty of 58. is all that the former individual can fairly ask, under his assertion that he only requires protection from the Continental grower. We are fully aware how agriculturists shift their ground when closely pressed upon the charge of production, and many of them, probably, will boldly deny this statement, and enter into a variety of false reasoning in support of their contradiction of it; but the fact is with us, and we care not for assertions to the contrary by interested parties. Whether that 58. should be granted for a time, and for how long a time, or whether it be required at all, are questions that we will not now enter upon, being at present only desirous of clearing away the two great stumbling-blocks to a removal of the obnoxious statutes that restrict the trade in corn-the pressure of taxation upon the agricultural interest, and the high cost of production to the British farmer, as compared with that of growing foreign corn; and in our next Number, when we have had communications from all parts of the empire regarding the crops, and are prepared to give results upon that most interesting topic, we shall take a farther view of the Corn Laws, and their unjust operation; in the mean time we must remark, that we cannot concur with the author of the “ Catechism” in his proposal for a reduction of the duty by a tenth part annually. This mode of reduction has created great inconvenience in the silk trade, and, in our judgment, it is open to the disadvantage of leaving the corn trade, during its operation, in a state of great uncertainty. It foments unnatural speculation, and keeps those who are in array against a wholesome system constantly on the alert to upset it. We say, whatever is done, let it be done at once, and permanently-delay and doubt engender mischief.
TRAVELLING TROUBLES, NO. I.
“ Multum ille et terris jactatus, et alto.” “ Foy de gentilhomme, il vault mieux plorer moins, et boyre d'avantaige.”
RABELAIS. I Have been often astonished at the multiplicity of modern books of travel. From Jerusalem to Pantin,* from the Pole to Pentonville, no matter where a traveller may go, every region, district, kingdom, oro county, artificial division, or natural formation of the globe, has bad its peripatetic illustrator. No place is so difficult and inaccessible as to appal the adventurous quarto man; no spot is so trivial and commonplace as to escape the speculative enterprise of the bookseller. At the rate at which men now travel and print, with the assistance of steamboats, steam-coaches, and steam-presses, the world itself, in another hundred years, will not be sufficiently ample to contain its own description. What would " puzzle a conjuror” in all this is to discover where the readers come from; for booksellers will not go on for ever printing unless somebody buys their ware; and in a nation in which not only every man Jack, but every woman Gill also, has been every where, and seen every thing, and all with their own proper eyes, one cannot but. wonder “ who the devil” reads these books of travels. Nay, the very children in the nursery are compelled to join the march of intellect before they can walk; and are expatriated, before they can articulate, for the better study of the modern languages.f An Englishman now travels like a Tartar, and carries with him, in his migrations, his whole family, bag, baggage, and baggages. Since the time of the Crusades, never was there such a deportation of an entire people. Expeditions are the order of the day; and “all sorts and conditions” of his Britannic Majesty's subjects seem engaged, navibus atque quadrigis (that is, in steam-boats, omnibuses, and accélerés,) on one common pursuit of the perpetual motion; so that I verily believe that there are not in the entire parish of Cripplegate ten respectable housekeepers wholly disqualified for the traveller's club.
For a long time this travelling mania was very convenient to "the order” of quiet, well-disposed people, who are contented to do as their ancestors had done before them—to hold all “ anthropophagi, and men
* Wlien Mons. Chateaubriand published his “ Itinerary to Jerusalem,” some Parisian “arch wag” produced a most whimsical parody, in which the high-flown diction and false sentiment of that flashy author were happily ridiculed. Its title was “ A Voyage to Pantin," a village close to the French capital.
+ Mons. Laborde bas recently lectured, in Paris, on a system of education by travel.
" Quietis ordinibus." ---Horat.