Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

simple military despotism. This you must know as well as the rest of mankind; you must be satisfied, that the French are, by nature, disqualified for the enjoyment of what we call freedom; that their minds are as much averse from entertaining the idea as oil is averse, from mixing with water; that, in short, a Napoleon, or some such master, they not only must have, but will have from choice. All this you must now clearly pcrceive; you must, in your heart, despise the French for it; but, the worst of it is, take away the French as objects of your admiration and applause, and your soured temper leaves you no object at all, which is a state of existence too dreary for any man to endure. There is another feature in your pamphlet, which I dislike; and that is, that you never, by any accident, suggest a saving of the public money, though one would think that it must have occurred to you, as being likely to contribute towards the lightening of those burdens, of the weight of which you fear the fatal consequences. The vile jobbing of the ministers; their greedi ness; their uniform propensity to screen peculators; their waste of the public money, in all manner of ways; none of this do you blame. You hate them only as bitter enemies of the French, and, in that light only it is that I view them with approbation. The late ministers were full as bad as the present, as to the management of the public money; and, they were, besides, very cold indeed in their feelings for the honour of the country. These present ministers have done more for the maintenance of that honour than has been done before, since the year 1792; and for this reason I prefer them. You would prefer them too, if you were not actuated by feelings of revenge, joined to your partiality for France; and, at any rate, if they have nothing more formidable than your pen to resist, they are secure in their places for life; for, the effect of every word, which you utter against them, is totally destroyed by your evident partiality towards your country's enemies. You hate your dog for devouring your eatables, but when you perceive that others bate your dog because he keeps the thieves from breaking into your house, you not only keep him, but your resentment against him is a good deal softened by the discovery; and do you not think that the nation will be actuated by similar motives? I am, Sir, yours, &c. &c. Botley, WM. COEBETT.

March 1, 1808.

head I must place the little which I think it necessary to say, at present, upon the sul ject of Mr. ARTHUR YOUNG'S letters, the second of which will be found in this sheet. The statement in this second letter, respecting the consequences of a total stop to the importation of corn, is, at the first glance, truly alarming, so that I, who am not very apt to be scared by battalions of figures, have really started back at the array of Mr. Young. Having taken time to rally, how ever, I find that my alarm was groundless; and, as the matter is of great public importance, I cannot let it pass without some few observations respecting it.—I had said, upon a former occasion, that, compared with the annual consumption of the nation, the impor tation of food was a mere trifle; and that I believed, that, in no one year, did the importation amount to more than sufficient to feed the people for one week. This Mr. Young says he was astonished at ; and he has now shewn, that the average annual importation of corn, for 26 years last past, has amounted to nearly, or perhaps quite, two millions of pounds sterling. Now, the population of Great Britain is 11 millions, and, if we allow the food of each individual, taking one with the other, to cost about 4s, a week, one week's food amounts to the two millions of pounds; so that, if this rate of subsistence be admitted, I was not much out in my reckoning, and that the average consump tion of individuals surpasses four shillings a week there can, I think, be very little doub*. It will not do to tell me, that it is only corn that we are here speaking of, and that individuals do not consume 4s. worth of corn weekly; for, though this fact be correct, I answer, that, if we have a plenty of every thing else but carn, we can do with less of that; and that, the only way of estimating is, to speak of food altogether.—I wish Mr. Young had informed us what quantity of provisions of various kinds is annually exported from Great Britain and Ireland; for, I am inclined to think, that the amount of it would surpass that of the imports. The shops in America, strange as it may seem, were tolerably well supplied with English cheese, which, of course, would remain at home, if we ceased to receive American corn. Mr. Young does, however, say that the supplies of corn from America are not worth speaking of; and I was glad to hear him say so, because, as the public will have perceived, the American clan have been endeavouring to frighten us with the spectre of famine, to arise out of the cutting off of these abundant supplies."----Great praise is due to Mr. Young for his researches, for

SUMMARY OF POLITICS. "PERISH COMMERCE.". Under this

f

his accuracy in detail, and for the ability with which he discusses all the subjects of which he treats; but, I do think, that he leaves the arguments of Mr. Spence wholly unanswered, it being impossible that any combination of facts can overset a principle, supported by reasons, which cannot be shown to be erroneous. Besides, what has Mr. Young's experience proved? Only this, that, at a particular period, when manufactures were languishing wheat was cheap and agriculture upon the decline, as indeed, it must necessarily be. I see no great evil in this, being anxious only, that the point may be settled, that England can exist great and free, independent of commerce, by which, observe, I always mean, trade with foreign nations.-There is one other topic, touched upon by Mr. Young, which 1 wish to advert to for a moment: I mean, his proposed General Enclosure Fill. That such a bill would be like the bed of Procrustes; that it would be an outrageous invasion of private property; that it would fall upon title deeds and records with teeth as unsparing as those of a paper-mill; that it would give rise to confusion and ligation without end, mast, I think, he evident to every man at all conversant in the divers tenures and claims appertaining to the unenclosed lands of this kingdom. But, what good would it produce? Would it cause more corn to be raised? If it would, it would be a calamity; for corn is now too cheap; at least, so have said the parliament, in their acts for exportation. Would it cause more persons to be born and raised up? Why, then, increase of consumption would go hand in hand with increase of production; and no increase of abundance would take place. But, my opinion is, that it would cause no increase at all in the quantity of food raised; and this opinion I shall retain, until I see all the lands now enclosed producing every year, a crop more than sufficient to pay all the expences of rent, taxes, and tillage. When I see such an accession of hands as to have brought out manure, and to have worked all the land, now enclosed, into this state; then I shall say, “enclose more land, for we cannot "make this more productive;" but, while I see one third part of the enclosed land producing annually nothing at all, or, at most, not half enough to pay the expences of rent, taxes, and tiilage, I shall continue to think, that a General Enclosure` bill would be a wondrous monument of national folly.

ORDERS IN COUNCIL -The bill giving effect to the rules laid down in these Orders, gave rise to a discussion, in the House of

Commons, on the 24th of February. The bill establishes imposts and prohibitions with respect to goods, going from England to the Continent, and, as was observed in my last, the regulations adopted in the Orders will necessarily compel most of the goods, which the Continent receives from abroad, to pas through our Custom-house. Amongst the articles enumerated in the bill was Jesuit's Bark, a well known medicinal drug. Mr. Whitbread caught hold of this as a tine topic of declamation, moved for leaving out the article, and insisted that this was "an in human mode of warfare;" just as if we had begun it. The object of this bill, and of all the regulations in question, is to retaliate upon the Emperor of France for his decree, declaring England in a state of blockade ; making it criminal in any nation to hold any sort of commercial communication with es, and providing a punishment for such crime; placing us under an interdiet; depriving us of aid and comfort to be derived from foreign connection and intercourse, What do we ? We retaliate, but with less rigour; for, upon certain conditions, we al low a communication with the Continent. He makes no exceptions in favour of our sick. No exceptions at all; and why should we? Mr. Whitbread's logic is this: "if you

66

prevent the removal of disease, you must, on the same principle, wish its increase; "and this principle will lead to the promo"tion of poisoning and assassination;" the conclusion he evidently aimed at being, that tho-e who approve of this bill, would promote assassination, if they had the opportu. nity. No, Sit; for though I approve of this bill, I would not promote assassination any more than you would; though I approve of the bill, I do not wish to prevent the removal of disease, any more than you wish to prevent the removal of thirst by charging sixpence a pot for your porter, when you see many poor wretches who cannot possibly get it at that price. You cannot, I dare say, sell your porter cheaper without danger to your fortune; nor can we suffer the bark to go to France without danger to our fortune as a nation, because the same argument which will apply to the bark will apply to every other article, the very object of the bill being to produce suffering and distress amongst these who are leagued together, whether willingly, or not, for our destruction. You, Sir, like Mr. Roscoe, never seem to recollect, that the enemy has it, at all times, in his power to put an end to this "inhuman mode of warfare," and that, too, by the simplest of all means, namely, that of ceasing to carry it on himself. "Oh,

[ocr errors]

66

<

yes; a fine story, indeed, to expect him "to recede !" Why, really, Sir, if we do suffer ourselves to yield to insolent pretentions Tke this, we are unworthy of being independent; we not only must perish as a nision, but we ought so to perish.--You are alarmed, lest Napoleon's agents should go to his hospitals and say: Behold, here is at English act of parliament, which prevents you from obtaining a remedy for your complaints." If such were to be the conduct of his agents, the effect, it appears to me, would be this: the sick soldiers wool! say: Aye! is it so, indeed? Why, "then, that England is a great power yet. "The acts of that parliament are mighty things. England is not humbled, nor is "it so very easy to conquer her. What! "can that parliament, then, shut up all the

channels of the boundless ocean? Why, "then, France, after all our fighting and conquering, is little better than a besieged "town." This is what they would natully say upon hearing only one side of the story; but, if they were to hear the other; if they were told, that this was, on our part, merely an act of retaliation, and that they might have Jesuit's Bark the moment their commander chose to revoke his interdict ag inst ns, their execration would fall upon his head and not upon ours.——Mr. Wilberforce was, apou this occasion, with the Jesuit's Bark party. He, acute gentleman, discovered a distinction between this case, and the case of a besieged town. He saw, that, in the latter case, a prohibition of this sort might induce a general to capitulate; but, that there was not the least probability, that the prohibition proposed would put an end to the present contest with France. Putting an end to the contest is not immediately contemplated; what is in contemplation is, to make the Continent rue the effects of abetting a man, who has sworn our destruction, and who has placed us under an interdict. Now, the people of the Continent, in France as well as out of it, have yet the power of giving vent and effect to their feelings, or they have not; if they have, the sufferings which our prohibitions produce amongst them must lead to openly expressed hatred against him who is the cause of those prohibitions; and, if they have not, if the people of the Continent are so completely subjected to the will of Napoleon, that no sufferings can possibly move their passions; why, then, how is it possible that any regulations of ours can work a change in their minds to our disad vantage? But, Mr. Wilberforce thinks it is certain, that Napoleon will have the bark,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

66

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ounce.

some how or other; and, that all which we shall gain will be an addition of hatred from the people of France. As to an addition of hatred, I am not afraid of that. I believe they neither love nor hate us, any more than one can be said to love or hate an ox or a fat hog. They would willingly conquer us and pillage us, if they could, for which it would be foolish in us to be angry with them, secing, that, if the occasion suited, we should be very likely to conquer and pillage them. At this present time all we aim at is defence; one way of defending ourselves is to weaken our enemy, and one way of weakening him is to make him get jesuits bark at the expence of a guinea an ounce instead of a shilling an -Mr. Whitbread reminded us, that, in case of a scarcity here, the enemy might prevent us from receiving corn from the continent, by way of retaliation; and so starve us. But, he has already cut off our communication with the coin countries of the continent; and, does Mr. Whitbread suppose, that he would have opened the communication last month, if we had had a short harvest? the idea is perfectly ridiculous. The same argument that has been urged against the prohibition of jesuit's bark will apply to all articles whatever; for they all, in a greater or less degree, either directly or indirectly, are couducive to the convenience, and necessary to the wants of the people of the continent. By the cutting off of the supply of cotton some persons, at least, will greatly suffer; all suffering is not upon a sick bed; but all suffering leads to a sick bed; if you, Mr. Whitbread will say, prevent people from obtaining that which is necessary to keep them from suffering, you must, on the same principle, wish their sufferings to increase; and, as all sufferings lead to death, at a faster or slower pace, this principle will lead to the promotion of poisoning and assassination. -—The truth is, that there was no foundation whatever for the objection, which was manifestly brought forward for the purpose of debate. To the whole of the measure, indeed, there might be some solid objections, but I have observed none such. The measure is a most important one. It is indeed, though not in word, a practical assertion of the sovereignty of the sea. As such it is looked upon by other nations; and the only fault of it is, that it was not adopted under that name, and that the duties now to be imposed were not denominated a tribute. This measure gives quite a new aspect to the war; it places us upon a new footing, and gives us a new character. We are not now going sneaking about like a set of hucksters

|

[ocr errors]

2nd smugglers, wheedling this and that neutral to be our friends and to deal with us. We say (and I am only sorry that we do not say it flatly and plainly), you shall none of you have any communication with one another, without paying tribute to us. There are some persons who call this piracy," though I wish they would consider a little their piracy upon the public purse. The late attorney general (a very worthy man, I believe) called upon his brethren of the law to say, whether they ever read of the like being done before. They might have called upon him to say, whether he ever read of all the ports and naval arsenals of the continent being in the hands of one man before; and when he ever before heard of England's being declared to be in a state of blockade. What would our ancestors, at any period of our history, have said, if any power had had the assurance to decree their country in a state of blockade? Does Mr. Whitbread think, that they would have stood balancing about com. mercial interests? They would not have hesitated a single moment to declare every country their enemy who should refuse to resist such an intolerable pretension.

LORD LAKE.On Tuesday, the first instant, a debate took place, in the House of Commons, upon a grant proposed, by a message from the King, to be made to the successor and family of Lord Lake, and upon another grant proposed to be made for the purpose of erecting a monument to his me mory. It was curious to see how both INS and CUTS pressed forward, as it were in rivalship, in support of this proposition. Thus they always do, when the public money is to be bestowed upon any of themselves. Mr. Whitbread, Lord Folkestone, and Sir Francis Burdett were the only persons who spoke against it; and, upon the division, which Sir Francis Burdett called for and insisted upon, there appeared but 25 to vote against the pecuniary grant out of 226. The pecuniary grant was of £2,000, with a retrospect; making an additional sum of 9,000 to be paid down immediately. Never was there a more flagrant instance of the waste of public money; and this, too, at a time, when we are told, that the sacrifice of our last shilling is necessary. This Lord Lake, who was a conqueror of tawneys; who, as far as I have heard, never was engaged against any thing worthy of the name of an army, and who enjoyed, while in India, an enormous salary, receives a peerage, comes home, dies of a cold, and, then, we are called upon to make a noble provision for his family. Mr. Whitbread went only half way. He objected to the

9,000l. and the monument; but, on account of the poverty of Lord Lake's family, assented to the pension of 2,000l., though that was by far the most objectionable part of the proposition, it being, in fact, a mortgage upon the taxes of the nation to the amount of 100,0001 principal. I will here subjoin what was said by Sir Francis Burdett upon the subject, exactly as I find it reported in the ORACLE newspaper, reserving some further remarks for another opportunity. I feel it my duty to enter my protest against this motion, as well as against every thing of this sort in the present condition of things; and I do it on three grounds - one is that of a pub"lic nature, and the others as particularly applying to this case. Perfectly agreeing "in all that I have heard as to the particular

"c

66

""

66

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

66

66

case of my lord Lake, it is not necessary "for me, and certainly not a pleasant task, "to dilate at all on that subject. But services, whenever they come before the house "of commons, and a demand of remune"ration is made for them from the public, ought always to be of that kind and de"scription that no man can feel any incli"nation to ask what these services were.

[ocr errors]

They ought to be of that brilliant kind, "that no question could be asked concern"ing them, because they are known

"6

throughout the world; or else, in my "humble opinion, they ought not to be brought forward before this house as the ground of remuneration from the public. But, in the present situation of this country, and from the burthens set upon the people, it is necessary there should be more than what may be called extraordinary services to justify such a demand as "this on the purse of the people. There"fore, on that ground, I shall feel it my duty to object to the vote now proposed. "But, on general and constitutional-ground, "I object to it still more strongly; because "I do think that his majesty has ample

""

66

66

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

means and resources, without coming to "this house, to reward all the merit that "this and all the countries in the world ever produced; much more, I fear, than can "be produced by this country at present; "and ample, I am certain, for the reward "of all the merit which is now before us. "What have been the arguments used on "all occasions, when an application is made

for any pension by which an addition is "made to the burthens of the country, "which the king possesses the means of de"fraying? What is it but a partial ground

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

-a pretence that there are no means in "the hands of the crown to reward merito

"rious services? Should these means of "reward be possessed by the crown, why "should they be wasted in the reward of "services which do not meet the light, and probably, if known in this house, would "meet the reprobation of every meniber? "It is on this ground that I shall take the "seuse of the house on this question. With respect to the merits of lord Lake, my opinion is, that the merits of the people "of England, in suffering such privations as they have borne, are much greater "than those of any individual, either now "in existence, or who has lived since the "commencement of our present difficulties. "I therefore shall not only give my negative "to the proposition now before us, but "think it my duty to divide the house upon

66

" it.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

66

"The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, " he had not a lower opinion of the merit of "the people of England than the worthy ba"ronet; but did not know how they could be "rewarded with pensions. As to the pow "er of the crown to reward merit, he wish"ed to know whether the worthy baronet "was aware of the extent of the Civil "List, with which the Crown had power "to reward merit, which was only to the " amount of 1,2001. a year, which in effect "amounted to no more than 8001, and this the king could only grant for his own "life.

"Mr. Wm. Smith explained his sense of "the meaning of sir F. Burdett in the re"ward he expected to be given to the peo"ple of England for their merit, which "was that of the vigilance of their repre"sentatives in taking care of their interests.

"Sir F. Burdett.-" Before the com"mittee come to a vote, I think it fit to say a few words more; not in explana"tion of what I before said; for that has "been done most completely by the hon. gent. below me (Mr. Win. Smith): but "to assign reasons why I am unable to ac"cede to the wishes of those who have re"commended to me not to divide the "house. The right hon. the Chancellor of "the Exchequer, not intentionally, misre"presented what I said about rewarding "the people of England for the manner in "which they have submitted to priva65 tions, and their various sufferings. He "chose to state the Pension List, as "if the crown had no other means of

66

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

rewarding merit, but out of the Civil "List. I believe that makes but a very "small part of the means possessed by the "crown to reward merit-and here I might appeal to the right hon. the Chancellor of

66

"the Exchequer himself; for I think he "can give me some specific information, "without going out of his own family "that the crown does possess ample means

86

of rewarding extraordinary merit, with"out having recourse to the Civil List. I "should be very happy to agree in voting "for this reward supposing the reward to "have been deserved, and there were no "other means of providing it than that of "adding to the burthens of the people of

England. But if ministers had come "down to this house, and told us that the patronage of the reversions of sinecure places were, henceforward, to be abo"lished for ever; I should certainly not be "niggardly, as it has been called, even in my mode of rewarding the memory of deserving men for their services to the public; and that too, in the present "exhausted state of the pocket of the "people; but, before I can consent to doing that, I must be assured that "sinecures, and the reversion of sinecures,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

are to be put an end to. I must say as "ministers have forced me to it, that my "lord Lake's character is nothing like that "of my lord Nelson's, and yet ministers are

66

[ocr errors]

"C

proposing to my lord Lake a monument, as they did to the memory of lord Nelson. "I say that the memory of lord Lake has "not the same call upon the gratitude of "his country as that of my lord Nelson. "I do not think that true merit will ever "go unrewarded by the people of England; " and I am satisfied that if a tenth part of "the patronage of ministers was bestowed "only on objects truly worthy of remune

66

ration, every military and naval man in "this country, deserving of encouragement, "would be fully satisfied, without any ad"dition to the burthens of the people." "Here he took a short view of the charac66 ter of Lord Lake in India, and observed "that his successes there, were not extraor "dinary, for every British officer achieved

victories in India. But, laying aside all these considerations, he went upon the "broad constitutional ground, that unless "ministers gave the house an assurance that "all sinecures and reversions in places, were to be abolished, he must persist in taking the sense of the house. "Or rather,' "said he, "I will divide the house upon "this subject," for, "taking the sense of the "house," is a common expression, when the

"6

sense of it is too plain already. Having "stated these principles in my own justifi"cation, for persevering in my intention to "divide the house, I shall not detain you any longer, but merely to say that I have

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

66

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« ElőzőTovább »