have made public. He asks, and well he "with what face the late ministers can



oppose the intended bill?" With them the measure did, in fact, originate. They proposed, it is true, only to permit sugar to participate with corn in the distilleries; but, the principle is the same; for, either some sugar would have been used, or none. If none, then the measure would have been nugatory; if some, then, whatever was used would have thrown so much corn back upon the people to be consumed in food. I was, therefore, utterly astonished to see, that Mr. Windham, who, in general, reasons so correctly, had spoken as if he intended to oppose the bill, which opposition, supposing him to have approved of the proposition made while he was a minister, cannot be considered in any other light than that of factious.The West Indians and their interests, though I think their interests as much entitled to attention as those of any other class of people, I leave entirely out of the question. I am contending for the general interests of England only; and, what a monstrous thing it is to hear the farmer (with the land-owner at his back) say, let me have a high price for my corn; distil it; export it; throw it away; no mat ter what you do with it, so that it brings me

high price. There are, says he, hundreds of hogsheads of sugar, which are spoiling in the king's warehouses; these, employed in the distilleries, would cause a saving of corn; but, such a use of them would lower the price of my corn, and, therefore, the man who proposes such a measure is an enemy to the country! Any assertion requiring so much assurance never, surely, was before heard of in the world.

[ocr errors]

teaches the owners of corn to be slow in the supply, and the consumers to be sparing in the consumption. If the 500 waste quarters, of the above-described little nation, compel the nation to use all their land (and this is what Mr. Wakefield wishes to see), the consequence will be, that there will be no reserve manure, no rest in the land, no store of the means of production; and, of course, no means of making up for any deficiency that may, from whatever cause, arise.In adverting now, by way of conclusion, more immediately to the measure proposed, I cannot refrain from again observing upon the apathy of the landowners and the farmers while such a large importation was going on. If the West India planters had 300,000 quarters of corn to import, it would have required good stock of assurance in any land-owner, or farmer, to have objected to the importation. Where, then, is the difference to them, whether the thing come in the shape of corn, or in the shape of sugar? Since I began writing this article, that is to say, since yesterday, I have received a letter upon the subject from a gentlenian of this county, who appears to be well acquainted with all its details. I insert his letter immediately after that of Mr. Wakefield, and, I am persuaded, that it cannot fail to produce an effect favourable to the measure proposed. Another gentleman thanks me for my address to the Freeholders, and says, that he is certain, that if the county were polled, there would be a majority in its favour of fifty to one. Another says, "" nothing but "the worst sort of selfishness, guided by "extreme folly, could have suggested an opposition to a measure so obviously calculated to guard us against the dangers of scarcity "without lessening the produce of the "taxes." A fourth, for whose opinion I have the highest respect, says that he perfectly agrees with me; and a fifth offers me, in case of another county election, his cordial support, if I choose to become a candidate; for," says he, "in this one address, 66 you have done more service to the country "than I recollect any other man to have "done it." As a mark of this gentleman's approbation, which any man might be proud of, I receive his offer with thanks, while I assure him that my ambition does not lie that way; and, as a proof that my sentiments, upon this important subject, accord with his and with those of the other gentlemen, whom he names, I confess myself to have been highly gratified by the contents of his letter, which, had he not expressed his wishes to the contrary, I should certainly




SIR HOME POPHAM.The reader will have born in mind, that, in the early part of the present session of parliament, Sir Francis Burdett having brought forward the subject of Admiralty Droits, it was asserted, by the ministers and their partizans, that all the money which, in this way, fell under the power of the Crown, was disposed of for the public good; and, it was particularly men. tioned, that a very liberal share was, in all cases, granted by the Crown to the captors. In order to show, that this was not the fact, and that the money was, some times, at least, disposed of in an improper manner, MR. LUSHINGTON stated the instance of SIR HOME POPHAM, who received from the go-vernment £20,000, great part of the worth of a ship and cargo, which had been taken from his people by one of our cruizers, and which, as being engaged in a smuggling trade to the East Indies, had been condemned in

the Admiralty court.- Some explanation was attempted; but, the impression which Mr. Lushington's speech produced was by no means removed by any thing that was sid on the other side. Sir Home Pophamn was present, and, though possessed of good talents and not deficient in boldness, he appeared, from the report of the debate, to make but a very poor apology, for the grant that had been made to him, to say nothing about the extraordinary circumstances, which had led to the condemnation of the vessel and cargo, both of which he had claimed as his property.- -The discussion was postponed, until certain papers, relative to the transaction, and which papers were then moved for, could be produced. These papers are now before the House of Commons, and the discussion will, I should suppose, take place in a few days.- -The out-lines of the story are as follow: in 1786, Sir Home Popham, who was then Mr. Popham and a Lieutenant in the navy, upon half pay, ob tained leave from the Lords of the Admiralty to go to a Danish settlement, or factory, in the East Indies, for the purpose, as he stated, and still states, of gaining experience in his profession. -Instead of a Danish settlement in the East Indies, however, he went to Ostend, where he formed a trading connection, and thence he proceeded to the East Indies. The several ships he was in, and the numerous means made use of by him and his associates for the purpose of proseCuting their trade, it would be too tedious to enumerate here, and would, besides, be unfair, until the discussion be past. In 1793, Mr. Popham, after having carried on a pretty constant trade between the East In2 dies and other parts of the world, returned to Hurope and, having put into Cruxhaven ay in Ireland, was captured by the ship Diadem, upon the ground of being engaged

an illicit trade. From the Diadem he, by the means stated in the papers, got released. He then bore away for Ostend; but, on his way, came to off Hastings, where he landed a quantity of tea and of rhubarb. Proceeding on his voyage he was, however, Captured by Capt. Mark Robinson, in what ship I do not now recollect. Mr. Popham left the ship and went to Ostend; but, when the ship and cargo were demanded, as good prize, by the captors, he put in his claim as * proprietor of both, and asserted, that the trade, in which he had been engaged, was not illicit, and ought not to subject him to forfeiture. The question, together with other questions growing out of it, took ten years to decide; but, in 1803, both ship

[ocr errors]

and cargo were condemned to the Crown.Captain Robinson, in the prosecution of his claim, had now expended about £6000, which, of course, he had been compelled to advance, from time to time, during the ten years that the litigation lasted. Both parties applied to the Lords of the Treasury. Capt. Robinson, as captor, for a grant of the proceeds of the ship and cargo, and Mr. Popham, as owner, for the same proceeds. The expences of the law proceedings, incurred by the captors, are, in cases where the forfeiture is to the Crown, always first defrayed; but, it appears, that Captain Robinson did not obtain even a reimbursement for the whole of his expences, and, in quality of captor, not one single farthing; while Mr. Popham, now become Sir Home Popham (having been knighted by the Emperor Paul of Russia), obtained all the rest of the proceeds of ship and cargo, amounting to the sum of £20,000, or thereabouts.But, there is something well worthy of notice, as to the time, when this grant was obtained.—A report upon the case was made by the king's proctor, in 1803; but, no grant then, when Mr. Addington was in power, took place. The matter lay dormant, until 1805, when Pitt and Lord Melville again got the ascendancy; and then, upon the same report, the grant was made, Sir Home Popham having, as the public cannot fail to remember, made himself very conspicuous as an opponent of Lord St. Vincent and the Addington administration. -—-—-Capt. Robinson, though he was of, probably, twenty years standing in the service, at the time the capture was made, and though he was remarkable. even in the English navy, for zeal, skill, and bravery, and whose father before him had lost a leg in the same service, in which he died an admiral; this gentleman has never since been able to get employed in the navy, and has thus lost the expected fruits of a life of honourable endeavours in the service of his country, while Sir Home Popham has, in repeated instances, been preferred to all others of the same rank in his profession.When I saw a party attack upon Sir Home Popham, when I saw a court-martial organized, in so unusual a manner, for his trial, I felt a strong bias in his favour, especially as I perceived the ministers so shy in defending the attacks that were pointed against him. I thought, that a prejudice existed against him, in the service, on account of his superior skill and activity; and, I regarded it as extremely base, in the ministers, to sacrifice him to that prejudice. But, the facts, which Mr. Lushington has brought to light, have,


in this respect, changed my opinion. I can now perceive a sufficient reason for the shyness of the ministers, and for their withholding of those marks of distinction, which most people expected see bestowed upon the captain of the fleet sent on the Danish expedition. Nevertheless, I wish not to induce any one to prejudge the question. The discussion, the exposure of all the facts, must very soon take place, and then every man will be able to form his own judgment. All that I have a desire to do, in the mean 'while, is to apprize my readers of the importance of the subject, and to prepare them for an attentive observation as to what is said and done. The case of Capt. Robinson is extremely hard, and, I think, most persons will agree with me, that some means or other should be adopted for doing him justice.

When I said, last week, that Mr. Scott's letter had been witholden from publication by me, at the request of Lord Oxford, I shonld have observed, that the reasons, which his lordship gave for the request, were not at all connected with a wish to keep from the public an account of any part of the conduct of himself or any one of his family or friends.Since last week, I have had an opportunity of hearing more about the whole matter than I had before heard; and, I think it right to say, that, if what I have now heard, be true (of which I have no doubt), I was, before, grossly deceived.

The intelligence from America will, of course, be a subject for the next Register, not forgetting the observations of the Morning Chronicle upon the excellent letter of MR. PICKERING, who is one of the very best men in that country, and who was long the secretary of state under General Washington and Mr. Adams.

Botley, 28th April, 1808.


Parliamentary History



Which, in the compass of Sixteen Volumes, royal octavo, double columns, will contain a full and accurate Report of all the recorded Proceedings and of all the Speeches, in both Houses of Parliament, from the earliest times to the year 1803, when the publication of Cobbett's Parliamentary Debates" commenced.


Tracts, written during the said period, will be ready for delivery on or about the 1st day of June next.-The magnitude of the Parliamentary History, the great labour and expence attending it, and the comparatively small number of copies, which, to avoid serious risk, it has been thought advisable to print, render it necessary, thus early, to adopt precautions calculated to prevent any broken sets remaining on hand at the conclusion of the work. Subscribers are, therefore, particularly requested to send in their names to their respective Booksellers, as not a single copy, will, on any account, be sold, but to the purchasers of the former Volumes. Gentlemen, resident in Ireland, wishing to become subscribers, will please to apply to Mr. Archer, of Dublin.

VOL. IV. Comprising the Period from the Restoration of Charles II. in 1660, to the R.volution in 1688; and conta n ng an Appendix of scarce and valuable Parliamentary


SIR, I also rejoice that the important questions, which are the subject of my correspondence with you, have "nothing to do with party;" and it is for this reason that the opposition to the relief proposed to be given to the West Indian planters, merits the more serious consideration. The alarm which has gone forth is general, I apprehend it to be just, you think it is unfounded, you think this measure will not produce the slightest danger or injury to the mother country, either temporary or permanent. I feel a reluctant conviction of the contrary, I view it as bad in principle, and destructive in effect. I say I do so with reluctance, because I am aware of the distressed condition of the West Indian planter, and I should be unwilling to refuse him a boon which he flatters himself will relieve his difficulties, could it be granted without great and lasting injury to the British empire.- -As to the distinction between barley growers, and wheat growers, it is one in words, not in substance, and which I join you in disregarding. In order to meet the question fairly, I will divide it into three parts. 1st. As it affects the two immediate parties to the question; namely, the West Indian planters and their agents on the one hand; the British landed and farming interests on the other. 2dly. As it is likely to affect the revenue. 3dly. As it will affect the interests and prosperity of the empire; which last is the branch of the subject which presses most upon my mind, and which all parties, the supporters and the opposers of the measure, equally join in acknowledging to be of paramount consideration and importance.The first question is rather one, of justice than of policy. There are two classes or descriptions of producers, the sugar growers

[ocr errors]

and the corn growers; and in the mother country there exists a large but limited market for the produce of either of them, they both lay claim to the possessions and advan tages of this market, which of them then is best entitled to it? If a length of possession amounting almost to prescription should give a title, that the British farmer has, and upon the faith of it he has engaged his capital, his habits, and his hopes in agricultural enterprise. Further, the market is in the mother country, in that country with which the farmer's interest,, his very existence even, is identified, to all the taxes of which he contributes, and to the defence of which he is fixed. It is a market also created by the consumption of himself and connections.What then, is the claim of the planter? Upon the prospect of this market, he has never been induced to invest his property in colonial adventure, and in no degree has he created it.—If, then, justice only is to be considered, the title of the farmer is to be preferred; but, here the planter puts in his claim upon other ground, he has recourse to the aid of those duties, which are said by ethical writers to be of imperfect obligation, and that which he cannot claim of right, he hopes to obtain from our compassion, he pleads "distress." Is it temporary? Or, is it permanent? If temporary, relieve him by a parliamentary grant; if permanent, by bounties enable him to sell his coffee and his sugar so cheap that the mass of the people may drink coffee in the room of tea, at present coffee is a luxury only occasionally consumed by the middle, and never tasted by the lower classes of the community; for by the same absurd policy which had misled the country into an encouragement of the foreign farmer at the expence of the British corn grower, we have encouraging the tea cultivation of China, in room of promoting the prosperity of our own colonies, by opening to them a large and profitable market. When the current of consumption shall be turned from tea in favour of coffee


question of justice wholly aside, and to consider that of interest alone, placing the profit of the farmer in opposition to the distress of the planter; and in your mode of doing so, it does appear to me, that you do not meet the question fairly, for the distress of the planter is relative not positive; yet, you say, that supposing the injury apprehended by the farmer to be realized, still it would be with you a question of degree" or compa rison" merely," that you would only inquire "whether the injury to the barley growers would be more or less than the relief to the sugar growers." Surely, this is a strange argument, why should the British farmers be the only class sélected for bearing the burthen of relieving the distress of the planter! If the planter needs, and is intitled to relief, (which I by no means deny) let the whole nation equally contribute towards it. The injury to the farming interest is both larger and more extensive than you seem aware. Barley is a grain consumed either as the food of hogs, &c. or in the manufacture of spirits and beer; but whether consumed in the one way or the other, depends entirely upon its quality, and so different is both the quality and the price, that it is almost similar to speaking of two distinct species of grain. When we speak of hog barley, and barley of prime quality, the latter is either purchased by the distilleries, or by the malt sters. Now, maltsters are a set of men of small capitals (many without any) who en gage in malting on the speculation of credit from the factor on the one hand, and the excise for the duty on the other; and when he fails the excise sweeps away every thing by an extent, leaving the factor without any dividend on his debt. The distiller on the contrary, is at once a large buyer, and a sure payer. Take then from the farmer the custom of the distiller, and you do him or his factor a treble injury, you lessen the demand for his produce, you deprive him of the competition which exists between the two classes or descriptions of his customers, and you not only leave him at the mercy of the maltsters for the price of his barley, but you confine him to sell to a customer always uncertain in his payments, and often insolvent. In addition however to this loss, the peculiar state of the barley market requires consideration. You triumphantly dwell on the distilleries consuming only 300,000 qrs. of English barley, it is obvious that the market, the existence of which would be scarcely felt if supplied equally from all parts of the kingdom, would be of the first importance if the supply came only from a confined district; the substraction of such a market would

the bounty may with safety be gradually withdrawn, and even a duty levied, if those on tea are at the same time advanced in proportion. Still more absurd than this, however, is the admission of French brandies to jostle and drive West Indian rum from the spirit market. Why not prohibit the importation of brandy altogether? That this is possible, I will undertake to show, should it ever be in serious contemplation.--These measures I should think would be wiser policy, and more just, than to relieve the planter at the expence, and contrary to the rights of the farmer.- -But you seem to put the

be ruin to the particular district; now apply this obvious principle to the state of the barley market, the price of barley throughout the kingdom is regulated by the price at Mark Lane; and, it is a fact, that these 300,000 qrs are nearly all sold there; it is not, therefore, the substraction of 300,000 qrs. from the demand upon all the barley growers throughout the island, but it is the substraction of 300,000 qrs. from the single limited and particular market of Mark Lane, the price of which, regulating the price of the rest of the kingdom, will cause the effect of taking away the consump tion of the distilleries, to be felt all through the country to an extent of which you do not seem apprised. Had you ever been a practical farmer, you would never have said that "the kind as well as the amount of the produce will be regulated by the demand." This is the great and destructive error into which so many have fallen upon this subject, as relating to the farmers profit, demand can only vary the kind of his produce at the expence of the routine of his crops; and converting the order of his farm into confusion. If the routine of any course of cropping is to be interfered with, if any class of owners of land are to be told by the legislature, with what they shall cultivate their estates, the planter may as well be directed to change the object of his cultivation as the farmer. I do not suppose that any one will contend, that nothing but sugar can be grown in the West Indies. Though sugar may have been the most profitable crop, and indeed, when - it is recollected that the planter is the complainant, surely this would be more equitable. And now, Sir, I will direct your attention to the way this proposed measure will affect the revenue of the country. While doing so, I shall in one instance, be under the necessity of adverting to my first head, and in this place to notice the loss which will be incurred by the distiller. As the distillery is at present conducted, it requires a very large capital to be invested in what is termed the plant," which is buildings, utensils, and machinery. The plant of the distiller occupies by far the greater portion of his capital; but, if the legislature compels him to distil from sugar instead of grain, the consequence will be that the chief of this capital will become useless to him, for the sugar distillation may be carried on in almost any metal pot. Indeed, to use a very forcible expression which I heard from a large distiller lately, every porridge-pot will be converted into a temporary still." Now, what will be the consequence of this to the distiller? It will have the effect of destroying



the value of his- plant, and worse than that of destroying his trade altogether. The capital at present required to adventure in a distillery is very large, and the trade is, therefore, in few hands; but if sugar is to be used in the still, scarcely any capital will be required, and rivalship will reduce the profits to a bare subsistence. Is this however all? No, we have not yet viewed but the beginning of the injury, the facility given to distilling will invite, absolutely invite the needy and the unprincipled to illicit distillation. Hence the ruin of the honest, lawful distiller, and an immense defalcation of the revenue. If, however, this measure be meant to include Ireland, the effect will be yet more glaring, and if it be not, then the relief to the planter will be trifling. Such is the state of the Irish distillery, and such the state of society there; that it is morally impossible to introduce this measure in the sister kingdom, unless you can first persuade the people to approve of it; the illicit distillation in Ireland is encouraged by the minor gentry of that kingdom, in order to find a sale for their barlies, which are a more profitable crop to the Irish farmer than oats. If this is the case, when there is only a competition between the profit of one crop and another, we may well expect yet further opposition and evasion, when an attempt is made to deprive them of the market for their crop altogether. By the laws of Ireland, the revenue officer who discovers and seizes a private still, has a reward of ten pounds paid him by the government, and he receives a fine of fifty pounds from the parish in which the still is found. The law requires a certain portion of oats to be used in the distillation of whiskey, and the people of Ireland have taken a general aversion to whiskey drawn from oats. A tin still is in common use through that country, which costs but two guineas, and is worn out in about ten days. By the collusion between the illicit distiller, and the revenue officer, the still is scarcely ever seized till nearly worn out; and many instances have been discovered, where the reward has been shared between the owner and the officer. But, if this is already the case with the distillation from grain, what may not be expected if su◄ gar be introduced; and if this should become the practice here, to what will our im mense revenue from spirits be reduced? Why almost to a name -At length, Sir, I arrive at the third and last division of the subject; and have to inquire how the interest of the empire will be affected by the measure? I thank you for the idea of the corn used in the distilleries and breweries

« ElőzőTovább »