Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

wool, being made to expect and believe that when the manufacturer bought his wool cheaper, they should also have their cloth cheaper. But the dence a bit. It has been growing dearer and dearer from that day to this. How so? Why, truly, the cloth is exported; and that keeps up the price.

Now if it be a good principle, that the exportation of a commodity is to be restrained, that so our people at home may have it the cheaper; stick to that principle, and go thorough stitch with it. Prohibit the exportation of your cloth, your leather, and shoes, your ironware, and your manufactures of all sorts, to make them all cheaper at home. And cheap enough they will be, I will warrant you—till people leave off making them.

Some folks seem to think they ought never to be easy till England becomes another Lubberland, where it is fancied the streets are paved with pennyroll.0, the houses tiled with pancakes, and chickens, ready roasted, cry, Come eat me.

I say, when you are sure you have got a good principle, stick to it, and carry it through. I hear it is said, that though it was necessary and right for the m y to advise a prohibition of the exportation of corn, yet it was contrury to law; and also, that though it was contrary to law for the mob to obstruct waggons, yet it was necessary and right. Just the same thing to a tittle. Now they tell me, an act of indemnity ought to pass in favour of the m y, to secure them from the consequences of having acted illegally. If so, pass another in favour of the mob. Others say, some of the mob ought to be hanged, by way of example.—If so—but I say no more than I have said before, when you are gore that you have got a good principle, go through with it.

Vou say, poor labourers cannot afford to buy bread at a high price, unless they had higher wages. Possibly.—But how shall we farmers be able to afford our labourers higher wages, if you will not not allow us to get, when we might have it, a higher price for our corn?

By all that I can learn, we should at least have had a guinea a quarter more, if the exportation had been allowed: and this money England would have got from foreigners.

But, it seems, we farmers must take so much less, that the poor may have it so much cheaper.

This operates then as a tax for the maintenance of the poor. A very good thing, you will say. But I ask, why a partial tax? why laid on us farmers only? If it be a good thing, pray, Messienrs the Public, take your share of it, by indemnifying us a little out of your public treasury. In doing a good thing, there is both honour and pleasure—you are welcome to your share of both.

For my own part, I am not so well satisfied of the goodness of this thing. I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion about the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor is, not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed, in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer; and, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer. There is no country in the world where so many provisions are established for them; so many hospitals to receive them when they are sick or lame, founded and maintained by voluntary charities; so many alms-houses for the aged of both sexes, together with a solemn general law made by the rich to subject their estates to a heavy tax for the support of the poor. Under all these obligations, are our poor modest, humble, and thankful; and do they use their best endeavours to maintain themselves, and lighten our shoulders of this burthen? On the contrary, I affirm, that there is no country in the world in which the poor are more idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent. The day you passed that act, you took away from before their eyes the greatest of all inducements to industry, frugality, and sobriety, by giving them a dependence on somewhat else than a careful accumulation during youth and health, for support in age or sickness: in short, you offered a preminm for the encouragement of idleness, and you should not now wonder that it has had its effect in the increase of poverty. Repeal that law, and you will soon see a change in their manners. Saint Monday and Saint Tuesday will soon cease to be holydays. Six days shall thou labour, though one of the old commandments long treated as out of date, will again be looked upon as a respectable precept: industry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower people; their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them. Excuse me, Messienrs the Public, if upon this

interesting subject, I put you to the trouble of reading a little of my nonsense; I am sure I have lately read a great deal of yours, and therefore from you (at least.fram those of you who are writers) I deserve a little indulgence.

I am yours, &c.

Arator.

ON THE LABOURING POOR. To the Editor of * * «, April, 1768.

SIR, I Have met with much invective in the papers, for these two years past, against the hard-heartedness of the rich, and much complaint of the great oppressions suffered in this country by the labouring poor. Will you admit a word or two on the other side of the question? I do not propose to be an advocate for oppression or oppressors: but when I see that the poor are, by such writings, exasperated against the rich, and excited to insurrections, by which much mischief is done, and some forfeit their lives, I could wish the true state of things were better understood; the poor not made by these busy writers more uneasy and unhappy than their situation subjects them to be, and the nation not brought into disrepute among foreigners, by public groundless accusations of ourselves, as if the rich in England had no compassion for the poor, and Englishmen wanted common humanity.

In justice, then, to this country, give me leave to remark, that the condition of the poor here is by

VOL. II. C

far the best in Europe; for that, except in England and her American colonies, there is not m any country in the known world (not even in Scotland or Ireland,) a provision by law to enforce a support of the poor. Every where else necessity reduces to beggary. This law was not made by the poor. The legislators were men of fortune. By that act they voluntarily subjected their own estates and the estates of all others, to the payment of a tax for the support of the poor, encumbering those estates with a kind of rent charge for that purpose, whereby the poor are vested with an inheritance, as it were, in all the estates of the rich. I wish they were benefited by this generous provision, in any degree equal to the good intention with which it was made, and is continued: but I fear the giving mankind a dependence on any thing for support, in age or sickness, besides industry and frugality during health, tends toftatter our natural indolence, to encourage idleness and prodigality, and thereby to promote and increase poverty, the very evil it was intended to cure; thus multiplying beggars, in, stead of diminishing them. J

Besides this tax, which the rich in England have subjected themselves to in behalf of the poor, amounting in some places to five or «x ■h.lungpm the pound, of their annual income, they have, by donations and subscriptions, erected numerous schools in various parts of the kingdom, for educating, gratis, the children of the poor in reading and writing; and in many of those schools the children are also fed and clothed: they have erected hospitals at an immense expense, for the reception and

« ZurückWeiter »