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as was the inamorato, who fell in love with the picture of a young and beautiful lady, and afterwards saw the original in the person of a superannuated old woman.
Bidding adieu to North Wales, I again found myself at Shrewsbury, where, resuming my horses, I returned by a roundabout way through Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicester, Northampton, &c. to London. My object in this devious route was, to enlarge my sphere of observation, with a view of forming more correct conclusions with respect to the real condition of the people; the state of agriculture, morals, and religion, so as to test the excellence of this system of government and its administration by its effects. At different intervals of leisure, I shall communicate to you the result of my observations ; commencing with the situation of the agriculturists, always the most important interest in every country, and every where affording, by their relative prosperity or depression, the best criterion of the measures of the government, so far as these can affect individual prosperity.
Beyond all doubt, my dear brother, some of the farmers in the midland counties have brought agri.
culture to as high perfection as it was ever before carried. The vast labour and expense, applied to small farms and parcels of land, and that too with much judgment, generally resulted in the production of the greatest crops. While these crops met with a ready sale, and at a price affording a profit, this vast application of labour and expense brought with it a return of profit, and enriched the farmer. But it is quite natural, that when the produce no longer repays the expenditure of labour, food, tithes, and taxes, there should be no longer any spur to enterprise or exertion. The improvement of the land, the labours of cultivation, and all the refinements of agriculture, which the common farmers practised with profit, because every additional bushel of wheat brought more or less of a clear gain-all these will be abandoned by degrees, when the fruits no longer repay the toil and expense.
My practice has been to make a short stay at the villages I passed through; to wander about, and look at the people in the fields, who, by dint of seeing me three or four times, would get over their strangeness, and often converse with me freely on their affairs. It is by frequently resorting to this practice, that I gained a knowledge of the depression of agriculture and its causes. No one knows where the shoe pinches, or the cause of its pinching, so well as he that wears it; the sufferer can best tell the sources of his grief. The noble trio that have produced the ruin of the tenantry of England, are rents, tithes, and taxes.
While a brisk market, a ready sale, prompt payment, and high prices offered themselves, the tenant did not so much mind the rent he paid, or the taxes levied upon him, both which have been gradually increasing with the creation and magnitude of paper credits, paper currency, and national expenditures. But suddenly his market is glutted, prices fall, and rents and taxes continue the same, or become higher than they were. His situation may easily be conceived without the magic spectacles of political economy; he is impoverished and ruined. The very perfection to which he brought his system of farming adds to his misfortunes, because it will not now repay him the interest of the labour and expense laid out upon it. But let me consider the three heads separateży, in order to give you a clearer idea of the subject.
Formerly, in the good old steady times, before the invention of paper-money introduced those ruinous and sudden fluctuations in the value of the circulating medium, which destroy all the stability of property, and long before the science of political economy enabled ministers to mortgage land, houses, labour, men, women, and children to the latest posterity, the leases of land in England were generally for a considerable number of years : fourteen, twenty-one, and so on to ninety-nine years, were the usual periods. But as these leases felí in, and the value of money gradually decreased in consequence of the causes before stated, and continued decreasing, the landholders became cautious of giving long leases, which would put it out of their power to proportion the rents to the fluctu ations of money. It is now, therefore, very much the custom, to grant either very short leases, or to let out farms by the year, than which nothing can be more injurious to the proprietor and the teisant, since it is obvious, that the latter can feel no permanent interest connected with the land he occupies, and will of course take little care, except to make it as profitable as possible for the time being. To prevent his impoverishing the land, however, it is customary to prescribe the mode of cultivation. Thus, in Buckinghamshire, and elsewhere, the tenant is confined to two or three crops and a fallow, and is not allowed to grow clover or green food. It will easily be perceived, that by this arrangement the interests of the landlord and tenant, instead of being united as they ought to be, are entirely at variance, and consequently neither prospers.
Throughout almost all England where I have been, the rents are no longer paid in kind, the only just and equitable mode towards a tenantry, since, while it preserves the interests of the landlord, it prevents the tenant from falling a victim to a state, which, if left to its natural course, would be a state of prosperity-I mean, when the necessaries of life are abundant and cheap. Rents are now paid in money, and consequently the very plenty and cheapness of the farmer's products are his greatest misfortune. In some of the counties these rents amount to from seven to twenty-eight shillings sterling ; in others, from sixteen to thirty ; and in parts of the county of Middlesex, from twelve shillings to twelve, nay, even twenty pounds sterling per acre.
The tithes are, as you know, a tenth of the produce of the land, and are exclusively deducted from the tenant's gains. He cannot eat an egg, pluck an apple, or kill a chicken from his flock, without the parson having first received his tenths. To prevent this eternal and vexatious restraint and inquisition, it is common to commute the tithes into a certain yearly sum. In some places this tribute is one-fourth of the amount of the rent paid by the tenant to the landlord ; in others it is more; in some less. Thus, this will bring the rent of some of the land up from fifteen to twentyfive pounds per acre, in some of the counties in the vicinity of London.
The next item is taxes_taxes_taxes-from morn till night, from the cradle to the grave. In one shape or another, either to the king or to the beggar, and it is a question which is the greater pauper in reality, they continually beset ihe unfortunate tenant. In vain has it been urged, that these all come eventually out of the pocket of the landlord. I say they do not: they come from the sweat of the peasant's brow, the labour of his hands, the privation of his comforts—they are the aggregate of all he can spare, and more than he can spare, from those comforts that are necessary to keep his body and soul together. In England, the landbolder and the fundholder make the laws, lay the taxes, and rent the lands. Is it not certain-does not all experience, all example, all nature, demonstrate, that the burthen will be laid upon those who have no voice in the state, except to complain in secret, and whose resistance is rebellion and death? Every man that looks closely at England, will distinctly perceive, that both tithes and taxes are paid by the tenant, and not by the landlord. Poverty always puts the poor man in the power of the rich.
It is impossible to give you a distinct idea of the weight of taxation and poor rates, both daily increasing with the increase of the public debt, and the decrease of the numbers who have paid until they can pay no longer, and now pass over from the givers to the receivers. In some places whole parishes have become paupers, and the entire rents consumed in their maintenance. In others, the burthen has become so intolerable to the few remaining persons who do not receive any thing from the poor rates, that they will soon become paupers themselves. I will, however, give you a very moderate example in one of the smaller parishes in a shire of the interior, where the peo