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of the manufacturers were so great, that they required a standing force of two or three score thousand men to quell their miseries. I say miseries, for to return to this subject, I am fully satisfied, that every insurrection in this country, from the days of Watt Tyler to the present time, may be clearly deduced from certain abuses and excesses of the government or its officers.
Many persons take up their ideas of English history from Shakspeare, who, however, is not the best authority for historical facts. The dramatist has represented Watt and his companions as warring against learning; butchering men for being able to read and write ; and, in fact, acting upon the most absurd principles of irrational equality. But, what says history? We are expressly told that the insurrection, headed by Watt Tyler, was the immediate consequence of a poll-tax, which was not only burthensome in itself, but still more grievous from the great powers given to the collectors, and the oppressive manner in which they were exercised. This was the principal cause of complaint, though there were others, which had their agency in producing the tumults. The people complained of the want of protection from foreign enemies, who were permitted to ravage the coasts of England with impunity; while their domestic foes, the lawyers, ruined them with vexatious suits and extorted fees. They were also, in addition to the abuses practised by the collectors of taxes, exposed to the oppressions of the nobility, and lords of the manors, who, by their mal-administration of the law in their baronial courts, kept them in a state of slavery.
From these causes proceeded the rising of the commons under Watt Tyler. The insurrection was quelled, it is true, and the leaders suffered death : yet the causes existed, and of consequence other tumults succeeded, which were as usual suppressed, not by removing the cause, but by punisliing the leaders. All would not do, however; the discontents of the commons continued, and, as is usual in these long-growing and maturing disorders of the state, at length resulted in a great army, headed by the Duke of Gloucester, who defeated the king, and beheaded or hanged his ministers. One of the most obnoxious of these was Sir Robert Tresilian, who was tried and condemned in parliament for high treason, and hanged at Tyburn. This for a while quieted the people: but this infatuated king, returning to his usual courses, and despising the just complaints of his subjects, lived a life of tumult and vexation, and finally paved the way for the succession of a rival house. If the subsequent insurrections and civil wars be traced to their sources, they will all, without exception, be found to originate either in civil, military, or religious oppressions. No prosperous and happy people will wantonly fly in the face of a good government; nor can any community, except from accidental causes beyond the control of human power, be extensively miserable, but through the follies or the crimes of its rulers.
It is not for us, therefore, to brand the people of this country, as their rulers have done, with disalfection, impiety, moral and political wickedness, and all the horrible ingredients that go to the formation of a British populace, as described by the loyal writers of the day. I will allow, that the labouring manufacturing class is ignorant, and vicious in a considerable degree. They are so confined to one spot and one occupation, which is altogether mechanical, that they can hardly be said to belong to the world, or to be members of the body politie. They are parts of the machinery of the manufactories, and every bo rly knows, that when machinery gets out of order
it makes sad work. Now the human machines of Birmingham, Manchester, &c. are terribly out of order : they want wherewithal to eat. They have little work and less wages, and they are literally pining for want of wholesome food. Meat they never taste, and bread and beer are almost luxuries. Can we wonder, my dear brother-can we blame these wretched beings, who see nobles around the country, fundholders and stock-jobbers, and pensioners and placemen, rolling in that wealth, of which a little, a hundredth or a thousandth part would, enable them to feed and clothe their families—can we wonder, if seeing all this, and suffering as they do suffer, they should dissolve partnership with a society, which puts all the labour upon them, and pockets all the gains ? Government, as is proudly and for the first time distinctly asserted in our immortal Declaration-government was instituted for the happiness of the people alone. If a large, and the larger proportion of these be cheated by the wiles of political economists, and juggling statesmen, of that portion of public happiness and pros. perity, to which the rights of nature and the insti. tutions of man give them a title, they have authority from the Author of nature to demand the restoration of these blessings, and to enforce their demand, "peaceably if they can; forcibly if they must." Is it better that a small portion of people in a great nation should possess enormous superfuities, or that a great majority of them should possess a competency, should be beyond the reach of want? If it be not better for the few to be rich, and the many to be beggars, then let us ask, whether a government, which entails this state of things upon its subjects, is, in a moral, religious, or political point of view, an object entitled to the least degree of veneration for its antiquity or its theoretical excellence ? These are questions which must be looked in the face and answered, before the present century shall have gone round. It is useless to temporize. There is a time when a government may be mended ; there is also a time when, as the boy said in reply to Pope's exclamation of “God mend me," - I had rather make half a dozen new ones,” than undertake to cobble at one of these old, ricketty, corrupt, and bed-ridden constitutions, the miserable pageants of which can only be supported by a priest on one side and an assassin-soldier on the other. In vain do such governments and such rulers arrogate a divine, religious right to trample upon the human race. There is not a single feature of analogy to maintain this assumption. Religion is in its purity the most democratic of all things; it teaches that all men are equal in the sight of the great Governor of the universe, kings and cobblers, emperors and einpirics, princes and pedlers. This is the first principle in the government of a supreme being; and we are taught, that the object of divine providence is to make all happy, without distinction of rank or fortune. The only attribute that gives one being a superiority over another in the eyes of his Maker, is superior virtue. If then kings be the vicegerents of God upon earth, if they really derive their power and exercise their authority by express delegation from the Most High,let them convince us of the truth of their mission, let them imitate him whom they blasphemously dare to represent, and so govern as to make their people happy and prosperous.
Just as I had finished this part of my letter, I happened to see an advertisement of the publication of the Report of the Committee of Parliament, appointed to investigate the causes of the depression of agriculture in this country. You must have observed that every year this farce of committees is played to the nation, which, it would seem, only requires a reasonably clear insight into the causes of an evil to be quite satisfied, without any attempt at a cure. This insight into the nature of their disease enables them to bear it with tolerable patience, till parliament meets again, when another consultation of political doctors is held, which results in some more unintelligible jargon of political economy, which answers the same purpose as before.
For your amusement, or, if you please, for your edification, I will give you a short summary of the reasoning with which this report is occupied, and the conclusions drawn by the committee. They first admit in its fullest extent the truth of the complaints set forth by the petitions before them, and
that the tenant is now, owing to the low price of grain, under the necessity of paying from his capitala considerable portion of his outgoings.” This is the language of political economists; the plain English is, that the profits of his farm will not pay his rent. Still the committee affirm, that "rents have as yet been paid without much arrear, except in particular districts; a punctuality, wbich seems to afford ground for hoping that the tenantry possess resources, which will enable them to surmount their difficulties, especially as landlords have been induced to lower their rents in many instances, not only on new leases,but on subsisting contracts." This is a very insidious passage. To my certain knowledge, these “particular districts” are to be found all over the country, in which there is not a a single parish, where the payment of these rent: has not produced eventual pauperism in some of the tenants. Those, who have been enabled to pay without utter ruin, have done it at the sacrifice of their former gains, or the relinquishment of their common and ordinary comforts. I admit, that the absolute ruin of the tenantry is not gene