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ground, than he has to one particular species of birds or beasts.
It will be said, that a man, by hard labour and economy, may obtain something more than will maintain him; and, therefore, that the overplus is absolutely is own. Most assuredly, if he has not infringed upon his neighbours; and what then? Well, then, he has a right to exchange that overplus for part of his neighbour's land, yes, and what then ? Well, then at his death he has a right to give it to his own son, or sons, and so perpetuate it in the family for ever. I say, no, bis cbildren have no more right to it, at bis death, thap they have to his debts. In fact, it is making the children of the man who sold the land, answerable for their father's debts; which is contrary to all ideas of justice. For, no man, nor set of men, have, or can have, the right to mortgage or to sell, the property of a succeeding generation. Therefore, all such purchases ought to be considered as a speculation upon the length of life, and at the death of the mortgager, to return to the common stock 4.
By way of proof, let us suppose the world to be just begun, and one man and woman upon it; (Adam and Eve, if you like) then he is King or Emperor of the whole world. He beats your Alexanders, your Cæsars", they had only part. Well in the course of time, they have a family, and when the old man comes to die, he says, “I had all tbis land before you were born; consequently, I have a right to do as I will with it; therefore, I leave it all to John: and you and the others, must be slaves to him, you and your progeny for ever.” Who would not start with indignation to hear such a sentence; and if they could prevent it, who would suffer it to be put in execution? Again, suppose, for it does not alter the case, that we begin with the world as well. peopled as it is at the present; and suppose one, or twenty, or more for it matters not, if they be short of the majority, to put their designs in execution by force; suppose one were to say, “I will have this piece of country, and you shall labour for me; you and your children shall labour for me and my children for ever.” Would they acquiesce in
4 I wish one of our common-stock gentlemen would tell us how a common stock is to be divided among a people hourly fluctuating as to numbers and identities, other than by raising all tax or revenue as a rental? I fully understand what conquering means; but I cannot understand what an equal division of land means, so as to be practicable.
R. C. 3 Not so; for he has no slaves. A man can only be a King when he has slaves for subjects.
this? Or would he have any right to do this? No, each being nature'so child, each would bave an equal claim upon ber for support. It is the same in all cases, the children of one man bave as much right to the land as those of another ; nature baving brought them into existence, has provided sufficient for them all, and all have an equal right to her provisions?
Then, upon this view of the matter, it does not appear that there is an “absolute necessity” for the greater part to be assisted by the “richer classes;" because it seems, esen under the present system that there is sufficient produced, to maintain the wbole of the population, if the labour and produce of labour were equally divided. And why, should it not be so 8? Where is the “ absolute necessity” for one set of men to live upon the produce of another ? And certainly, the whole of wealth is the produce of the labouring class. Tell me not that the land will be theirs; what is the land without labour? Turn the “ Lord upon his vaunted estate, no matter how gotten, and without labour, what will he be? The man with an acre of well cultivated land will be “ richer” far than he, and the Lord must soon come to be assisted by bis “richer” neighbour, unless be learn to cultivate his own estate, if all other labour be kept from bim. Therefore, strictly speaking, labour is the only real property.
What a monstrous thing then it must be, to hear some one say, that the state of things wbich robs nine-tenths of mankind of half their property to give to the tenth, is of " absolute necessity!" Talk of property indeed! But, tell the labourers tbat they have no property! Tell them, that they have no right to the produce of their labour! Tell them that they are the property of the “richer classes;" consequently, they must labour for a bare pittauce to support their “Lords” in affluence! Tell them all this; aye more! Tell them, that they are not of the same species as the “ richer classes ;” but that they are born, actually designed, for their pleasure!
What indignation would every man have felt, had a “ Peer,” or a “ Bishop" said, “that the far greater part of labourers must of necessity, be only just able to ob
& And Nature who?
R. C. 7 If they can conquer it, as the Lion does, not else.
* Why is it not so, is the question. To which I answer: because there is not enough of mental power among mankiud to awe their tyrants.
tain a sufficiency of food and raiment in the days of their bealth and vigour.” Every honest man's blood would boil to bear such a thing. Wby, be would ask, is it necessary ? Is tbe supporting of bishops, lords, esquires, and the whole catalogue of idlers, absolutely necessary to make the corn grow ? Could not the labourer live, after having produced sometbing to support him, and something to spare to sapport him when he were unable to labour? Could be not live, if, after he had done this, he had not the bishop on the esquire (it matters vot which) to come and take that some. thing from him? And when he is reduced to the lowest pitch of degradatiou ; the little necessaries of his house sold to purchase food; bis former comfortable clothing gone; bay bands and old sacks come in its place; and when be bas come to this state, the bishop, or the esquire, to give bim back a small part of what each had taken from him, and that part barely sufficient, to prolong his existence, that he may see the “ bishop" or the esquire revelling in wbat he has produced! Shades of departed philantropists! say, are these things necessary to the carrying on of the affairs of mankind? If they be, why did not some friendly desert keep me from herding with mankind ? If they be, come hospitable grave and shroud me from the enormities of civilization!
This language may be very pleasing to the “bishop" or the “ esquire;” but surely it is not the language of Justice. Surely the lover of mankind will never say, that it is "absolutely necessary to the carrying op of the affairs of man, that the far greater part of men should only be just able to obtain food and raiment in the days of their bealth and vigour,” while the lesser part are wallowing in dissipation. With the bishop aud the esquire it is a question of policy, wbetber it will be better to let the labourer starve right out, or just keep him alive. Were they sure the “ labourer" would sit down quietly with starvation, the matter would be solved at once. But as the matter is rather doubtful, it is judged expedient to relieve the “ poorer classes;” though in sucb a mapuer as to make them consider it more as a favour than a rigbt. This is what they want. Only let them get it once established, that the “labourers” have no right to be maintained, that it is througb tbe pity of the “richer classes” that they do not starve; let them get the poor right bunted down, and this established; then, away with all relief. The producer must starve, as is the case in Ireland, wbile the non-producer rolls in luxury.
NOTE BY R: CARLILE.
Though I have given insertion to this latter, I do not take the same view of Mr. Cobbett's expression, as the writer has taken connected with his anxious efforts to improve the condition of the labouring people, of this and the neighbouring Island, no one can suppose, but that the bare sufficiency alluded to by Mr. Cobbett, is a very different thing to that now obtained. The very King supposes that he has but a bare sufficiency for maintenance; and the man who earps five hundred pounds a year, and spends it all, is in the same danger, from accident, of being liable to the bounty of, or maintenance by, others. To me, Mr. Cobbett's expression is one thrown in for argument, rather than as conveying any precise opinion on the quantity or quality of maintenance and clothing. The subject of his letter to Lord John Russell was, not so much as to what the labourers ought to bave, as to shew that they had not enough of the necessaries of life, and that such a committee, or such a parliament, as that of wbich the Lord was a member, had neither the ability, nor the means, to accomplish their professed object-the amelioration of the condition of the la. bouring class.
With respect to the question of an equal divison of the land, I am of opinion, that it would be well to get this impracticable notion out of the beads of those who amuse themselyes with it. The land is certainly a fixed and permanent quan. tity, as far as the words fixed and permanent, will apply to any thing; but wbat is mankind ? An evanescent thing; here to day and gone to morrow; incessantly changing its identities; by some being born and some dying; so that, unless it were both useful and practicable to make an equal division of land among the survivors, every twenty four hours, the whole matter would be confusion and clamour. The only practicable thing that approaches the nearest to this equal division of land is, to put a tax per acre upon it, as recommended by Mr. Harrison Wilkinson, and leave the wbole people and system of society untaxed. Then, those, who held more or less of land, would pay more or less of rent to those who hold none. This is the only means of making an equal division of the value of the land, and this would be so far free from confusion, as to quiet one half of the confusion and clamour that now exists. Upon this principle, no map would hold more land than he could cultivate, improve, and turn to some advantage. There would be then no waste land, but that which was in itself waste and barren. Another practicably equal division of land than this, I cannot conceive. And were such a division of the land made I cannot conceive the possibility of a redundant population.
Redundant population is a question that has created much of discussion, and of angry discussion, of late: but to me it seems, that there is either a mental or a partial misunderstanding between the parties. They who say redundant population, do not say that there are more thau the produce of the earth will support; the acknowledged abundance of food sets aside that idea; but they say, or mean that the consumption is not great enough for the producing power, by which a given number will always be unemployed, and in a state of starvation; for such is now the state of society, that, if you have no money, nor any hired means of applying your labour, you can have no food. Under this state of things, to the unemployed, an abundance is a real famine. If there were not that abundance, their labours would be required to produce it, and by that labour they would feed : so that a slight famine would leave less of real misery, than an abundance leaves where there is not enough of labour to purchase it for consumption.
This state of things makes the superficial observer, who feels it, to cry out against the unequal division of the land ; and to think, that if he had a few acres, he could produce for his own necessary consumption. So he would, and the root of the existing evil is, that a vast multitude is deprived of the means of consumption. Every one has the will to consume; but every one bas not the means. And if the means to consume existed, we should hear nothing about the evils of a distressing superabundance on the one band, existing with a distressing want of necessaries on the other. The first duty of the Government is to arrange matters, that the unemployed shall find the meaus of consuming the superabundance. The great business of life, the foundation of all traffic, is consumption. Though a thing must be produced before it can be consumed, still the promise of consumption is the motive to call it into existence. If the agriculturist tills his ground, bis eye is always upon the market where be is to find the consumer. The consumer is the first and last object in all speculations and calculations. The same is the case with the manufacturer; and the same is the