« הקודםהמשך »
No. 16. Vol. 14.] LONDON, Friday, Oct. 27, 1826. [Price 6d.
WERE it not for the circumstance, that there is about to be a general attack upon these laws, the subject would be deemed too trivial for “ The Republican.". They form but a point in the sys tem which is here attacked as a whole. I have been often solicited to'say something expressly against the system of tithes. I have answered, that it does not become me to exclaim against the one oppression of tithes, while I attack, incessantly, in the aggregate, the whole vice of religion. It would be like leaving the root,
that may be destroyed, to pluck the branches, which will grow againi Still, as the multitude will, from motives of tear, prejudice, orignorance, attack the branches rather than the root of an evil, it may be well, in some cases, to lead them on from branch to branch, until they come to be root. With this view, I offer a few words on this subject.
The Corn Laws are an individual evil, which also form one of a multitude, supported by, and necessary to the support of, each other. They constitute, in reality, that monopoly of the sale and profit of an article by a few individuals, which tyranny, formerly, in this couatry, and still, in other countries, granted and grants by charter to one or more individuals. The one was and is a charter granted by an individual tyrant; the other, the Corn Laws, a charter granted by a body, the majority of : wbicb legis. Tates tyrannically for its own interests, to the injury of the community.
There should be no laws to interfere with the produce or sale of any article. - The common sense and common interest of mankind will best legislate for the common welfare, in all cases of traffic. No Legislature can see those effects of minute operations which individuals can see for themselves. No general rule or fixed law will apply to their proper regulation. All legielative monopoly of profits and benefits robs the multitude of the com's mon chance of sharing profits, and enhances the price of an article by removing the proper competitions for its cheap producė. And as far as the object of a Legislature be revenue for the maio.
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tenance of government and general protection, that revenue is lessened by every act which lessens the diffusion of profits and the most complete competition in the produce and free sale of an article. The extent of revenue is not so much that which can be raised by the power of monopoly and taxation; as that which the greatest number of persons can afford to expend : and the more free they are left in their competition, the more they will be able to afford in the expenditure, which constitutes a revenue, let the form be what it may, in which that revenue is raised.
The expenditure which arises from the individual or family aggrandizement that is produced by monopoly and unfair legislation, and that produces poverty and inactivity, for want of a demand for labour and the produce of labour, is not to be compared in its extent and utility with that uniform and diffused expenditure which free competition and unfettered trade would produce. The one benefits the small.circle in which a family can move, and extends nothing but a vicious power over, the multitude; the other is diffused throughout the family of a nation, giving new impulses of vigour to every virtuons part, and producing, with an equality of interests, that equality of power, about which the reforming politician talks so much, as the basis of the most diffused liberty.
The following is a well-drawn petition on the subject of the Corn Laws, and is in the course of receiving signatures for presentation early in the ensuing Session of Parliament. It touches many, but not all the evils which these laws produce ; nor does it notice all the interests which are pro and con affected by these laws.
TO THE HONOURABLE THE COMMONS OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND
IRELAND, IN PARLIAMENT ASSEMBLED.
The Petition of the undersigned INHABITANTS of LONDON
SHEweth, That the awful distress which has recently visited the Manufacturing Population of this country, has induced your Petitioners respectfully to approach your Honourable House, in order to point out what appear to your Petitioners to be some of the prin. cipal causes of the calamity, and to pray your Honourable House for the removal of them.
That your Honourable House cannot but be acquainted with the fact, that labour in England is applied with more energy, with more skill, and for a greater numbeç of hours out of the four-and-twenty, than in any other country of Europe.
That it seems reasonable that the labourer's command over the necessaries of life should, in some measure, depend upon the efficacy of his exertions ; "and that the high intrinsic value of British labour should secure for it a high exchangeable value in the market.
That the industrious workman, who might form such an expectation, would experience the most bitter disappointment; the due and natural proportion between the intrinsic work and the market price of labour having been so deteriorated, that, though the British labourer executes, in any given number of days, a greater quantity of work than the labourer of any other country, yet he receives, as his daily wages, a less quantity of the necessaries of life than the labourer in many other countries; and that, while the workmen of this island are capable of manufacturing for half the world, they have been unable to obtain for themselves, in return for their skilled, their energetic, and their persevering exertions, a sufficient quantity of the products of labour to support existence; and have been preserved by parochial relief, or by the hand of private charity, from perishing from the face of the earth.
That your Petitioners are convinced, that the existing Corn Laws form one main and leading cause of the calamitous condition in which the operative classes of this country have been placed.
That these laws render it necessary to resort to inferior soils, and to adopt expensive modes of culture, in order to raise the necessary supplies of food, and of other agricultural products.
That resorting to such soils, and adopting such modes of tillage, cause a greater quantity of labour to be employed in raising the same quantity of the necessaries of life ; and it follows, as an inevitable consequence, that as more labour is required to produce necessaries, more labour will be required to purchase them.
That thus, as your Petitioners conceive, it amounts to a clear and complete demonstration, that a system of Corn Laws, restricting the importation of foreign agricultural produce, and - thereby requiring the resorting to inferior lands, and the adopting
of high and expensive modes of culture, 'must have the effect of -raising the value of the necessaries of life, in relation to any given quantity of labour; or, what comes to the same thing, of lowering the value of any given quantity of labour, as compared with those necessàries.
That your Petitioners submit to your Honourable House, that the people have an undoubted right to purchase their food - wherever it can be obtained at the cheapest rate'; and, that artificial regulations, lowering the value of labour in relation to the necessaries of life, are an infringement upon this right, which infringement can be justified or excused only upon the supposition, that the evil which it inflicts upon the labouring classes is over
balanced by some great and general good, secured to the community at large.
That your Petitioners are prepared to show, by reasoning, selfevident in all its steps, that the severe privations inflicted upon the labouring classes, by restrictions on the importation of foreign agricultural produce, are not compensated for by any prepon. derating advantage conferred upon other classes. That the existing Corn Laws are all but universally injurious. That the master-manufacturer, the merchant, the farmer, and, ultimately, the landed proprietor, are all, more or less, partakers in the retardation of prosperity, the dimidution of wealth, and the approach to decline which they occasion; and that, by their operation, all the sources of income are rendered less. productive; the same cause which gives to the labourer a diminished command over the necessaries of life, lowering the profit upon capital, not only in manufactures and commerce, but also in agriculture. +
That, in carrying on manufacturing industry, a certain quantity of agricultural produce must be consumed, in the form of food and material : and also a certain quantity of manufactured goods, in the form of clothing, tools, and machinery. That it is manifest, therefore, that manufacturing profits must fall as the value of agricultural produce rises. That, if the relative value of agricul. tural produce, and of manufactured goods, be such, that the master-manufacturer, with one-third of his fabrics, can purchase his raw material and the food of his labourers, while he uses another third for their clothing, tools, and machinery, it is evident that the remaining third will be a clear surplus, constituting a profit of 50 per cent. upon the capital expended. But, that if the value of agricultural produce rise, until it requires two-thirds of the master-manufacturer's fabrics to replace the food and material ex.
pended, the remaining third being, as before, required for clothing and machinery, no surplus can exist, and the master's profit will be reduced from 50 per cent to nothing.
That the rule thus inflicted upon the manufacturer speedily overtakes the farmer. That if, before the rise in the value of agricultural produce, the farmer used one-third of his crops for seed and for the food of his labourers, and with another third purchased their clothing and implements, the remaining third would be a clear surplus; and he, as well as the master-manufacturer, would obtain a profit of 50 per cent. upon the capital expended. That, if the value of the farmer's produce is doubled, because it is necessary for bim to go to an inferior soil, upon which any given quantity of produce must be raised with a double expendityre, then, instead of one-third, he must use two-thirds of his -crops for seed and food, and the remaining third will do no more than purchase for him the quantity of clothing and implements rendered necessary. That thus the quantity of produce obtained
will only replace the quantity expended, and the cultivator of the last quality of soil resorted to, will be placed on the same footing with the master-manufacturer, and will have his profits reduced from 50 per cent. to nothing."" 3:7
That the fall of profits soon reaches the farmers who occupy the superior lands, upon which the same expenditure continues to raise the same quantity of produce as before. That it is not in! the nature of things that, while master-manufacturers and cultio vators of the last quality of land resorted to, made no profit at all, the occupiers of good land should, for any considerable time; be permitted to realise high returns. That, on the expiration of existing leases, all those who were in possession of disposable capital would bid against the holders of fertile land, until all that portion of the produce which remained, after the replacing of expenditure, was offered to the proprietor in the form of rent. That, after having enjoyed a short-lived advantage, from the rise in the value of agricultural produce, the ancient tenantry of the rountry would be eithor ejected from their farms, ot reduced to a condition in which they could obtain only a bare subsistence.
That the proprietors of the soil could not continue to prosper. while all the other classes of the community declined. That, for some time; rents would experience an extraordinary rise. But, at no distant period, the destruction of profit would cause capital to emigrate; the seats of manufacture and the marts of commerce 'to be removed to other countries; and the home demand for food and material to subside: That England, thus impoverished and depopulated, would, as in former times, export agricultural produce to the foreign market; and, the proprietors of the soit would discover, when too late, that it is only in a dense and opulent manufacturing population that the value of land can acquire and retain an extraordinary elevation,
That thus it appears, by clear and unanswerable proofs, that the existing restrictions upon the importation of foreign agricul. tural produce, are injurious to every class; of the community that they lower the real wages of labour, reduce the profits of capital, and, ultimately, bring down reots from that high level which they reach in a country, the circumstances of which lead, as in England, to the importatiou of corn, to the low level at which they settle in a country, the circumstances of which lead, as in Poland, to the exportation of corn.
That, as your Petitioners'know, from dearly-bought 'expérience, the calamities which follow from sudden changes in tlie direction of industry, they are far from desiring such an immediate and precipitate opening of the ports as might bring on å renewal of agricultural distress; and as their appeal to your Honourable House is founded on the principles of impartial justice, and of free and equal competition, they do not object to secuting to British agriculture such protection as may be necessary to place it