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their hoards are the banking-houses of these latter. Whether they mean it or not, they do, in effect, execute their trust-some with more, some with less fidelity and judgment. But, on the whole, the duty is performed, and every thing returns, deducting some very trifling commission and discount, to the place from whence it arose. When the rise to destroy the rich, they act as wisely for their own purposes, as when they burn mills, and throw corn into the river, to make bread cheap.
When I say, that we of the people ought to be · informed, inclusively I say, we ought not to be flattered ; flattery is the reverse of instruction. The poor
in that case would be rendered as improvident as the rich, which would not be at all good for them.
Nothing can be so base and so wicked as the political canting language, “The labouring poor." Let compassion be shewn in action, the more the better, according to every man's ability ; but let there be no lamentation of their condition. It is no relief to their miserable circumstances; it is only an insult to their miserable understandings. It arises from a total want of charity, or a total want of thought. Want of one kind was never relieved by want of any other kind.
. Patience, labour, sobriety, frugality, and religion, should be recommended to them; all the rest is downright fraud.
It is horrible to call them “ The once happy labourer."
Whether what may be called the moral or philosophical happiness of the laborious classes is increased or not, I cannot say. The seat of that species of happiness is in the mind; and there are few data to ascertain the comparative state of the mind at any two periods. Philosophical happiness is to want little. Civil or vulgar happiness is to want much, and to enjoy much.
If the happiness of the animal man (which certainly goes somewhere towards the happiness of the rational man) be the object of our estimate, then I assert without the least hesitation, that the condition of those who labour in all descriptions of labour, and in all gradations of labour, from the highest to the lowest inclusively) is on the whole extremely meliorated, if more and better food is any standard of melioration. They work more, it is certain; but they have the advantage of their augmented labour; yet whether that increase of labour be on the whole a good or an evil, is á consideration that would lead us a great way, and is not for my present purpose. But as to the fact of the melioration of their diet, I shall enter into the detail of proof whenever I am called upon : in the mean time, the known difficulty of contenting them with any thing but bread made of the finest
flour, and meat of the first quality, is proof sufficient.
I further assert, that even under all the hardships of the last year, the labouring people did, either out of their direct gains, or from charity, (which it seems is now an insult to them) in fact, fare better than they did in seasons of common plenty, fifty or sixty years ago; or even at the period of my English observation, which is about forty-four years. I even assert, that full as many in that class, as ever were known to do it before, continued to save money; and this I can prove, so far as my own information and experience extend.
It is not true that the rate of wages has not increased with the nominal price of provisions. I allow it has not fluctuated with that price, nor ought it; and the squires of Norfolk had dined, when they gave it as their opinion, that it might or ought to rise and fall with the market of provisions. The rate of wages in truth has no direct relation to that price. Labour is a commodity like every other, and rises or falls according to the demand. This is in the nature of things; however, the nature of things has provided for their necessities. Wages have been twice raised in my time; and they bear a full proportion, or even a greater than formerly, to the medium of provision during the last bad cycle of twenty years. They bear a full proportion to the result of their labour. If
we were wildly to attempt to force them beyond it, the stone which we had forced up the hill would only fall back upon them in a diminished demand, or, what indeed is the far lesser evil, an aggravated price of all the provisions which are the result of their manual toil.
There is an implied contract, much stronger than any instrument or article of agreement between the labourer in any occupation and his employer-.. that the labour, so far as that labour is concerned, shall be sufficient to pay to the employer a profit on his capital, and a compensation for his risk; in a word, that the labour shall produce an advantage equal to the payment. Whatever is above that is a direct tax; and if the amount of that tax be left to the will and pleasure of another, it is an arbitrary tax.
If I understand it rightly, the tax proposed on the farming interest of this kingdom is to be levied at what is called the discretion of justices of peace.
The questions arising on this scheme of arbitrary taxation are these-Whether it is better to leave all dealing, in which there is no force or fraud, collusion or combination, entirely to the persons mútually concerned in the matter contracted for; or to put the contract in the hands of those who can have none, or a very remote interest in it, and little or no knowledge of the subject.
It might be imagined that there would be very little difficulty in solving this question ; for what man,
of any degree of reflection, can think, that a want of interest in any subject closely connected with a want of skill in it qualifies a person to intermeddle in any the least affair; much less in affairs that vitally concern the agriculture of the kingdom, the first of all its concerns, and the foundation of all its prosperity in every other matter, by which that prosperity is produced.
The vulgar errour on this subject arises from a total confusion in the very idea of things widely different in themselves ; —those of convention, and those of judicature. When a contract is making, it is a matter of discretion and of interest between the parties. In that intercourse, and in what is to arise from it, the parties are the masters. If they are not completely so, they are not free, and therefore their contracts are void.
But this freedom has no farther extent, when the contract is made ; then their discretionary powers expire, and a new order of things takes its origin. Then, and not till then, and on a difference between the parties, the office of the judge commences. He cannot dictate the contract. It is his business to see that it be enforced; provided that it is not contrary to pre-existing laws, or obtained by force or fraud. If he is in any way a maker or regulator of the contract, in so much he