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found, until the people have the means of instruction, the leisure necessary to enable them to receive instruction, and the desire to receive it. They never can have these means, this leisure, and this desire, while they out-breed the accumulation of capital, which alone can give employment at good wages. Keep down the number ef hands, and no power on earth can keep down wages below what are sufficient to put the labourer in the most desirable state. Keep up the number of hands and no contrivance can do what it is utterly impossible can be done-namely, keep up wages.
There is a shocking delusion practised with much success on the working people, a delusion more fatal to their well being than all other delusions and oppressions put together. It is denied that there has been any increase of people. It is said there were as many people in England, Scotland, and Ireland, two hundred years ago, as there are now. It is said, the people have been taken from farms and cottages, and sent to manufactures, trade, and commerce. This is altogether false. It would be difficult to find a parish in England in which there has not been an increase of people within the last thirty years. In many purely agricultural parishes, the increase of people has been very great.
The four parishes named below, are all agricultural parishes, and the returns from which the following statements are taken, were specifically and separately made to Parliament, with great care, and are no doubt correct.
Poor and County Rates. 1801 | 1811 1821 || 1792
1114 1958 2410.45.8d. | £ 2619.95.4d. | £3689.185.10d. Salehurst
1653 2121 835. 14.8. 2684. 13. 3. 4189. 18. 1. Burwash 1524 1603 1937 628. 4.0. 3287. 0.0. 4149. 6. 6. May field
1849 | 2079 2698 1521. 18. 4. 4353. 7. 2. 7719. 15. 0. Shewing an increase of people.
1801 to 1811 | 1811 to 1821 | 1801 to 1821
Number of Paupers in 1822.
636 1062 1056 1397
Incrcase of people since 1801.
361 510 413 849
These parishes are a fair sample. It may be safely concluded, that many left these parishes, while few, if any, were allowed to make settlement in them. And here is a plain increase of people
far beyond the means of employment. The great increase in the poor rates, shew that the people are paid wages under that head, and the fair inference is, that almost all the labourers are paupers. But, there is direct evidence, how, the too rapid increase of people reduces wages and deteriorates the condition of the people. Mr. Elman, a man of good understanding and well respected, a large sheep grazier and farmer, in his evidence before a Committee of the House of Commons, speaking of this part of the country, said,
Thirty years ago almost every working man who was married brewed his own beer, now he seldom tastes any malt liquor.” And how is it possible to be otherwise. The whole population of the four parishes in 1801 was five thousand nine hundred and eighty one, in 1821 it was eight thousand one hundred and fourteen, shewing an increase of two thousand one hundred and thirty three; or more than one third in twenty years. These parishes being agricultural could not employ the whole of the people as fast as they increased, and consequently the whole sum which could be paid in wages, instead of being paid in good wages, which enabled a man to live in comfort and brew his own beer, has been divided in bad wages among a much larger number than is necessary to do the labour; part of every man's wages being paid under the name of paupers' allowance.
At the time, of which Mr. Elman spoke, when a man brewed his own beer, the parish rates for the whole four parishes, were only one fifth of what they were in 1821; whence it may be presumed, that there were no paupers, except a very few old people, the lame, the blind, and perhaps an orphan or two, altogether the number must have been small. Now what is it? Half the people are paupers, so that an increase of one fourth in the number, has ruined twice that number. If the profit made in these four parishes, be supposed to be equal to the sum paid in wages and poor rates, and if the working people have only half as much wages as would keep them in a desirable state, then it follows, that to pay them as one would wish to see them paid, would take away the whole profit from every body in the parishes, and leave them nothing to subsist on. Every one will agree with me that this cannot be done, and would be ruinous to all if it could be done, and this brings us round again to the point whence we started, the only remedy-ceasing to breed faster than enployment can be found. If ever a case was satisfactorily proved, I have I think proved mine.' If ever the people are to be better off, it follows that it must be by their own act, by the use of physical means to prevent conception. I do not ask you to advocate the preventive check to population. I am quite satisfied with your inserting my communication; being willing to leave the whole matter to the good sense of the few who are able to reason for themselves, trusting to time for the extirpation of these prejudices, which at present prevent the work
ing people seeing the cause of their degradation, and using the meåns to prevent its continuance.
P. S. By wages I mean real wages—that is, the quantities of necessaries and comforts a man's labour will procure for him.
TO F., AND TO THE READERS OF F.
This correspondence with F. produces no counter argument; we are agreed wherever it is useful that we should be agreed. It is a mere running up of a theory or systein by the side of another, both to the same purpose, but each says, though I admit the soundness of yours, I like the look of my own the best.
F. tells me that I have not met bis argument. Very true, I have nothing really opposing to say against it. And on the other band, he did not begin to meet my argument in the note to Mr. Penny's letter, except, in the non-abundance of food. The fact is, that we have both the same purpose, and therefore cannot be sensibly opposed in argument.
On the question of political economy, I admit the soundness of all that he has advanced; but on the question of the principle of population, I do not lay the same stress as he does. I learn, that buman passions and the customs which arise from them are not matters to be subject to any mathematical calculation. They are matters of quality rather tban of quantity.
F. says this. There are too many to be all happy. Lessen the number of people by a prudent prevention of an excess of conceptious, aad you will have more labour than labourers, and consequently, bigber wages, better condition, and every thing better to the mass of the people.
I meet him with an observation, that much of this better condition will depend upon the education of this small number of people, and the government to wbich they are subject. I have seen men earn bigb wages. I have seen men earu a pound per day, by hard labour; and yet by bad habit, keep themselves more dependent, more beggarly, and more wretched, than some who could not earn a pound per week. And this in Loudon is not an exception to the general rule,
No. 24, Vol. X.
but the general rule with very few exception. Here then I am impressed with the notion, that it is a matter of the first importance to stimulate them to better babits, by better education, and less encouragement to follow bad habits. One step to this accomplishment, and a most important one I take it to be, is to break up the present system of licensing public houses, and to have no such licensed baunts for vice and misery. It may be said, that every person is free to make his house as public as he pleases. Yes, but he will not be able to make a trade of a public house when there is no monopoly in the matter. It is the monopoly that constitutes the evil, and makes the monopolist eager to encourage every bad habit in his neighbours that shall profit him.
Again, it is the principle of all irresponsible government, and of priestcraft, to draw the largest possible revenue from the governed and cheated. Ànd this I take to be the master evil; for contrive whatever benefits, you will for the mass of the people, large or sinal] in number, such a government and such a priesthood will still take whilst there is more to spare beyond the mere life preserving necessaries of the mass of the people, And thus in reality, they who feed worse for the taxation, are the real payers of taxes; not those who have enough after the demand of the tax-gatherer be suppli
If taxation be an evil, the payment is in reality nade by those who suffer from that evil, who have not enough of necessaries. They alone feel it, they pay in their sufferings : all those who do not feel-it contrive to evade the evil and to throw it upon others. This was the principle expressed in my last note: whether deprivation was not the same payment, as if the money or property paid had been in the possession of the individual. I contend that the payment of taxes consists in the sufferings of those industrious men and women who do suffer from a want of necessaries and from insurmountable obstacles to an advanced condition in life. I allude not to the lazy habitual beggar: I include not those who suffer from their bad babits; but I do contend, that they are the payers of superfluous taxation, who suffer from the existence of that taxation. All other paynient is a matter of form, this a real payment, a penalty, a suffering. If there were no misery or suffering to arise from it; then taxation would be no evil.
Here is the sum of all difference between F. and myself. He says that to lessen the number of people will better their coudition : I say that it will not do it upon any large scale,
wbile we bave irresponsible goveroment and a priesthood. The mass of the people will never obtain the full necessaries of health and moderate comfort, wbilst a superfluous public officer can exist among them. When they acquire the power to elect all their public officers, and to elect no more than they see to be necessary for the purposes of good government, then they may begin to feel the benefit of industry and prudent practices. All that I can see, that a smaller number of people would effect under the present system of government would be less of individnal suffering, but only less as to the number of suffering individuals: and to a clear and sensitive mind, the suffering of one is as painful as the suffering of a thousand.
Good or bad wages, or the quantity of wages, is not so much the question, as the quantity and quality of food and clothing which the individual can obtaiu for consumption. Here I can see that irresponsible government and a rapacious priesthood will leave, in the aggregate of years, nothing more in quantity or quality for the consuoiption of the mass of the people than is now found. The difference in numbers will not make a difference in the principle.
I conclude again by saying, that I have nothing to say against the proposed prudent check as to numbers; but I do conceive, that this lessening of numbers is not the first necessary practice to remove the evils by which the present number is afflicted. I maintain the ground of my two last notes, that bad government and a priesthood constitute the evil which at present degrade the people of this country.
TO MR. WILLIAM COBBETT, EDITOR OF THE
POLITICAL REGISTER, &c. &c. LONDON.
Dorchester Gaol, Dec. 13, 1824. You have begun to publish, in numbers, of which No. 1, has appeared, a work, entitled: “A history of the Protestant . Reformatiou,' in England and Ireland, shewiug how that event has impoverished and degraded the main body of the People in those Countries.” As every one, who is ac