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which I have spoken of as taking place in the south-west of England, by the assistance of one or other of the company, we went through every family in the town and neighborhood, and my assertion was found completely accurate, though the place had no one advantage over others, and many disadvantages,— that heavy one in particular, the non-residence and frequent change of its rectors,-the living being always given to one of the canons of Windsor, and resigned on the acceptance of better preferment. It was even asserted, and not only asserted but proved, by my friend,* who has from his earliest youth devoted a strong original understanding, and a heart warm and benevolent even to enthusiasm, to the service of the poor and the laboring class, that every sober laborer, in that part of England at least, who should not marry till thirty, might, without any hardship or extreme self-denial, commence housekeeping at that age, with from a hundred to a hundred and twenty pounds belonging to him. I have no doubt, that on seeing this essay, my friend will communicate to me the proof in detail. But the price of labor in the south-west of England is full one third less than in the greater number, if not all, of the northern counties. What then is wanting? Not the repeal of taxes, but the increased activity both of the gentry and clergy of the land, in securing the instruction of the lower classes. A system of education is wanting, such a system as that discovered, and to the blessings of thousands realized, by Dr. Bell, which I never am, or can be, weary of praising, while my heart retains any spark of regard for human nature, or of reverence for human virtue ;-a system, by which in the very act of receiving knowledge, the best virtues and most useful qualities of the moral character are awakened, developed, and formed into habits. Were there a Bishop of Durham—no matter whether a temporal or a spiritual lord— in every county or half-county, and a clergyman enlightened with the views, and animated with the spirit, of Dr. Bell, in every parish, we might bid defiance to the present weight of taxes, and boldly challenge the whole world to show a peasantry as well fed and clothed as the English, or with equal chances of improving their situation, and of securing an old age of repose and comfort to a life of cheerful industry.
I will add one other anecdote, as it demonstrates incontrover*Thomas Poole.-Ed.
tibly the error of the vulgar opinion, that taxes make things really dear, taking in the whole of a man's expenditure. A friend of mine, who has passed some years in America, was questioned by an American tradesman, in one of their cities of the second class, concerning the names and number of our taxes and rates.` The answer seemed perfectly to astound him: and he exclaimed, "How is it possible that men can live in such a country? In this land of liberty we never see the face of a tax-gatherer, nor hear of a duty, except in our sea-ports." My friend, who was perfect master of the question, made semblance of turning off the conversation to another subject: and then, without any apparent reference to the former topic, asked the American, for what sum he thought a man could live in such and such a style, with so many servants, in a house of such dimensions and such a situation (still keeping in his mind the situation of a thriving and respectable shopkeeper and householder in different parts of England), first supposing him to reside in Philadelphia or New York, and then in some town of secondary importance. Having received a detailed answer to these questions, he proceeded to convince the American, that notwithstanding all our taxes, a man might live in the same style, but with incomparably greater comforts, on the same income in London as in New York, and on a considerably less income in Exeter or Bristol, than in any American provincial town of the same relative importance. It would be insulting my readers to discuss on how much less a person may vegetate or brutalize in the back settlements of the republic, than he could live as a man, as a rational and social. being, in an English village; and it would be wasting time to inform him, that where men are comparatively few, and unoccupied land is in inexhaustible abundance, the laborer and common mechanic must needs receive—not only nominally, but really -higher wages than in a populous and fully occupied country. But that the American laborer is therefore happier, or even in possession of more comforts and conveniences of life than a sober or industrious English laborer or mechanic, remains to be proved. In conducting the comparison, we must not however exclude the operation of moral causes, when these causes are not accidental, but arise out of the nature of the country, and the constitution of the government and society. This being the case, take away from the American's wages all the taxes which his insolence,
sloth, and attachment to spirituous liquors impose on him, and judge of the remainder by his house, his household furniture, and utensils and if I have not been grievously deceived by those whose veracity and good sense I have found unquestionable in all other respects, the cottage of an honest English husbandman, in the service of an enlightened and liberal farmer, who is paid for his labor at the price usual in Yorkshire or Northumberland, would in the mind of a man in the same rank of life, who had seen a true account of America, make no impressions favorable to emigration. This, however, I confess, is a balance of morals rather than of circumstances: it proves, however, that where foresight and good morals exist, the taxes do not stand in the way of an industrious man's comforts.
Dr. Price almost succeeded in persuading the English nation, —for it is a curious fact, that the fancy of our calamitous situation is a sort of necessary sauce without which our real prosperity would become insipid to us-Dr. Price, I say, alarmed the country with pretended proofs that the island was in a rapid state of depopulation ;-that England at the Revolution had been, Heaven knows how much more populous; and that in Queen Elizabeth's time, or about the Reformation, the number of inhabitants in England, might have been greater than even at the Revolution. My old mathematical master, a man of an uncommonly clear head, answered this blundering book of the worthy doctor's, and left not a stone unturned of the pompous cenotaph in which the effigy of the still living and bustling English prosperity lay interred. And yet so much more suitable was the doctor's book to the purposes of faction, and to the November mood of what is called the public, that Mr. Wales's pamphlet, though a master-piece of perspicacity as well as perspicuity, was scarcely heard of. This tendency to political nightmares in our countrymen, reminds me of a superstition, or rather nervous disease, not uncommon in the Highlands of Scotland, in which men, though broad awake, imagine they see themselves lying dead at a small distance from them. The act of Parliament for ascertaining the population of the empire has laid forever this uneasy ghost and now, forsooth, we are on the brink of ruin from the excess of population, and he who would prevent the poor from rotting away in disease, misery, and wickedness, is an enemy to his country. A lately-deceased miser, of immense wealth, is re
ported to have been so delighted with this splendid discovery, as to have offered a handsome annuity to the author, in part of payment for this new and welcome piece of heart-armor. This, however, we may deduce from the fact of our increased population, that if clothing and food had actually become dearer in proportion to the means of procuring them, it would be as absurd to ascribe this effect to increased taxation, as to attribute the scantiness of fare, at a public ordinary, to the landlord's bill, when twice the usual number of guests had sat down to the same number of dishes. But the fact is notoriously otherwise, and every man has the means of discovering it in his own house and in that of his neighbors, provided that he makes the proper allowances for the disturbing forces of individual vice and imprudence. If this be the case, I put it to the consciences of our literary demagogues, whether a lie, for the purposes of creating public disunion 'and dejection, is not as much a lie, as one for the purpose of exciting discord among individuals. I entreat my readers to recollect, that the present question does not concern the effects of taxation on the public independence and on the supposed balance of the three constitutional powers, from which said balance, as well as from the balance of trade, I own, I have never been able to elicit one ray of common sense. That the nature of our constitution has been greatly modified by the funding system, I do not deny ;--whether for good or for evil, on the whole, will form part of my essay on the British constitution as it actually exists. There are many and great public evils, all of which are to be lamented, 'some of which may, and ought to, be removed, and none of which can consistently with wisdom or honesty be kept concealed from the public. As far as these originate in false principles, or in the contempt or neglect of right ones, and as such belonging to the plan of The Friend, I shall not hesitate to make known my opinions concerning them, with the same fearless simplicity with which I have endeavored to expose the errors of discontent and the artifices of faction. But for the very reason that there are great evils, the more does it behoove us not to open out on a false scent.
I will conclude this essay with the examination of an article in a provincial paper of a recent date, which is now lying before me; the accidental perusal of which occasioned the whole of the preceding remarks. In order to guard against a possible mistake,
I must premise, that I have not the most distant intention of defending the plan or conduct of our late expeditions, and should be grossly calumniated if I were represented as an advocate for carelessness or prodigality in the management of the public purse. The public money may or may not have been culpably wasted. I confine myself entirely to the general falsehood of the principle in the article here cited; for I am convinced, that any hopes of reform originating in such notions, must end in disappointment and public mockery.
"ONLY A FEW MILLIONS!
"We have unfortunately of late been so much accustomed to read of millions being spent in one expedition, and millions being spent in another, that a comparative insignificance is attached to an immense sum of money, by calling it only a few millions. Perhaps some of our readers may have their judgment a little improved by making a few calculations, like those below, on the millions which it has been estimated will be lost to the nation by the late expedition to Holland; and then, perhaps, they will be led to reflect on the many millions which are annually expended in expeditions, which have almost invariably ended in absolute loss.
"In the first place, with less money than it cost the nation to take Walcheren, &c. with the view of taking or destroying the French fleet at Antwerp, consisting of nine sail of the line, we could have completely built and equipped, ready for sea, a fleet of upwards of one hundred sail of the line. 'Or, secondly, a new town could be built in every county of England, and each town consist of upwards of 1000 substantial houses for a less sum. “Or, thirdly, it would have been enough to give 100l. to 2000 poor families in every county in England and Wales.
"Or, fourthly, it would be more than sufficient to give a handsome marriage portion to 200,000 young women, who probably, if they had even less than 50%. would not long remain unsolicited to enter the happy state.
"Or, fifthly, a much less sum would enable the legislature to establish a life boat in every port in the United Kingdom, and provide for ten or twelve men to be kept in constant attendance on each; and 100,000l. could be funded, the interest of which to be applied in premiums to those who should prove to be particularly active in saving lives from wrecks, &c. and to provide for the widows and children of those men who may accidentally lose their lives in the cause of humanity.
"This interesting appropriation of ten millions sterling, may lead our readers to think of the great good that can be done by only a few millions."
The exposure of this calculation will require but a few sentences. These ten millions were expended, I presume, in arms, artillery, ammunition, clothing, provision, and the like, for about one hundred and twenty thousand British subjects: and I