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TO MESSIEURS THE PUBLIC. On the price of Corn, and Management of
I am one of that class of people, that feeds you all, and at present is abused by you all;- in short, I am a farmer.
By your news-papers we are told, that God had sent a very short harvest to some other countries of Europe. I thought this might be in favour of Old England; and that now we should get a good price for our grain, which would bring millions among us, and make us flow in money: that to be sure is scarce enongh.
But the wisdom of government forbad the exportation.
Well, says I, then we must be content with the marketprice at home.
No, say my lords the mob, you sha'n't have that. Bring your corn 'to market if you dare; - we'll sell it for you, for less money, or take it for nothing.
Being thus attacked by both ends of the constitution, the head and tail of government, what am I to do?
Must I keep my corn in the barn, to feed and increase the breed of rats ? - be it so;- they cannot be less thank ful than those I have been used to feed.
Are we farmers the only people to be grudged the profits of our honest labour? - And why? One of the late scribblers against us gives a bill of fare of the pro. visions at my daughter's wedding, and proclaims to all the world, that we had the insolence to eat beef and pudding! Has he not read the precept in the good book, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn ; or does he think us less worthy of good living than our oxen ?
0, but the manufacturers ! the manufacturers! they are to be favoured, and they must have bread at a cheap rate!
Hark ye, Mr. Oaf: The farmers live splendidly, you say. And pray, would you have them hoard the money they get? Their fine clothes and furniture, do they make then themselves or for one another, and so keep the money among theni? Or, do they employ these your darling manufacturers, and so scatter it again all over the nation?
The wool would produce me a better price, if it were suffered to go to foreign markets; but that, Messieurs the Public, your laws will not permit. It must be kept all at home, that our dear manufacturers may have it the cheaper, And then, having yourselves thus lessened our encourage. ment for raisiog sheep, you curse us for the scarcity of mutton!
I have heard my grandfather say, that the farmers sub. mitted to the prohibition on the exportation of wool, being made to expect and believe, that when the manufacturer bought his wool cheaper, they should also have their cloth cheaper. But the deuce a bit. It has been growing dearer and dearer from that day to this. How so? Why, truly, the cloth is exported; and that keeps up the price.
Now if it be a good principle, that the exportation of a commodity is to be restrained, that so our people at home may have it the cheaper; stick to that principle, and go thorough stitch with it. Prohibit the exportation of your cloth, your leather, an shoes, your iron ware, and your manufactures of all sorts, to make them all cheaper at home. And cheap enough they will be, I will warrant you - till people leave off making them.
Some folks seem to think they ought never to be easy till England becomes another Lubberland, where it is fancied the streets are paved with pennyrolls, the houses tiled with pancakes, and chickens, ready roasted, cry, Come eat we.
I say, when you are sure you have got a good principle, stick to it, and carry it thorough. - I hear it is said, that though it was necessary and right for the m--y to ad vise a prohibition of the exportation of corn, yet it was contrary to law; and also that thought it was contrary to law for the mob to obstruct waggons, yet it was ne. cessary and right. – Just the same thing to a little. Now they tell me, an act of indemnity ought to pass in favour of the m--y to secure them from the consequences of having acted illegally. If so, pass another in favour of the mob. Others say, some of the mob ought to be hanged, by way of example. --- If 80,- but I say no more than I have said before, when you are sure that you have got a good principle, go through with it.
You say, poor tabourers cannot afford to buy bread, at a high price, unless they had higher wages.- Possibly.
But how shall we farmers be able to afford our labourers higher wages, if you will not allow us to get, when we might have it, a higher price for our corn?
By all that I can learn, we should at least have had & guinea a quarter more, if the exportation had been allowed. And this money England would have got from foreigners.
But, it seems, we farmers must take so much less, that the poor may have it so much cheaper.
This operates then as a tax for the maintenance of the poor. A very good thing, you will say. But I ask, why a partial tax ? why laid on us farmers only? If it be a good thing, pray, Messieurs the Public, take your share of it, by indemnifying us a little out of your public trea. sury. In doing a good thing, there is both honour and pleasure--you are welcome to your share of both.
For my own part, I am not so well satisfied of the goodness of this thing. I am for doing good to the poor, but
I differ in opinion about the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is, not making them easy in
poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. Ju my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, less was done for them, the more they did for thepiselves, and became richer. There is no country in the world where so many provisions are established for them; so many hospitals to receive them when they are sick or lame, founded and maintained by voluntary charities; so many alms houses for the aged of both sexes, together with a solemn general law made by the rich to subject their estates to a heavy tax for the support of the poor. Under all these obligations, are our poor modest, humble, and thankful ? And do they use their best endeavours to maintain them. selves, and lighten our shoulders of this burthen? On the contrary, I affirm, that there is no country in the world in which the poor are more idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent. The day you passed that act, yon took away from before their eyes the greatest of all inducements to industry, frugality, and sobriety, by giving them a dependence on somewhat else than a careful accumulation during yonth and health, for support in age or sickness. In shorts you offered a premium for the encouragement of idleness, and you should not now wonder, that it has had its effect in the increase of poverty. Repeal that law, and you will soon see a change in their manners, Saint Monday, and Saint Tuesday, will soon cease to be holidays. Six days shalt thou labour, though one of the old commandments long treated as out of date, will again be looked upon as a respectable precept; industry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower people; their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them.
Excuse Messieurs the Public, if upon this ins teresting subject, I put you to the trouble of reading a little of my nonsense; am sure I have lately read a great deal of yours, and therefore from you (at least from those of you who are writers) I deserve a little in. dulgence.
I am yours, etc.
ON LUXURY, IDLENESS, AND INDUSTRY.
life, want and misery would be banished out of the world, and the rest of the twenty-four hours might be leisure and pleasure.
What occasions then so much want and misery? It is the employment of men and women in works, that produce neither the necessaries nor conveniences of life, who, with those who do nothing, consume necessaries raised by the laborious. To explain this.
The first elements of wealth are obtained by labour, from the earth and waters. I have land, and raise corn. With this, if I feed a family that does nothing, my corr will be consumed, and at the end of the year I shall be no richer than I was at the beginning. But if, while I feed them, I employ them some in spinning, others in making bricks, etc. for building, the value of my corn will be arrested and repain with me and at the end of the year we may all be better clothed and better lodged. And if, instead of employing a man I feed in making bricks, I employ him in fiddling for me, the corn he eats is gone, and no part of his manufacture remains to augment the wealth and convenience of the family: I shall therefore be the poorer for this fiddling man, unless the rest of my family work more or eat less to make up the deficiency he occasions,
Look round the world, and see the millions employed in doing nothing, or in something that amounts to nothing, when the necessaries and conveniences of life are in question. What is the bulk of commerce, for which we fight and destroy each other, but the toil of millions for superfluities, to the great hazard and loss of many lives, by the constant dangers of the sea ? How much labour is spent in building and fitting great ships, to go to China and Arabia for tea and coffee, to the West in dies for sugar, to America for tabacco ?
These things cannot be called the necessaries of life, for our ancestors lived very comfortably without them.
A question may be asked: could all these people now employed in raising, making, or carrying superfluities, be subsisted by raising necessaries? I think they might. The world is large, and a great part of it still uncultivated. Many hundred millions of acres in Asia, Africa, and America, are still in a forest, and a great deal even in Europe. On a hundred acres of this forest a man might become a substantial farmer, and a hundred thousand men, employed in clearing each his hundred acres, would hardly brighten a spot big enough to be visible from the moon, unless with Herschel's telescope; so vast are the regions still in wood.
It is, however, some comfort to reflect, that, upon the whole, the quantity of industry and prudence among mankind exceeds the quantity of idleness and folly. Hence the increase of good buildings, farms cultivated, and populous cities filled with wealth, all over Europe which a few ages since were only to be found on the coasts of
the Mediterranean; and this notwithstanding the mad wars continually raging, by which are often destroyed in one year the works of many years peace. So that we may hope the luxury of a few merchants on the coast will not be the ruin of America.
One reflection more, and I will end this long rambling letter. Almost all the parts of our bodies require some expence. The feet demand shoes; the legs stockings; the rest of the body clothing; and the belly a good deal of victuals. Our eyes, though exceedingly useful, ask, when reasonable, only the cheap assistance of spectacles, which could not much impair our finances. But the eyes of other people are the eyes that ruin us. If all but myself were blind, I should want neither fine clothes, fine houses, nor fine furniture.
ON SMUGGLING, AND ITS VARIOUS
SIR, There are many people that would be thought, and even think themselves, honest men, who fail nevertheless in particular points of honesty; deviating from that character sometimes by the prevalence of mode or custom, and sometimes through niere inattention; so that their honesty is partial only, and not general or universal. Thus one, who would scorn to over-reach you in a bargain, shall make no scruple of tricking you a little now and then at cards; another that plays with the utmost fairness, shall with great freedom cheat' you in the sale of a horse. But there is no kind of dishonesty, into which otherwise good people more easily and frequently fall, than that of defrauding government of its revenues by smuggling, when they have an opportunity, or encouraging smugglers by buying their goods.
I fell into these reflections the other day, on hearing two gentlemen of 'reputation discoursing about a small estate which one of them was inclined to sell, and the other to buy; when the seller, in recommending the place, remarked, that its situation was very advantageous on this account, that, being on the sea.coast in a smuggling country, one had frequent opportunities of buying many of the expensive articles used in a family (such as tea, coffee, chocolate, brandy, wines, cambrics, Brussels laces, French silks, and all kinds of India goods), 20, 30, and in some articles 50 per cent cheaper, than they could be had in the more interior parts, of traders that paid duty. – The other honest gentleman allowed this to be an ad