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TO THE

LANDOWNERS OF ENGLAND.

FELLOW COUNTRYMEN,

It is my desire to invite your attention to a question, the importance of which is acknowledged by all, though few, perhaps, estimate it as highly as I do.

I address myself to you, because it is through, and by you, that the alterations which appear to me essential to the welfare of the country, must be effected. Any material change in a system of laws, deemed by a considerable branch of the community conducive to its prosperity and security, ought rather to be carried into effect by the consent of that branch, than

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in the form of a triumph over it; and notwithstanding the interval, which seems to separate the opinions of men, concerning the Corn Trade, we need not despair of this result. That it must be attained, however, through appeals, (perhaps frequently made) to the good sense, and, I may add, to the good feelings of men, rather than by any overt attack upon opinions which others may consider as prejudices; but which they themselves regard as well founded, I am thoroughly persuaded. I am most anxious, therefore, that you should consider, whether you have seriously and comprehensively examined the validity of these opinions, and whether the arguments, by which they are defended, are sound or unsound. These are questions of the utmost importance to arriving at a legitimate conclusion.

Suppose it were broadly and nakedly asserted, by some speculative writer on politics, that it was beneficial to a nation, or, in other words, to the individuals who compose the nation, to pay a high price for its subsistence; would not such an assertion excite the surprise

of his readers, and would they not expect that a proposition, so repugnant to the general feelings of mankind, so (apparently, at least) inconsistent with common sense, and so adverse to the spirit of every humane and enlightened legislature, was to be upheld, not merely by authority, but by plain and - unanswerable reasoning? They would expect him to demonstrate, not that a high price of subsistence was beneficial to any particular class, and that, through that class, the rest of the community would be indirectly benefited, but that the nation at large was so immediately interested in maintaining it, that his proposition (paradoxical as it might appear at first sight,) would be proved, by investigation, to be an undeniable truth. Such, however, is the proposition which affirms the wisdom of the Corn Laws. The first object of these laws is to raise the price of corn above its natural level; their next, and ultimate object, is to raise the value of land. The employment of the agricultural population is stated by some to be another object in view; but this is evidently a collateral and incidental one, as the arguments used in their favour bear only upon the others.

The supporters of them say, that it is wise so to raise the price of corn, and the value of land, and, moreover, that it is just. These are the points, which it seems to me, that you have not investigated with that impartiality which becomes your station in the community. The Corn Law is said to be just, because the landowner is liable to charges, from which other classes of the people are exempt. He alone is liable, it is said, to highway rates, to county rates, to poor rates ; in short, to all local taxation, and, therefore, it is just that artificial means should be taken, in order to raise the value of his property. In this, as in every other argument, the truth of the premises must be ascertained, before we admit the soundness of the conclusion. In the first place, then, is it true, that the landowner alone is liable to all this local taxation ? That, in a great degree, it falls ultimately upon the real property of the country, no doubt can be entertained; but there is a material difference between its falling

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