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HEN a ship is in danger, it is the duty of every one on board, whether a mariner or a passenger, to afford his most strenuous assistance to preserve her from the violence of the storm and from becoming a wreck! And the man who quits his post while there is any chance of saving the ship, deserves every reprobation ; and in general the person who under these circumstances deserts his station falls, as he deserves, a sacrifice to his cowardice or to his selfishness.
That which is true of a ship in a storm is equally just when applied to a state, laboring either in the storm of revolt or of insurrection, or that which is equally to be dreaded, the consequences of revulsion, arising from a system of error or a system which, however beneficial at its commencement, has been carried to an injurious excess.
The following observations are not dictated by party spirit; either by favor to statesmen of one class, or by opposition to those of the other class. The times are too important, and too much depends on wise and prompt measures, to make it warrantable in any man to promote his own views, or to gratify his own wishes. His sole attention should be directed to the public welfare; and every man, however humble his station, and however moderate his abilities, ought to afford his assistance most cordially and earnestly, to discover the source of existing evils and the remedies best adapted to them.
It is in vain, nay even wicked, in cases like those to which these observations relate, to apply palliatives. Radical evils must be met by more direct and more skilful nieans. While the empiric will be content with healing the external wound, the skilful physician will ascertain the cause of the disease, and give to the system that change, according to the nature of the malady, which is best calculated to effect a permanent cure, and to establish general health in the constitution.
Whoever looks around him at the present moment, and views the distresses in which the country is involved from the inability of a large part of the population to answer the demands of goverument ;-whoever examines the great change which has taken place in the condition of a large part of the community hurled from wealth to poverty; from affluence to distress ; whoever enquires into the fact, and finds that taxes are levied from a considerable part of the people by means of legal process; or whoever finds, as the fact is, the poor are increasing daily in number, while the ability of the persons who are by law bound to contribute to their maintenance is diminished-whoever shall know, as the fact is, that a large part of the community are in want of employment though willing to labor, and that their former employers' are unable to afford to pay their wages ; that even 50 men are to be met in different parishes asking for employment, and urging it to be the interest of the farmer, rather to pay them for actual labor than to pay them in a state of idleness from the poor rate, while the farmer, though convinced of the justice of the appeal, is totally unable to meet this appeal to his interest ; further, that a large portion of that industrious part of the community, the little farmers, (the favorites of the ancient system) with their large families (the best hope of the state, and most virtuous part of the community) are ceasing to be farmers from necessity, and becoming pensioners on the poor rate, while in some townships the persons who formerly contributed to the poor, are appealing for relief on the ground of their own poverty; and numbers of them obliged to abandon the cultivation of their farms, are become burdens on those parts of the parish which alone are cultivated, thus taxing the industry of their neighbours, and hastening them to the same extremity of ultimate indigence—must admit there is something wrong in the system, and that necessity, and not the spirit of complaint and disaffection, imposes the duty of examining into these evils, that they may be understood and fairly met.
The person who supposes this picture to be overcharged will find himself mistaken. As far as extensive and diligent enquiry and research, and communications from different districts and from persons of the highest respectability residing in counNO, XII.
ties distant from each other, have afforded information to the writer of these observations, the picture is not colored toe high! all these evils exist in a greater degree than he has painted them; particularly in Ireland and in Wales, and some of the western counties, and even in Norfolk, and other improved districts. In some places the lands are actually deserted, and growing no other crop than weeds. In Huntingdonshire it is said, that a circuit of 3000 acres is abandoned, and in other places, and in some not far distant from the Metropolis, the like occurrenres may be found; and many prudent proprietors of the soil are content to forgo their rents rather than suffer their farnis to be untenanted and thrown out of cultivation, and the laborers deprived of employment, and the poor of their allotted means of support. Are these evils unexpected ? certainly not, by the writer of these observations. He anticipated and predicted them, and humbly endeavoured, as far as it was in his power, to lead the country to a different result! Are the community benefited by that cheap price of the necessaries of life they deemed so essential to their happiness and comfort? It is confidently believed they are not. Our home manufacturers-- our tradesmen and various other classes of the community, are now convinced that they cannot ruin the agricultural interest, by reducing the prices of corn and provisions below the expense of growing them; or annihilate the rents of the proprietors of the soil without partaking in their ruin 5 and that cheap bread is no blessing to those who are deprived of the means of earning by their labor or their industry, that quantity of it which is necessary for the subsistence and support of life.
In the progress of these observations, should the author be successful, it will be shown, that the delay which arose out of a contest, which in effect was however misrepresented, whether bread should be dearer or cheaper, from the rate of one farthing to a half-penny, for the subsistence of each person for a day, has brought this country from a high and exalted state of prosperity into the abyss of wretchedness and misery-from a state fully equal to enable the country to bear the burden of immense taxation, into a condition which makes taxation that to which the writer dares not give a name.
To trace the origin and progress of our present difficulties we must look to the system of our Funded Debt-a wise and beneficial measure when kept within due bounds, but productive in this country, as it has been in every other country, in which this system has been adopted, of incalculable mischief when these bounds have been transgressed. At different periods men of calculation, of wisdom, and of sound policy, have most honestly predicted the evils which would be the consequence of a great increase of the National Debt. These predictions, it will be said, have hitherto been falsified; and it was lately triumphantly boasted, that the time to come, as well as time past, would equally disappoint the doctrines of those, who maintained that opinion. If. the time to come should falsify the prediction, it must be in consequence of new and of wise measures, and not of any system Iritherto adopted, or of any plan to be proposed by Government, as far as the public are acquainted with any measures in agitation.
Whoever will consider the nature of property, its value, and the means of bearing taxation, will discover, that the only subjects of value, and on which taxation must ultimately rest, are the land, and the capital of the country, as it consists of its commerce and manufactures. He will discharge from his notions the funded property, debts on mortgage, debts from individuals, for all these debts are not distinct property; they are only incumbrances on the property, out of which they are to be answered. He
may also, for this purpose, discard from his consideration all articles of luxury, which have no intrinsic value, and therefore do not contribute, directly or indirectly, to produce a fund for taxation. These articles are productive of pleasure only, and not of profit, and are merely evidence of an ability to bear taxation. He must also keep steadily in mind, that articles of luxury, manufacture, and commerce, will diminish in value exactly in the same proportion in which the land proprietors, farmers, and other consumers of these articles, shall be rendered incapable of paying for them ; for like other articles, and even like land and corn at the present moment, the necessity, and the consequent competition on the one hand to sell, and on the other hand the inability to purchase, will reduce the value of these articles from their former price to one
reduced scale. It may reasonably be asked how it has happened that the prediction of our ancestors, that the country could not bear an increase of taxation has been falsified ? To those who are intimately acquainted with the state of the country, and its political economy, at different periods, it will be obvious, that the ability to bear the increased burden of taxes, has arisen from the progressive increase of the sale value, and income of the property on which the burden of taxation has fallen ; from a gradual advance in the prices of property, and of their produce in the just proportion which the increase of the debt imposed on that property, required that the advance should take place.
At the close of the seventeenth century, when the National Debt was first established, and at the commencement of the eighteenth century, when it had increased to that mere trifle, about £7,000,000, compared with its extent in modern times, the country was supposed to be unable to support so large a debt,
of a very