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vol.xxvii. No. 12.] LoNDON, SATURDAY, MARCH 25, 1815. [Pricels.
353 ) .
Finding that it would be too late to present a petition after calling together any part of the County, and resolved myself to state, to one, at least, of the Houses of Parliament, ny reasons for objecting to this Bill; resolved to shew, in the most formal manuer, that I, at any rate, rejected the protection, which has been so much taiked of, I drew up, and forwarded to Earl Stanhope, a petition, of which the following is a copy. This step became the more necessary as it was, in some sort, my duty to make it known to the House of Lords, that the High Sheriff of Hampshire had refused to convene a meeting of the County, and, thereby, to shew them, that they would have had a petition from this whole county, had things taken their natural and usual course. Upon this occasion I may be fairly looked upon as signing a petition in behalf of a great majority of the inhabitants of Hampshire; or, at the very least, in behalf of the 581 gentle; men, who signed the Requisition. I will now insert the Petition, and then add such remarks upon the subject as appear to me likely to be useful.
To the Lords Spiritual and Temporal
of the United Kingdom of Great Bri
, tain and Ireland in Parliament assembled,
The Petition of WILLIAM Cob BETT, of Botley, in Hampshire, dated on the 17th day of March, 1816.
HUMBLY SHEw ETH.
That your Petitioner, on the 10th instant, delivered to the High Sheriff of Hampshire, signed by your Petitioner himself, and by five hundred and eighty one other Inhabitants of the County, many of whom are freeholders, land-holders, and land-cultivators, a Requisition in she following words;–to wit:
[Part of this Week's Impression is printed on unstamped Paper.]
“Sir, We, the undersigned Freehold“ers and other Landholders, Trades“men and Manufacturers of the County “ of Southampton, perceiving, that, in “various parts of the Kingdom, evil“disposed, or misguided, persons are en“deavouring to prevail on the Legisla“ture to impose duties on the Importa“tion of Corn, and being convinced, “that such a measure would guievously “oppress, the labouring classes, would “ be ruinous to Tradesmen and Manu“facturers, would, in the end, be inju“rious to the Growers of Corn and the “Owners of Land themselves, and might “ possibly disturb the peace of his Ma“jesty's Dominions, request. that you “will be pleased to convene a Meeting “ of the County on a day as little distant “as may be convenient, in order to take “into consideration and to discuss the “propriety of presenting a petition to the “two Houses of Parliament, earnestly “praying, That no such measure may be “adopted, and also praying for a repeal “ of laws, hostile to our rights and liber“ ties, passed inring the late wars, and “for a constitutional Reform in the Com“mons' House of Parliament.” -
That the said High Sheriff has refused to call such Meeting of the County, and that, therefore, your Petitioner, deeply impressed with the injurious tendency of any law to prohibit, or restrain, the importation of Corn, has thus humbly presumed to make his individual appeal to the Wisdom, the Justice, the Humanity of your Lordships. ~.
That your Petitioner does not presume to be competent to judge of the precise degree in which the Merchants, Traders, and Manufacturers of this kingdom may
be affected by the proposed law; but while common sense tells him, that it mus
seriously injure these classes of the community, that it must so enhance and uphold the price of shipping, freight, and manufactured goods, as to transfer the building of ships, the employmentofships, the making of goods, together with vast
J numbers of our best artizans to countries,
where the necessaries of life are at a much lower price: while common sense tells him, that to uphold the price of food is to drive from their native country
great numbers of persons in search of
better living on their incomes,leaving their share of the taxes to be paid by those who remain, and that, too, out of diminished means arising from a diminished demand for their produce, their manu. factures, and their professional labours; while common sense says this to your Petitioner, his own experience, as an owner and cultivator of land, enables him to state, with more precision, to your Lordships, the grounds of his conviction, that any law tending to raise, or keep up, the price of Corn, will prove, in the end, to be no benefit, but an injury to the owner and the cultivator of the land. That your Petitioner has seen, with great surprise, that, in certain Petitions obtained privately and sent from this County, it has been asserted, that the Expences of a farm remain nearly the same as when corn was at the late high price. Your Petitioner's observation and experience enables him most positively to contradict this very material fact. When Wheat was sold at an average of 100 shillings a quarter, the weekly wages of a labourcr, in this neighbeurhood, were from 15 to 18 shillings, and that now, when the average price of Wheat is about 60 shillings a quarter, the weekly wages of a labourer are from 10 to 12 shillings. The price of Brickwork, which was 50 shillings a Rod, or Perch, is now 40 shillings. The price of Smith's and Wheelwright's work is experiencing a proportionate fall; and the price of plough and cart-horses has fallen a full third. But, there is another great head of expense, to which your Petitioner is particularly anxious humbly to solicit the attention of your Lordships, as it is intimately connected, not only with the comfort of the great mass of the people, but with their political, civil, and moral • conduct; namely, The Poor's Rates, which, in the Parish of Bishop's Waltham, where the land of your Petitioner principally lies, have been reduced in such a degree, that your Petitioner has - had to pay, in the said parish, during the 'year just now expiring, one fifth less than he had to pay during the last year,” "In the parish of Bosley a sû greater reduc'tion has taken place.
grading appellation of paupers; who, in entering the pale of pauperism, have, in general, left behind them all those sentiments of independence, of patriotism, of love of liberty, of hatred of oppression, for which the very lowest classes of Englishmen were, in former times, so highly distinguished, and have, along with the name and garb of paupers, assumed the tone and the manners of slaves. For the practical, the undeniable proof, that high prices have an immediate tendency towards the creating of paupers; your Petitioner humbly begs leave to refer your Lordships to the official documents amongst the records of your Right Honourable House, where it clearly appears, that pauperism, kept in check for a long series of years by the native spirit of the people, was let loose like a torrent over the land by the enormous prices during the late wars, which, in depriving men of their food, deprived them, and even their children of that shame which had before kept them from the Poor-List: and, therefore, your Petitioner cannot but view with profound sorrow, that a legislative act should be in contemplation, having, as he firmly believes, a tendency to prevent for ever the restoration of the labouring classes to their former state of comfort, of independence of mind, and of frankness and boldness of manners. Your Petitioner is well aware, that, unless prices be raised and upheld, it will be impossible for the owners and the cultivators of the land to pay the taxes that will exist after the Property Tax shall have ceased; he is well aware, that to ensure them a high price for their corn is the only means of enabling them to pay these taxes; but, then, he is clearly conv mced, that a very large part of those taxes might be dispensed with ; that the army and navy, which swallows up so considerable a portion of them, might be reduced to the state in which they were previous to the late war, and that the whole of the public expenses (exclusive of those attendant on the National Debt) Inight be reduced to what they then were, namely, six millions a year; and thus without raising the price of corn, the credit,
the safety, the honour of the nation, might all be amply provided for and secured. For these reasons your Petitioner humbly prays, that your Lordships will not pass any law to prohibit, or restrain, the importation of Corn ; and, as the nation, once more, happily, sees the days of peace, he also prays for the repeal of all the laws, laying new restrictions on the Press, passed during the late wars; and, further, he most humbly but most earnestly prays and implores your Lordships to take into your early consideration that subject, which, in point of real importance, swallows up all others: namely, the state of the Representation of the people in the Commons'House of Parliament. And your Petitioner shall ever pray. W. Cof BETT. Thus it appears to me that I have done every thing which I had the power to do against this Bill, which, I am afraid, will, in spite of all our efforts, become a law. —It is proposed, I see, by the City of London to petition the Regent not give his assent to the Bill, I hope that this will be done, and that the Regent will. listen to the voice of so large a part of the nation as have expressed their abhorrence of the Bill.—I shall be exceedingly happy to have to communicate to my readers, that the Royal Prerogative has, in this case, been exerted in behalf of the petitioners.-In the mean while, I hope, that it will be clearly understood, that the owners and cultivators of land would not be gainers by the Corn Bill. But, if they have exposed themselves to public hatred by becoming the humble cat's-paws of those who want to keep up the taxes, I am not one of those who pity them. I have often enough warned them against this; and, if their short-sighted selfishness has blinded them and made them deaf, let them get their eyes and ears open as they can.-They have petitioned and voted to have their corn made dear, when they should have made a stand for the reduction of the expenses and the taxes. But it would really seem, that they wish for a large standing army in time of profound peace; and, that they want high prices to enable them to pay the taxes, necessary to keep up this army.- Sir GILBERT HEATHcot E, Sir FRANCIs Bu RD ETT, Mr. CALCRAFT, and some others are ex
, ceptions; but, what but the senseless
It is now Tuesday noon. The next newspapers may inform me, that Napoleon is at Paris, or, that he is dead. It is impossible for me, or for any one in England, who has not a faithful and active correspondent at Paris, to be able to form any thing like a correct opinion as to the result of the enterprise of this man of consummate skill and consummate bra very. The newspapers at Paris are as much under the controul of the Government as the black slave is under that of his master. Nine tenths of ours are aS opol, enslaved in an indirect manner. The other tenth is under the influence of fear, So that, as to the opinions, or even the statements of the press, very little reliance indeed can be placed upon them, All that is said about the loyalty of the people of France, about
the zeal and fidelity of the soldiers,
about the numerous corps which surround Napoleon: these may all be true, and they may all be false as the hearts of those who publish * One fact, and
one fact alone, can we rely upon; and that is, that the Official French paper has stated Napoleon to be at MACON or Chalons, which is in the very heart of France, and that no body of troops had set appeared to stop him on his way to aris. This fact being undeniable, it follows, that his arrival at Paris, and his restoration to the Imperial Crown, are, at least, possible events; and, therefore, I shall lose no time in endeavouring to shew, that, if these events should take place, England ought not, until sufficient cause by him given, to make war, upon him and upon the nation who will have now, in reality, chosen him for their sovereign.—The performance of this duty is the more pressing as I see our Cossack newspapers, especially the Times and the Courier, labouring very hard to work up the country to the temper of war, even before they know that Napoleon will get upon the throne, and before they can possibly have any grounds for believing that he will not be sincerely disposed to live at peace with us, if he does get upon the throne of France. It is notorious that we once made a peace with him. It is also notorious, that we would have made another peace with him, if he would have consented to reduce France to her ancient limits. Why, then, should we not make peace with him again —As I said before, the Bourbons may not only remain upon the throne, but, they may be freed from all apprehensions by the death of Napoleon, who, “ coward” as our Cossack writers describe him to be, has, at any rate, in the most deliberate manner, STAKED HIS LIFE upon the success of an enterprize, which they have all along asserted to have been wholly hôpeless. Yes; this “coward,” even according to their own accounts, was last seen marching from Lyons, at the head of 8 or 9,000 men, at most, and advanciug towards Paris in the face of more than 100,000 royal troops, while 30,000 were closing in upon his rear! The Bourbons may not only remain upon the throne, but may be freed from their dread of Napoleon, and that, too, without the aid of an assassin. But, on the other hand, Napoleon may be successful; and, therefore, it behoves us now, without waiting for the result, to decide upon the important question of praec, or wai. ---The Cossack writers do not attempt
to state any reasons for our going to war. They do not attempt to make out any grounds of war. They deal in vague assertions, and in brutal and unprovoked abuse of Napoleon. They recommend the marching of our Belgian army to Paris; and, for what 7–Why, “to save “Paris from the audacious enterprizes of “an infamous rebel."—By the way, these are the very same writers, who urged the Allies to burn, and, not having succeeded in that, to plunder this same Paris, which they now (vile hypocrites () are so anxious to save, and that, too, from the man, who had filled it with the very things of which they so laboured to cause it to be plundered Vile hypocrites 1––But, rebel? Napoleon is no rebel. He was made sovereign of Elba. He owed no allegiance to the king of France. By solemn treaty, to which England was a party, he abdicated the throne of France,
his legitimate possession of which had
before been acknowledged by Austria, the Pope, Russia, Prussia, Sweden, Denmark, Bavaria, and, indeed, all the powers of the Continent. IHe abdicated that throne on condition of receiving the full sovereignty of Elba; and, he was as much a sovereign as the king of France himself. Therefore, it is impossible that he can be a rebel. He says, that the king of France has violated the treaty of abdication; and, therefore, he comes with the openly declared intention of taking from that king his authority and throne. His allegations may be false; his enterprize may be really unjust ; but the act, or the attempt, cannot make him a rebel. He contes with the avowed object of conquering France; and, I should be glad to know what makes this object more unlawful, or more hateful, in him than in any other conqueror.—The right of conquest is, in fact, in the law of nations, what the right of possession is in municipal law; and, though the attempt may be immoral, in the present instance, it is certainly not unlawful; and, at any rate, there is not the smallest pretence for calling Napoleon a rebel; for he owes no allegiance to the king of France, and, therefore, cannot be a rebel.—The truth is, it is a struggle for the sovereignty in France. There are two men contending for that sovereignty; and, it remains to be seen which of them will triumph. But, it is a question ofcr the
French nation thcaselves to decide,- and
not for us to have any thing to do with. On the part of Napoleon, never was a question more fairly, more generously, brought to issue.—Reader, Í beg your attention to a plain, and, I am sure you will say, fair statement of the case. I beg you to divest yourself of all prejudice, and to take up the consideration of the case in the spirit of truth.-Napoleon was represented as a tyrant over the French; the Senate and the Corps Legislative denounced him as a tyrant, and described the people as most miserable under his sway. By the aid of a million of foreigners in arms, in, and on the borders of France: By the aid of an immense foreign army at Paris itself, the Bourbons were restored to the throne, and Napoleon placed in the Island of Elba. The Bourbons have had the rule' of the kingdom for a year; they have, as we have been assured, behaved in a way exactly opposite to that of Napoleon. They have taken all his old generals into their pay and service; and, as we are told, they have made the people happy and free.—Now, then, says Napoleon, I will put the truth of all these assertions to the test. The people have had a year's experience of the Bourbons. The Bourbons have had the presses of France, England, and all Europe wherewith to abuse me for a whole year; wherewith to excite a mortal hatred against me in the breasts of the people of France. The Bourbons have had a standing army of 200,000 tried soldiers; they are surrounded at Paris by 30,000 picked men;
they have all the Offices, all the mi- |
litary commanders, all the treasures of that great country in their hands; and, what will I do Why, I will land in France with only 1,000 men; and if the French nation do not, in spite of all the power of the Bourbons, place me upon the throne in their stead, I will
be content to perish in the enterprise. Was there ever any thing so brave as this conduct? Did ever man act so fairly,
nay with such excessive generosity, in
bringing a question to issue?—If Napoleon should fail; if he should be defeated, and driven from France, or killed in Frauce; it will, by no means, be a proof, that the people were not for him; because his adversaries have all the force of the country in their hands; but, if he should succeed; if he should place himself upon the throne, is it possible, that:
any one; that even the writer of the Times, will have the impudence to pretend, that Napoleon is not the chosen sovereign of the people of France? And, if it become an undeniable fact, that he is the sovereign chosen by the people of France; it follows of course, that, to make war upon him, without new provocation, IS TO ENDEAVOUR TO DICTATE BY FORCE OF ARMS A GOVERNMENT TO THE FRENCH NATION. This is so clear; it is so impossible to be misunderstood; that a new war against him would expose its authors to the just execration of all just men; of all who do not wish to see the world completely enslaved. Mr. WHITBREAD has, in the House of Commons, on Monday last, touched upon this important subject; and also upon the subject of Ferdinand's conduct in Spain. On the former he is reported to have spoken as follows: “He desired to animadvert very briefly on the awful news which we had recently received from the continent of Europe. It was probable that the sovereigns at Vienna had thought the exile of Elba gone for ever, and concluded that such hatred of him must exist in Enrope for his oppression, that they might play any pranks they pleased with perfect security; but their condnct had operated to reproduce him. He was aggrandised by his enemies. He was dethroned by himself. The Sovereigns had now reproduced him; and if he should again be seated on the Imperial Throne of France, it would be ascribable in no small degree to the misconduct of those Powers. He desired to know whether the proclamation, stated to be issued by Bonaparte at Bourgoing on the 8th of March, was genuine or not. “Persons from Paris had informed him that it was so. The treaty of Fontains bleau made with him, as Emperor of France, gave him the sovereignty of the Isle of Elba, settled Parma and Placentia on his wife and son, and provided a large pension for him and his family. The noble lord had given a limited assent to it, and it was signed by Marshal Ney. He thought R wonld have been the best of policy to keep good faith with him, in order to mark the contrast between the conduct of “ the allies and his own, and to take