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be glad to know what is thought on the matter; for I believe there is not more distress, in point of fact, than there is of mistake as to the cause of it; and if I cannot relieve your distress to the extent I could wish, I may at least remove the mistakes as to the sources which aggravate it. You seem convinced that the Representation in Parliament has nothing to do with the present difficulties, and so am I. However they may be brought together, I firmly believe when they are assembled, taking human nature as it is, that no body of men can be more free from base views, and more really desirous of the welfare of their country. There is no question but that the extent of the National Debt, and the weight of taxation necessary to pay off the interest of it, do in part occasion the present difficulties; yet not entirely, or even chiefly, for they have been nearly as heavy for many years; and yet it was not till the termination of the continental struggle, that this extreme distress appeared.
Kent. That's what I say, Sir; till the return of peace, when we were all of us looking for a time of plenty, as I may say, no complaints were heard.
Col.-Which clearly shews that we are to look for their immediate cause, at least, in something else than even the load of National Debt and consequent taxation. But it is not exactly the case that there was no distress till the conclusion of the war; you and I were out of England and did not hear much about it; but the fact is, that for the last thirty years, there have been occasional period's of diffi. culty and distress, though certainly none. so seyere and lasting as the present, because so many different causes did not concur together to produce them. In a commercial and manufacturing country like this, fluctuations in the different branches of trade continually occur. The demand for labour, manufacturing labour more especially, is subject to continual and quite unforeseen variations. A change of fashion, or the invention of a new piece of machinery ; a particular market closed against us by a war, or by some internal regulation of their own ;-any of these causes, for a time, will throw a number of hands out of employment; but as it is as much the interest of the master as of the workman that business should not stand still, he casts about for some new channel in which to employ his capital, and work goes on again. The present difficulties seem to arise very naturally from the state of things in our own, and in other countries, occasioned by the war. You must be aware that the taking so large a cus, tomer out of the market, as the Government was in many branches of trade, must be considerably felt.
Kent.--Yes, your honour; I was saying to my son no longer ago than yesterday, that the lessening of the demand for clothing for the army and navy must be greatly felt in the coarse woollen manufactures, as we feel here the loss of the demand for armis. And then, your honour, there are so many soldiers and sailors returned upon the country, and forced upon the trade again.
Col.Whose situation claims relief and sympathy more strongly than that of any other class of people; for I am compelled to say,
my good fellow, that very much of the distress complained of arises from improvidence.
Kent.--Improvidence, your Honour!
Col.— Yes, Kent, Improvidence. You said yourself that your son told you, that not very long ago, he was in the receipt of three guineas a week. And what became of it? What has he to shew for it? No: thing more either in household comforts, or ability to help himself now in a time of difficulty which he ought to have provided against, (for he is not so new to life, as not to be very well aware that fluctuations are to be expected in a business like his,) than if he had all along earned no more than the ten shillings a week, of which hę now complains. It was squandered away in inexcusable extravagance : in luxuries to which he had not half the right of your neighbour Jenks, who is pinched to the utmost to carry on his business, and pay the heavy poor rate to which your son looks for the support of his family now that work flags, instead of to what he himself ought to have laid up against a rainy day. Misery, Kent, from whatever causes it arises, has a claim upon mercy. When we find a family perishing with cold and hunger, we must not stop to inquire what has reduced them to that situation, before we give relief. But when we do know that it is self-indulgence and excess that have been their ruin, we cannot in justice to those who suffer from un. foreseen and unavoidable calamity, do it either with the feeling or liberality that we would endeavour to shew them. And after all, how few there are that the hand of private charity can reach ; and how niggard and miserable is the pittance afforded by the poor-rates, heavily as they press upon many individuals, and large as is the actual sum to which they amount. At this moment the poor-rates of this place amount to £60,000 per annum, but what is that divided among 28,000 persons, the number that claim relief from it? It is not 9d. a head, weekly.
Kent.-To be sure, your Honour, if my son, and they that were receiving the like wages for so long, had laid by but a third of what they got, it would be much better for them now, as well as more creditable than applying to the parish. I can see my girl does not like the job, and I believe I might starve before I should get my old woman to go for me.
Col. Your old woman has more of the old English spirit of inde. pendence in her, than most people have now-a-days. People may talk of Reform, and set up for Reformers, but the fact is, it is indi. vidual Reform that is wanted. Neither triennial, nor even annual Parliaments, nor Universal Suffrage, would supersede the necessity for it; nor mend matters in the minutest particular, so long as men will live this life of a savage, in the midst of a civilized state. For it is nothing better; there is the same thoughtless indifference to the future ; the same riotous excess while they have the means, succeeded by the same degrading penury and starvation. But besides the cessation of demand for labour in all manufactures at all connected
with the war, there has been since the peace, a general stagnation of foreign trade.
Kent.-So I've heard, your Honour, but never heard it accounted for.
Col. Since the peace the Continental nations have manufactured for themselves; while during the war, the distracted and uncertain state of the Continent- the drain of men for the army—and the devastations which military operations occasion, very much put a stop to manufactures, and rendered them dependent upon foreign supplies. We threw vast quantities of our manufactures, not only into. the countries of our Allies, but into France. As for America, our grand customer, she has never recovered herself since her Embargo and non-importation laws, that ill-advised attempt to accelerate the natural progress of the nation to wealth, by closing her ports to the manufactures of other nations, and forcing her people from a nation of agriculturalists, to become one of manufacturers. The distress of that people in every class, from the highest to the lowest, is unprecedented. The capital of the country is but small; and, by the unwise measures of the Government, has been by a naturally enterprizing and speculating people employed in schemes which have turned out ruinous. You know how many poor fellows have returned almost broken-hearted, from that land of promise, as they fancied it. . ·Kent.--Yes, your honour; and I was objecting that very country to some of 'em tother day, who were talking as if Universal Parlia. ments and Annual Suffrage would mend every thing. Why, says I, 6 there's America, that's just the government you covet, and taxes next to nothing, and yet what a great deal of distress is there! Merchants breaking, and poor people starving! I don't see that they are a bit better off than ourselves.'
Col.- Most people would be miserably disappointed, in the consequences that would result from the taking off any large proportion of the taxes. The effect of it would be, to divert a large capital from channels where it finds full employment, and maintains a vast number of people, into those in which capital already overflows.
Kent. But does your Honour mean to say, then, that we should not be better off if we had fewer taxes ? . Col.-No, Kent, I do not mean to say that ; but only that the removal of the taxes would not insure so great a benefit as many imagine. Neither do I think that the public money has always been as economically applied, as it might and should have been. Still we must take one thing with another : this war, the pressure of which we now feel, unquestionably preserved us from French principles; and to those, Kent, who know that the fashion of this world passeth away, it is a blessing that compensates, beyond what language can describe, whatever may have been sacrificed for it. ·Kent.-So I think, your Honour, and so Bates was saying when the meetings were on foot; that let him suffer what he might, it could be þut for a little time, and that he had rather suffer than sin, at all events. But with many, this world is their all, so it's no wonder they should fret when things go amiss; and as it's easier and more comfortable to blame other people than ourselves, so they like better to cast all the blame of their distress on government, than to take any part of it home to themselves and their own bad management.
ON CANALS. THERE is scarcely any expedient for the promotion of our national prosperity which has been productive of such rapid advantages as the modern system of Canal-making. It is very remarkable, that although it had been already carried to great perfection in other countries of Europe, Great Britain, which is now so eminently dis. tinguished by her improvements in every department of commerce, should have been among the last in adopting it to any considerable extent. The great Canal of Languedoc, in France, was a vast undertaking, which did great honour to the able engineer by whom it was constructed. The numberless Canals of Holland and the Netherlands exhibit striking examples of the important benefits arising from this mode of transferring the produce of one part of the country to another. Thus, by a ready and convenient interchange, all the provinces participate of the particular growth of each; and the commodities, which are most conveniently manufactured in one quarter, are distributed over the whole country with ease and cheapness.
The singularly flat character of the Dutch and Flemish provinces afforded peculiar facilities for the construction of Canals; and it is probable that the inhabitants of Great Britain were long deterred from undertaking similar works, by contrasting with theirs, the un. equal surface of the greater part of our island. It was reserved for the genius of our civil engineers to overcome these difficulties, by mechanical contrivances of the utmost ingenuity.
Meanwhile, the internal commerce of the kingdom languished for want of the means of transfer. Even the proprietors in the maritime counties were often withheld, by the dangers of the sea, from embarking their produce for a more distant market, though enjoying advantages wholly denied to the midland districts. The difficulties of bad roads, and the heavy expense of land carriage, compelled the farmer and the manufacturer to obtain a market near at hand. Little competition arose ; and finding themselves circumscribed in the extent of their sale, they limited their crops to the consumption of their own neighbourhood.
In this manner much valuable land remained uncultivated; the produce of the soil scarce repaying the expense of placing it under the plough. Coals, iron, and other valuable minerals were left, unexplored in the bowels of the earth; the operations of mining being too hazardous a speculation, when it was considered that the ore must be conveyed by land-carriage to a great distance before it could find a purchaser. Genius and industry were thus impeded, and men were content to dwell in the ignorance of their forefathers, and to put up with the habitu.:) inconveniences they had endured,
But the introduction of Canal-making produced a sudden and astonishing impulse. It called forth the energy and activity of the people, and roused them to undertakings which seem to have waited only for an opportunity to spring forth. No sooner was it perceived that the most cumbrous articles of trade might be conveyed at a comparatively trifling expense, without risque and with little labour, to the most distant quarters of the island, than universal enterprize and ingenuity spread through the kingdom with astonishing rapidity, and supplanted that sloth and timidity which had so long prevailed.
The great benefactor of his countrymen in this important improvę. ment was Mr. James Brindley; a man, whose ardent genius and unconquerable zeal found a liberal patron in the late Duke of Bridgewater. It should be observed here, that this happy association of talent and patronage is the distinguished honour of the British nation. After all which has been written about the proud man's contumely, and of genius neglected, there is ņo country in the world where merit in every department is so sure to find encouragement as in England ; and where, when distinguished, it is so amply re. warded. Neither rank nor riches are in this kingdom considered an exemption from that participation of the common interests of the people which constitutes real patriotism. The nobleman meets the map of genjus upon equal terms, and finds his account in seeking reputation amongst his countrymen, by the same honourable means which are open to them all. Mr. Brindley, having been bred to the business of a millwright, had already shewn very superior talents in the completion of several extensive works, when the Duke of Bridge water invited him, in 1759, to direct his attention to the construction of a Canal which he then meditated, with a view to connect his estate at Worsley with Manchester. The difficulties of the ground had been declared by other engineers impracticable : but by build. ing mounds along the vallies, and conducting the water in other parts through tunnels under ground, he preserved the level and completed the Canal, without the aid of locks, in a surprisingly short space of time. This Canal was carried on an aqueduct across the river Irwell, and afforded, when finished, a striking proof of the superior advantages of this mode of conveyance. The general approbation he obtained in executing this work led next to the undertaking of the Canal which now unites the rivers Trent and Mersey ; thus connect. ing the ports of Liverpool and Hull, and providing for the safe transport of every species of commodities from the two opposite coasts of the island ; thereby saving the expense and risk of a long circuitous voyage by sea. This Canal was begun in 1761; it is ninety-three miles in length, having numberless bridges crossing it, together with seventy-six locks and five tunnels. Our readers will form a just conception of the surprizing labour and skill employed