Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

misery, to have a servant of acute judgment and capacity. I knew that he attended some meetings of Levellers (as the Radicals of those times were called), but I contented myself by observing him, knowing he would soon give me some opening to speak on the subject. One day I was with him in a rich meadow, situated at the foot of a rugged and barren hill, when he said, “ Sir, is it true that the Level. lers are coming our way ?” 6 What do you mean by Levelbers 2was my reply. “Why, sir, they say the land of the kingdom is to be equally divided among us all." “ Indeed,” said I; “ and pray what is it said each man's share will come to ?”

66 Three acres a-piece,” said my man. " Well then, Richard, have you considered the matter, and do you think the plan practicable ?” “ I have not,” said Richard, after a long pause, “ thought much about it, but I think if I had this meadow I might live on its produce; but if I had three acres on that hill I think I should starve." I believe Richard made a speech in the blacksmith's shop that same night, and I never heard any more of his levelling system.

The modern infidels and demagogues are evidently partners in the trade of propagating misery among you ; one would have supposed they could not have chosen a period for their scheme of setting the minds of the working classes against the rich, more inauspicious than the present, if the former would but candidly consider for themselves. There seems to have been a noble struggle for many years past, who should be most liberal and active in softening the calamities to which human nature must be ever liable. In proof of this, can'any language speak so forcibly as the immense subscriptions for the erections of hospitals, schools, and latterly for churches, which is, above all, a charity of the most important kind? Have not the rich and powerful vied with each other, who should do the most good to those who do not possess so many worldly advantages as themselves, and who give them the means of learning their duty to God, and so far making all men equal, or to be equally possessed of the knowledge that leadeth to Heaven? Would you use that knowledge which Christian love has bestowed upon you for the noblest purposes, to study such trash as the infidel press affords you? Would you not rather endeavour to reward your benefactors by becoming happy through their means? Place your confidence, dear friends, on those who really love you, and who would lead you in the way of truth. What part of Britain is thus destitute of virtuous and wise men ready to afford you this assistance,

any
of
you

need run after the heels and listen to the clamours of mountebank demagogues, to seek information or advice? These begin by uttering a falsehood, which it requires little knowledge to confute.

You must all by this time know, that there never was a period when universal suffrage was the usage in this, or any other country. You must know that no constitution of Parliament could cause an increased consumption of manufactures. Those who preach such doctrine, be as. sured, are the direst enemies to all such modifications as would probably ameliorate many of the evils, which circumstances beyond the con.

so that

[ocr errors]

trol of the Government have produced. You are taught by these men
to complain of the lavish waste of the public money; but has it not
been expended in your service, and our national salvation ? Much
money has indeed been wasted by ignorant and misguided men, in
forming, conspiracies and combinatious to enforce higher wages ; by
destroying implements of manufacture, and reducing the manufacturers
to beggary, by burning stacks of corn, because corn was scarce and
dear, and by persuading you to neglect your daily calling, they have
attempted to prove to you that you are miserable, and that it is a shame:
to be happy and content. In the midst of all the errors which the
leaders of the infidels and radicals have endeavoured to palm upon
your senses, it is odd enough that the only virtue they have recom-
mended is founded on so vicious a principle, as to have no merit in the
action-I mean the abstinence from spirits, and all other exciseable:
articles. I ask you, if sobriety is a virtue, and a virtue it is of most
admirable quality, -why did you not all practise it in those days which
might justly be named the golden harvest of manufacturers? How "
many hundreds of thousands of pounds were then squandered in public
houses ; sums which, if prudently husbanded, would have maintained
large numbers in comfort and ease during these days, when the demands
for labour is diminished? I would say to those who listened to Hunt,is
-To have been sober for the sake of character, for the sake of your :
wives and families, would, indeed, have been a virtue, pleasing to
God, and beneficial to man, Keep to sober habits, my friends, but..s
change your motive, which is as impotent as it is unworthy, and then
you will find some good result from the evil which has been brought
among you, Some of your advisers in this foolish measure are, I will s
hope, sober on principle--some from babit; but I doubt, but the real
motive was, the poverty of those who delight in public meetings and
hearing themselves talk, but could not afford funds to enjoy the com:
mon practice, which otherwise they would right gladly have indulged
in, and which they know is the most fatal means of fitting their dises.
ciples for acts of treason and murder.

You have been told that spies and informers are sent among the people to stimulate them to mischief, in order to form an excuse for an am extension of power, both civil and military. If you believe this, must you not believe, that Hunt, Harrison, &c. &c. are these very menis for by your allowing them to delude you, they have produced the 13 effect for the time; and.consequently, by your means they have neceses i sarily added to that expenditure, and endangered that liberty, of which they rave so wildly.

We have been called, and I think with truth, a thinking people si and I am persuaded, that if you will think for yourselves, the great majority will think right. I appeal to your consciences, whether in alta riotous commotions, or illegal combinations, most of those who have ci been concerned in them, have not been by a false shame led to follows: those,

whom in their hearts they know to be unworthy of trust; ando.it while you call out for freedom, you give it away without scruple to:* those who would make you slaves of their own ambitious projects.com

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Let your thoughts be indeed free, and you will see clearly how to guess right; and be assured, there is no slavery so bad as that which is inflicted by allowing yourselves to be led by such wicked and desperate ruffians.

The discoveries of ingenious men have led to the invention of machinery, which has produced British commodities of such superior workmanship, and of so cheap a sale, that, aided by the peculiar character of the late war, most of the habitable globe was supplied from this country, and with such a superabundance, that all foreign markets were overstocked, and the owners of course subjected to heavy losses. Common sense might have foreseen, that this over-supply would cause a cessation in the production of articles of the same kind; and hence onte cause of the present depression. Again, the vast waste, and profusion of demand, which war occasions, have suddenly stopped ; and hence another cause of our mills and founderies ceasing to work with their former activity. If only these causes operated against us, we should perhaps soon see an end to the stagnation we now lament: but these are not the only causes; we must meet our difficulties like men of firin minds and good sense. Many nations now imitate us in the the manufacture of articles which some time since were exclusively of British make; and this part of our loss we cannot hope to recover entirely. We must, therefore, seek other resources. Yet, if the conduct of the labouring mechanics and artisans is regulated by wise and moderate views, and a Christian temper, these men will gradually enable their employers to undertake measures which turbulence and combination utterly prevent. No men ever laboured so hard against their own true interests as the late rioters have done. I have stated these observations to check the false hopes which some entertain of an immediate and complete renewal of British commerce to its former extent; and I advise, as much as possible, all the industrious inhabit. ants to turn their heads and hands to the agricultural wealth, as well as the commercial interests, of our fine islands. In this time of comparative dearth of commerce, former high profits cannot be expected : if the owners have smaller receipts, how can they employ equal numbers, or pay the same wages as before? In this state of things, many must be driven out of employ, or the same number must work fewer hours, and receive less wages ; but still, if you are industrious and sober, enough may remain for honest industry, and more particularly when God has blessed us with internal plenty, and which we should have content. edly enjoyed, with its proper attendant, peace, had not the author of all mischief found agents to corrupt your minds, and pervert your judgment.

Too many of you have lately given up your judgments to men who had no natural claim to be your guides, or even your advisers. Think for-yourselves henceforward, and you will become what you have the means of being, the happiest people upon earth. If you will treat the infidel and immoral demagogues, who have so- basely injured you, with the contempt and indignation they deserve, you will then allow the moderate and wise to pursue without interruption those plans of amelioration, which be assured they are anxious to effect; and by a steady pursuance of which, I most firmly trust, and ardently hope, we shall ere long see these sister isles in the enjoyment of that rational liberty, commercial prosperity, and domestic tranquillity, which our glorious constitution in church and state is so eminently calculated to promote.

C. V. P.

ON THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN INDIGENCE AND POVERTY.

By Dr. Colquhoun.

In contemplating the state of the poor, it is necessary to have a clear conception of the distinction between Indigence and Poverty.

Poverty is that state and condition in society where the individual has no surplus labour in store, and consequently, no property but what is derived from the constant exercise of industry in the various occupations of life; or in other words, it is the state uf every one who must labour for subsistence.

Poverty is, therefore, a most necessary and indispensible ingredient in society, without which nations and communities could not exist in a state of civilization.

It is the lot of man-it is the source of wealth, since without poverty there would be no labour, and without labour there could be no riches, no refinement, no comfort, and no benefit to those who may be possessed of wealth-inasmuch as without a large proportion of poverty, surplus labour could never be rendered productive in procuring either the conveniences or luxuries of life. Indigence, therefore, and not poverty, is the evil. It is that condition in society which implies want, misery, and distress. It is the state of any one who is destitute of the means of subsistence, and is unable to labour to procure it to the extent nature requires. The natural source of subsistence is the labour of the individual ; while that remains with him he is denominated poor: when it fails in whole or in part he becomes indigent. The condition of man is susceptible of four material distinctions :

procure subsistence

3. Adequate ability and no more Poverty.

4. Extra ability, which is the ordinary state of man, and is the source of wealth.

But it may happen, and does sometimes happen in civil life, that a man may have ability to labour, and cannot obtain it. He

may

have labour in his possession, without being able to dispose of it.

The great desideratum, therefore, is to prop up poverty by judicious arrangements at those critical periods when it is in danger of descending into indigence.

The barrier between these two conditions in society is often slender, and the public interest requires that it should be narrowly guarded, since every individual who retrogrades into indigence becomes a loss to the body politic, not only in the diminution of a certain portion of productive labour, but also in an additional pressure on the community by the necessary support of his person and his family who have thus descended into indigence.

It is the province of all governments, by wise regulations of internal police, to call forth the greatest possible proportion of industry, as the best and surest means of producing national happiness and prosperity.

The poor in England, and indeed in all northern climates, have many indispensible wants not peculiar to southern countries such as fuel, clothes, bedding, and shelter from cold.' These are some of the physical causes which produce indigence and wretchedness, and render poverty worse in a state of civilization than in savage life.

But there are many other causes which produce indigence in a state of civilization, which it is physically impossible to avoid, and therefore a provision some shape or other has made in all nations for persons unable to procure the means of subsistence.

In few instances, excepting in England, has any legal claim upon the rich been established. But still the rich have indirectly supported the indigent, and this state of things will continue as long as civil society exists.

The important consideration therefore is, “ How to reduce the number of indigent;" and what measures ought to be pursued to prevent the poor who have labour to dispose of, from descending into this state of misery and inaction so injurious to the nation.”

The casualties of human life often produce unavoidable indigence, for which there is no remedy, while the vices of the people more frequently reduce them to that burdensome state, where no physical cause operates. That the attention may be more particularly directed to the causes (innocent and culpable) which reduce mankind to that condition which calls for the labour of others to support them, the following general view is submitted to the contemplation of the reader.

Innocent Causes of Indigence irremediable. 1. Insanity, incurable madness, weak intellects. 2. Deaf and dumb. 3. Blinà. 4. Decrepid and lame. 5. Permanent inability to work. 6. Orphan children left destitute. 7. Infancy without support or protection. 8. Old age and infirmity. Remediable Indigence requiring Props to raise it to a state of

Pooerty. 1. Temporary loss of work. 2. Absence from home in search of work.

« AnteriorContinuar »