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LONDON, SATURDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1804. (Price too
“ Fit. 'Tis all a LIBEL–Parton, Sir, will say.
995] T} f F. E. N. ("E of M. R. Pit T. [The following letter comes, as the reader wili at once perceive, from a thorough-paced partisan of Mr. Pitt. It has been drawn forth by my letter to Mr. Pitt upon the subject of the Corn-bill ; but it goes occasionally into other matters, and, on many accounts, I think it right to make some comments on most parts of it. With this view the paragraphs are numbered, in order to render a reference to them more easy. The comments will be found under the head of Summary of Politics. St R, 1. You are certainly liberal in admitting, and publishing the observations of those who differ with you, and I believe, that any thing of censure contained in them, would not induce you to be otherwise. I do assure you, that I have often, very often, read your papers with great satisfaction; that I have approved your sentiments on many subjects, and that 1 have admired the talents you have shewn in expressing them. I have- thought your work very useful, in many respects, and I should be sorry to see it sinking in estimation. But, to be open with you, it has of late met with many animadversions unfavourable to it; and I always exceedingly lament the justice of them, when directed against a degree of scurrility and defamation, into which you sometimes descend, and, also, a party spirit, which leads you into unfairness. 2.—It has oftner been said, of late, than used to be the case, that you are not always correct in your observations, as to the truth of them, and that you oppose measures, because you do not like the men. It is within my own knowledge, that you were totally ignorant of every circumstance that concern*d Mr. Canning and Lord Hawkesbury; and, though I am not at liberty to enter into the detail, be assured, that it would prove no Hews honourable to the former, than disgraceful to the latter; and, that the whole conduct of the former, throughout the arrangements that were proposed, on Mr. Pitt's return to office, was most highly creditable, and acknowledged to be so, by the principal persons concerned. You may imagine, therefore, that it is unpleasant to read censures that are unjust, and that prove your entire ignorance of the real state of the case.
“ of the growth.”
3.—With regaros to your unfairness inopposing ineasures, I am disposed to address you in consequence of your observations to Mr. Pitt, in your last Register, on the subject of the Corn Bill. Your object is an attack on him, and not on the bill; and, though I exceedingly lament that it passed, and feel that it has as yet done mischief only, yet, I must confess, that your observations are futile and unfair, and unworthy of you.
4.—The aminal nuan is naturally, I fear, a rogue, and whatever gives him an opportunity of playing off his tricks is to the bad. The Corn Bill gave a sanction to somewhat of higher prices, and they soon became much higher, than it could intend to authorize; and, I verily believe, that Mr. Pitt's single declaration that the harvest would be defi. cient, went a great way towards producing a general cry of its being so, and towards raising the prices accordingly. But, assuredly the object of the Corn Bill was to equalise prices in general, and to prevent those distressing variations, which you yourself lamented in a former Register; and, if unluckily it had not passed just on the eve of an harvest, that is not, perhaps, beyond an average crop, it would have had the desired eifect, and would have satisfied the farmer that: he would always get enough for his corn. If the yield had been as it was last year, it would have been a beneficial measure, for certainly there was every reason to believe, in the spring, that wheat would not fetch of 8 a load, and that the farmers would be ruined; and, therefore, it would have been desirable to secure them a fair price from exportation, of such superabundance, as, in that case, we should have had.
5.—Why cavil at the expressions in the report, “ expect a supply,” and “product Surely, they are both perfectly intelligible. It is not that the price is to have any thing to do with the seasons, and tempt them to give good expectancy, as you? friend would ridiculously reBut, that by holding out a bonus, we may tempt men to grow the corn, and bring it to market, and export the superabundance. And, surely, the product of the growth, is simply the yield atter threshins, and you could not possibly apply it fairly ta any idea of inoor, to purchase supply.
6.—The great object certainly is to give the farmer a fair profit, year after year. Casual high prices will undoubtedly induce him to continue the growth of as much corn as his lands will bear, and so would a regular fair price; and there is no question, but that the latter would be far more beneficial both to the farmer and to the people. It would be far better for him to have it 15 for every load of wheat each year, than it would be for him to have only of 8 for two successive years, and of 29 the third. He is led, perhaps, into extraordinary expenses by the extraordinary profits, and the 4th year the price may be reduced again to the lowest ratio; every article may have increased, labour, and the value of every commodity in life; an income tax comes upon him, and he would be ruined. To prevent these mischiefs, an equalization of his profits is surely desirable for him, and we had all rather pay a moderate price every year, for bread, than have it at a very cheap rate one year, and at a very dear one another; to say nothing of the other consequences from its advance in price. 7.—A market certainly should always exist, in order to encourage the provision of corn, and after two years of plenty it is evident, from the state of things in the last spring, that the hone consumption was not sufficient to make a market; for if we had had a very plentiful harvest this year, corn would hardly have been worth carrying to market at all. From ignorance of what a harvest will turn out, and which cannot be known till housed, every farmer will always grow as much wheat as his lands, in the usual course of cropping, will bear; and though other commodities have been raised from the excessive high prices that they obtained three years ago, they have not since failen, and therefore, the quantity grown would not, if superabundant, have such desirable effect, and be a sufficient inducement to the farmer to sow the more. A regular settled price would have a much better effect, and go further towards increasing the population, upon your own argument, as it is of course the effect of two or three years easy condition, and is as much checked by a year's scarcity, and high prices, as it is encouraged by a year's abundance and cheapness. I lay it down as certain, that every farmer will grow all the wheat he can, either for the chance of casual high prices, or on expectation of bounty; but if five years of plenty were to succeed each other, he might be discouraged, and to prevent this, it is necessary to hold out the bounty, which sofar aids the production. It is not intended to
add largely to his profits, only to make them regularly sufficient, and this would stop the progress of the evil of raising rents, and re
fusing leases; for the landlords have certain
ly a fair right to the full profit of their estates, yet to raise the rents upon every ca: sual high price, is to perpetuate the mischief of it. 8.—All your friend's reasoning about exportation, appears to me founded upon false premises. Of corn there may be a superabundance, and, then as the home market is too low, a foreign market must be found in order to support the farmer. But of all the other articles he states, we have never a superabundance, and therefore, always a fair price at home, and no need to encourage exportation; and really part of his reasoning is childish, and unworthy the subject, and from the lowness of its value might deserve a bounty to be got rid of. 9.—I do not know at what age you might draw your conclusions about the producing capacity of the land, but you must now surely see, from experience, that two plentiful years give more than sufficient for the supply, and that one scanty year, succeeding them, creates a scarcity, or, at least, exorbitant prices; so that the sustenance requisite, and the productive power do not keep pace with, each other. Nor will a bounty make them do so, more or less, nor is the Corn Bill expected to have such effect, by any of the four classes, for whom you provide arguments. It is only intended to prevent prices that are extravagant, either way; to prevent the farmer from being discouraged by such successive years of cheapness, as might give him no profit, and by allowing him a better price at home, maintain a juster equilibrium between consumption and production, when somewhat less of plenty ensues. 10.-I do not think that any farmer enters into the sort of calculation you suggest, about the future price, and the disposal of his land. If it is in turn for wheat, it is sown with wheat; for it is impossible to decide that it may not answer perfectly well, as in the case of this very year, when thers is an abundance on hand, and an average crop, and still an enormous price. If the yield is not good, the price will be accordingly high, and if it is good, it is surely desirable that a foreign market should afford a fair price, if our own will not. If he were to reserve the producing capacity as you imagine, he might very probably lose more by keeping it for a plentiful year, than he would by having a moderate price only, in a regular way, and if a sufficient price were secured to him, he would be always bcnefitted. - -1 1. —You argue as if the difference ... could be made in a few days, instead of its being the work of nearly fourteen months, to , alter the state of plenty or scarcity, and draw a lamentable picture of the effect of exportation, which, as it never could take ... place, under the circumstances of deficiency at home, but only of superabundance, could never produce any of the consequences you deprecate. - 12 —Though I lament that the bill passed, because from accidental circumstances it has been mischievons, yet, I think, it would be unwise to repeal it, until a fair ... trial of it has been made, on an average of crops, and of its effects, therefore, on the prices. - 13.-I must pass over all your arguments, by which you would insinuate, that the measure originated in party politics, or that it had any connexion with the new income tax, as I cannot but consider such arguments ... wholly unfair to the person, against whom , they are used, and wholly unworthy of yourself. The fermer is not benefitted by a casual high price, and you are not fair in our conclusion, that Mr. Pitt meant that a #. price was favourable to the grower, , because he stated that, at one time, it was too low—a medium is the best—for you can hardly seriously suppose, that the value of every article sinks so immediately on the sinking of corn, as to make a low price most advantageous to him. I fear the value of such things as you mention, will never be
reasonable again, and hence, more than from
an excessive issue of bank paper, which you , always suppose to be excessive, is derived the distressing depreciation of money. 14.—The price of labour in this part of the country has been raised a little, since the rise of the value of corn, but by no means as much as in my opinion it ought to have been raised. The labourer ought to live by his hire. It is destructive of his independence that he should not. But the miserable system of rates is now always resorted to, to make up the deficiency between the value of his labour, and the necessary expenditure for the support of his family. In , my opinion every farmer should pay his own labourers; but that is not the case ; and the consequence is, that every shopkeeper, and person in moderate circumstances, is charged in the rate for their support. The farmer therefore, does not, as you imagine, suffer in proportion to the rise in the price of corn;
it is fit lie should, and that he should pay,
in proportion to his gains, but he throws it off on others. - 15.-It is the fluctuation of prices that induces landlords to with-hold leases, but they would be granted for a sufficient term of years, if the average profits of the farmer were better ascertained, and could only be raised, when they would fairly bear an advance. . 16.- But the whole system is at present radically bad, for it is my firm belief that there is much iniquity with respect to prices. It is notorious, that corn factors have been ready to buy up throughout the country all the wheat they could procure; and most certainly the country markets are now regulated by the reports from London, and by the state of each other, though at great distances, in a sort of way that never used to be the case. A rider will attend three and four markets on the same day, and it is in vain, to deny that speculation has thrown its baleful eyes and hands on the first articles of necessity. The price of the market is not according to a balance between consumption and production, which is sufficiently proved, in my idea, from the extraordinary variations in price, and report, though it may not make actual combination, (which may not be possible,) has yet some effect, by influencing each individual in the supIt is in this respect that I think the Corn Bill was mischievous, coming upon a harvest that was not generally abundant. But I cannot agree to any one principle, on which you oppose it ; and you appear to me to have attributed intended effects to it, which were never thought of at all, on purpose only, to argue against them, and indirectly to attempt to weaken Mr. Pitt's power, by endeavouring to effect the repeal of a measure he carried. You have hatched up mischiefs, that never could arise from it, because it would never operate, when they were possible; you have perverted and misrepresented its purposes and effects, and treated it altogether in a manaer unworthy of yourself. - 17. --Before i conclude this communication with you, I must beg that you would be cautious in the sent meiots you express respecting the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts. Your sentiments bave great
weight, and I am sorry to see them in cine
towards the admission of sectarics especially, who are already labouring incessantly to the
destruction of the Established Church. You
are very little aware of their numbers
throughout the country, and of their mis
chievous influence on the minds of the common people, Those of the most discordant
- principles unite for the sake of strengthened Sir Edward Coke," thought some explana
Si R. The reign of this pious and wellmeaning, but weak and unfortunate prince, which our general historians only mark by losses and disgrace abroad, discontent, insurrection, and civil slaughter at home, is one of the most interest ng in our ancient annals for the development of the doctrines of our constitution, as it was then understood. It may surprise many to be told, that we may there discover the traces of a just theory, perhaps more scientifically expressed, though not in all respects so consistently and successfully applied, as that which we hold at this day, relative to the mixed nature of our government : yet this is certainly true. In the repeated discussions which took place on the means of supplying the deficiency, when the king was himself unable to discharge the functions of the regal office, our ancestors by degrees systematized mare and more. While the splendor of the monarchy was overshadowed, they could look more steadily at the objects which stood nearest to it. The question in particular which occasioned these
high deliberations, was originally, and hi
therto finally settled by them. Indeed it was of very frequent recurrence in different shapes, and at intervals more or less remote; for the single life of Henry the Sixth furnished examples of each sort of personal incapacity in the sovereign, natural and accidental, during infancy, and in consequence of disease. The statesmen of those times, therefore, left posterity little to desire on that score, except that the authentic monuments which remain to us, had been in some parts fuller, more regular, and exact. Yet such as they are, all the records of all our other parliaments put together do uot contain any thing worthy of notice in comparison of otheu. The great oracle of English law,
tion of the offiee of Protector a necessary branch of his Institutes; but, to a bare list and short commendation of the principal passages to be found in the rolls of this reign (for even he has not included all)he has only added a solitary reference to Holinshed, for historical information. Sir William
- Blackstone, in sending us back to him, has
given a new sanction to the same authorities, and, in adopting the language of his advice,t has pointed, though perhaps uncodsciously, to a pcculiar and important doctrine, which they contain. There must of course be always a greater degree of difficulty and delicacy in ascertaining when the one sort of incapacity begins to exist than the other. The fact, however, once admitted, in the principle of procedure, no distinction seems to have been made. And Sir Edward Coke clearly makes none. Though he professes to speak only of the case, where the king is of tender age, yet he directs our attention to the first protectorate of the Duke of York, as one source of instruction Cn the other hand, it has been to already hinted, that, when the office was conferred on that prince, the most scrupulous regard was paid to the precedents of the king's infancy. Indeed there is but one circumstance that can be supposed to make any difference between the one case of incapacity and the other; it is, that in the one there cannot be any Prince of Wales, in the other there may; in fact, there was a Prince of Wales in the only instance of that kind, which has ever actually occurred, and may God in his mercy, so often vouchsafed to this country, graciously grant, that no other such ever may occur ! ... But, in that single instance, the prince was an infant in the cradle. Whether, if there had then been a son capable of sustaining the whole weight of the government during the absence of his father, the parliamentary leaders of that day would have determined otherwise than they did
* 4 Inst, 58,
+ That “it is the surest way to have him “ (the Protector) made by the great council “in parliament.” The “great council" is, properly speaking, the peerage, and this we shall see to have been in the time of Henry the Sixth, a distinct claim of the lords, acknowledged, regarded in practice. Perhaps it was sounder, and founded on a more solid theory, than may, at first sight, be imagined. . But that will be for considera
tion hereafter. ". o
f See Letter III. p. 580, of this Volume. (except as to the share of power which they might have confided to him) may be a question, on which it is possible that some men may reason one way, and some another, from the same declarations and actions. It is not my design to enter upon it here. What I have said was merely by way of caution, that you, Sir, and your readers, might not expect what they assuredly will not find. All that I have undertaken is, to lay faithfully before you and them what was really done. And this I shall attempt in the natural order, deducing my subject from its origin. Of course I shall intersperse such other more general historical matter as may seem necessary or expedient for the purposes of elucidation and connexion. The situation in which parliament stood
at the accession of Henry the Sixth, was favourable to the establishment of any claim, which the two houses might think it just to advance. Under the two preceding kings, of the line of Lancaster, the power of that assembly had been gradually consolidated and augmented. Heury the Fourth
came as the avenger and restorer of parha
ment, slighted, debased, over-awed, and even surrounded with armed men, by the violent and ill-advised Richard. The defect of his title supplied only by the legislative settlement of the crown on him and his issue, and the many rebellions which were
continually starting up against him, com
pelled him, even if his inclination had leaned the other way, to uphold and strengthen that authority which was the surest support of his own. His son, the victorious Henry the Fifth, pursued the same policy from different motives. Like his illustrious progenitor, Edward the Third, while running the career of military glory and foreign conquest, he was necessarily dependent on those, from whose liberal grants alone he could derive the means of success. The last time that he met them, he submitted to them one of the most undoubted prerogatives of the crown. He presented the Treaty of Troyes for their confirmation, by one article of which he engaged never to make peace with the Dauphin, without the consent of the three estates of the realm. In the mean-time the condition of the commons, individually and collectively, was improved and raised. Slavery among the peasantry began to wear away. Laws from time to time were found, or were supposed, to be necessary for regulating the increasing class of labourers in . The small freeholders grew proportionably more numerous, .# * the county-elections became
* The rea state of the country in this re
in general what may be fairly called popular. When party ran high at home, the power and influence of the great loods, ". tually opposing and opposed, atio ded to the inferior gentry and the mass of the electors the opportunity of making either scale preponderate according to their own honest preference. When the great lords and knights were absent in foreign wars, the former could be little consulted in a canvas", and the place of the latter, as candidates: was usurped by esquires and persons of still lower rank, till restraining statutes were passed, which required certain qualifications of property both in the electors and the elected. As a seat in the House of Commons came to be an object of ambition, returns were irregularly and corruptly obtained, and hence new penalties were enacted to keep sheriffs to the impartial discharge of their duty. The duration of parliaments was insensibly lengthened, and the • prerogative of continuing the same assembly . prorogations was note frequently exercise The effect of this was more especially felt in the House of Commons: it rendered 'em more expert in the science of legislatio, so as to enable to:eon to prepare their to tons more nearly in the form of acts : “id it cherished in them a sort of corporate ority which united them among themselves iuto a firmer and more powerful body. I
From the time that Henry the Fifth first
spect (though at a period a little later) is shewn in a more lively manner by the foets stated in my IVth Letter, p. 80 of this Volume, and the Letter of your Correspondent, a Norfolk Freek older, (for which I return him my thanks) than in any account of general historians. Upon one of the letters uoted by your correspoudent (No. 60, in Vol. III.j Sir John Fenn truly remarks“ This is a true picture of modern election• eering, and such a letter might be written • from any county or town in the kingdom “ during the time that a choice for members was depending:" and yet, this is clarly the same election, on occasion of which the same editor had before rather hastily asserted the dependence of the House of Conomous on the great Lords in those days. The restraining Statutes, whether right or wrong in policy, all go to prove the actual existence of a popular spirit still more early. Such re. medies presume the supposed evil to be of adult growth. • ‘īhe parliament in 1407 under Henry the IVth held three sessions, and sate 159 days, betweeu March and December. This was the longest parliament which had ever been known.