Графични страници
PDF файл

sue, with increased advantages, his the Corn Laws. Having secured, long-meditated designs against the then, this inestimable blessing from a prosperity of this country and the source within ourselves, and indepenindependence of Europe? What will dent of the caprice or jealousies of they gain by crippling the agricul- extraneous powers, what can be so tural resources of England, and im- imprudent as to risk it again to the poverishing, more or less, five sixths mercy of foreign states, the chances of of its inhabitants, who now depend, the winds and the waves, or the still directly or indirectly, upon the two more uncertain results of political hundred and fifty millions' worth a combinations ? year of wealth created by its agricul. But the folly of such a proceeding tural labourers ? What but that they becomes still more apparent, when will essentially weaken and depress it is recollected that the power at every branch of the community ; dimi. whose mercy we are so desirous to nish the best and most profitable mar- place ourselves, in this vital article ket for their own industry; augment of national subsistence, is the very the weight of the national and paro- power whose hostility, at the same chial burdens, which, in default of the time, we have so much cause to apprelanded interest, must be borne by theme hend—against whom the national pas. selves, as the producers of its manufac. sion is at this time so strongly arousturing wealth ; and disable the state ing, and between whom and this counfrom maintaining that contest for its try a more permanent cause of yariown, and the general independence of ance is to be found in the opposite Europe, with the Colossus of northern tendency of their national interests. ambition, which every one sees is fast Poland, Prussia, the Ukraine, are all, approaching?

in fact, provinces of Russia, they all In truth, more momentous conside- equally take the law from the Cabinet rations than even those of national of Saint Petersburg. Odessa, Dant. wealth or prosperity depend upon the zic, Memel, and Riga, are alike Rus. vital question which is now at issue sian harbours. Yet these are prebetween the manufacturing and agri. cisely the ports from which our supply cultural classes. The national inde- of grain must inevitably be obtained pendence—the national existence—is if we throw open our ports to foreign at stake. It requires little penetration, competition. The provinces from indeed, to perceive that the general which we will almost exclusively obpeace which we have so long enjoyed tain our food will be those that wait is not destined to be of very long en. at the beck of the Emperor Nicholas. durance, and that a contest, possibly as To the insatiable and undying ambiserious and protracted as that with tion of the Russian Cabinet the BriNapoleon, awaits us with the power tish possessions in India afford a perwhich has already arrayed more than petual object of desire; to the jealousy half of Europe under its influence. and apprehensions of their despotic The revolutionary party at least will Government our Liberal institutions not contest the reality of this danger, and unrestrained press are a constant since the aggressions and ceaseless subject of disquietude. Every thing, strides of Russia are the subject of therefore, both in political combination their endless and frequently just invec- and national interest, conspires to intives. What, therefore, can be so dicate that the seeds of permanent rival hazardous, it may almost be added so hostility between the British and Musinsane, as to forfeit the national inde- covite empires have not only been pendence at so critical a moment, by sown, but are already fast springing throwing ourselves upon the mercy of to maturity. And yet it is at the very foreign states for the purchase of moment that this fact has become bread ? It was a maxim with the Ro. clearly apparent to the inhabitants of mans, « Salus populi Suprema lex.” both countries, that the infatuated Every consideration must yield to the manufacturers of England propose to paramount necessity of providing for place their necks under the feet of the subsistence of the people. At pre their formidable rival, by placing in sent that subsistence is amply provided his hand the keys of the granary from for, as the unparalleled low prices of which they are to be fed. With what the last six years demonstrate, by the joy would the measure be hailed in efforts of our own agriculturists, secur- the salons of St Petersburg! How ed and protected by the operation of rapidly would alla pprehersions of the British power vanish before the effects The total amount of the subsistence of this one suicidal act! Vain, then,' that might be raised in the forty-six would be the prowess of the British millions of acres would be ninety-two arms--vain the recollections of their millions of quarters. A considerable former glory! Without fitting out proportion of this produce doubtless one ship of the line—without raising is consumed by the horses, which, by one hostile banner, the Emperor of the latest return, amount to nearly Russia would easily beat down the fifteen hundred thousand in the United once dreaded power and independence Empire; and Arthur Young calcu. of England. By simply closing his lates that each horse consumes as much harbours, by shutting up the granaries food as eight men, or about eight of Dantzic and Hamburg, he would quarters, a quarter to each human speedily starve us into submission. being forming the average consumpThe populace of Great Britain, de. tion for the whole year. At this prived of their wonted supply of bread, rate the horses would consume subwould become ungovernable, and sistence to about the amount of twelve submission soon be felt to be a matter millions of quarters a-year; and supof necessity. Can we, who, with our posing that double this amount, or eyes open, propose to do such things, twenty-four millions of quarters, is reblame the Carthaginians who first sur. quired for the cows, butcher-meat, rendered their galleys and arms to the &c., there would still remain land ca. Roman generals, and then, when the pable of producing nearly sixty millegions were encamped around their lions of quarters a-year, at the very walls, found themselves without wea, moderate rate of two quarters, or sixpons to withstand their inveterate teen bushels, an acre. This would enemy, and perished through the im- maintain nearly three times the prepotence they themselves had created ? sent population of five-and-twenty

Nor is there the slightest foundation millions in the United Empire, withfor the opinion which is sometimes out taking into view the probable cul. entertained, even by well-informed tivation of the fifteen millions of acres persons, that, such is the magnitude of of waste lands not yet reclaimed, or our manufacturing population, that the probable improvements in agri. the supply of the country with foreign culture, which, especially by the ingrain has been, or soon will become a troduction of draining, may be reasonmatter of necessity, and that the evils ably expected to add at least a half to which have now been described, how the assumed estimate of two quarters, ever great, are unavoidable. It ap- or four bolls to an acre. Nothing, pears, from the table quoted below, therefore, seems more reasonable than that there were, in 1827, 46,500,000 to hold that the British Islands contain arable acres cultivated in Great Bri. within themselves the means of maintain and Ireland, and 15,000,000 un- taining in comfort at least triple their cultivated, but capable of improve- present population; and, consequentment, being, as nearly as possible, two ly, all arguments drawn from the sup. acres under cultivation to each inha. posed impossibility of adequately mainbitant. The average produce of each taining our population from our own cultivated acre may be taken in grain, agricultural produce, or of the inhabit. or other subsistence equally or more ants soon approaching the limits as. nutritious than grain, at two quarters. signed to the increasing subsistence,

[blocks in formation]

are perfectly chimerical and absurd. the kingdom, which at once becomes While, on the other hand, these facts available in the event of prices rising demonstrate that at least triple the to that level, and renders it almost amount of subsistence may be extract- impossible, at least when the foreign ed from the soil of the British Islands harbours are open, for them to rise which is at present obtained, and, con- much above it. Speculators purchase sequently, triple the vent for our up grain largely on the Continent durmanufactures obtained in the home ing years of plenty, and store them in market from that which is at present the British bonded warehouses, in anafforded, and which even now, in its ticipation of the rise of prices on the comparatively infantine state, takes first unfavourable season. There the off a hundred millions sterling worth ample store lies innocuous to the Briof our manufactures, being double the tish farmer during seasons of proamount of our whole foreign exports. sperity, when its aid is not required What, therefore, can be so unwise as by the British consumer ; but no to run the risk of injuring an interest sooner does the expected period of capable of such prodigious extension, adversity arrive than it issues forth and on which such enormous classes in vast quantities to avert the calaare dependent, which is, withal, en- mity, and diffuse the stream of plenty tirely within ourselves, and beyond through every village and hamlet in the reach of foreign jealousy or attack, the realm.Decisive proof was af. for one of far inferior amount, held by forded of this highly important effect an infinitely more precarious tenure, of the Corn Law during the last three and susceptible of a much less con- months, in the commencement of siderable extension ?

which the prices rose to seventy shil. But, almost boundless as is the ca- lings a quarter, from the continued pability of increase in British agricul. rains and bad harvest of last autumn, ture, it cannot be denied that it is but were immediately checked by the necessarily liable to considerable va- overflow of foreign grain from the riations of price, and that the vicissi. bonded stores, and rapidly reduced, tudes of the seasons, incident to a wet first to sixty-six and subsequently to and unpropitious climate, must fre- sixty-two shillings a quarter. quently occasion years of scarcity, and And it is particularly worthy of possibly, at times, bring about long. observation, that this admirable effect continued want, which may border could not possibly have taken place if upon famine if the resources of do- an unrestricted trade in corn had exmestic agriculture alone were to be isted; and that it is the creation of the relied on by the people. It is of Corn Law, and the Corn Law alone. essential importance, therefore, that If a free importation of grain were to some means should exist to provide exist between Great Britain and the against the severe vicissitudes of price Continent, these great bonded reserpeculiarly severe to a dense popula- voirs of grain in the British harbours tion, to which all latitudes, and more would not exist. Food would be proespecially all northern latitudes, are vided for a large part of our popula. subject. It is here that the admirable tion by the foreign, instead of the Bri. wisdom of the present Corn Law tish cultivators; the temptation of becomes apparent; and it is by its sale, at a present profit, would prove operation that a permanent granary is irresistible to the foreign importer; provided for the subsistence of the and the British warehouses of Dantzic people in periods when the home wheat would be emptied as rapidly supply has, from unfavourable sea- upon the first rise of prices as the sons, proved deficient, and, when but barn-yards of the British cultivators. for its operation, no such resource The home supply being greatly di. could have existed. Under the exist. minished, and the foreign proportioning law, by which the duty on foreign ally augmented, the average supply grain, so heavy as to amount to a pro- would just be about equal to the aver. hibition when wheat is between fifty age demand, and no reserve store and sixty shillings a quarter, declines would exist in any quarter to supply rapidly, till at seventy-two shillings a the wants of the people in seasons of quarter it becomes merely nominal, a scarcity. But, while a free importacertain reserve of foreign grain is tion of grain could not provide such a proyided in the bonded warehouses of reserve store, for the same reason that it cannot be provided by the do- Emperors, aware of the danger arismestic growers in the British Islands, ing from the destruction of Italian it is effectually secured by the present agriculture, under the effects of unCorn Law; which, prohibiting impor- restrained foreign importation, were tation in ordinary seasons, yet permits careful to provide, at the public exany quantity of foreign grain to be pense, vast granaries for the support stored up in our bonded warehouses, of the people in periods of scarcity; and thus permits the surplus produce but great as were the resources at the of the Continent, in years of plenty, command of the Imperial government, to be set apart as a reserve store for they often proved inadequate to the the British population in periods of Herculean task of purveying to the scarcity. We are enjoying the full wants of a numerous population. benefit of this wise provision at the That which the power of the Emperpresent moment; scarcity, perhaps ors strove in vain to effect, the wis. famine, were staring us in the face, dom of the British Legislature has when they were averted by the fund effectually obtained; the resources of which legislative wisdom had pro- the state are no longer required for vided ; and, while the blind and misled the mighty undertaking, but the cermanufacturers are clamouring for a tain purveyor, even for five-and-twenty repeal of the Corn Laws, they are in- millions of human beings, is found in debted to those very laws, and to them the enterprising body of merchants alone, for the rescuing of themselves whom the desire of private gain has and their families from want during led into the paths of public good. the next twelvemonths. The Roman


No. v.

CHAPTER I. It was on the afternoon of a sum. “I am very glad to come to you. mer day that Arthur Edmonstone, a But tell me who you are, and what young barrister, left his chambers in you want of me?" the Temple, and walked to the north- “I am a farmer's daughter. Your eastern part of London, where exists old schoolfellow, Henry Richards, bea whole region of human life, never came acquainted with me in the counheard of in fashionable society. He try, and at last he persuaded me to go reached, at last, an obscure and squalid away with him and be privately marstrect, where the doors of most of the ried, for his friends would give him no houses stood half open for the conve- encouragement in such a matter, any nience of the several lodgers. Through more than mine would help me. Ah! one of these entrances he passed, and sir, that disobedience of mine was the mounted three flights of stairs till he root of all our misery! We came to reached a small closed door, at which London, and he tried to support himhe tapped. A low voice said, “ Come self by writing things to be printed ; in," and he entered the room. It was and so we managed pretty well for small and dim, and was nearly filled some time. But, at last, too much by a pallet-bed, on which lay a wo. confinement and overwork made him man. She was covered with a loose ill, and—I beg pardon, sir, for cryand tattered wrapper, through which ing—he died just before my baby was her wasted figure was plainly to be born. He told me, at the last, that he traced. Her small and pleasing fea- did not know any one who would help tures were flushed with a deep red. me, unless it were my own friends, or She raised her blue eyes as Arthur an old schoolfellow of his; and then entered, and said she was sorry to he wrote your name and direction. It have given him the trouble of coming was three months ago, and I have to see her ; but she added that she was gone on as well as I could, ever since. too unwell to go to him.

But it is a hard thing to live, sir, in

this world, without friends. And I their forgiveness. He found her perwas ill myself, and three days ago my fectly disposed to do so from a feeling baby died, and I could not get it bu- of Christian duty, though her own life, ried without help. There's the coffin she believed, would last only a few that I bought with the money you days. But the Bible, she said, had sent me."

become more and more her comfort, Arthur looked, and saw the little and she now wished for nothing but coffin in a dim corner opposite where to do her duty, according to the printhe woman lay. She went on,

ciples of the Gospel. I asked a neighbour to write to Arthur left her, intending soon to you, for I was still ashamed to send see her again, and returned to his to my friends, and, besides, they are chambers. Another dreary picture, too far off. God bless you, sir-God he thought, from the great funereal bless you—for coming to see me.” gallery of life. For years I have lost

“ Had I not better see about the sight of Richards, and on how melanfuneral ?”

choly a tombstone do I now read his « Oh! would you, sir? I have no epitaph! On all hands the world money, and if I had, I am too weak shows nothing but disappointment and to go about it myself.”

wretchedness; and it is from the very In half an hour Arthur returned extremity of misery now that we en. with the necessary help, and then fol. deavour to extort some hope for the lowed the little corpse to its last rest future, fancying that the worst must ing-place. He afterwards went back change to the better, and drawing to the mother, talked to her for a con- alleviation from the enormity of our siderable time about her husband and distress, as a man warms himself for child, provided her with money, and a moment by kindling for fuel the advised her, so soon as she should be wreck of his house which has been able, to write to her family and ask for swept away.

[ocr errors]

That evening a great square in the Two or three people were close to western part of London rattled with her, and engaged in conversation with carriages. Many well-known names her, and among them stood Sir Charles went sounding on up the staircase of Harcourt, a rather young and very one of its largest houses. The spa- wealthy baronet, with high pretensions cious rooms were full of people, glit- to taste and refinement. They were tering under the clear light, and there joined in a few minutes by a young was a lively uproar of music, dancing, man, pale, and with dark hair and and conversation. There were, of eyes, and a look of suppressed excitecourse, many beautiful and admired ment, who bowed, blushed, and asked women present, who appeared, for the her to dance with him. She, too, blushmost part, animated and gratified; but ed, though much more slightly, and one, to some eyes the fairest of them assented; and in the course of the next all, sat retired, and evidently wishing quarter of an hour the following dia. to avoid observation. The simplicity logue passed between them, though ofof her dress and the quiet thoughtful. ten interrupted by the changes of the ness of her countenance were in per, dance, or the nearness of those who were fect accordance with the position she not meant to hear what passed :had chosen. The serene and expres- “ Miss Lascelles, for you will not let sive character of her beauty was me call you Maria, you seemed much heightened by the mode in which her interested in Sir Charles Harcourt's shining black hair was knotted at the conversation : perhaps you regret that back of the head, and accorded beau. I withdrew you from it?" tifully with the perfect and full regu- “No indeed; he never interests me larity of her figure and the graceful. much. He was talking about pictures, ness of her neck and shoulders. But and he has collected a great deal of there was a look of subdued reflective information on the subject; but I do earnestness and feeling in the face, not generally approve of his taste, or, such as of old would hardly have been at least, it differs very often from mine. assigned to any nymph or goddess. One cannot help rather liking him, for

« ПредишнаНапред »