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VOL. 71.-No. 2.]
LONDON, SATURDAY, JANUARY 8TH, 1831.
[Price 1s. 2d.
1. " I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue; I will keep my mouth with a bridle.
2. "I was dumb with silence: I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred.
3. My heart was hot within me; while I was musing the fire burned."
TO MY READERS,
Bolt-Court, Jan. 4, 1831.
intended to go into Hampshire, there to cultivate a garden and a few fields to the end of my life, the close of which I hoped to pass amongst that class of society that I have always most loved and cherished, the people employed in the cultivation of the land. I have it rooted in me, that happiness and riches are seldom companions; I have seen too much of the misery and opprobrium attending the living upon the public money not to have long ago resolved never to pocket a single farthing of it; Ir is now twenty-nine years since I and as to what are called honours, they began the publication of this work, have always been with me objects of and, with the exception of the ten weeks contempt. To refuse to fill an office that were required to take me to Long and exercise power, if you be convinced Island, in 1817, and to bring back the that your doing it is for the good of your first REGISTER from LONG ISLAND, a country, is to refuse to do your duty. I REGISTER has been published by me have, therefore, always been ready, and every week for those twenty-nine years; even anxious, to have power of this during one year, when I was in prison, sort; and I am so still; but my TASTE two a week; and, in the whole, one lies the other way; and, if I have a thousand five hundred and forty-eight wish more ardent than all others, it is REGISTERS; equal, even in quantity of this; that I, enjoying my garden and print, to that number of half-crown few fields, may see England as great in pamphlets; and, during the time, though the world, and her industrious, laboritwo years in prison, and nearly three on ous, kind and virtuous people as happy the seas and in exile, I have written and as they were when I was born; and that published other works consisting of 17 I may at last have a few years of calm volumes, besides the carrying on of at the close of this long life of storms farming, gardening, tree-planting, and and of tempests. the rearing of trees for fruit as well as The intentions, expressed above, are timber; and, during the same time, changed only in two particulars; have had born to me a numerous family, namely, that, instead of closing the seven of whom are still alive, four sons Register at the end of THIS YEAR, and three daughters, three of the sons to close it at the end of NEXT YEAR, having also each written and published and, instead of publishing the history books, and ably and learnedly written of my life after the Register is closed, too. Of my books I shall say more here- to publish it in numbers, and, as I after. I shall first speak of my inten- proceed, publish those numbers in the tions for the future. Register itself; so that this work, It was my intention to close the which has produced so much effect in Register at the end of thirty years. I the world, which has recorded and have expressed this intention many treated of so many important events, times. Then I intended to publish, as may close with sending over the world the work of another year, THE HIS- the history of the man from whom a TORY OF MY LIFE; and then I work has proceeded, in which histor
the young men of our day will learn | N. B. The list ry, of which the following is:
the means which enable men to make great and wonderful exertions. In the meanwhile, and until I begin publishing the history of my life, I shall publish in the Register, as fast as they are prepared, all the numbers successively
the first number, is also published in Numbers, in the book form, price 6d, each Number,
of the History of the Reign and Regency REGENCY AND REIGN OF GEO. IV.
of George IV. Every month, also, I publish in the Register, the " DEAR LITTLE TWO-PENNY TRASH.' I shall publish both in the book form besides; but, I want them both to fly over the world at once, and produce their effect as speedily as possible. Thus will this Register contain all; yea, all that any man can want to know, relative to public affairs for the thirty-one years, beginning with January 1802, and ending with December, 1832. These two last four volumes (very thick) will contain a retrospect, and a résumé of the whole period; they will contain the History of the Regency and Reign of George IV, all the Monthly Two-penny Trashes for the two years, and the History of the life of the author, besides the usual matter for the Register.
BY WILLIAM COBBETT.
Sketch of the History of England, from the
1. THAT change in the religion of England, Edward VI., and Elizabeth, and which is which took place in the reigns of Henry VIII., generally called the REFORMATION, has produced, in process of time, a still greater, and a most fatal, change in the nature of the Engone-third part, and indeed more, of the real lish Government. Before that event, full property of the country belonged to the church; that is to say, it was held in trust by the clergy of different denominations, as maintenance of religion, and for the relief of bishops, priests, monks, nuns, &c., for the the poor and the stranger. These trustees were, therefore, in fact, the lords, or owners of something approaching to one-half of the whole of the houses and lands of England. As to the price, it is absolutely neces- institutions this state of things gave the com2. From the very nature of the Catholic sary, in order to prevent me from throw-mon people great advantages, and in various ing away two years of such enormous ways, especially as it prevented them fro m labour, which even I have not resolved being borne down by the aristocracy. Wher upon until after long consideration. Here there is an aristocracy who are heredita lawgivers, and are sustained by a law of pri are sixty-four columns of print, contain-mogeniture, the commons, if left without ing more than a hundred and fifty pages some power to protect them against such a of common print, and here is the stamp to aristocracy, must, in the nature of things, be, clear the postage. I insert the first Num- whatever they may call themselves, the slaves of that aristocracy. This protection, the comber of the History of George the Fourth mons, or people, of England found in the in the present Register, and I shall pro- Catholic church, which not only had an inte ceed with one Number every week until rest always opposed to the encroachments of that work be completed, except the Trash- the aristocracy, but which was, from the very Week, which will come once a month; bution of property favourable to the commous. nature of its institutions, the cause of a distri~ and, when George the Fourth is comple- In the first place it took a tenth part of the ted, I shall begin with my own life and whole of the produce of the earth, and out of go on with it in the same manner, until it relieved the wants of the poor, the aged, the that he completed also. Such a thing, the clergy, that is of the great mass of landwidow, and the orphan: next, the celibacy of such labour, never was encountered be- owners, necessarily took from them all motive fore by any man; and I desire that it for accumulating wealth, and caused them to should be hereafter said of me, that distribute it, in some way or other, amongst the most laborious man that ever lived, estates were immense, could possess no private the commons: next, the monastics, whose property, and were, of course, easy landlords, let their lands at low rents, and on leases for lives, so that the renters were, in fact, pretty nearly the proprietors: one and the same fas mily of farmers held the same farm for ages; and hence arose the term YEOMAN, which is re
the misery of the people, and so manifestly was open rebellion approaching, that it was, after numerous efforts to avoid it, finally resolved on to make by law an effectual and permanent provision for the poor, and for the repair of the churches. And how did reason and justice say that this ought to be done? By a tax, certainly, exclusively on the property taken from the church and given to the aristocracy. This is what ought to have been done; and even this would have been but a poor compensation for all that the commons had lost; but instead of this a law was made to lax all the people for the relief of the poor and for the repairing of the churches; and this tax, for England alone, now amounts to the enormous sum of seven millions and a half of pounds sterling in a year.
tained in our law-writs, but which has now no application. The nobility were compelled to follow, in this respect, the example of the church; and thus the commons were the joint-proprietors, in fact, of the whole country; they acknowledged the owner as lord of the soil; but they held the estates for lives; they had rents or fines to pay, at stated times, but with this reservation, the estates were theirs; they could not, like rack-renters, be turned out at the pleasure of the owner; and, of course, they were independent, free, and bold, just the reverse of the rack-renters of the present day. Another great cause of public happiness, arising out of this distribution of property, was, that those great landlords, the clergy, always, from the very nature of the institutions, resided in the midst of their estates, and, of course, expended their reve. 5. The Stuarts, who came to the throne dues there, returning to those who laboured immediately after the making of this law, bethe fair share of the fruits of their labour; sides being a feeble race of men, had not the and, though the aristocracy had no such posi-protection which Elizabeth bad found in the tive ties with regard to residence, example must have had, in this respect also, great effect upon them.
dread which the people had had of seeing the crown on the head of a Frenchman. The Stuarts, neither loved nor respected, had not the power to withstand the effects of the old grudge against the aristocracy, combined, as it now was, with the most furious fanaticism, hardly got quietly along through the reign of James I.; and, in that of Charles I., had to undergo all the sufferings of a revolution. The Republicans, amidst all their fury against the remains of the Catholic church, did not forget its estates; and, in spite of the arguments of the Royalists, proceeded very coolly, and, as all the world must say, very justly, to take the estates back again for public use.
3. The Reformation broke up this state of society in England; and it has, at last, produced that state which we now behold; a state of rack-renters, of paupers, and of an aristocracy making the laws and burdening the commons, or people, at their pleasure. The Reformation took from the church, that is, in fact, from the people at large, of whom the clergy were the trustees, all their share of the property of the country. If the makers of this Reformation bad divided this property amongst the people; if they had sold it and applied the proceeds to the use of the nation at large, as 6. The restoration of the Stuarts, which, was done by the makers of the French Revo-like that of Louis XVIII., was produced lution of 1789, there would have been no real partly by the tyranny of the man at the head injury done to the commons; but this is what of affairs and partly by treachery, restored the makers of the Reformation did not do; these immense estates to the aristocracy; but they did precisely the contrary; and this too did not restore to the Crown the estate which from a very obvious cause. The French Re- the Republicans had taken from it; so that, volution was made by the people; the English while the aristocracy retained all their enorReformation was made by the aristocracy mous increase of wealth and power, the king, against the wishes of the people. The French like the poor, became a charge ou the public revolutionists divided the property amongst revenue; and thus were king as well as the people; the English aristocracy took the people placed at the mercy of the aristocracy; property to themselves! a state in which they have remained from that day to this.
4. But this was not all that they did against the people. Having become the lords of the immense estates of the church, they, as was natural, began to put an end to that joint-proprietorship which had before existed, aud, the lives dying off, they assumed the absolute possession: the race of yeomen was, little by little, swept away, and the occupants becamerack-renters, wholly dependent on the will of the aristocracy. From even the parochial elergy the aristocracy had taken a great part of their revenue, while, at the same time, they allowed them to marry; and thus were the poor left without relief, and the churches without revenues to keep them in repair. Yet it was absolutely necessary that provision should be made for these objects; for, in the reign of Elizabeth, so great and so general was become
7. Next came the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688; and here the reader must have his senses at command to enable him to set the delusion of names at defiance. This revolution was made by the aristocracy, and for their sole benefit, and, like the Reformation, against the wish of the people. It was forced upon the nation by an army brought from abroad; it was made. by laws passed by those who had not been chosen by the people to make laws; and that the revolution was for the benefit of the aristocracy, what need we of more proof than is contained in the following facts, well known to all the world; that James II., who was a Catholic himself, wished to place Catholics upon a level with Protestants as to all civil
that the about, fifty years from the death of many who had witnessed the transfer of the church-éstates to the aristocracy, only at about forty years from the time when those estates had been taken from the aristocracy by the republicans, and applied to public uses, and only at about thirty years from the time when the estates had been given back to the aristocracy again; that it was evident, that if the king could be a Catholic himself, and were permitted to place Cat Catholics upon a level with Protestants all men would say, that the Reformation was unnecessary, and that the estates had
doubt in the mind of any man, One of the
church unjust taken from the Catholic still too much power; and in this year they,
from which conclusion there could be but one step to. the resumption of those estates by the nation.
whom the people had chosen for three years,d made a law to authorise themselves to sit for four years longer! Aye, and that every future 8. To these facts add the following; parliament should sit for seven years instead that the Prince of Orange was not invited of three; though the declaration against the to England by any meeting or assemblage Stuarts stated, that new parliaments ought of the people, nor by any person or body to be frequently called," and that this was of persons chosen by the people for that an unalienable right of the people of England. purpose, or for the making of laws; that 11. But, audacious as this was in itself, it he was invited to England by the aris- was less audacious than the pretexts set forth tocracy, and through agents sent to Hol- for the passing of the law. These were, that land by them; that the Dutch army, brought such frequent elections were attended with over by William, marched to London with "grievous expenses"; that they caused "viohim and displaced the English soldiers sta-lent and lasting heats and animosities"; and tioned there; that the general commanding that they might, at this time, favour the the English army went over to William; views of a restless and popish faction and that laws were immediately passed for" in causing the destruction of the peace and disarming suspected persons, and for enabling" security of the government." Now, if this the new government to put into prison whom had been a mere faction, why take away ther soever it suspected of designs hostile to it. Add these facts to the former, and then nothing further need be said with regard to the actors in, or the motives to, this Glorious Revolution."
rights of all the people, in order to counteract
9. But though by these and similar means, and by a pretty free use of the gallows and the scaffold, the aristocracy secured the 12. It was, then, under the auspices of the estates for this time, the thing was by no Riot act and of the Septennial act that the means settled thus. Á war with France be- House of Brunswick began its reign in Eng-, came necessary "for the preservation of the land; and, though Mr. CANNING will not, bys Protestant religion"; that is to say, the quiet those who knew him, be deemed much of an possession of the church-estates. To carry authority upon the subject, he did say, in the on this war, and to bind the monied people to House of Commons, in 1822, that if the peothe new government, it was necessary to bor-ple of England could have had their will, the row money; and hence arose the funds, the House of Brunswick would never have worn bank, and the national debt. These brought the Crown of this kingdom. The dislike of taxes, and so heavy as to create great dis-the people was not, however, to the House of contents. The people felt themselves loaded Brunswick, but to the exercise of the power with ten or twelve millions a year, instead of the million and a half which they had had to pay in the reign of James II.; so that, soon after the accession of George I., the first king of the House of Brunswick, he had to encounter an open rebellion; and the aristocracy, though they had so pared down the independence and power and influence of the people, found it necessary to pare it down still more; and this they effected in the year 1715, by an act called the Riot act, and by another called the Septennial bill,
10. By the first of those laws all assemblages the people out of doors were, in effect, put down. And why was this? Certainly not
of the aristocracy, who, by this last-mentioned act, left hardly the semblance of power in the hands of the people. The Members of that House have, in general, conducted them. selves with great moderation; but, in its nome the aristorcracy has gone on with its encroachments, which, however, seem at last to. be destined to counteract themselves.
13. The "glorious revolution" brought wars; first for the keeping out of James and his family, and second for the preservation of Holland and of Hanover. These brough debts; and these brought taxes. The Ameri can colonies, now the United States, all of which, observe, had been settled by the Stu
arts, began, in 1770, to present food for tax-1 aristocracy, were too obvious to need pointing afon.The parliament the Septennial parout, even to parties not deeply interested in lament passed laws tax them. The those consequences. The obstacles to war Americans had seen how their brethren in were very great. There was the DEBT, which, England had, by degrees, lost their property by the unsuccessful American war, had been their the to amount to a sum; the annual interest of NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTA- of which demanded six times the amount of the TION;" the septennial parliament raised the taxes which had existed in the reign of James standard of UNCONDITIONAL SUBMISSION" II. There were, besides, heavy burdens enthe battle began; and how it ended all the tailed upon the country by that war on ac world knows. Totest for Bel mall w count of half-pay and of other things. On the other hand, we had a most advantageous com. mercial treaty with France, 'which the Republicans in France were ready to continue in force. The interests of the people of England manifestly pointed to peace: their wishes, too, were in favour of peace; and this latter is proved by their conduct, and still more clearly by the PROCLAMATIONS for checking French principles; by the ARISTOCRATICAL ASSOCIATIONS formed for that purpose; and by the TERRIBLE LAWS passed for the purpose of cutting off all communication between the people of the two countries.
14. It was impossible for these two stand ards to remain raised for seven years, as they did, without attracting the attention of the world, and particularly of the intelligent and brave people of France, especially as the latter had to take a part in the conflict. The success of the Americans, in conjunction with the armies of France, beckoned to the people of France to follow the bright example. As it was absolutely impossible for Lafayette not to imbibe the principles of Washington, so it was impossible that the French should not imbibe the principles of the Americans. And now it was that our aristocracy began to see the effects of their septennial system recoil upon themselves. The French people, who, as FORTESCUE clearly shows, had never derived from the Catholic church the benefits which the English ħad derived from it; the French people, always borne down by a great standing army, while England had none; the French people, pressed to the earth by taxes, partial as well as cruelly heavy, such as England had, at that time, never heard of; the French people, insulted in their wretchedness by a haughty, a squandering, and most profligate court, and higher clergy; this oppressed and brave people resolved, in 1789, no longer to endure the degrading curse, and, at one single effort, swept away their grinding and insolent aristocracy and clergy, and, in their rage, the throne itself; and, by that act, sent dread into the heart of every aristocrat upon the face of the earth.
16. But the alternative was, Parliamentary Reform, or put down the Republic of France. That really was the alternative, and the only one. The former ought to have been chosen; but the latter was resolved on, and that, too, in spite of the acknowledged risk of failure; for, so much did the aristocracy dread the other alternative, that failure, when compared with that, lost all its terrors. To war then they went; in war they continued for twentytwo years, except the short respite procured by the peace of Amiens, which was, in fact, a truce rather than a peace. At the end of twenty-two years, Louis XVIII. was restored to the throne of France; but of that event, and its causes and consequences, the details will come into the history to which this sketch is an introduction.
17. During the fight every thing but the dread of the effect of the example of the French appears to have been overlooked by 15. Our septennial law-makers remained, our aristocracy; and, of course, they thought however, spectators for about two years and a nothing of the DEBT which they were contracthalf; but, in the meanwhile, the example was ing, though that was, as the sequel will show, working here. The Septennial bill had pro- destined to undo all that they were doing duced all its natural consequences, wars, debts, against the French, and to render that parliaand taxation; and, as the cause of the evils mentary reform, which it had been their great was seen, the people had begun, even during object to root out of the minds of the people, the American war, to demand a REFORM IN more necessary and more loudly called for THE COMMONS HOUSE OF PARLIAMENT as the than ever. They had advanced ouly about only cure for existing evils, and as the only six years in war when they found themselves security against their recurrence for the future. compelled to resort to a paper-money, and to When the standard of the right of represen-make it a legal tender. This was a very imtation had been raised by thirty millions of people only twenty miles from them, those of England could not be expected to be dead to the call. They were not; and it required no long time to convince our aristocracy that one of two things must take place; namely, that the French people must be compelled to return 18. At the time when this war began, 1793, under their ancient yoke; or that a change WILLIAM PITT, a son of the late Earl of Chatmust take place in England, restoring to the ham, was the Prime Minister. He had estabpeople the right of freely choosing their repre-lished what he called a SINKING FUND, and sentatives, the consequences of which, to this had adopted other measures for reducing the
portant crisis in the affairs of the septennial parliament and of the aristocracy, and the consequences which have resulted, and will result, from it are to be ranked amongst those which decide the fate of governments. Therefore this matter calls for full explanation.