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VOL. 59,-No. 7.] LONDON, SATURDAY, AUG. 12, 1826. [Price 6d.
"Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl, for your miseries that shall "come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are "moth-eaten.-Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them "shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. : "Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.-Behold, the hire of "the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept "back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are "entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.-Ye have lived in pleasure "on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a "day of slaughter.-Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth "not resist you."-SAINT JAMES'S EPISTLE, Chap. v. verses from 1 to 6.
STATE OF THE POOR;
AND PROJECTS OF THE SCOTCH AND ENGLISH LANDLORDS.
Kensington, 9th August, 1826.'
"dark ages," long before Sir ROBERT PEEL, and spinning jen
THE Letter which I am about to insert, though it applies imme-nies, and long before " WHAT'S diately to Lancashire, contains a pretty true description of the state of the manufacturers in every part of the kingdom. My MOTTO is well worth reading, by the master manufacturers. St. JAMES talks of reaping, he having (poor unenlightened soul!) lived in the
WATT" and weaving by steam, were heard or dreamt of. There seem to have been some pretty hard-hearted fellows in St. James's time: they, it seems, knew how to keep back the wages by fraud; but, alas! how would St. James have stared, if he had been told of N
Printed and Published by WILLIAM COBBETT, No. 183, Fleet-street. [ENTERED AT STATIONERS' HALL.]
weaving for a penny a yard; if have prepared the way for a he had been told of the badger- great deal more. As it is, I shall do what I am able for them; and let them recollect, that it is by no means impossible that I may be
shops; if he had been told of the fires at the mills; if he had been told of the deductions from the
wages on account of the wages in parliament now, before this
day twelvemonth. With this preface I insert the letter, which I look upon as a true account of the state of the poor; and, indeed, of the working classes in general, in
not being laid out at the master's own shop; and, when he was talking about nourishing of hearts as in a day of slaughter, what would he have said to an affair like that of the hell-hole on the the manufacturing parts of the 16th of August? Nevertheless, my motto must not be extended to all the master manufacturers. There are some that do not merit it; and God knows there ought to be; otherwise the whole race would assuredly be destroyed by fire and brimstone.
The writer of the following letter is a gentleman by no means disposed to exaggerate; and he understands the matter perfectly well. He asked me a question, at the close of his letter, which I
shall make a point of answering, when I have inserted the letter. The reader will perceive that he tells me, that a great portion of the people express their sorrow at my not having been returned for Preston, since they believe that I should have effected something, tending to lessen their sufferings. Something I certainly should have
effected instantly; and I should
Royton, near Oldham, Lancashire,
DEAR SIR.-I doubt not but you will recollect, that, both at Preston, and afterwards at the Albion Hotel, Manchester, in conversations that I had with you, speaking from personal knowledge, that a residence in the very midst of the cotton manufactures of Lancashire had given me, I gave it as my most decided opinion, that those manufactures would get worse than they then were, and that considerable addition to the misery consequently there would be a very and distress of the people in these populous and extensive districts. Although it is but a short time since these conversations took place, yet it the truth of these opinions. Since has been quite long enough to prove that time, several very extensive establishments have been shut up, whilst a great many others, who were then working, what is called foll time, have reduced their hours of working, some to two, some to three, and some to four days a week; and instances, with reduced wages during this too, you will observe, in many the time they are working: so that the poor creatures are suffering every way. The condition of the poor weavers, in particular, and the great
they could afford to sell their goods. Now, however, such is the increased depression in the trade, that the power-loom masters are obliged, in some instances, to suspend their works almost entirely; and, in most instances, to reduce their time of working to about three or four days a week.
mass of the labouring population. relief for the present accumulating generally, in this part of the country, is miserable in the extreme. We You have heard a good deal said have, at different times, heard and about the hand-loom weavers and read much of the destitute condition of the power-loom weavers. Hitherto, the poor Irish; but if they now are in it has been, that the power-loom a more distressed condition than the weavers have been able to earn a than the hand-loom great mass of the population in this little more part of the country, they are in a weavers, and have been a little better dreadfully suffering state indeed. employed by their masters, because What makes the matter worse, too, of the reduced prices arising from is, that all hope of improvement using the power-loom, at which, in under the present system is fast dy-comparison with those masters who ing away. Some masters have, until employed the hand-loom weavers, now, been in some degree sanguine, that the present would be but a temporary depression, and that in a short time all would be well again. This feeling appears now pretty generally to be giving way amongst those who have, until now, been foolish enough to cling to it; and the gloominess of A few of the masters, despair is consequently fast succeeding to the exhilaration of hope. however, having either less prudence, In this state of things, every body is or more extended. means than the asking the questions, "What is to be others, yet run their works the full done?" "What is to become of us?" time: this, however, is not likely The newspapers in the neighbour-long to continue, as goods keep hood have all sorts of schemes- sinking in price, if sales are effected some recommending one thing, some at all, every market-day. another, while a great portion of the people are not backward in express-tress and difficulty, the land, as you ing their indignation and grief that observe, to go to; but the difficulty of you are not returned for the Borough obtaining the Poor-rates is very great, of PRESTON, since they very well and in some instances next to impossi know that no effort on your part ble. The inconvenience and distress would have been spared, to have ef- arising from this source is very serifected an amelioration of their tre- ous. Query: Does Mr. STURGES mendous sufferings. What must be BOURNE's law, authorizing the apdone in the course of the ensuing pointment of select vestries, throw winter, I know not. I expect no- any additional difficulties in the way of thing in the way of relief from Go- obtaining relief from the Poor-rates? vernment. The extreme of starva- This is a question frequently asked. tion is an evil of such frightful mag- I shall feel myself greatly obliged by nitude, that it is not very likely the your explanation of it. people will patiently submit to it. I suppose this, too, is the opinion of the authorities here, as the country is being filled with soldiers. The military, however, will neither fill the bellies of the hungry people, nor pay the interest of the National Debt. However, I believe that the fear meant to be inspired by the presence of the military, is meant to be all the only altered the law, in order to
There is, to be sure, in all this dis
I am, most respectfully,
Now, in answer to the question, at the close of this letter, I have
to observe, that the Bill of STURGES BOURNE, about vestries, has
take some power from the poor, | of the law, in favour of the rich, and give it to the rich; some of which stretches have, by degrees,
that power, which the whole body of poor-rate payers possess, in the management of the affairs of the parish. But, observe, that in the granting or withholding relief to a poor person, the whole body of the parishioners have not the smallest power, even supposing them to be unanimous. A Vestry may do certain things in the way of raising the money, and as to the manner of relieving the poor; but the Vestry has no power to refuse relief.
brought the country into its present deplorable state.
But, there is here, and there is in no law that has yet been passed, any thing to take the power out of the hands of the Magistrate. This is the security, and the only security, for the poor. Vestries may, in certain cases, control the Overseers; may restrain them from giving relief; but, after all, the Magistrate has the power of commanding the relief to be given; and, if it were
trate, horrible, indeed, would be the situation of the poor: there
would have been rebellion in
England long and long ago. The first thing for a poor person to do, is to go to the Overseer of the
STURGES BOURNE's Bill alter-not for this power in the Magised the law as to voting at Vestries. Before this law, every person who paid towards the poor rates had a vote in the vestry, whether he paid little or much; STURGES BOURNE's Bill introduced a principle, tending to establish an parish: if he refuse to relieve, or aristocracy of wealth. Now, if a if he give inadequate relief, the man be rated at less than fifty poor person is to go to the Magispounds a year, he has only one trate; that is to say, to any Mavote; if rated at fifty pounds, he gistrate in the district, or in the has two votes; and if rated at County, as the case may be. It more than fifty, another vote for is the business of the Magistrate every twenty-five pounds of ad- to summon the Overseer, to inditional rating, until he comes to quire into the circumstances, and six votes; so that one man may to order relief, if necessary. But, have six votes, and another man suppose the Magistrate will not only one vote. Nothing was ever do his duty. This is a very hormore unjust than this; but, it is rible supposition, and I hope, that only one more of those stretches few cases of the kind have ever
occurred. I wish not to believe ing, for that they would not. In short, they knew very well, that they could not live in the country, unless there were the usual mode of relieving the poor.
that it ever can be necessary for any one to know how to go to work to bring a Magistrate to justice for so infamous a breach of his oath. I will not, therefore, take up more room with this matter at present, especially as I intend, in my second Number of the "Poor Man's Friend," to enter véry fully into this matter.
To me it seems the most astonishing thing in the world, that any man in England can talk about the people starving! When we all know, that every inch of land, every brick and tile in a Aye, to be sure, the poor-rates, house; that all is pledged by the here are the sure means of re- law, to prevent the people from lief; and how there can be any suffering from want. Every man difficulty, such as Mr. FITTON of common sense knows that the speaks of, it is beyond my capa- field, for instance, which he calls city to discover. This I know, his, is only his upon certain conthat, when lawyer SCARLETT had ditions; and that one of those his Bill before the House of Com- conditions is this; namely, that mons, which Bill 1 trod upon, and he shall continue to pay money to destroyed, just as we do serpent's the Overseer of the Poor, in oreggs; when that memorable off-der that the said Overseer may spring of the wisdom of lawyer take care that no person in the SCARLETT, favoured as it was by parish may suffer from want. CASTLEREAGH, was before the This is a condition attached to House, petitions were coming every man's tenure and every posting up from the farmers, be- man's land. What do people seeching the Honourable House mean, then, by saying, that there not to attempt to pass lawyer are starving Weavers, and starvScarlett's Bill, which Bill con- ing Spinners, and starving Latemplated putting an end to the bourers? How are there to be any poor-rates, to a very extensive de- starving people, as long as this law gree, at any rate. The farmers remains, and as long as there are were frightened out of their houses and land? senses. They said, that if law-be any starving yer SCARLETT got the law passed, country as long as this law is in he must go and carry on the farm-existence, then the laws are set
and, if there
people in the