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we are able to do, since though they have inost votes they have least strength,) are all that remain, all men of full age, the people? Are all males, then, that have lived one-and-twenty years allowed to choose their own governors ? “ Not at all; not in England, unless they are freeholders, unless they have forty shillings a year.” Worse and worse. After depriving half the human species of their natural right for want of a beard ; after depriving myriads more for want of a stiff beard, for not having lived one-and-twenty years; you rob others (probably some hundred thousands) of their birthright for want of money! Yet not altogether on this account neither; if so, it might be more tolerable. But here is an Englishman who has money enough to buy the estates of fifty freeholders, and yet he must not be numbered among the people because he has not two or three acres of land ! How is this? By what right do
you exclude a man from being one of the people because he has not forty shillings a year ; yea, or not a groat? Is he not a man, whether he be rich or poor? Has he not a soul and a body? Has he not the nature of a man; consequently, all the rights of a man, all that flow from human nature ; and, among the rest, that of not being controlled by any but by his own consent?
14. “But he is excluded by law.” By what law ? by a law of his own making? Did he consent to the making of it? Before this law was passed, was his consent either obtained or asked ? If not, what is that iaw to him? No man, you aver, has any power over another but hy his own consent. of consequence, a law made without his consent is, with regard to him, null and void. You cannot say otherwise without destroying the supposition, that none can be governed but by his own consent. 15. See, now, to what your argument comes.
You affirm, all power is derived from the people; and presently excluded one half of the people from having any part or lot in the matter. At another stroke, suppose England to contain eight millions of people, you exclude one or two millions more. At a third, suppose two millions left, you exclude three fourths of these. And the poor pittance that remains, by I know not what figure of speech, you call the people of England!
16. Hitherto we have endeavoured to view this point in the mere light of reason. And even by this means it manifestly appeors that this supposition, which is so high in vogue, which is so generally received, nay, which has been palmed upon us with such confidence, as undeniable and self-evident, is not only false, not only contrary to reason, but contradictory to itself; the very men who are most positive that the people are the source of power, being brought into an inextricable difficulty, by that single question, “ Who are the people ?” reduced to a necessity of either giving up the point, or owning that by the people they mean scarce a tenth part of them.
17. But we need not rest the matter entirely on reasoning ; let us appeal to matter of fact. And because we cannot have so clear and certain a prospect of what is at too great a distance, whether of time or place, let us only take a view of what has been in our own country for six or seven hundred years.
I ask, then, When and where did the peo. ple of England (even suppose by that word, the people, you mean only a hundred thousand of them) choose their own governors ? Did they choose, to go no farther, William the Conqueror ? Did they choose King Stephen, or King John? As to those who regularly succeeded their fathers, it is plain the people are out of the question. Did they choose Henry the Fourth, Edward the Fourth, or Henry the Seventh? Who will be so hardy as to affirm it? Did the people of England, or but fifty thousand of them, choose Queen Mary, or Queen Elizabeth ? To come nearer to our own times, did they choose King James the First? Perhaps you will say, “ But if the people did not give King Charles the supreme power, at least they took it away from him. Surely, you will not deny this.” Indeed I will ; I deny it utterly. The people of England no more took away his power, than they cut off his head. “ Yes, the parliament did, and they are the people.” No; the parliament did not. The lower house, the house of commons, is not the parliament, any more than it is the nation. Neither were those who then sat, the house of commons; no, nor one quarter of them. But suppose they had been the whole house of commons, yea, or the whole parliament; by what rule of logic will you prove that seven or eight hundred persons are the people of England ? Why, they are the delegates of the people ; they are chosen by them.” No; not by one half, not by a quarter, not by a tenth part, of them. So that the people, in the only proper sense of the word, were innocent of the whole affair.
18. « But you will allow, the people gave the supreme power to King Charles the Second at the Restoration.” I will allow no such thing ; unless by the people you mean General Monk and fifteen thousand soldiers. “ However, you will not deny that the people gave the
power to King William at the Revolution.” Nay, truly, I must deny this too. I cannot possibly allow it
. Although I will not say that William the Third obtained the royal power as William the First did ; although he did not claim it by right of conquest, which would have been an odious title; yet certain it is, that he did not receive it by any act or deed of the people. Their consent was neither obtained nor asked; they were never consulted in the matter. It was not therefore the people that gave him the power; no, nor even the parliament. It was the convention, and none else. “Who were the convention ?" They were a few hundred lords and gentlemen, who, observing the desperate state of public affairs, met together on that important occasion. So that still we have no single instance in above seven hundred years of the people of England's conveying the supreme power either to one or more persons.
19. Indeed I remember in all history, both ancient and modern, but one instance of supreme power conferred by the people; if we mean thereby, though not all the people, yet a great majority of them. This celebrated instance occurred at Naples, in the middle of the last century; where the people, properly speaking, that is, men, women, and children, claimed and exerted their natural right in favour of Thomas Aniello, (vulgarly called Masanello,) a young fisherman. But will any one say, he was the only governor for these thousand years, who has had a proper right to the supreme power? I believe not; nor, I
apprehend, does any one desire that the people should take the same steps in London. 20. So much both for reason and matter of fact. But one single VOL. VI.
consideration, if we dwell a little upon it, will bring the question to a short issue. It is allowed, no man can dispose of another's life but by his own consent. I add, No, nor with his consent; for no man has a right to dispose of his own life. The Creator of man has the sole right to take the life which he gave. Now, it is an indisputable truth, Nihil dat quod non habet, “none gives what he has not.” It plainly follows, that no man can give to another a right which he never had himself; a right which only the Governor of the world has, even the wiser Heathens being judges; but which no man upon the face of the earth either bas or can have. No man therefore can give the power of the sword, any such power as implies a right to take away life. Wherever it is, it must descend from God alone, the sole disposer of life and death.
21. The supposition, then, that the people are the origin of power, is every way indefensible. It is absolutely overturned by the very principle on which it is supposed to stand ; namely, that a right of choosing his governors belongs to every partaker of human nature. If this be so, then it belongs to every individual of the human species; consequently, not to freeholders alone, but to all men; not to men only, but to women also; nor only to adult men and women, to those who have lived one-and-twenty years, but to those who have lived eighteen or twenty, as well as those who have lived threescore. But none did ever maintain this, nor probably ever will. Therefore this boasted principle falls to the ground, and the whole superstructure with it. So common sense brings us back to the grand truth, “There is no power but of God.”
THE PRESENT SCARCITY OF PROVISIONS.
Many excellent things have been lately published concerning the present scarcity of provisions; and many causes have been assigned for it, by men of experience and reflection. But may it not be observed, there is something wanting still, in most of those publications? One writer assigns and insists on one cause, another on one or two more. But who assigns all the causes that manifestly concur to produce this melancholy effect? at the same time pointing out, how each particular cause affects the price of each particular sort of provision ?
I would willingly offer to candid and benevolent men a few hints on this important subject; proposing a few questions, and subjoining to each what seems to be the plain and direct answer.
I. 1. I ask, First, Why are thousands of people starving, perishing for want, in every part of the nation? The fact I know; I have seen it with my eyes, in every corner of the land. I have known those who could only afford to eat a little coarse food once every other day. I have known one in London (and one that a few years before had all the conveniences of life) picking up from a dunghill stinking sprats, and carrying them home for herself and her children. I have known another gathering the bones which the dogs had left in the streets, and making broth of them, to prolong a wretched life! I have heard a third artlessly declare, “ Indeed I was very faint, and so weak I could hardly walk, until my dog, finding nothing at home, went out, and brought in a good sort of bone, which I took out of his mouth, and made a pure dinner !” Such is the case at this day of multitudes of people, in a land flowing, as it were, with milk and honey! abounding with all the necessaries, the conveniences, the superfluities of life!
Now, why is this? Why have all these nothing to eat? Because they have nothing to do. The plain reason why they have no meat is, because they have no work.
2. But why have they no work? Why are so many thousand people, in London, in Bristol, in Norwich, in every county, from one end of England to the other, utterly destitute of employment ?
Because the persons that used to employ them cannot afford to do it any longer. Many that employed fifty men, now scarce employ ten; those that employed twenty now employ one, or none at all. They cannot, as they have no vent for their goods; food being so dear, that the generality of people are hardly able
to buy any thing else. 3. But why is food so dear? To come to particulars : Why does bread corn bear so high a price? To set aside partial causes, (which indeed, all put together, are little more than the fly upon the chariot wheel,) the grand cause is, because such immense quantities of corn are continually consumed by distilling. Indeed, an eminent distiller near London, hearing this, warmly replied, " Nay, my partner and I generally distil but a thousand quarters a week.” Perhaps so. And suppose five-and-twenty distillers, in and near the town, consume each only the same quantity: here are five-and-twenty thousand quarters a week, that is, above twelv hundred and fifty thousand a year, consumed in and about London! Add the distillers throughout England, and have we not reason to believe, that (not a thirtieth or a twentieth part only, but) little less than half the wheat produced in the kingdom is every year consumed, not by so harmless a way as throwing it into the sea, but by converting it into deadly poison; poison that naturally destroys not only the strength and life, but also the morals, of our countrymen?
It may be objected, “ This cannot be. We know how much corn is distilled by the duty that is paid. And hereby it appears, that scarce three hundred thousand quarters a year are distilled throughout the kingdom.” Do we know certainly, how much corn is distilled by the duty that is paid? Is it indisputable, that the full duty is paid for all the corn that is distilled ? not to insist upon the multitude of private stills, which pay no duty at all. I have myself heard the servant of an eminent distiller occasionally aver, that for every gallon he distilled which paid duty, he distilled six which paid none. Yea, I have heard distillers themselves affirm, “We must do this, or we cannot live.” It plainly follows, we cannot judge, from the duty that is paid, of the quantity of corn that is distilled.
" However, what is paid brings in a large revenue to the king.” Is this an equivalent for the lives of his subjects? Would his majesty sell a hundred thousand of his subjects yearly to Algiers for four hundred thousand pounds ? Surely no. Will he then sell them for that sum, to be butchered by their own countrymen? “But otherwise the swine for the navy cannot be fed.” Not unless they are fed with human flesh!
Not unless they are fatted with human blood! O, tell it not in Con stantinople, that the English raise the royal revenue by selling the flesh and blood of their countrymen!
4. But why are oats so dear? Because there are four times as many horses kept (to speak within compass) for coaches and chaises in particular, as were a few years ago. Unless, therefore, four times the oats grew now that grew then, they cannot be at the same price. If only twice as much is produced, (which, perhaps, is near the truth,) the price will naturally be double to what it was.
And as the dearness of grain of one kind will always raise the price of another, so whatever causes the dearness of wheat and oats must raise the price of barley too. To account, therefore, for the dearness of this, we need only remember what has been observed above; although some particular causes may concur in producing the same effect.
5. Why are beef and mutton so dear? Because many considerable farmers, particularly in the northern counties, who used to breed large numbers of sheep, or horned cattle, and very frequently both, now breed none at all: they no longer trouble themselves with either sheep, or cows, or oxen; as they can turn their land to far better account by breeding horses alone. Such is the demand, not only for coach and chaise horses, which are bought and destroyed in incredible numbers, but much more for bred horses, which are yearly exported by hundreds, yea, thousands, to France.
6. But why are pork, poultry, and eggs so dear? Because of the monopolizing of farms; perhaps as mischievous a monopoly as was ever introduced into these kingdoms. The land which was some years ago divided between ten or twenty little farmers, and enabled them comfortably to provide for their families, is now generally engrossed by one great farmer. One farms an estate of a thousand a year, which formerly maintained ten or twenty. Every one of these little farmers kept a few swine, with some quantity of poultry; and, having little money, was glad to send his bacon, or pork, or fowls and eggs to market continually. Hence the markets were plentifully served; and plenty created cheapness. But at present, the great, the gentlemen farmers are above attending to these little things. They breed no poultry or swine, unless for their own use; consequently they send none to market. Hence it is not strange if two or three of these, living near a market town, occasion such a scarcity of these things, by preventing the former supply, that the price of them is double or treble to what it was before. Hence, (to instance in a small article,) in the same town wherein, within my memory, eggs were sold six or eight a penny, they are now sold six or eight a groat.
Another cause (the most terrible one of all, and the most destructive both of personal and social happiness) why not only beef, mutton, and pork, but all kinds of victuals, are so dear, is luxury. What can stand against this? Will it not waste and destroy all that nature and art can produce? If a person of quality will boil down three dozen of neats' tongues, to make two or three quarts of soup, (and so proportionably in other things,) what wonder that provisions fail ? Only look into the kitchens of the great, the nobility and gentry, almost without exception ; (coasidering withal, that “the toe of the peasant treads upon the heel of