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tinues, that this idea is wholly without foundation. All that is required for the attainment of naval power is the command of convenient harbours, and of wealth sufficient to build and man ships. However paradoxical it may appear, it is nevertheless unquestionably true, that the nary of Great Britain might be as formidable as it now is, or, if that was desirable, infinitely more so, though we had not a single merchant ship.' This, we will venture to say, is one of the grandest discoveries that the most exact of moral sciences has yet brought to light; wliy, indeed, take that
roundabout method,' as it is termed, of manning the feet with sailors trained in merchant ships, instead of breeding up sailors in men of war? The thing is so self-evident, that the great teacher recommends, • instead of keeping so small a force as twenty or thirty thousand able-bodied seamen afloat, during peace, that number ought to be increased to at least fifty or sixty thousand. To be sure, it is admitted, that it would cost a few hundred thousand pounds (a few millions ?) more than the present system;' but then it would be a very miserable species of economy (and of course contrary to the infallible principles of political economy) to hesitate about incurring such an expense.' This notable plan, we are assured, ' has been highly approved by many distinguished naval officers.' We should rather think that some jocular old admiral has been playing off a hoax on the great teacher. Did it never once occur to him that, after we had abandoned our colonies and our shipping, and entrusted ourselves entirely to the loving-kindness of foreigners for every article of foreign supply, this great fleet of his would have nothing left to protect--would be wholly useless ?
But why, it may be asked, should we waste words on the daydreams of a drivelling projector, whose profoundest speculations might be the laughter of children? The ludicrous character of the visions does not escape us--but when we find them coupled, in the vehicle which sets them forth, with a persevering and inveterate abuse of all our institutions, whether moral, religious, or political, we cannot help thinking that the conductors and contributors of that journal are not working without a design. Thus, we are triumphantly told, in their very last publication, that the lower 'orders are making prodigious progress in the wonderworking science of political economy; and a very broad hint is given that the working classes are likely, through means of it, and Ricardo's lectures, and mechanics'institutions,' to become more intelligen: than their employers;—and that this will end, undoubtedly, as it ougnt to end, in a mutual exchange of property and condition; but could not fail, in the mean time, to give rise to great and unseemly disorilers. The meaning of all this is obvious enough; to wit, that the new pbilosophy, and its institutions, and its lecturers, are to inculcate into the minds of the lower orders, principles of insubordination and sedition, in order that, when a proper occasion arrives, they may be found in a fit state to insist upon, and by their numerical force to compel, a 'mutual exchange of property.' And, in sober truth, we know of nothing that would contribute more directly to such a catastrophe as these persons contemplate, than the loss of our foreign commerce, which would most infallibly and most rapidly follow the loss of our colonies, and the consequent destruction of our shipping.
Let us have something more weighty than a few sounding assertions to place in the balance against the whole liistory of the civilized world, before, as the author of one of these pamphlets espresses it, we 'sport WITH OUR PALLADIUM.'
Art. VII.- Report of the Select Committee appointed to inquire
into the Wages of Labour. 1825. A MONG the members of a certain school of political eco
nomy, it has been for some time the fashion to rail very bitterly at the system of laws which in this country makes a compulsory provision for the impotent poor. We are assured that these Jaws form a canker which secretly and unceasingly corrodes the vitals of society; that they swallow up the property of the rich, while they undermine the comfort, the happiness, and the independence of the poor; and that there is no good to balance all this evil.
An investigation of the effects which have been produced on society by the English poor laws involves something more important than the gratification of speculative curiosity; it is a discussion from which practical consequences may ultimately spring, as it may happen to confirm or allay the fears of those whom the diatribes and the prophetic denunciations in question have alarmed --to promote or defeat the wishes of others, who not only think the result of these laws, where they already exist, beneficial, but would willingly see the same system—under certain modifications which experience has pointed out–introduced into other countries.
The origin of these laws is sometimes ascribed to the distress among the poor, occasioned by the dissolution of monasteries. But although it cannot be denied that the suppression of the establishments in question did, at least for a time, aggravate the evils which these laws were intended to remove, still it is manifestly incorrect to ascribe their introduction to this cause. The E E 3
most cursory inspection of our statute book will show that laws for the regulation and sustenance of the vagrant and indigent poor had been enacted some centuries before that great revolution in ecclesiastical property deprived them of the assistance which they received from monastic liberality. In the 12 R. 2. (anno 1388) an act was passed providing punishment for beggars able to serve, and making provision for impotent beggars. This was followed by other acts passed for a similar purpose in the 11 H. 7. 19 H. 7. 22 H. 8. In the 27 H. 8. it was enacted * That all governors of shires, cities, towns, hundreds, hamlets, and parishes, shall find and keep every aged, poor, and impotent person which was born or dwelt three years within the same limit, by way of voluntary and charitable alms in every the same cities and with such convenient alms as shall be thought meet by their discretion, so as none of them shall be compelled to go openly in begging; and also shall compel every sturdy vagabond to be kept in continual labour; and that à valiant beggar or sturdy vagabond shall at the first time be whipped and sent to the place where he was born or last dwelled by the space of three
years, there to get his living; and if he continue his roguish life he shall have the upper part of the gristle of his ear cutoff; and if after that he be taken wandering, he shall be adjudged and executed as a felon; and that no person shall make any open or common close, nor shall give any money in alms but to the common boxes and common gatherings in every parish upon pain to forfeit ten times as much as shall be given.'
Somewhat later in the course of the same session was passed the act for the dissolution of monasteries; hence it is clear that, at the passing of the above poor law, the effect of the suppression of religious houses could not have been felt by the public; some other cause must therefore be sought for to account for the gradual multiplication of vagrant beggars which appears to have provoked a gradual increase of legislative severity. The increased number of vagrants and paupers, indicated by the more frequent attention of the legislature to this subject between the year 1388 and the year 1601, is, we think, very naturally accounted for by the vast alteration which was effected in the condition of the peasantry, and the extraordinary revolution which took place in the management of landed property during the reigns of the princes of the House of Tudor. During the prevalence and vigour of the feudal system the power and importance of each baron depended mainly upon the number of vassals whose services he could command and the retainers whom he possessed the means of maintaining. Hence it became the natural and anxious policy of these lords to augment, by every means in their power, the multitude of followers whom on any emergency they could array in the field. The halls and castles of these rude, turbulent, and ambitious chieftains offered a ready asylum to able-bodied vagrants, who were too idle to secure a subsistence by'regular labour. The sagacity of Henry VII. pointed out to him the unavoidable evils which sprang from this system, the danger arising from a race of turbulent and ambitious barons, distributed throughout the country and supported by a numerous and active host of hungry and unemployed dependents. It became, therefore, the settled bent of his policy to crush a power which had so frequently disturbed the peace of the kingdom, and which the civil dissensions of the previous reign had already very considerably weakened. He pursued his object with unabating constancy, and his efforts were crowned with complete success. The turbulent barons of the feudal system, being thus despoiled of a great portion of their power and privileges, were converted by him into mere landlords, amenable to the laws; and their idle retainers and followers partly into laborious and pains-taking peasantry, and partly into miserable vagrants; for the political wings of these proud chieftains having been effectually clipped, it ceased to be with them an object of importance to cherish their tails.'
Another unavoidable effect of the policy pursued by Henry VII, had a very material tendency to swell the host of vagrants who swarmed throughout the country under the Tudor dynasty. So long as the feudal system continued in its full force and vigourso long as the political importance of the barons depended upon the number of their retainers and followers, it was their interest to divide their landed possessions into very small holdings for the purpose of multiplying a race of petty vassals whose services they could command. The ambitious chieftains of that turbulent period were in consequence much more anxious to increase the numbers than they were to augment the wealth and comforts of those who occupied their estates.
Hence we have reason to suspect that the influence of this cause upon the conduct of the proprietors of land produced in this country a state of things in many respects similar to that which now prevails in Ireland. The whole surface of the country became gradually parcelled out in small tenements among an indigent race of peasantry, who were forced to content themselves with a scanty subsistence derived from the occupation of a few acres of tillage land. By a survey of Hawstead, in Suffolk, taken in the 14 Edw. 1. (1286) we find that, 500 acres of land (being one fourth of the whole contents of the parish) were divided among thirty-six occupiers, each having thus an average holding of fourteen acres. From the date of that survey to the commencement of the reign of Henry VII. we have the lapse of two centuries, and as the influence of the feudal system had been steadily felt throughout the whole of that interval, we have good grounds to believe that even these contracted holdings had become further subdivided.
With the decrease of their power in the state disappeared also the motives which instigated the barons to multiply their retainers and tenants. Their attention was then turned towards a new object-the augmentation of the revenues which they derived from their estates. They had soon sagacity to discover that whatever addition a multitude of small occupiers once made to their political strength, the practice of subdividing land dimi-nished their share of the produce : the whole was scarcely sufficient to subsist the swarm of peasants settled upon it: and for the proprietors there remained but a very scanty surplus in the shape of rent. No longer acted upon by the propelling motive of keeping up their baronial strength, they determined to enlarge the dimensions of their farms—reduce the number of their tenants -discard the overflowing population which encumbered their estates, and promote the production of cattle and corn yielding profit, in lieu of a race of unoccupied and unproductive peasantry. Hence about the commencement of the reign of Henry VII. the proprietors of land began very generally to clear their estates of this surplus population. Farm houses and cottages were every where demolished, and the wretched occupiers, ejected from their homes and incapable of procuring labour to provide themselves with subsistence, were reluctantly forced to become wandering 'beggars, and join the discarded retainers of the barons. To such au extent had the demolition of houses of husbandry proceeded, and so intolerable appeared the evils springing from the manner in which estates were then forcibly and suddenly dispeopled, that on various occasions during the reigns of Henry VII.and Henry VIII. the legislature thought proper to interfere, with the view of restraining the practice. As the most authentic materials which we possess, throwing light upon this very curious subject, we shall present our readers with the preambles of two acts of parliament; one passed in the fourth year of Henry VII. and the other in the twenty-fifth year of Henry VIII.
• 4 Hen. VII. c. 19. • The penalty for decaying of houses of husbandry or not laying of conte
nient land for the maintenance of the same. Item, the king, our sovereign lord, having a singular pleasure above all things to avoid such enormities and mischiefs as be hurtful and prejudicial to the commonweal of this land, and his subjects of the same, remembereth that, among other things, great inconveniences daily do increase by desolation and pulling down and wilful waste of houses and towns within this realm, and laying to pasture lands which customably