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Being Lellers to
Of Riddlesworth, in the County of Norfolk;
His Prisoner in the Fleel.
WITI OCCASIONAL COMMUNICATIONS FROM FRIENDS.
“The Altar, the Throne, and the Cottage.”—“Property has its duties, as well as its rights."
The Husbandman that laboureth, must be frst partaker of the fruits." “ He shall judge the poor of the people, He shall save the children of the needy, and shall break
in pieces the Oppressor."
LONDON, SATURDAY, JANUARY 8, 1842.
THOMAS THORNHILL, Esq.
The Flect Prison. SIR,-“Our great object ought to be to soften poverty, in other words, to read backward every line that Malthus has written," says the benrsolent, warm-hearted, Christian editor of the Standard; and again, with eloquence peculiariy his own, we trust that the wealthy of all classes will remember that prudence, no less than Christian duty, requires that the wealth of the affluent be always considered as the RESERVE Fund of the poor.
Once so CONSIDERED, PROPERTY IS PROTECTED BY SOMETHING STRONGER THAN A WALL OF IRON."
That the beating of the hearts of E:gland is in unison with those sentiments, none can be so bold and wicked to deny. That no government which shall resolve to act upon principles directly the opposite of those which are thus ahly and eloquently condensed in words so few,can long remain in power, will, I think, be readily acknowledged by a great majority of the nation. If I am correct in this assumption, it will follow, that the New Poor Law must be immediately and entirely abandoned, by any Minister who is not resolved to proceed in the Malthusinn crusade against the prejudices, the feelings, and the will of Englishmen,for that law is founded on the creed of Malthus,-that it is criminal to be poor ! and positively denies that the poor have any claim to THE RESERVE FUND” which Christianity has provided for them!
It will follow then, under our present circumstances, that Sir James Graham must either abandou the New Poor Law, and all those principles which lead and appertain to it, or, by continuing its supporter in office, he must eventually force 'himself and colleagues from the government of this country.
There are many persons who cannot contemplate the latter event without fear, believing that the only alternative, in that case, would be, the return of the Whigs to office. Those short-sighted individuals must, however, be little aware of the constitutional spirit which is revived in England. Were they to consider why the Whig Ministers were indignantly rejected, they would never, under any coming cireumstance, fear their return to power.
Unquestionably the Whigs were forced from office by the Anti-New Poor Law, and the Anti-Free Trade influences. It is, therefore, self-evident, that, if the
Conservatives should madly resolve to drag on in the steps of the Whigs, instead of " walking in the light of the Constitution," the same power which unseated their predecessors, will, without doubt, drive out the present occupants of office, in spite of their calling themselves Conservatives.
It is irrational to supposc that, under such circumstances, the Whigs would be recalled to power.
“Ah, but," say some well-meaning politicians, “there are only the Conservatives and the Whigs who can govern; one of those two parties wust hold the reins, and you know, Oastler, the Whigs are the worst of the two. Why should you, then, weaken the government by finding fault with Sir James Graham, and thus help to open the door for the Whigs ?" If I could believe that the truth were thus stated, I would never again give myself any thought about politics. I cannot, however, persuade myself that my native country is thus given over as a prey to two contending factions, who then would differ only in their
I believe that there still are national prineiples, irrespective of parties, and that men, whose minds are illumined by “the light of the Constitution," will be found, who are both able and willing to steer the vessel of state safely into the harbour of peace and prosperity. With me, the contention is not for name or for party, it is for principle and for country. If, indeed, no alternative were offered save Whig measures, (as on the assumption of these objectors is the case) why then, unhesitatingly I would all over Tory as I am) vote that Whigs, not Conservatives, should have the working of them into practice. But, Sir, 1
, am in no such dilemma. The people of England are sick of Whiggery in every shape,--so thoroughly are they disgusted with the principles of the “liberal” school, that all the talents and power of the Conservatives will not be able to persuade or force Englishmen to submit any longer to a departure from the benign principles of the Constitution.
The New Poor Law and Free Trade, being part and parcel of the same novel, “ enlightened” and unconstitutional scheme, will be warred against successfully by the nation, in spite of every effort which may be made by the united Whigs and Conservatives to maintain them. The battle is no longer with names of partics or of inen; the sacred principles of eternal Truth cannot be defeated, because, at present, it may be, no powerful names are enrolled as their supporters.
Events will push out proper men, in that grand strife of antagonistic principles upon which we are now entering-men who are every way qnalified to uphold the truth as it is in the Constitution—men, round whom the people will rally in the hour of danger. If these men should not be noble by birth, they will be ennobled by the salvation of the state. Depend upon it, Sir, we are approaching times which will try the mental stamina of our leaders, If those, who are at present at the head, shall fear to brave the storm of clashing PRINCIPLES, others will be found equal to the task. It is enough, at present, that I know the heart of England beats in unison with the Truth. That has been demonstrated by the result of the last general election. The late, and the present Ministers, have surely been able to discover, in that event, the death of party spirit, and the resurrection of that national mind, of which our ancestors were so justly proud, and which made them so strong-a devoted attachment to the principles of Christianity and the Constitution !
ariana If the Couservative Ministers have failed to read “the signs of 'tlre times," and shall foolishly trust more in the name, talent, and influence of Sir James Graham, than in that national will, which overthrew the Whigs, why, then, they will stand in the way of the prosperity of England, and their fall is sure ; for there is, thank God, in Parliament, a considerable ninnber of the 'supporters of the present Ministers who are the decided and resolute opponents of the New Poor Law, and of the whole of that ruinous and novel policy of which it forms a part; those gentlemen will, I am sure, in the next session, prove to the Government, that they are worthy of those who sent them to Parliament. The men to whom I allude, are the representatives of the finest and strongest feelings of the nation ; they know for why they have been choson, they are neither courtiers nor partisans, they are, in the true sense of the word, patriots. The reason why they have been returned, is thus truly stated by the Morning Post :
“ There can be no doubt that a considerable part of the popular re-action in favour of the Con'servative party, which placed the present Ministers in office, arose from the earnest and hearty kyinpathy with the better feelings of the humbler classes of society, which 'many Conservative gentlemen hare of late years exhibited.”
The same constitutional writer correctly accounts for the defeat of the Whigs, because their measures were
“Conceived in a spirit of harshness towards poverty, and did not contain, from beginning to end, a single touch of kindly feeling." The Morning Post adds (and it will be well that every member of the present Government should solemnly read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest these words) –
“ The Conservative gentry perceiving this, and being themselves, as we are willing to believe, sincerely indignant at the treacherous conduct of the Whigs, gave the people (In many quarters) reason to believe that were the Government once more in the hands of the Conservatives, they would And a difference in the honest sympathy of their rulers with tho wants of the poor, and with the various difficulties which beset their position.
" It is, therefore, NECESSARY FOR THE PRESENT GOVERNMENT (if it would avoid giving disappointment to the great body of the people) to interest itself warmly in their condition. That it is at this moment diligently seeking into the means of improving their condition, we have every reason to believe. But we also believe that this is not enough. It is not enough that in the present day, and under the circumstances of abuse and calumny with which the Government has to contend, the welfare of the poor should be coolly considered in the Cabinet, and then that measures should be taken accordingly, without caring what the public may know or think about the
The public should be led to understand that the rulers of the people are taking a warm and affectionale interest in the state of the poor. Reserve in this matter may be carried so far as to do great harm. IP OUR RULERS DO NOT TAKB A WARM AND AFFBOTIONATE INTEREST IN THE STATĚ OF THE COMNON PEOPLE, THE PUBLIC OUGHT NOT TO BE SATISFIED WITH THEM; and if they do take that kind of interest, it is very expedient, and indeed CON. CERNS THE SAFETY OF THE GOVERNMENT, that the public should be aware of it."
If, however, the Conservative Government is determined, with Sir James Graham, to stand by the principle of the New Poor Law, I fervently hope that they will do so, like men--openly, candidly, and boldly. We have had enough of lying, cheating, canting, and deluding with the Whigs - their fraud and ruelty have been their ruin, and in their own Bastiles they have found a grave. we are still to have the New Poor Law, or any of its principles, either the
ral board of Commissioners, itinerant assistants, clerks, masters, and relicing officers, who are responsible only to the Commissioners ; unions of
parishes, boards of guardians formed from wide-spread, stranger townships, antiparochial interference of every kind; dragging of the poor from their homes to be cross-questioned by strangers, refusal of out-door relief, separation of husbands and wives, and of parents and children, solitary confinement, silent system, gruelkilling, filth-infecting, itch-creating, smothering, or torturing ; if we are to have
: the bastardy clauses, the union workhouses, or, in fact, any of the nuisances of “that most execrable and atrocious law,”—I say, Sir, if the Conservative Government has resolved to adhere to any one principle or thing belonging to the detestable New Poor Law, I hope we shall have no trick about it, but a plain assertion of the fact, in order that we may, hereafter, make no mistake.” If Sir Robert Peel has resolved no longer “to walk in the light of the Constitution,” and is bent on the same downward course as the Whigs, let him, at all events, adopt the attitude and conduct of a man, and walk erectly to his doom.
And should the Premier, by his adherence to the principles of the New Poor Law, thus court the fate of the Whigs, there need, even then, be no fear on the part of the friends of Christianity and the Constitution--they depend not on this Government or that, on this or the other man; there is a phalanx of patriots still left, when both parties have wasted themselves in the vain attempt to engraft tyranny and injustice on the free institutions of England. Do you ask who they are ?-let the Morning Post answer; “THEY ARE THOSE WHO PLACED THE PRESENT MINISTERS IN OFFICE, FROM AN EARNEST AND HEARTY SYMPATHY WITH THE BETTER FEELINGS OF THE BUMBLER CLASSES OF SOCIETY;" and, if it should be found that “the Ministers placed by them in office” should, by their support of “ the most execrable and atrocious New Poor Law,” evince that they have “no sympathy with the better feelings of the humbler classes of society,” there can be no doubt that other “Ministers will be placed in office” by them, who will not only profess to do so, but who will, in dleed and truth,“ walk in the light of the Constitution, and prove the sincerity of their “earnesť and hearty sympathy with the humbler classes of society," by instantly and totally repealing the accursed New Poor Law, and by adopting such measures as will release the working classes from the gripe of avarice, and enable an industrious man to obtain " a fair day's wages for a fair day's work."
The philosophers of the Free Trade school, (who assert, that “no laws can be effective to obtain that desirable result," or, that “it is a sin agaiust the true principles of legislation to interfere with capital and labour, or between the employers and employed") may whine and cant at their pleasure. Nothing is more certain, than that before they unehristianized our laws, such was the case in England.
Anxious as I am to proceed with the exposure of the tricks which were played by the projectors of the New Poor Law, and of those also which are now being practiced by the Free Trade Leaguers to delude the Legislature and be tray the people, I could not pass over what appeared to me either great ignorance, or gross deceptiox, on the part of Sir James Graham. I have a strong desire to see the present Government firmly established, not only in office, BUT IN THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE ; and, if, for speaking the truth in love," I ar even by my kindest friends, thought to be “injudicious” and “intractable
the Aust be content, as I have been ere now, to “ bide my time.” The star o
Constitution has never been clouded from me, though I have oft been blamed by others (when mists have obscured its rays from them), because “ through good report and evil report” I have resolved to follow its leadings.
The period has, however, now arrived, when we have no time to waste in maneuvring-we must have plain words and bold actions. No trimming, no shuffling, no evasion will avail anything now. The cases of the Whig and Con
. servative Governments are widely different. The latter are expected to be straightforward and candid - nothing will so soon destroy the confidence of the country in them, as the crooked, deceitful “thimble-riggery" of their predecessors. Sir James mistakes his position, if he thinks that he is any longer working with the Whigs. I shall rejoice if I have been instrumental, thus early, to convince the Home Secretary, that he must either retire, or cast off his old Whig habits.
If it be discovered that the principles of the Constitution are not less despised by the Conservatives than they were by the Whigs, I solemnly warn the Government of their danger, for I know that there is a power still left in England, which will no longer yield to trick, expediency, and fraud.
I am well aware that many most excellent friends of mine are full of fear, and are given to despond. They dread continued strife, and hope that Sir Robert Peel will be able to satisfy all parties by steering a middle course, and “ avoiding all extremes;" as if there were a safe middle path between right and wrong,—as though Truth were not eternally the antagonist of Error.
Such well-meaning, fearful men, would have Sir Robert believe, that all which is required of him will be to soften the harsh administration of the New Poor Law, and to adopt a few alterations founded upon the principles of the hateful measure, and then, they say, “the country will be satisfied.”
Now, Sir, this, though well meant, is “speaking peace, where there is no peace.” It is none other than deceiving the Conservative Minister, and deluding him to his ruin.
The antagonist spirits.were never before in such deadly strife. No expedient salve can now heal the wounds of the nation. “Truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” will henceforward be triumphant.
If it be so, it must now be PROVED, that the people are too many for the land; then, the best, the speediest, and the least suffering method must be adopted to thin our ranks. If, on the contrary, it is true, that we have room enough and to spare, plans must be immediately adopted to enable the inhabitants to receive all the benefits which their skill and industry, applied to the bounties of Nature, are capable of producing, and which a wise appropriation and distribution are able to secure, without the introduction of schemes of centralization, of force, or of espionage, which are at variance with the liberty of the subject, and the principles of the Constitution.
Yes, Sir, it must now be settled, if, under the British Constitution, you or any other landlord has a right to receive rents without restraiut, imprisonment, or degradation, and then force the poor, rather than allow him his lawful share, to degradation, to prison, and to death.-This question must now be fairly settled; and if it be found that the poor have no right to take a seat at Nature's table,