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industry and sufferings in the service of the Leaguers, have been lingering his life away, instead of moving in that sphere of useful labour which he has marked out for himself.
The kindness of many friends made William, as he thought, very rich; so, with the few pounds which would have maintained him in idleness during the winter, he has been on a tour of inspection in the Factory districts. He has obtained most valuable information of the present condition of the Factory-workers. He is now returned, and is compiling the journal of his tour. Jf he is aided by his friends, he intends to publish it in a series of letters.
At the present juncture, William Dodd's forthcoming work will be worth a Jew's eye! What the price will be, I cannot just now ascertain.
If these observations should prove the means of obtaining my friend WILLIAM a little aid, so as to ensure the publication of his letters, and reward him for his exertions, I shall rejoice.
That “ brand plucked from the fire,” is a very grateful creature. quested him not to trouble himself with writing to me often on his journey. He no sooner returned to town, than he sent me a letter, which I had intended to insert here, because I love the lad; and it is due to him, that he should once more speak
; for himself in my little Fleeters. The want of room, however, forces me to delay the insertion of William's epistle till next week.
I am, your Prisoner,
a sponge cake.
My old friend Perring, Leeds, one volume.
large piece of bacon, nine pigeons, two bottles of wine, and cigars.
one of the pillars of the Temple Churchi.
Mr. Smith, Nottingham, a staunch Tory friend, a book.
from the good people of that district - a place where I have not the
observing pipes in my room, kindly sent me a jar of Turkish tobacco.
Printed by Vincent Torras & Co., 7, Palace Row, New Road, London.
Being Letters to
Of Riddlesworth, in the County of Norfolk;
His Prisoner in the Fleet.
WITH 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 first 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.”
VOL. II.-No. 4.
LONDON, SATURDAY, JANUARY 22, 1842.
THOMAS THORNHILL, Esq.
The Fleet Prison. SIR, - The true knowledge of the character and strength of the enemy is half the battle. If there lives a person who thoroughly understands the Leaguers, I surely am that man. I have lived amongst them. With them I have waged a twelve years' war. Practice and experience
a have taught me their genuine characters, their constant objects, and their real weakness; but, they are mean and subtle, as they are revengeful, cruel, and selfish. I have once
more accepted their challenge. I am so glad that they have, at last, given themselves a name, by which I can distinguish them from the respectable portion of the manufacturing community! I shall now be able to make myself perfectly understood.
A greater mistake cannot be made, than that which is so common, viz. that the Leaguers are the manufacturers and merchants—no such thing. Those who have not been closely engaged in the strife, which has now been kept up twelve long years, between them and “the ten hours' factory bill men,” or, who have not carefully attended to our proceedings—persons at a distance, mere lookers on, very naturally imagine, from the constant boasting and blustering of the Leaguers, that they are a very important party, no less than the manufacturers and merchants of England ! Never was there a greater mistake!
That the enemy which now threatens to “eat up your rentals,” should be thoroughly known to all parties, it will be useful that I should explain, in simple, intelligible language, who and what these Leaguers are. It is necessary, then, in the onset, that I should inform you, there are two distinct classes of manufacturers and merchants. The one is composed of honest, honourable, prudent, industrious men, who would disdain to build their fortunes on the ruin of others: men who are imbued with a strong desire to produce and obtain articles that will stand the test of wear and use, for which they are always willing to give a fair remunerating price; these men always eschew every kind of deception in their dealings with mankind, never permitting the love of gain to drag them into the paths of dishonour.
The other class of manufacturers and merchants, consists, mainly, of men in every respect the very opposite of the former-men who are speculators, reckless tiaders, and fraudulent dealers; whose only object, is, to get what they can
; how they can; and then, to keep what they have gotten. The ties of honour and humanity never bind them-cheap-buying, at any accumulation of distress to others, is their maxim. To take advantage of the ignorance or poverty of their neighbours, is their rule.
The first-named class, are those who would rather aid than distress others, who, like themselves, are in the pursuit of honourable gains; whilst the last class know no friendship, even amongst each other ; but jealously strive, by every under-hand means, to over-reach and ruiu those with whom they compete. The competition of these meu, is-War.
The former act upou the principle of " live and let live," the latter adopt the maxim, “thou shalt not live if I can hinder thee." The first are, by their opponents, styled “ Tyrants and Bigots,” the last call themselves “ Liberal and Enlightened.”
The former pride themselves on dealing fairly and liberally with their workpeople, and are always wishful to pay just and reasonable wages, rather than endeavour to screw down the remuneration of their operatives : they are as tenacious, or even more so, of their honour, as they are of their gains. Their boast is, a good article, not a low price ; and they ever have an honest pride in keeping up the fair fame of England in foreign markets.
The latter care not for their work-people, but resort to all sorts of expedients to cheat them and reduce their wages. They will rob them in weight and measure, by the truck system, by forcing them to attend to extra duties in their warehouses without remuneration, and by a thousand tricks which it would weary you to name. In their mills, they will alter their clocks to gain time, charge their operatives lost time when they are on the spot, make them pay, even for water, and fine them for the most trifling supposed neglect; they buy inferior cotton and wool, and then fine the operatives because it will not spin into good yarn, or weave into wearable cloths : in short, Sir, the laws of their mills form the most tyrannical code that avarice and selfishuess can invent. They cheat their customers by mixing, stretching, starching, and false dying ; in fact, they practise every art to put a flash finish on their goods. Appearance, not quality, is what they aim at. The rubbish which they are thus able to bring to market, they call cheap, becanse the price is low. They are heedless of the honour of the nation, being always willing, for their own profit, to sacrifice the good name of the British merchant in the markets of the world. The only question with these men, at home and abroad, is, “ What can we make or sell, on any terms, to yield us a greater profit?”
The last class are those who, to cover their own extortion and tyranny, arc ever, to their operatives, railing against the landlords. Whatever hardships their work-people have to endure, their ready answer is, “ It is the tyrannical landlords, who, to protect themselves and keep up their rents, prevent us from having a free trade, and forceus to work long hours and pay low wages.” This class of manufacturers and merchants, are those who have always opposed any limitation of
the hours of labour in factories, or any legal interference with their fraud and tyranny. It is these, also, who, when they want the aid of the landlords to coerce the operatives, tell you—That they are turbulent, seditious, and idle! Thus do they, for their own gain, exasperate the labourers and aristocracy against each other ; whilst the former class of manufacturers and merchants have been our friends and yours.
Now, Sir, it is natural that men who think and feel so differently, whose aims and objects are so much at variance, should not be upon the best termsit is just so. These two classes of manufacturers and merchants have been opposed for many years. The new system of trade, which repudiates restraint of any kind, bas, it is true, ruined many of the former, because they could not compete with the knavery of the swindlers, and it has added to the number of the latter ; but still, by far the most substantial, and incomparably the most influential portion of our manufacturers and merchants belong to the former class. I say the most influential, I wish I could add that they used their influence.
Perhaps you ask, Why do we not hear more of these honest and honourable men? The answer is easy. They are men who have a natural aversion to notoriety. They are quiet, industrious, unobtrusive, retiring men, who would rather be attending to their own affairs, and encouraging and promoting the happiness and prosperity of their dependents and neighbours, than occupying a sphere for public observation.
Their opponents, on the contrary, are ever restless, uncomfortable, and dissatisfied ; they care not for the weal of others, and force themselves into notoriety for their own gain.
The Leaguers, about whom we now hear so much, and who have resolved either upon the ruin of the agricultural interest or a rebellion, (in plain words, that is their meaning,) are composed of the latter class of our manufacturers and merchants, with a sprinkling of honest, well-meaning, but pragmatical men, who are stuffed with self-conceit, are fond of prating about things which they do not understand, are very crotchetty in their notions and tempers, and are only borne with by the rest of the Leaguers, because they subscribe very liberally to their funds; add to these, a very large number of silly, unthinking dupes, and the League is complete.
It is not the Corn Laws, but the Leaguers, who oppose the prosperity of the honest and honourable. The truly respectable and honourable manufacturers and merchants lave no foes so deadly as the Leaguers.
This truth is well known to the Leaguers themselves; hence, on the 20th ultimo, Mr.Cobden addressed a letter,“ to the manufacturers and mill-owners, and other capitalists of every shade of political opinion,” hoping, by flattery and threats, to induce the former class to forget their opposition to the latter, and join the League! In that letter he confesses the weakness of his own party. When speaking of the sought-for union, he says, “Until we arrive at this agreement amongst ourselves, we shall possess no influence over the policy of Parliament. At present, the manufacturing community, great and important as it is, has no combined existence, and it therefore exercises no power in the state: it commands neither the respect of opponents, nor the esteem of friends,"
Never did any man, nawittingly, tell a truer tale. And why is “the manufacturing community” thus paralized and degraded ? Simply, because it is always taken for the League, whose paid agents have exhibited, in every town and village of the empire, the wildest and most ridiculous distortions of reason for philosophy, and have proponnded as solemn truths, the most flagrant, thread-bare falsehoods. These mercenaries of the League, have been mistaken by the Parliament and the people for the representatives of “ the manufacturing community;" hence is Mr. Cobden forced, at this the eleventh hour, (after years of boasting of the respectability and strength of his party,) to make this mournful, but true declaration—" The manufacturing community [meaning the League) exercises no power in the state, IT COMMANDS NEITHER THE RESPECT OF ITS OPPUNENTS, NOR THE ESTEEM OF ITS FRIENDS!!"
These observations are not made for your information, or for that of the inhabitants of the manufacturing districts (you are already acquainted with those different classes of manufacturers and merchants); they are intended for the readers of the Fleet Papers who are strangers to the manufacturing districts, and who might otherwise suppose, that the exposure of the Leaguers had reference to the whole “ manfacturing community." The inhabitants of those districts where I am so well known, and who are aware, that, throughout my whole course, I have been careful to separate “ the wheat from the tares,” will excuse the trouble which I have given them, while explaining what was dictated by my anxiety to be rightly understood by those of my readers who may be aptly designated my prison friends ; for, Sir, had you not sent me here, we should still have been strangers.
I do not expect that my readers will adopt my opinions respecting the Leaguers, without proof that they are correct. In my forthcoming numbers, I will produce sueh evidence as will remove all doubts from the minds of the most scrupulous. For the present, let one fact, one startling fact, suffice.
That, “ The love of money is the root of all evil,” is a truth which has received its crowning proof in this “liberal and enlightened age"! Read the following simple narration of facts, which I the rather communicate without any observations of my own, because I am of opinion that the addition of remarks would only weaken their force.
You have heard of Mr. Chadwick—Mr. Edwin Chadwick, the heartless Secretary to the Poor Law Commissioners ? Everybody has heard about him ! This far-famed Mr. Edwin Chadwick has a friend, a Leaguer, who lives at Turton, ncar the town of Bolton, in Lancashire-Mr. Edmund Ashworth, who is a very extensive cotton-spinner, and a very shrewd“ liberal, enlightened” man, and who suggested the Migration scheme to Mr. Edwin Chadwick, for the purpose, as he avowed, of “equalizing wages,” which, in his case, meant, reducing the wages of the hand-loom weavers, who, he said, had succeeded in obtaining
an advance, on the average, of ten per cent.” The contemplated reduction was to be effected, as you will see, by removing the “surplus” population of the agricultural counties into the manufacturing districts.
The charge which I make against Mr. Edmund Ashworth is of so serious a nature, that I shall avail myself of the strongest evidence in proof. These are his