Page:An address to the middle and working classes engaged in trade and manufactures throughout the empire on the necessity of union at the present crisis.djvu/9

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to render their physical condition as deplorable as possible. On the one hand, there is a Corn-law to enhance the price of their food, and diminish the demand for their labour; on the other, a stringent New Poor-law to punish their involuntary poverty, and lacerate the wounds inflicted by selfish legislation. Surely, this is to emulate the tyranny of the Egyptian taskmasters.

But further, I maintain, it is the interest, as well as the duty, of the middle or trading class, to take up this principle of "Equal Rights," with a view to the attainment of their favourite object, the Repeal of the Corn-laws. In the face of a compact feudal oligarchy, based upon recollections altogether foreign to the genius of this age and the circumstances of this country, the working classes, from whom the middle classes spring, are the natural allies of the latter. Trade and Democracy, are harmonious; Trade and Feudalism, discordant facts. The ancient antipathy of the lords of the soil to the inhabitants of the towns, appears to be revived in this age, with greater vigour than ever. In their madness, our rulers seem bent upon killing the goose which lays the golden eggs; and they will succeed in their design, if through any unhappy jealousy, or misunderstanding, manufacturing Capital and manufacturing Labour, fail to unite for common defence.

Now we come to the stumbling-block over which, as it appears to me, the friends of Free Trade have fallen. They have been at great pains to assure the public and one another, that the question of the Corn-Laws, &c., is not a political question. Certainly the question, Whether the Corn Laws should be repealed, is one of commerce, or rather of political economy. But when you further ask, How they are to be repealed, reference must be had to a political principle, because it is upon a political principle that they are maintained, if Sir R. Peel is to be believed. In 1828, in reply to a proposition of a fixed duty made by Mr. Hume, the Right Honourable Baronet observed, that there was another consideration besides the simple one of price, viz. that it was part of the constitutional policy of the country to maintain its aristocracy and magistracy. I quote from memory, but his words were to this effect. When they were spoken, the "League" had not yet thundered at the gates of Monopoly, but the Repealers may rest assured that their demands will continue to be refused on Political, and not Commercial considerations, though the motive will not again be openly avowed.

Did, I ask, the proposition made last Wednesday by this