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enjoy them, without our full agricultural , keeping up a few additional farm-houses force, then, Sir, notwithstanding all a has been far more than counterbalanced selfish and stolid theory may repeat, the by the great addition to the poor-rates, labourer whom our present system has de- which the farmer has taken care should at prived of all his comforts, and degraded length fall upon the landlord. On this so deeply in his character and feelings, is, highly important and interesting topic I at the very season we have doomed him to had collected a considerable mass of staidleness and want, and would bid him if tistical proofs; but I cannot now presume we could, to be gone, as necessary to us even to enumerate them. I will, however, as our daily bread. Let us, then, proceed state, that the experience of every agriculto develope the real causes of this afflict- tural country is clear and full upon this ing, and i, may indeed say, alarming state point. In Flanders the size of the farmis of things, with a view to their ultimate re- has been, consequently, long limited by moval. On entering upon this important law, but, as one of its most intelligent branch of the subject I shall again once writers observes, the experience of the for all, assert that it is to the deserving superiority of the minuter system has had and industrious poor - those who always the effect of still further curtailing their did, and ever would, most eagerly avail size and multiplying their number. In themselves of all those advantages which Italy, where the state of cultivation is presuch once possessed, and of which they sented in such wide extremes, an able are now totally deprived that I exclusively practical agriculturist of our own country refer. And let those who object to this comes to this conclusion, that every state classification, and wish to found • in the Peninsula is productive or otherapology for the indiscriminate neglect wise, in proportion to the number of and injury of the entire class, by con- ' farmers on a given space of land of founding the character of the whole, equal quality.' In France such also is point out in what respect the most merito- precisely the fact, as I can confidently rious of them have been favoured, and in assert, having most accurately examined what manner it is possible to benefit them the Cadastre for that purpose. This fact under the present system ; a system which is beginning also to be seen in England, and doom's the whole to a state of indiscri- will be demonstrated more clearly every minate suffering and degradation, because, day, even by pecuniary considerations as it assumes, some of them have deserved alone.

I am not arguing that farms here it. In tracing, then, the causes which should be limited by law, or that they have led to the present degradation of the should all be reduced to one, and that a labourers in husbandry, I must, however small extent; far otherwise. What I it may startle the prejudices of some, would contend for is the superiority of commence with the large farming system. that moderate and mixed system of husReason, it might have been supposed, bandry, which leaves the deserving peawould have dictated another course—that, santry of the country the opportunities as the population of the country increased, and hopes of ultimate advancement; and the number of farmers should have aug- this I believe to be far the most profitable mented, or, as old Hobbes said, that they state : that it is the happier one, as regards

should live closer and cultivate better.' the great bulk of the people, not a doubt Political economy, falsely so called, ad can exist. Hence Paley classes among vised however directly to the contrary; his deeds of benevolence the splitting of and, appealing as it ever does to human farms. But, Sir, what I have to do with selfishness, prevailed. But in this, how the question, at present, is, to show that ever, as in most other cases, its principles the system of engrossing great farms,' have been falsified by experience, and its to use Bacon's expression, has been among prophecies have totally failed. The land the first of a series of connected causes has become less productive in large divi- which have led to the present degradation sions, as it ever does ; less capital has of our labouring poor. I shall not advert been applied to it, for labour is capital. to past times, when the same practice is A less surplus produce has been obtained described by our authentic historians as for the public; for this is determined by having led to such fatal consequences; the fact that a smaller rent is received by the present are sufficient for my purpose. the landlord, and that less punctually and No one can take up the work of any agricertainly; and, after all, the expense of cultural theorist, if published some time ago, but he will find the most pressing of property among us, at least as expounded recommendations to the land-owners to by a fiction of that law. The tenants in increase the size of their farms, and the capite encroached upon the Crown; the most tempting calculations to induce them lesser upon the greater Barons; the so to do. Meantime, there was an equal smaller proprietors, especially the copyunanimity as to the advantage of such a holders, upon the Barons. Indeed, it is course, even to the little cultivators them- calculated by Barrington, in his work on our selves; they were to do abundantly better Ancient Statutes, that not many centuries as labourers than as small farmers. They ago, half the lands of England were held valued, indeed, their independent state; upon the degrading tenure of villeinage ; they were reluctant-agonized I'may say, and, though the state that term implied, in every instance at the thought of being or the galling conditions it imposed, were driven from their holdings, but they were never abolished by statute, it gradually compelled to submit. The village Ahabs ceased by force of long usage. Thus has seized upon the vineyards of their industry, custom ratified those rights of possession and their destruction was complete. The which grew up imperceptibly among us, numerous class of little cultivators, or as they prescribing accordingly the appropriation might be called, independentor free labour- of all property not yet in severalty. Thus, ers, being thusextinguished, let us trace their if a royal forest has to be inclosed, the condition into that class whose numbers contiguous parishes, or rather proprietors, they greatly augmented--the dependent demand their share, on the ground that or servile labourers, as I fear they may be they have depastured upon it. They urge too justly denominated. Two ranks only their claims, “ and have those claims alexisting, let us see next how these la- lowed.” But shall we not blush for ourbourers have been treated to whom such selves and our country, when we observe large and consoling promises had been at what precise point it is, that this prinheld forth. Why, Sir, still the plea of ciple stops—that those essential rights, public improvement was advanced, im- interests, advantages, call them what you provement of which they were again to be please, which ought on every plea, whethe sole victims; I now allude to the ther of justice, humanity, or policy, to manner in which the inclosures of the have been liberally considered and fully secommons and wastes of the country were cured, have been altogether slighted and. carried into effect, which comprised, within sacrificed; that land which had not been a comparatively short period of time, so appropriated since it was created, was, large a part of the entire surface of the when divided, dealt to the wealthy alone, kingdom. I am not about to contend, that and in shares proportioned to their wealth, inclosures should not have taken place; to the total exclusion of the claims of the on the contrary, I would have had them poor; and that in those cases where, acbecome universally prevalent; one gene- cording to Locke's doctrine, they had obralinclosure Act, as was often urged, ought tained a sort of natural right to their little to have been passed for that purpose; then, cot, with its inclosure, by having obtained it was often said, the ancient and sacred it by their own labour, and in some sort rights of the poor labourers would have created it-even then, as he indignantly been secured, and just reservations made exclaims, the rich man, who possessed a for them in mortmain placed under the whole county, seized when he pleased upon management of every parish--the only way the cottage and garden of his poor neighof preserving their rights and privileges as bour, in contempt of what, had they been a class; but, alas, all such inclosures were as fully traced, and as well asserted, would made by the wealthy and interested par- | have been found to be rights which ought ties, and their humbler rights, equally re- to have been as sacred as his own. I am cognised by justice and sound policy, aware that I am now taking a most serious were totally disregarded. Sir, I contend view of this subject. God forbid, howthat the poor cottagers and labourers had ever, that I should pursue this course with an equitable, if not a legal right, agreeable any other view than that of inducing the

to the known principles of the British law. Legislature to look into this matter, and • If it be argued that their claims could only then it will, I am sure, make some re

be founded, in many cases, upon usurpa- stitution (and moderate, indeed, will be tions, as the law would denominate m, all that I shall propose, and involving no so, it should be recollected, are all the rights sacrifice of property whatever) for the inVOL. VIII. {Third?



juries sustained by the poor in this to them /vileges the poor formerly possessed in the important matter. I shall, therefore, per- light of sacred rights, and have earnestly sist in showing, on authorities as well contended for the necessity of their preconversant with the common law of the servation; these, however, have been now country, and the rights in question as any, almost entirely wrested from them by a I think, that now exist, that the Inclosure series of private inclosure bills, inflicting Acts, as they have been carried into effect, upon them, as a class, the most irrepahave been inconsistent with the principles rable injuries. Inclosures, indeed, might of law as well as with equity and mercy. I have been so conducted as to have benewill first quote the earliest legal author who fitted all parties; but now, coupled with wrote specially upon inclosing, or, as he other features of the system, they form a expresses it in the legal phrase which still part of what Blackstone denominates a survives, approving; and one who was “ fatal rural policy;" one which has comalso a practical agriculturist-Sir Anthony pleted the degradation and ruin of your Fitzherbert, the celebrated lawyer and agricultural poor. Formerly the indusJudge. He thus lays down the law on the trious labourer had this means of advanceoccasion, in his book of Surveying. ment; to this remaining privilege, also, * Every cottager sal have his portion as the ejected little fariner could resort, but “signed him, and then sal not the ryche at the same time, and under the same sys

man overpresse the poore man.' 'Sir tem that some village monopolist seized Robert Cotton, of the same profession, upon his fields, he drove him also from and who also wrote expressly upon the sub- the waste. ject—inclosing, speaks thus :-'In the

“If to some common's senceless limits strayed, carriage of this business there must be He drives his Rock to pick the scanty blade, 'much caution to prevent commotion ;' Those fenceless fields the sons of wealth divide, he recomiends, therefore, that plots shall And e'en the bare-worn common is denied.”

be devised to such inhabitants, and at Now, Sir, it was from the first so obvious, and under easy values.' Lord Chancellor notwithstanding all the interested and Bacon, strenuously urging the same agri- selfish declarations to the contrary, that cultural improvement, couples, it however, inclosures, as they were carried into effect, with this momentous condition—' So that would be greatly injurious to the indus• the poor commoners have no injury by trious poor, that it hardly seems necessary • such inclosures.' The total neglect, to prove how truly these fears have been however, of their rights in all such pro- verified. I will, horever, just mention ceedings called forth the strongest repro- that the report of a Committee on inclobation of a succeeding Chancellor, who sures, in 1808, states, that the results termed the system as pursued—"a crime which were the subject of examination in of a crying nature." I have adverted to a tour of 1,600 miles, made for that purLucke's energetic expressions on the sub- pose, proved that they had been clearly inject, and shall pass over many others, jurious to the poor. An intelligent witonly adducing one more authority of a ness informs another Committee of this modern date, and of an official character. House, namely, that which sat to inquire It is that of a report drawn up, I believe, into the high price of provisions, that he by the excellent and patriotic Sir John had himself been a Commissioner under Sinclair, whose long life has been devoted twenty inclosure Acts, and states his opinion to the service of his country, of a select as to their general effect on the poor, laCommittee of the House of Commons, ap- menting that he had been thereby accessary pointed forthe special purpose of consider to injuring 2,000 poor people, at the rate ing the subject, which clearly recognises of twenty families per parish. I fear, sir, these rights of the poor, and most strongly the reply of a poor fellow to Arthur Young, recomniends that they should be secured. the great advocate of inclosures (though If says

the report, - a general bill were under regulations which would indeed 'to be passed, every possible attention to have rendered them a benefit to all par'the rights of the commoners would ne- lies) recorded in one of his agricultural cessarily be paid. The poor would then surveys, is true to a more or less degree evidently stand a better chance of having of every industrious labourer in England, their full share undiminished.' I will wherever these improvements have taken not multiply these authorities; suffice it place. To his query as to whether the to say, that all such have held the pri- I inclosure had injured him, he replied, 'Sir, before the inclosure I had a good worthy of each other-miserable to the 'garden, kept two cows, and was getting last degree. Secondly, and to this I call 'on; now I cannot keep so much as a goose, the most serious attention of this House

and am poor and wretched, and cannot and of the country, as an evil demanding * help myself, and still you ask me if the an instant and effectual remedy, if there 'inclosure has hurt me !' Nor, Sir, has the be any sense of decency or humanity left system in question stopped even here. among us, these huts, miserable as they Another, and if possible, a still deeper are, are rendered still more miserable by injury which it has also perpetrated, still being deficient in number : there are not remains to be noticed. Not only has the enough of them ; hence more than one little farm been monopolised, the common family are often thrust into the same right destroyed, the garden in many in- dwelling, to the utter destruction of all stances seized, but the cottage itself de- peace, comfort, and decency. Sir, on this molished; and the plough-share now most important point I proceed to prove drives over many a little plot where once what I assert_namely, that we have, by stood the bower of contented labour. A the operation of causes which I have been few blooming shrubs are still seen twining enumerating, most cruelly diminished the rouod in the fence, and here and there a accommodation for our poor labourers ; flower, tenacious of the soil, blossoms in and I shall do so, not by vague authoriits season upon the spot which was once ties, or opinions in pamphlets and books on the abode of peace and happiness ; like political economy, but by authentic and those which grow upon the grave of some indisputable facts, which at once decide forgotten, but once loved being though the the subject. I shall take the first county hand which planted them is also gone for which is presented to us in the report, and ever. I am presenting, Sir, no imaginary or which seems, on the testimony of one of solitary cases-no, these demolitions have the witnesses, to be well entitled to that been, as Lord Winchilsea observed in his bad pre-eminence-namely, Suffolk. Sufcommunications to the Board of Agriculture, folk, Sir, has, in the course of 120 years, many years ago, most numerous; and, not increased in population, including the content with the opportunities these in- great increase of some of its towns, as closures gave them, the great agriculturists much as eighty per centum, and rather have, in not a few instances, combined more. What has been the increase in the and subscribed to forward this work of de- accommodation for the poorer part of the struction; and it has even been gravely pro- population? Why, Sir, in 1690, there pounded as a question in this House, or at were 47,537 houses in that county: in least in its Committees, whether direct 1821, then, there ought to have been at legal means ought not to be employed to least 90,000 houses. But, alas, Sir, there hasten it forwards. There has been no were in the latter year only 42,773 inhaoccasion—the work is accomplished. Those bited houses, the absolute number being have prevailed who have pronounced the eleven per cent fewer than 130 years belabouring poor to be redundant, and whose fore. The whole of the six counties so nests, therefore, as human vermin, were to selected exhibit a result, in this respect, be cleared; hence their humble abodes not quite so appalling, but sufficiently dishave been demolished. The foxes, indeed, tressing, however regarded. Their popumight have holes, and the birds of the air lation, had from 1701 to 1821, advanced nests, but these Christian philosophers upwards of seventy-five per cent, but the would not let a poor man have where to houses for its accommodation less than lay his head. Three results have followed, twenty-five. It is unnecessary to remark on any one of which is perfectly decisive as what class the misery of such a state of to the condition of the poor. First, Sir, things would be made to rest. Even in their present cottages are often of a most counties supposed by this Committee free wretched description ; “spurned indignant from this state of things, “th' infection from the green,” they are placed at a dis- works.” I hold in my hand the invaluable tance, so as to “screen the presence of con- pamphlet of the Vicar of Alford, in Lintiguous pride;" miserably deficient in ne- colnshire, who enumerates fifteen neighcessary accommodation, almost always bouring parishes in which he found, on destitute of a good and sufficient garden ; | diligent inquiry, that the comfortable in a word, the wretched inmates, and the agricultural cottages demolished since hovels into which they are thrust, are I 1770 amount to 176, and that nine only 9..

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have been built since that period. But to

ground floor; return to one of the former counties: I will

i bed room. present to this House, in the instance of a 8.

Different indisingle parish, and that not one selected

viduals.' for the occasion, the facts and conse- He goes on to say,

Most of these cotquences of such a system. It is described 'tages are in a sad state of repair; and all, in a letter from the Vicar of a place which with the exception of the two last, which I shall not name, but an extract from are parish houses, belong to the lord of which I shall read to the House. It is the manor. He says that he made applisituated in one of the disturbed districts.cation to the non-resident proprietor (to * During the last forty years,' says the rev- whose intentional benevolence, however, erend Gentleman, 'four cottages only have be bears testimony), and to his agent, but • been built by *, and even these in could obtain no redress of this grievous • lieu of the same number taken or fallen state of things; as the latter had come to

down. The accommodation for the poor the determination (a very usual one) that ‘is far more confined than it was some not an additional cottage should be built‘years past. The old parsonage, which of course giving the orthodox reason for • I rebuilt when I came to the living, I the refusal. I cannot refrain from quot• found inhabited by four pauper families. ing him a little further, as what follows • There were also, a short tiine previously, has a most special reference to the only ' five pauper families in two farm-houses, apology which can be urged for this mass ‘ now occupied again by farmers. The of misery--a supposed surplus of numbers. .

want of room, therefore, has created the “The Overseers assure me,' he adds, 'that 'greatest difficulties to the Overseers, and there are not more labourers than the has rendered their office peculiarly pain- cultivation of the land requires—nay, 'ful. For several weeks they have been that should the use of the threshing-ma' compelled to quarter a poor family at the chine be discontinued, there would not public house, two of the young men be sufficient.' He proceeds to make being under the necessity of sleeping in a some most pertinent and touching remarks barn. In some of the cottages the poor upon this state of things, and its inevitable are so huddled together that the sight is consequences, and concludes by suggestmost distressing, and the effect, of course, ing a measure of relief, which I had long

very demoralizing. The following is a ago regarded as essential to any plan * specimen :

whatever which contemplates the bettering Cottage.

Accommodation. the condition of the poor-namely, a reNo. 1 2 10 1 ground floor, storation of their cottages to some extent.

2 bed rooms. He intimates that the condition of the 2 2 .. 8 1 room only 12 poor in the neighbourhood is, at least,

quite as bad, and must, sooner or later, 3 2 7 1 room ground produce the most lamentable and alarm

floor, 12} ft. ing consequences. Sir, I will beg the square. Two House to consider some of these consegirls obliged quences. Not only early and general deto sleep on pravity, but crimes of the most fearful

ground. nature are thus generated. But not to 4 ..1.. 9.. 1 room ground dwell, said he, on this horrid subject,

floor, 1 bed what, I ask, must be the usual conse


when different families are thus 5 1

1 room only 12 thrust into the same hole as a sleeping

apartment; and, immorality out of the 6 2 11 1 room ground question, how can decency be preserved,

floor, 2 bed especially under certain circumstances, in

the family in such cases ? But, Sir, I will 7 .. .. 11 .. Different indi-pursue these revolting descriptions no fur

viduals, all fe- ther. Hurried away by my indignation males, except at this cruel and indecent usage of the a youth of 18, poor peasantry, I had almost forgot one and a young revolting feature of the system of oppresboy. I room sion to which they are now subjected.


Famílies, Persons.

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